UNESCO established the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2008. It was to ensure the protection of cultural heritages of ethnicity worldwide. Since, Turkey as a nation, is a cultural bridge between the East and the West. Its unique social, cultural and political spheres of life are evident throughout the country. Moreover, the Turkish heritage is a mixture of different historical factors defining the Turkish identity and the influence of Westernization. Given below are the traditions linked to Turkey in UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
The Whirling Dances of Mevlevi Sema Ceremony
The Mevleviye is a Sufi order, originating in 1273 in Konya. Now a days, the Mevleviye can be found in many Turkish societies throughout the world. But, the major centers of this order are in Konya and Istanbul. The Mevleviye are renowned for their whirling dances.
The Shadow Play of Karagöz
Karagöz and Hacivat are the puppet characters of the traditional Turkish shadow play. They were popularized during the Ottoman period. The plays generally performed at coffeehouses, gardens, and public squares, especially during the holy month of Ramadan.
The wandering poet singers, Asik (minstrel) form the Turkish minstrelsy tradition. Nevertheless, the minstrels perform through competing and singing improvised versions of poetry.
Asik (Minstrel) dress in traditional clothes and use a stringed instrument for their performance. The minstrel commonly perform at weddings, in coffeehouses and during public festivals.
Traditional Sohbet meetings
Sohbet gatherings are an important vehicle for transmitting Turkish folk literature, folk dances and music. Men meet indoors, especially in winter, to discuss local social and cultural issues. These meetings in particular develop mutual respect and a sense of community. According to this tradition, the locals enjoy music, dances and plays, and local dishes. Furthermore, a traditional Sohbet meeting last until the early morning.
Ceremonial Keşkek tradition
Keşkek is a traditional Turkish ceremonial dish. The dish mostly joins the menu in wedding ceremonies and religious holidays. Usually, the dish consists of wheat and meat. Cooked in huge cauldrons and then served to the guests as a delicious feast.
The Mesir Macunu festival of Manisa, celebrated from 21 to 24 of March since decades. Turkey honors the recovery of Hafsa Sultan, mother of Suleiman the Magnificent. According to the tradition, the invention of a paste known as mesir macunu, cured the disease.
Ebru, Turkish art of marbling
Ebru is the traditional water-marbling art. Generally, the art is done by forming colorful designs on a pan of oily water. The color pigments are then transferring the patterns to paper.
The Celebration of New Year, Nawrouz
Kurdish people in Iraq and Turkey celebrate Nawrouz while welcoming the New Year. An important tradition done during this event is the gathering around ‘the Table’. In addition, the table, adorned with objects that symbolize purity, brightness, livelihood and wealth.
The Ceramic Art of Çini
Çini are traditional ceramics featuring colorful motifs of plants, animals and geometric patterns. These ceramics are handmade and often found in Turkey. In brief, you might see them on facades of buildings and in homes throughout the country.
The tradition of Flat Bread; Lavash, Jupka, Yufka, Katyrma
The culture of baking flatbread is present in communities of Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey. The making and sharing of flatbread in social functions is apparently a widely-practiced tradition.
The ancient tradition linked to drinking coffee in Turkey have woven its culture and history. Although, the experience of authentic Turkish coffee can never be forgotten.
The Cem Ritual of Semah
Among the twelve main services found in Cem rituals, Semah is one. Adherents of Alevi-Bektaşi practice those rituals. Semahçıs (Semah dancers) perform this ritual, escorted by devout musicians playing the saz.
Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling
The Kırkpınar oil wrestling festival takes place in Edirne, Turkey. In this event, thousands of people from different age groups, cultures and regions participate in this event. As a matter of fact, every year the Pehlivan (wrestlers) fight for the Kırkpınar Golden Belt and the title of Chief Pehlivan.
The Art of Storytelling; Meddah
Meddah is a single storyteller that performs a Turkish theater for m called the Meddahlik. Practiced throughout Turkey, Meddah chooses songs or comic tales based on popular romances, legends and epics. As a result, he adapts his material according to the designated audience.