With the Culture Week in full swing, Balkan velayat’s Magtymguly etrap is now teeming with life, playing host to a fascinating array of festivities. Day four saw a research-and-practice conference on the Turkmen nation’s intangible cultural heritage, performances by bakhshis (folk musicians), and a concert by performing artists from Balkan and Dashoguz velayats.
By tradition, early in the morning, the forum participants went on an excursion to see the etrap’s attractions.
Organized in the conference room at the Magtymguly Pyragy Museum in the town of Magtymguly, the research-and-practice conference focused on exploring the nation’s intangible cultural heritage. Among those in attendance were representatives of the Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan, historians, ethnographers, and culture experts.
As noted, the conservation and worldwide popularization of the Turkmen nation’s cultural and spiritual treasures has become an integral part of the state policy. Key aspects of the massive efforts undertaken in the field are identified in the 2015-2020 State Program for Collecting, Researching and Preserving the National Intangible Cultural Heritage. Adopted under the Law of Turkmenistan ‘On Protection of the National Intangible Cultural Heritage’, the comprehensive program encourages participation of various ministries, sectoral agencies and local authorities.
Speakers at the conference informed about the outcomes of scientific expeditions regularly undertaken by scientists across the country. Their aims are to collect materials that have spiritual importance and to explore non-material wealth previously little known. Without parallel in other cultures, the Turkmen traditions, folklore, arts and crafts are priceless treasures that help to recapture and reconstruct the traditional way of life through the lens of history.
The conference participants exchanged views on cross-cultural interaction and international cooperation in the field of intangible spiritual heritage protection, having noted our country’s fruitful collaboration with UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).
The folk epic ‘Gerogly’ has been inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity as an outstanding example of the destan genre. Produced by the virtue of folk genius, creativity and wisdom, Gerogly was a source of spiritual guidance, homage to patriotism, justice and courage for centuries. The epic tales about the hero, singer and musician Gerogly were passed on by word of mouth and performed by folk musicians.
Another national treasure, Kushtdepdi, has also found a place in the UNESCO Representative List. Each velayat boasts its original performance of the ancient dance, which today has become our country’s unique distinctive characteristic and an integral element of every national celebration.
The wonderful spring celebration, Nowruz, has also been added to the List. For thousands of years it has retained its life-affirming essence. Marking the rebirth and renewal of nature, it embodies all forms of folk art, spiritual and cultural values of countless generations. It has been officially recognized as International Nowruz Day by the United Nations Resolution.
In the evening, the topic of intangible cultural heritage continued to be the focus of attention. There was the festive spirit of a big Turkmen toi (celebration) in Magtymguly Park in the village of Gerkez with national yurts, and an ethnographic exhibition, featuring an array of traditional crafts and wonderful handcrafted products.
All those in attendance were treated to performances by bakhshis, who had come from across the country. The concert program included instrumental music, extracts from destans (folk epics), and lyric poems by distinguished Turkmen poets made into songs. Young performers vividly demonstrated that the present generation tends to preserve and uphold the traditions of folk music.
A joint concert by artists from Balkan and Dashoguz velayats was a fitting finale to the day.
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