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«Culture is the foundation of the nations existence»

The Founder of Peace and National Unity – Leader of the Nation, President of the Republic of Tajikistan,
His Excellency Emomali Rahmon

Culture is the pearl of the essence of the nation. Fortunately, in the Independent Tajikistan has created favorable conditions for exploring this rich heritage of the Tajik people. All theaters, exhibition halls, palaces and houses of culture, the Tajik circus, the library with its colorful program is open from morning until late evening. Hasten and rejoice yourself and your family members!

INTANGIBLE HERITAGE OF THE TAJIK PEOPLE

Tajiks are one of the oldest inhabitants of the Central Asian region owning many multifaceted cultural expressions and elements with a many centuries old of cultural interactions history with their nomadic and settled neighboring nations. The intangible heritage of the Tajik culture is rooted in the history of esoteric and folklore of the Arian people. Some of the grandeur examples of the intangible heritage of the Tajik people include the Avesta and many other written monuments in Pahlavi, Sogdian and other Iranian languages. The medieval examples are “Shahnameh” of Firdousi, “Osoral-boqiya” of Biruni, “Nawruznameh” of Khayyam, “Ta'rikhiBukhoro” of Narshakhi, “Badoe' ul-vaqoe” of Vasifi and many-many other writing. Of course one should name also the continuity of this intangible heritage in the writing of the 19th and 20th century Tajik writers such as Ayni.

However the academic study of the aspects of intangible cultural heritage in Tajikistan begun in the last decades of the 19th and early decades of the 20th centuries. In this period Russian scholars of Orintal Studies N.V. Khanikov, A.A. Semenov, M.S. Andreev, A.P. Bobrinskiy, D.N. Logofet, G. A. Arandarenko, A. Shishov and many others have made great contribution in the study of cultural heritage and gathering immense ethnographic material, including art, history and languages. The works of the aforementioned scholars and their other contemporary academic colleagues reflect the great wealth of customs, traditions, aspects of life and vocation relevant to mode of living, social structures and regional characteristics of Tajik people. From the establishment of the Soviet Rule in Tajikistan to the middle of the 20th century nearly all research expeditions and academic undertakings were directed by the famous research institutions based on Leningrad 9St. Petersburg) and Moscow.

In 1951 at the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tajikistan specialized research institute of history, archaeology and ethnography named after AhmadiDonish was set up and henceforth major ethnographic and historical expeditions and special researches were conducted employing local scholars.

The research members of staff of the Ethnographic Department launched large-scale expedition and research projects on various aspects of the Tajik culture encompassing, family life, customs, ceremonial and festive celebrations, traditions, folklore including dances and singing, languages, agriculture and horticultural production, etc., and since than many publications emerged featuring the results of these academic endeavors in form of monographs, individual academic pieces and photo albums.

The intangible cultural heritage of the Tajik people has seen a long history of formation and development and has grown in multiple ways and expressions and forms. These intangible cultural forms have always played significant functional role both in past and today. Indeed, in the course of history as society developed from ordinary ways to more complex some of the cultural forms and expressions being affected by different factors (for instance industrial development) have either ceased or transformed (for example, paper making, glass blowing, needle making, Hut festival, etc.). It was also the case that changes in social habitat has made it possible for the new cultural genres and expressions to be born and these new elements has either substituted the old ones or have added to the exiting baggage of intangible cultural elements. An example is emergence of Mavrigi singing cycle or emergence of teahouse culture. There were also cultural elements that were acquired and adopted from the other cultures with which Tajik people had close intercultural relations e.g. buzkashi game has entered Tajik culture from Turkic-Mongolian culture or chain-stitching embroidery making has been borrowed as well.

On August 17th in 2010 Majlisi Oli of the Republic of Tajikistan has ratified the protection of the country's intangible cultural heritage law and Tajikistan has officially become the UNESCO Convention member on the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Tajikistan has unique and rich culture of both tangible and intangible expressions. In 2012, the Program of Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Tajik People for 2013-2020 has been approved by the Government of Tajikistan with the purpose and focus on research, revitalize, protect and promote of the traditional intangible cultural expressions, including historical tangible heritage.

