The etchnic culture of Azerbaijan
Ethnic culture of AzerbaijanMail usMain page


Modern Azerbaijan is geographically located at the boundary between European and Asian continents. In its historical past, Azerbaijan was at the meeting-point of various civilizations: Akhemenidian-Sasanide, Roman-Byzantine, Scythian-Khazarian, and Turkic-Oguzian. Even considering cultural symbiosis and diversity of traditions, retained in historical memorials of material and cultural documents, phenomenon of Azerbaijan's prosperity is exactly in its ethnogeny and its folk - creator of unique valuables in various areas of art.

If we trace the history of ethnic groups in Azerbaijan, we should see that in addition to Azerbaijanis, constituting about 90% of country population, various minorities, ethnic and national groups participated in formation of this folk from time immemorial. Among them there are representatives of various families of languages:

" Turkic branch of Altaic family (Azerbaijanis, Tatars, Turks-Meskhetins);
" Indo-European group (Tats, Talishs, Kurds, mountain Jews);
" Caucasian group (Udins, Lezghins, Avars, Tsahurs, Budugs, Ingiloys, Grizs, Hynaligs);
" Slavic group (Russians, Molokans, Ukrainians), and others

The end of XX century submitted historical opportunity to restore independent statehood for republics of the former USSR. Primarily there increased an interest to the past, to forming process of national self-consciousness, to actualization of historical memory. At the same time "globalization" became the leading tendency in development of the World Community. Basically globalization erases boundaries between countries and folks, and therefore brings together mankind and promotes enlargement and development of common planetary culture. Such erasing of linguistic, ideological and political barriers causes some leveling and similarity for diversity of cultures. This cultural similarity is especially destructive for original ethnic cultures in highly cultural society.

Taking into account above social and historical events, one of essential goals for Azerbaijan Administration's balances policy is to preserve poly-ethnic State collection, which determines cultural gene pool of the country, including such elements as language, folk art, material culture, customs and traditions, ethics and traditional upbringing system, etc.

Some kind of "Ethnic Renaissance" in Azerbaijan commenced with famous Decree of Heydar Aliyev, the President of the Azerbaijan Republic, national leader, issued in 1992 "About protection of the rights and freedom, governmental support of development of languages and culture of national minorities, minorities and the ethnic groups living in the Azerbaijan Republic". This Decree clearly emphasized the rights of minorities for education, press, special broadcasting on central TV and radio, culture of equality and partnership, solidarity and justice, tolerance and honesty.

Successful implementation of this Decree brought to current self-consciousness of new Azerbaijan citizens. It includes identity of three components:

" Rights to belong to own ethnic group (for any nation: Azerbaijanis, Tatars, Russians, etc.);
" Love and respect to own national traditions, history of folk, aim to study national language and national culture;
" Rights to belong to multi-national Azerbaijan society, and at last, to the World Community. It mean responsibility not only for own folk and multi-national country, but for the whole world.

Probably there is no such folk without problem to preserve and develop ethnic culture. Common objective always unifies. Firstly it is enrichment by new knowledge, preservation of nation and its culture, provision of collected knowledge for future generations, etc. These thesis were the basis of activity of the first and, maybe, unique in Azerbaijan, musical, scientific, educational, and cultural magazine "Musigi Dunyasi". This magazine is the messenger of global project: "Azerbaijan Music for the Third Millennium". Magazine "Musigi Dunyasi" associates public figures of culture, science and education, as well as experts in electron and computer technologies. The magazine operates in two directions: on one hand it uses traditional methods (printed version of "Musigi Dunyasi" magazine), on the other hand it applies the most modern methods of informational technologies to solve virtualization problems of Azerbaijan music culture.

One of priorities of "Musigi Dunyasi" activity is to study Azerbaijan traditional music in modern conditions.

As above noted, Azerbaijan folk consists of Azerbaijanis (representative part of country's society), as well as of over 30 titled nations and ethnic groups, compactly living in various areas of the country. Despite diversity in quantity, religion and language, the all are Azerbaijan citizens and equal in rights with Azerbaijanis. Their folk traditions and knowledge have common cultural and scientific value. They absorbed the richest data on history, life-style, mentality and ideology of each ethnic culture. They are unique, original and specific.

