Ceremonial Keşkek tradition

Inscribed in 2011 (6.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Country(ies): Turkey



Ceremonial Keşkek tradition

Keşkek is a traditional Turkish ceremonial dish prepared for wedding ceremonies, circumcisions and religious holidays. Women and men work together to cook wheat and meat called ‘Keşkek’ in huge cauldrons, then serve it to the guests. The wheat is washed with prayers the preceding day, and then carried to a large stone mortar, to the accompaniment of music from the davul drum and zurna double-reed pipe. At the mortar it is hulled by two to four persons using gavels in a fixed rhythm. Cooking is usually carried out outdoors: hulled wheat, chunks of meat on the bone, onions, spices, water and oil are added to the cauldron and cooked all night. Towards noon, the strongest of the village youth are called to beat the Keşkek with wooden mallets, while the crowd cheers and zurna players perform musical pieces, announcing the thickening of the stew with a specific melody. Numerous expressions associated with the dish – used during the selection of wheat, the blessings, praying and carrying the wheat, as well as preparing and cooking it – have become common expressions in daily life. In addition, the tradition encompasses entertainment, plays and musical performances. Neighbouring towns and villages are invited to feast collectively in the ceremony premises. The cooking tradition is safeguarded and transmitted by master cooks to apprentices.


Decision 6.COM 13.48

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 Keşkek ceremony is a unifying social practice that takes place at Turkish festive events and is transmitted from generation to generation, thus deepening the sense of belonging to a community;
  • R.2: Inscription of the Keşkek on the Representative List could promote cultural diversity and human creativity through its demonstration of shared ideas and the promotion of social communication and inclusiveness;
  • R.3: Safeguarding measures underway demonstrate a two-fold approach by the communities and the State, and the nomination highlights their commitment to ensure Keşkek’s continuity and transmission;
  • R.4: Communities and practitioners along with other relevant institutions and associations have participated in the nomination process and have provided their free, prior and informed consent;
  • R.5: With the participation of its bearers, the Ceremonial Keşkek tradition was included in 2008 in the Turkish National Inventory for Intangible Cultural Heritage, maintained by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Inscribes Ceremonial Keşkek tradition on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.



© 2009 Information and Documentation Center of Folk Culture / Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey

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