Cultural Diversity in Azerbaijan - VI

Of course, globalization is wonderful, as it brings people together. But, along with the positive aspects of this process, it has one disadvantage that people forget their traditions and cultural heritage. The government of Azerbaijan tries to help national minorities living in Azerbaijan to keep their traditions alive and preserve and pass the culture of these nations which is a part of the culture of Azerbaijan from generation to generation. Besides the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Ministry of Education and other organizations also take appropriate measures.


In issues like this, attention is paid to differentiation. For example, Russians and Georgians live in Azerbaijan. But they have their own states and their culture is developing. Some of them are small peoples and live in Azerbaijan and in the territory of neighboring countries. Preservation of their culture and traditions is very important. In Azerbaijan, historically, the normal attitude towards all nations, national minorities and ethnic groups has been the same.  Azerbaijan has pursued consistent and correct policy; significant achievements are attained regarding the rights of national minorities. Expedient actions taken by the state, regardless of nation and religion, have strengthened the family, the friendship, fraternity ties existing at all times.


Measures taken by the government of Azerbaijan in both in national and international level to promote intercultural dialogue improve the country’s reputation in the international arena as well as strengthen national solidarity and represent our country to the international arena as a place that brings cultures together. In other words, policy pursued by the government of Azerbaijan proves nations can live in a friendly environment and from this point of view, Azerbaijan stands as an example. 


In 2012, in Institute of Folklore of Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences, the Section of Folklore of Minorities has been created. It plays a crucial role in preservation of folklore of minorities and passes onto future generations. 

But there are some traditions that have taken common shape due to the principle of co-existence. These are mainly wedding traditions. Wedding is an integral part of the culture and folklore of each nation. Wedding traditions of nations all over the world form for centuries and become a representative of nation. Specific and interesting traditions of national minorities, each district and even each village and country, now shows itself in a single form.


 In fact, in the wedding, engagement ceremonies and other gatherings based on traditions of country, people still remembers them. Clubs and Houses of Culture, in its turns, benefit from the local folk culture.

Artistic Collectives of the region, in terms of interest to the local traditions, are differed from folklore associations of many regions in a good way and remain loyal to their spiritual heritage. 


Fattah Halikhzade- the author of the report prepared in regard to the map of ethnic music of Azerbaijan, ethnomusicologist, docent of the Azerbaijan National Conservatory, writes that rich musical folklore of minorities is integral part of spiritual culture of Azerbaijan. This complicated and so far unexplored area of ethnomusicology is an important part of the project called “Atlas of traditional music of Azerbaijan” which is implemented by creative center of international scientific and publicistic magazine “Music World”, under the scientific leadership of professor and the Doctor of Arts, Tariel Mammadov. This big project also covers various dialects of Azerbaijani folk music.

Based on the rich historical experience of Scientific Research Cabinet of Music (1930s), Baku Academy of Music and ANAS (Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences) Institute of Architecture and Art (1960-1990s), the authors of the new project raised the issue of the collection and study of the folk music in conjunction with all ethnic diversity and historical layers (archaic, traditional and modern).


It should be noted that, labor songs, ceremonial songs and songs of season ceremony; lullabies and laments; lyrical songs and instrumental dance tunes have their own specific forms in each culture. The significance and place of the same genres are different in the folklore of different nations. 


For example, despite instrumental dance tunes performed by a group of drum and zurna occupy the main place among Lezgins, Avars, Tsakhurs and Rutuls, there are also different types and forms of musical genres (lullaby, lament, ceremonial songs, lyrical songs). Common music style and musical instruments (nagara, zurna, balaban, dilli kaval, sipsi, tanbur) and also a typical melody formulas bring these nations together. At the same time, sometimes different “colors” that are typical to them can be noticed and be the subject of researches.


Despite the language and religion of Russians and Volga Tatars are differed, common aspects such as solo or choral music and melancholy songs have appeared due to their historically tight social and cultural relations. And when it comes to the different features, big and even decisive role of pentatonic scales should be noted in the first place. Talysh’s folk music, that is one of the oldest ethnos, is differed for its rich genre and performance features. Labor songs, wedding songs, songs of season ceremony, “Halay” song and dances that are relatively well preserved and performed by women are known. Many songs are sung in Talysh as well as in Azerbaijani languages and reflect mutual and close relations existing between cultures. 

The rich music heritage of all nations of Azerbaijan is of particular importance for the development of the idea of ethnomusicology and solidarity of our democratic society. 

Balakan district has its own specific musical instruments that are used only in Balakan and Zaqatala. From ancient times until now, two-stringed tambur made by people of Balakan with their own hands has been used as a musical instrument in the country celebrations and tobacco, wool, maize and hazelnut cleaning subbotniks. 

Both, men and women used to sing lullabies and perform Blakan local dances by using tambur. This tradition is used and preserved in many villages of the region (Magamalar, Tyulyu, Talalar, Gabagchol).The next day of wedding ceremonies, according to our customs and traditions, relatives who come “to drink tea made by new bride” have a good time that is accompanied by tambur. Since the 30s of the last century, Ashik Senem’s (the word master from Balakan, the participant of I congress of Azerbaijani ashiks) lullabies (Bayati) have been in people’s mind. 



Another example of multiculturalism in Azerbaijan was demonstrated in April 2015. On April 4, “The Cloth Peddler” operetta by the genius composer Uzeyir Hajibeyli was staged in the Lezgian language for the first time by Kusary State Lezgin Drama Theatre. The premiere of spectacle was held in the scene of Kusary city House of Culture.

As we noted, duties on the preservation of national and spiritual values of minorities- language, religion, tradition, etc- that is in the responsibility our state were implemented, is implemented and from now on will continue to be implemented in a higher level. The measures mentioned above and held in regular basis prove it. Despite holding various events directly serve to preservation of traditions and cultural heritage of national minorities (there is no doubt), the main purpose here is to show that “majority and minority” factor doesn’t prevent fraternity, genuine communication and friendly co-existence among nations, on the contrary stimulates it. Of course, holding this kind of events on a regular basis is commendable and should be highly appreciated. One of those countries, perhaps the first one is Azerbaijan that put the most effort into it. It is an undeniable truth. If a country was required as an example where the difference between minority and majority is not felt, let’s be honest that it would be our dear Azerbaijan.


This article has been prepared in the framework of  “Support for the development initiatives for mutual understanding cultural diversity  among cultures”  project  by “Perfection” Citizens Legal Education Public Union  with financial assistance of the Council of State Support to Non-Governmental Organizations under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.


16.06.2017 14:10 / Hits: 344 / Print
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