In the context of researching Tajikistan's cultural heritage in the framework of the «Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Tajik People for the 2013-2020» the State Institution «Tajik Encyclopedia» has taken an initiative to publish an «Encyclopedia of traditional Tajik culture» and to date the first volume of this work has been printed. In addition special volume of «Nowruz Encyclopedia» and «Encyclopedia of traditional Tajik cuisine» is being prepared to be published soon.

It is matter of proud that on the basis of the initiative of the Republic of Tajikistan and some other countries in 2010 and according to the special resolution of the United Nations the Nowruz festival have been recognized as an international holiday i.e. «International Day of Nowruz». It is also due to the cultural policies of the government of the Tajikistan that several other intangible culture expressions from Tajikistan has been included into the UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Currently Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity include three nominations from Tajikistan; these are «Shashmaqam music» nominated jointly with the republic of Uzbekistan, «Oshi Palaw as Traditional Food and Its Socio-Cultural context in Tajikistan» (2016), and «Nowruz» also nominated in 2016 jointly with Afghanistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and India. At the moment there are two other nominations proposed to be considered for inclusion into the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity these are «Atlas and adras» and «Chakan embroidery» by Research Institute of Culture and Information.

The intangible cultural heritage of any nation is always in development and improvement. With the influence of different factors, they cease, change and become partially active, they expand and the circles of their function also expand.

According to the requirements of the UNESCO Convention on the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003), part 3, Article 12 each of its member states must maintain one or more national registers and archives of the intangible cultural heritage in its territory. In connection with in 2010, the first register of the «Elements of he Cultural Heritage» was prepared, which included 48 elements of the spiritual culture of the Tajik people.

After four years of research, the researchers of the Research Institute of Culture and Informationin the field of safeguarding, researching and promoting of intangible cultural heritage compiled the «National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage» containing 286 entries of traditional culture, which was published a year later. In 2016, a new edition of this register in Tajik and English languages was published, which covered 515 elements of the intangible cultural heritage of the Tajik people. In compilation of the register and its content many national experts including members of non-governmental organization working the sphere of culture and heritage and members of various craft communities played active role.
The updated Inventory of the intangible cultural heritage consists of sections devoted to oral tradition, ceremonial rites, customs and practices, traditional art, craft, national festivals, traditional sports and etc.

In updating this Inventory the recent gathered ethnographic data by the members of the Institute for the academic research and information in the field of safeguarding, researching and promoting of intangible cultural heritage including secondary academic sources on culture and heritage has been used. Research members of the Institute for the academic research and information in the field of safeguarding, researching and promoting of intangible cultural heritage regularly work on revision and adding new material to the Inventoryand the next improved and updated edition is planned to be printed in 2018.

In the Research Institute of Culture and Informationin the field of safeguarding, researching and promoting of intangible cultural heritage, since the beginning of 2016, the book series on «Intangible Cultural Heritage of Tajik People» is being published, which reflect the breadth and variety of the result of the painstaking work of the research members of the institute. So far, for volumes in this series were published and the fifth volume is in preparation. Additionally, in collaboration with the state entity «Tojikfilm» in 2016, the book-album titled «Samples of he Intangible Cultural Heritage of Tajik People» was released. In short, all of these initiatives are targeted to facilitate promotion, preservation and protection of the cultural heritage of Tajik nation.

Another great work of the Research Institute of Culture and Information researchers is preparation and publishing the book «The Intangible Cultural Heritage in Tajikistan» in Tajik and English languages in 2017. This book is one of the results of the research of the members of the Institute for the academic research and information in the field of safeguarding, researching and promoting of intangible cultural heritage and a number of researchers from the academic and cultural institutions of the country. Materials presented there are directly based on the first-hand data gathered by the members of the Institute as well as archival data and recently published relevant secondary sources.

The book is comprised of seven sections and each section contains series of articles pertainingeach section. The first part includes essays on the «Oral Traditional Expressions», the second section is devoted to «art and Craft» and third section covers «Traditional ritual and ceremonies»; the fourth section is devoted to the «Traditional forms of Knowledge and Skills» and the fifth section covers the «Traditional forms of Handcrafts»; the sixth section is on « Traditional Cuisine» and the final seventh section is about the «Traditional forms of Sports and Games».At the end of each section, a list of publications related to the subject is mentioned that readers may refer to for more information.

Dilshod Rahimi
Vice-director of the Research Institute of Culture and Information