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Turkmenistan – UNESCO: New vistas of cooperation
Culture
Turkmenistan – UNESCO: New vistas of cooperation
Published 03.11.2020
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On instructions from President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, the first meeting of the Turkmenistan National Commission for UNESCO (held on November 2) discussed a draft Joint Action Plan for 2021-2023 and new proposals concerning the inscription of Turkmen traditions on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Among them are three unique national schools of Akhalteke horse breeding, of Alabay dog breeding, and of the dutar, which is a distinctive brand of Turkmen culture and incorporates the art of dutar making and playing, and the art of bagshy. Preparation of the UNESCO List nominations was initiated by the President of Turkmenistan. As part of the UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, three unique historical and archeological monuments of outstanding universal value to all humanity: Ancient Merv, Kounyaurgench and Nisa selected by Turkmen specialists in collaboration with foreign experts have already been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Candidate sites for World Heritage status are a group of monuments located along main routes of the Silk Road between the large ancient Turkmen cities of Dekhistan, Nisa, Merv, Serakhs, Amul and Kounyaurgench. The draft Joint Action Plan for 2021-2023 between the Government of Turkmenistan and UNESCO envisages: - organizing an official visit to Turkmenistan by UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay; - preparing for inclusion of Ashgabat and Turkmenabat in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a UNESCO Creative City of Design and as a UNESCO Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art respectively, as well as the city of Mary as a UNESCO Creative City of Literature in the future; - running special courses on UNESCO standards in the development of historical cities at Magtymguly Turkmen State University, the Department of Archeology. Apart from that, a host of projects are to be implemented in the field of culture, education, science, sport, youth policy, etc. A sub-department of UNESCO will be established at higher education institutions of Turkmenistan, and secondary schools of Turkmen cities are expected to be part of the UNESCO International Associated Schools Network in the long run. Turkmenistan’s nomination of “The art of dutar making and traditional dutar playing with singing” will be considered for inscription on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity at a meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage at the UNESCO headquarters in late 2021. Given the fact that at the suggestion of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov the UN has declared 2021 as the International Year of Peace and Trust, this step is seen as highly symbolic. Groups of Turkmen specialists had collected invaluable information from dutar makers, dutar players and bagshy during their field trips to the country’s regions, when preparing the nomination. The national techniques of dutar playing and the art of bagshy were thoroughly explored and classified. Traditions of mentoring in this field received special emphasis since they have a substantial role to play in ensuring the viability and continuity of the school. Besides, a photo album was made to illustrate the process of dutar making and a video film was shot about the art of dutar playing and the art of bagshy. All the materials were sent to the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and were placed on a waiting list for further inscription on the UNESCO List. Similar efforts are being made today to collect information and prepare nomination documents for the art of Akhalteke horse breeding and Turkmen Alabay dog breeding.

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