Friday, April 18, 2014


Azerbaijan

UNESCO's Decision On Azeri Cultural Heritage Causes Protests

An Azerbaijani Culture Ministry photo of players participating in the polo-like game "chovqan," known as "chogan" in some cultures
An Azerbaijani Culture Ministry photo of players participating in the polo-like game "chovqan," known as "chogan" in some cultures

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On December 2-7, members of the United Nations' cultural agency UNESCO are meeting in the Azerbaijani capital Baku to consider which traditions, rituals, and crafts to add this year to its list of endangered Intangible Cultural Heritage. This year's applicants include everything from Mongolian yurt-making to Turkish coffee to polo played in Azerbaijan.
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BAKU -- Azerbaijan has called groundless Tajikistan's challenge of UNESCO's decision last week to add an archaic form of Azerbaijani polo to its list of "intangible heritage" in need of preservation.

Vasif Eyvazzade of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism told Azerbaijan's APA news agency on December 11 that any country claiming that chovqan -- played, as he said, on short-legged Karabakh horses -- is its national game can simply refer to UNESCO, which recognized it as part of Azerbaijan's cultural heritage earlier this month.

ALSO READ: Iran Claims To Thwart Azerbaijani Cultural Imperialism At UNESCO

Tajik intellectuals sent a protest letter to UNESCO on December 9, saying that chovqan is the cultural heritage not only of Azerbaijan but also of Afghanistan, Armenia, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

Media reports in Iran last week also criticized UNESCO's decision, saying that the game is, in fact, Persian and is called chogan.

Based on reporting by apa.az and RFE/RL's Tajik Service

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