18.10.2010 -

Living tradition of Turkey : CD Minstrels of Kars Region, Masters of Music and Lyrics

© MDG-F JP Alliances for Culture Tourism in Eastern AnatoliaCD Minstrels of Kars Region, Masters of Music and Lyrics

The CD, an exclusive music album is a new timeless witness of the Turkish minstrelsy (Âşıklık) tradition, prepared by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism - General Directorate of Research and Training with the generous support of UNESCO within the framework of the MDG-F Joint Programme “Alliances for Culture Tourism in Eastern Anatolia”. The sixty-minute album is composed of twelve traditional songs written and performed by ten Minstrel performers from different cities around Turkey.

According to the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, the Minstrelsy tradition of Turkey is performed by wandering poet-singers known as âşıks. Dressed in traditional clothes and plucking a stringed saz, the âşık is a common performer at weddings, in coffeehouses and during public festivals of all sorts. The âşık is called in a dream to undertake a long apprenticeship in the arts of playing string and percussion instruments, singing, storytelling and repartee that form the heart of the vocation. The poems they recite, usually about love, are written in rhymed syllabic meter and end with a quatrain in which the âşık utters the Mâhlas, his pseudonym. Their improvisational performances may also include riddles, folk tales, verbal duels of wit and creativity with other âşıks, and verses sung while the minstrel holds a needle in his mouth to force him to recite poems avoiding B, P, V, M and F sounds. Because âşıks travel between communities, they help to spread cultural values and ideas and to facilitate a robust social dialogue, in part through topical poetry and social and political satire. At weddings in particular, âşıks are regarded as instructors and guides whose tradition draws on and enriches Turkish literary culture and the daily lives of communities throughout the country.

The Minstrelsy tradition from Turkey is deeply rooted in social life and gives identity and continuity to its community; it constitutes a living tradition that is passed on from master to apprentice, always evolving as it is practiced. This is one of the elements that explained the decision of the Committee taken last October for its inscription on the Urgent Safeguarding List as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.  

The United Nations MDG-F Joint Programme “Alliances for Culture Tourism in Eastern Anatolia” is being implemented in Kars by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey and the UN agencies: UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF and UNWTO. The Joint Programme aims at developing and enhancing cultural tourism in Kars Province by highlighting its cultural and natural assets and building local capacities to leverage these assets for social and economic development.

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