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Asiklik, Minstrelsy Tradition

Discover Turkey, home of traditional minstrels


Turkish Minstrelsy Tradition

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

Asiklik (Minstrelsy) Tradition

Turkish minstrelsy tradition is performed by wandering poet singers known as Asik (minstrel). Minstrels perform by competing and by singing improvised poetry to one another.

Asik (Minstrel): Dressed in traditional clothes and plucking a stringed instrument, the minstrel is a common performer at weddings, in coffeehouses and during public festivals.

The minstrel 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 minstrel utters his pseudonym. Their improvisational performances may also include riddles, folk tales, verbal duels of wit and creativity with other minstrels, 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 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, minstrels 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