Craftsmanship and performance art of the Tar, a long-necked string musical instrument
Inscribed in 2012 (7.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
- Craftsmanship and performance art of the Tar, a long-necked string musical instrument
The Tar is a long-necked plucked lute, traditionally crafted and performed in communities throughout Azerbaijan. Considered by many to be the country’s leading musical instrument, it features alone or with other instruments in numerous traditional musical styles. Tar makers transmit their skills to apprentices, often within the family. Craftsmanship begins with careful selection of materials for the instrument: mulberry wood for the body, nut wood for the neck, and pear wood for the tuning pegs. Using various tools, crafters create a hollow body in the form of a figure eight, which is then covered with the thin pericardium of an ox. The fretted neck is affixed, metal strings are added and the body is inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Performers hold the instrument horizontally against the chest and pluck the strings with a plectrum, while using trills and a variety of techniques and strokes to add colour. Tar performance has an essential place in weddings and different social gatherings, festive events and public concerts. Players transmit their skills to young people within their community by word of mouth and demonstration, and at educational musical institutions. Craftsmanship and performance of the tar and the skills related to this tradition play a significant role in shaping the cultural identity of Azerbaijanis.
Decision 7.COM 11.4
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: Transmitted from generation to generation and ingrained in the social life of Azerbaijan, the craftsmanship and music of the Tar provide a sense of identity and continuity to the larger community as well as a source of income for craftspeople and musicians;
- R.2: Inscription of the craftsmanship and performance art of the Tar on the Representative List could contribute to promoting intercultural dialogue and human creativity, especially among communities of craftspeople and performers throughout the country and the wider region;
- R.3: Past, on-going and proposed measures, elaborated and implemented with the participation of Tar performers and craftspeople, include legislation, education, documentation, research and transmission and aim at ensuring the viability of the Tar;
- R.4: The nomination was elaborated with the participation of Tar craftspeople, performers, researchers, teachers, as well as local and regional authorities, who granted their free, prior and informed consent;
- R.5: On the basis of proposals from communities and practitioners, the Tar was included in 2010 on the Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Azerbaijan, established and updated by the Documentation and Inventory Board and approved by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism;
Inscribes the craftsmanship and performance art of the Tar, a long-necked string musical instrument on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
© 2010 by N.Abba/Ministry of Culture and Tourism
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