Art of Azerbaijani Ashiq
Inscribed in 2009 (4.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
- Art of Azerbaijani Ashiq
The art of Azerbaijani Ashiqs combines poetry, storytelling, dance and vocal and instrumental music into a traditional performance art that stands as a symbol of Azerbaijani culture. Characterized by the accompaniment of the saz, a stringed musical instrument, the classical repertoire includes 200 songs, 150 literary-musical compositions known as dastans, nearly 2,000 poems in different traditional poetic forms and numerous stories. The regional variations may include other musical instruments, but all are united by a common national language and artistic history. Ashiqs take part in weddings, friendly parties and festive events throughout the Caucasus and appear on concert stages, radio and television, sometimes synthesizing classical melodies with contemporary ones as they continue to recreate their repertoire. Their art is considered an emblem of national identity and the guardian of Azerbaijani language, literature and music. Even as Ashiqs represent the consciousness of a people, they also help to promote cultural exchange and dialogue: Kurds, Lezhins, Talishes, Tats and other ethnic groups living in the country often perform the Ashiqs’ art, and their poems and songs have spread across the region.
Decision 4.COM 13.02
The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:
- R.1: The art of Azerbaijani Ashiqs is recognized as a symbol of national cultural identity that embodies various artistic spheres practised by poets, composers, singers or actor-narrators, thus uniting in one artistic expression the communities of the entire country;
- R.2: Inscription of the element on the Representative List would contribute to increasing the visibility of intangible cultural heritage at the local, national and international levels, stimulating in particular interest among youth, and strengthening dialogue, cooperation and respect among several communities in Azerbaijan and neighbouring countries;
- R.3: A set of safeguarding measures have been proposed with the commitments of the State, tradition bearers, public organizations, NGOs, as well as educational and academic institutions to strengthen the element’s transmission to future generations;
- R.4: The element has been nominated with wide participation at all stages of the file’s preparation by the community of practitioners, institutes and organizations that have given their free, prior and informed consent collectively in writing and during the fifth congress of Azerbaijani Ashiqs;
- R.5: The element is included in the 2003 list of the intangible cultural heritage of Azerbaijan and is also being included in a national inventory being prepared by the Ministry of Culture.
These videos (and many more) can also be consulted through the UNESCO Archives Multimedia website