Performance of the Armenian epic of ‘Daredevils of Sassoun’ or ‘David of Sassoun’
Inscribed in 2012 (7.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
- Performance of the Armenian epic of ‘Daredevils of Sassoun’ or ‘David of Sassoun’
The Armenian epic Daredevils of Sassoun recounts the story of David of Sassoun, a defiant and self-reliant youth, who by the grace of God defends his homeland in an unequal duel against the evil. The epic falls within the tradition of heroic folktales that dramatize and voice the deepest sentiments and aspirations of a nation. The epic is told in a lyrical voice with rhythmic enunciation, while separate cantos are sung in a rhyming poetic style. It is performed annually on the first Saturday of October (Epic Day holiday in some villages), during weddings, birthdays, christenings and major national cultural events. Usually the epos teller sits, wearing national costume and is accompanied on the duduk, a woodwind instrument. The epic-telling art has no gender, age or professional limitations. It is transmitted through families as a vocation, most strongly in rural communities with close links to folklore culture. There are 160 variants. Performances nowadays last up to two hours with the epic narrated in parts. It is commonly cited as one of the most important works of Armenian folklore, functioning as an encyclopaedia and repository of the entire range of knowledge about the heritage of Armenian people, their religion, mythology, philosophy, cosmology, customs and ethics.
Decision 7.COM 11.2
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: Passed down from generation to generation and providing a sense of identity and continuity for its community, the epic embraces a variety of oral, musical and theatrical performances and artistic expressions;
- R.2: Its inscription on the Representative List could contribute to raising awareness of the significance of the intangible cultural heritage through dialogue with other communities having similar epics;
- R.3: Current efforts to safeguard and promote the Armenian epic are described along with proposed safeguarding measures that include the celebration of the Day of the Epic Poem, the organization of an international conference and the establishment of a school of epic telling;
- R.4: Institutions, associations, communities and practitioners have participated actively in the nomination process and provided their free, prior and informed consent to it;
- R.5: With the participation of the community, the ‘Daredevils of Sassoun’ was included in March 2010 on the State list of intangible cultural heritage that is maintained and updated by the Ministry of Culture;
Inscribes the performance of the Armenian epic of ‘Daredevils of Sassoun’ or ‘David of Sassoun’ on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
These videos (and many more) can also be consulted through the UNESCO Archives Multimedia website