Unfortunately, despite genre riches and thematic diversity, traditional knowledge as well as intellectual property of these ethnic groups, and their authentic folklore, did not get proper assessment. Essentially it is not covered broadly either in our country, or abroad. Moreover, this folk property was not subject for researches of Azerbaijan historians, ethnographers, ethno-psychologists, ethno- linguists and ethno-musicologists. Some matters could be found in publications out of Azerbaijan. However, they were not always truthful and objective. That is why to study this problem is actually important, not only from humanitarian and scientific point of view, but considering political, social and historical perspectives. It is particularly vital in the period of legal preservation of traditional knowledge in globalization epoch.

Starting from 2003, creative team of "Musigi Dunyasi" commenced aimed activity to collect, study, cataloging, mapping and recording of the folk music. Composition of the team:

" T. Mamedov, Professor, Doctor of Musicology;
" F. Khaligzadeh, Ph.D, ethno-musicologist;
" T. Kerimova, Ph.D, ethno-musicologist;
" G. Adigezalzadeh, Ph.D, ethno-musicologist;
" D. Hasanova, Ph.D, ethno-musicologist;
" Z. Guliyev, Ph.D in Technical Sciences;
" I. Isayev, philologist;
" Kh. Mamedov, operator (photo and video shooting)
This combined research, necessary to define real existence of music folklore, its links with social life, labour, life-style, geography, ethnography, and culture of the folk, consolidated of various nations, called into being the project: "Atlas of Azerbaijan Tradition Music".

Aim of this Project is to create systematic collection: database of Azerbaijan traditional music as multimedia product (Web-site, DVD, etc). It should include nature-geographical and ethnographic zones of the country with characteristic forms and genres of musical folklore, masterly performance, folk music instruments, etc.

The Project is aimed to solve actual civil and legal, ecological and enlightening, social and educational, cultural and didactic, scientific and historical problems. These problems are to collect, preserve and transmit unique examples - artifacts of Azerbaijan music folklore to future generations by means of multimedia and e-models.

Proposed e-edition is aimed:

" to increase knowledge on infrastructure of Azerbaijan traditional music culture;
" to introduce Azerbaijan musical ethnic landscape to people, living in various areas of the World Community;
" to promote humanitarian education and self-education of the intellectuals and students;
" to record documental Azerbaijan traditional music;
" to increase care for conservation of natural and cultural valuables among local population and tourists;
" to preserve traditional musical culture in areas of their existence; to develop methods and techniques of eco-tourism's management and monitoring;
" to secure copyrights of Azerbaijan folk for original traditional musical culture.

The Project:

" is guided by international legal statements on human rights and framework convention on minorities' protection;
" takes into consideration importance of non-material cultural heritage as focus of cultural diversity and guarantee of stable development established in article of international convention, UNESCO Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2001), UNESCO Convention for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003), UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression (2005);
" takes into account that starting from 1998, the World Organization of Intellectual Property (WOIP), initiated new direction in intellectual property area: protection of traditional knowledge;
" recognizes Laws of the Azerbaijan Republic "On Copyrights and the Adjacent Rights" (1966) and "Legal Protection of Folklore Expression " (2003).
The following organizations participated in creation of Web-site devoted to Azerbaijan ethno-musical culture:

" The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of AR;
" UNESCO Moscow Office for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Republic of Moldova and Russian Federation
" National Commission of UNESCO;
" Agency of Copyrights of AR;
" Baku Music Academy;
" Institute of Open Society Azerbaijan;
" Promotion Fund, regional and municipal Departments of Culture of AR;
" Societies of minorities, living in Azerbaijan;
" Travel company "SHABRAN-D"

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to all the Project's participants, including folk musicians, keeping ethnic music memory, guards of Azerbaijan traditional folklore, population of regions, cities, and countryside of the Republic.

Professor Tariel Mamedov.



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