Azerbaijani Ashig Art

Ashig art is one of the two important bases of musical culture in Azerbaijan along with mugham art.

Azerbaijani ashig artHeydar Aliyev Center

Ashig art is one of the principal classic symbols of Azerbaijani culture, a traditional art form, combining poetry, storytelling, dance and vocal and instrumental music. The classic repertoire, accompanied by the stringed instrument saz, includes over 200 songs, nearly 150 literary-musical works known as “epics,” and about 2000 poems and numerous stories in various poetic forms. Depending on the region, other musical instruments may also be used, but all varieties share a common language and artistic history. The art of ashig has developed especially in Gazakh, Tovuz and Shamakhi, as well as the historic Goycha and Borchali regions of Azerbaijan.

Ashigs in the CaucasusHeydar Aliyev Center

In the Caucasus ashigs perform at weddings, holidays and other celebratory events, as well as on concert stages and on radio and television, sometimes integrating classical melodies with contemporary as they continue to broaden their repertoire. Their art is an emblem of national identity, safeguarding the Azerbaijani language, literature and music. While ashigs symbolise the consciousness of a nation, they foment cultural exchange and promote dialogue: various ethnic groups living in the country also perform the ashig art, and their songs and poems are likewise dispersed throughout the region.

Important bases of musical culture in AzerbaijanHeydar Aliyev Center

Ashig art is one of the two important bases of musical culture in Azerbaijan along with mugham art. The ashig art has colourful features, different themes and plot lines. The art of ashig is not just a poetic thought, but also a manifestation of the wisdom, centuries-old experience and culture of the people. It is distinguished by the richness and diversity of verbal expression, in which the simplicity, poesy and beauty of the people's language and its irresistible emotionality are reflected. In the poetic creativity of the ashigs, the national poetry genres of Azerbaijan such as goshma, garayli, gifilband, ustadname, tajnis, vucudname and others each have a special place. These genres can also be part of the epic form.

“Kitabi Dada Gorgud”Heydar Aliyev Center

The most ancient example of an epic by Azerbaijani ashigs is “Kitabi Dada Gorgud” of the 7th century dedicated to the life, love and heroism of ancient ozans, the great ancestors of modern Azerbaijani ashigs. The ashig art also influenced the creativity of composers.

“Koroghlu” operaHeydar Aliyev Center

The features of ashig music were used for the first time by the great Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibeyli in the “Koroghlu” opera.

Third SymphonyHeydar Aliyev Center

Composer Gara Garayev, who combined the features of ashig music with the technical resources of contemporary music, managed to create that unity in the second part of his Third Symphony.

80 geographical variants of ashig musicHeydar Aliyev Center

There are more than 80 geographical variants of ashig music, such as “Keremi”, “Dilgemi” and “Yanig Kerem”. The interaction of poetic text with music in the ashig pieces has a significant effect on the formation of their melodic-rhythmic forms. The main rhythm of an ashig poetry is heja (syllabics). The structure of the tunes is formed in connection with the shape and syllabic composition of the poem. By the Decision of the 4th Session of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee on Intangible Cultural Heritage, held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, from September 28 to October 2, 2009, “the Art of Azerbaijani Ashiq” was included in UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Legends of ashig artHeydar Aliyev Center

Gurbani (16th Century), Abbas Tufarganli, Sari Ashig (17th Century), Khasta Gasim, Ashig Valeh, Ashig Dilgam (18th Century), Ashig Ali, Ashig Alasgar, Ashig Hussein Shamkirli (19th Century) and others are the legends of ashig art.

Modern-day ashigsHeydar Aliyev Center

Distinguished modern-day ashigs include Ashiq Hussein Bozanganli, Ashiq Asad, Ashig Mirza, Ashiq Islam, Ashig Shamshir, Huseyn Sarajli, Amrah Gulmammadov, Huseyn Javan, Ashiq Kamandar, Imran Hasanov, Mikayil Azafli, Akbar Jafarov and others.

Ashiq Asad (1875-1950)Heydar Aliyev Center

Ashiq Asad (1875-1950 Tovuz)

Ashig Mirza (1872-1937)Heydar Aliyev Center

Ashig Mirza (1872-1937 Aghsu)

Ashiq Islam (1978-2013)Heydar Aliyev Center

Ashiq Islam (1978-2013 Baku)

Ashig Shamshir (1893-1980)Heydar Aliyev Center

Ashig Shamshir (1893-1980 Kelbecer)

Huseyn Sarajli (1916-1987)Heydar Aliyev Center

Huseyn Sarajli (1916-1987 Bolnisi)

Amrah Gulmammadov (1914-1987)Heydar Aliyev Center

Amrah Gulmammadov (1914-1987 Marneuli)

Huseyn Javan (1916-1985)Heydar Aliyev Center

Huseyn Javan (1916-1985)

Ashiq Kamandar (1932-200)Heydar Aliyev Center

Ashiq Kamandar (1932 Marneuli -2000 Baku)

Imran Hasanov (1928-1999)Heydar Aliyev Center

Imran Hasanov (1928-1999)

Mikayil Azafli (1924-1990 Tovuz)

Akbar JafarovHeydar Aliyev Center

Akbar Jafarov

Credits: Story

Mahabbat Mehdiyeva
The Director of Museum Department, Heydar Aliyev Center

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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