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Asiklik (Minstrelsy) Tradition

Discover Turkey, home of minstrels


Turkish Asiklik (Minstrelsy) Tradition

Asiklik (Minstrelsy) tradition is an important part of a cultural entity. Asiklik (Minstrelsy) is a tradition shaped by experiences of centuries. Its structure is based on the customs including a distinctive performance.

Asik (Minstrel)

Turkey has a tradition of wandering balladeers called Asik (or Ozan) who perform by competing by singing improvised poetry to one another. To go even farther they stick needles upright between their lips so that letters where the lips close (B, P, M, V, F) can't be used.

Asiklik (Minstrelsy) Tradition

Asiklik (minstrelsy) tradition of Turkey is performed by wandering poet singers known as Asik. Dressed in traditional clothes and plucking a stringed instrument, the asik is a common performer at weddings, in coffeehouses and during public festivals of all sorts.

The asik is called in a dream to undertake a long apprenticeship in the arts of playing string and percussion instruments, singing, storytelling and repartee that form the heart of the vocation. The poems they recite, usually about love, are written in rhymed syllabic meter and end with a quatrain in which the asik utters the Mahlas, his pseudonym. Their improvisational performances may also include riddles, folk tales, verbal duels of wit and creativity with other asiks, and verses sung while the minstrel holds a needle in his mouth to force him to recite poems avoiding B, P, V, M and F sounds.

Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage

Because of asiks (minstrels) travel between communities, they help to spread cultural values and ideas and to facilitate a robust social dialogue, in part through topical poetry and social and political satire. At weddings in particular, asiks are regarded as instructors and guides whose tradition draws on and enriches Turkish literary culture and the daily lives of communities throughout the country.

UNESCO Identity Card:
Official Name: Asiklik (Minstrelsy) Tradition
Criteria: Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Date added to UNESCO List: 2009

Asiklik (Minstrelsy) Tradition in Turkey

Asik (Minstrel), Living History, Unesco