Epic tales of Dede Qorqud on UNESCO list
The epic tales of Dede Qorqud, passed on for centuries by the Oghuz Turks, have been added to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The announcement was made on Nov. 28 during the 13th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage held in Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius.
Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry said in a statement that the heritage of Dede Qorqud was a “unifying element” among Turkish-speaking countries.
After the latest addition, Turkey has now 17 elements listed as UNESCO intangible cultural heritage, Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said on Twitter.
Stating the inclusion of Dede Qorqud was also important for Eskişehir, which is home to the Dede Qorqud Park, Avcı said the following:
“In the Dede Qorqud Park in Eskişehir, there is the Dede Qorqud Monumental Wall, which is unique in the Turkic world. This monumental wall is at the same time a fountain. The miniatures of all these tales on this wall are being displayed on marbles. People have chance to know about Dede Qorqud there. I recommend visitors of the city to see this park.”
Twelve heroic legends
Dede Qorqud epics are based on 12 heroic legends, stories and tales and 13 traditional musical compositions shared and transmitted across the generations through oral expressions, performing arts, cultural codes and musical compositions.
“Dede Qorqud appears in each story as a legendary figure and wise individual, a sage of minstrels whose words, music and expressions of wisdom relate to traditions of birth, marriage, and death,” according to UNESCO’s website.
In the musical compositions, the main intonations are reproduced using a musical instrument called the Kobyz through the sounds of nature, and imitation soundscapes are characteristic of this medium (such as the imitation of a wolf’s howl or a swan’s note). “The musical compositions are all interconnected by the epic stories that accompany them. The element encompasses social, cultural and moral values such as heroism, dialogue, physical and spiritual wellness and unity as well as respect for nature, and contains profound knowledge about the history and culture of Turkic-speaking communities.
It is practised and sustained by the community concerned on a wide variety of occasions – from family events to national and international festivals – and is therefore well-rooted in society, serving as a connecting thread between generations.”
While largely symbolic, inclusion on the UNESCO cultural heritage list can serve to raise the profile of the country and the practice.