Surkhandarya is one of the most ancient cultural centers of Uzbekistan with original history and course of evolution. Having been among the high developed regions of Asia, a heart of antique Greco-Bactria and the Kushan empire, located on a trade crossroad, today Surkhandarya is a successor of the ancient traditions, a keeper of unique monuments of material and spiritual culture, a nature reserve of folk art where the alive tree of traditions is carefully saved, further develops and flourishes.
The Independence of Uzbekistan has given a special impulse to the traditions of folk culture. The government of our country has declared the revelation of national values as a top-priority task of the culture. This attracted the world attention to unique regions of our country, which are numerous in Uzbekistan, where the heritage of our ancestors is still alive.
The international organizations appreciated the full meaning of the significance of Surkhandarya traditional culture – in March 2001 UNESCO proclaimed the cultural space of Boysun as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The interest to this unique region was again proved by a fact that on May 23 – 27, 2002 in Boysun was held the Open Folklore Festival “Boysun Bahori” – a festival of peace, friendship, humanism and cooperation. The Festival program included concerts, parade of folklore ensembles, competition of traditional musicians for a prize of Turgun Alimatov, competition of epic narrators (bahshi), competition of designers of traditional fashion and exhibition-fare of folk craft pieces.
The founders of this action hope that festival and conference will become a good tradition that can promote further development and propagation of folk cultural values. The Editorial Board offers for attention of our readers some interviews with organizers and guests of the Festival and the article of R. Abdullaev who was among the generators of this Project.
The representative of UNESCO
It is a great honour and pleasure for me to take part in this action, on behalf of Mrs. Aikawa, Director of Intangible Heritage Section, who asked me to reiterate her sincere congratulations to the participants of the Festival and to the people of Boysun for the international distinction granted for cultural space of this region as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
The international experts of UNESCO have done wide scope work on systematization of criteria specifying a cultural space of this or that region as the cultural heritage of Humanity. Considering the recommendations of jury, General Director of UNESCO, Mr. Koichiro Matsuura granted for nineteen cultural spaces reflecting creative variety of human spirit as the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage. The first proclamation of masterpieces was on May 18, 2001 in UNESCO Headquarter. The history of Boysun goes back to the centuries. This region still remains culturally rich and full traditions abounding from both its laden history and art heritage. In the past Boysun was on a crossroad of the Great Silk Road, and its culture still preserves memory about those far days.
Boysun is a region of remarkable musicality characterized with innumerable rituals, musical and dance that have developed over the centuries and continue to flourish owing to its vitality, and their replenishment through the creative forces of millions of people. Numerous civilizations and cultures met and merged together here, which accounts for Boysun district’s uniqueness and splendour. The traditional ways of living are still vividly present in the present-day life of Boysun’s inhabitance: one observes them in colourful elaborately made traditional dresses at births, wedding and other festivals.
UNESCO’s Proclamation of “The Cultural Space of the Boysun District” as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity is a tribute to the preservation and flourishing of different forms of traditional culture, what promotes the creative genius of its population, in which all the traditional values and expressions become especially bright.
Chairman of SMI Group, General Producer
of the Festival
In 2001 UNESCO granted the Boysun Cultural Space as a Masterpice of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Boysun is better known abroad; it is written about, made films and composed music. But, as it became known, in Uzbekistan it is known little about the cultural treasure of Boysun. The idea on the Folklore Festival has occurred in the connection with a project to do wide presentation of the folklore heritage of this mountain region. The Open International Festival has turned an apposite form of public presentation of Boysun.
The nearest plans on the information about the results of the Festival include production of CD “Boysun bahori”. The studio of “Uzkinochronica” has made a film on the Festival and “Uzbektelefilm” is finishing the work on video film. Website www.boysun.uz. will be update within the summer.
The founders of the Festival (SMI-Asia, The Fund of Turgun Alimatov, “Boysuntog”) made a decision to held the next Folklore Festival “Boysun bahori” on May 1-6, 2003. A number of foreign participants is expected to enlarge up to 5 – 6 ensembles from Central Asian countries. We expect also to arrange, within the program of the Folklore Festival in Boysun, “The Meeting of Asian Masterpieces”, in which will take part the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity proclaimed by UNESCO in Japan, China, Korea, India, Philippine and Russia. This international action within the Boysun Festival can become a place of unique cultural dialogue. We expect to involve tele companies of Uzbekistan and foreign countries to inform on “The Meeting of Asian Masterpieces”.
Professor, Ph. Doctor, the Russian Academy of Arts.
The process of globalization sets up all peoples before the necessity to be awake to the cultural and spiritual wholeness. Just then a national culture can find its own place within the world culture and tribute own values in it, at the same time being enriched with the general. Within this context, a folk art, its role in the modern culture becomes extremely vital.
As a holistic system in the culture a folk art, regulated by laws of tradition, reproduces folk values – such relations with world, nature, universe, which form ethic foundation of a national culture. This is what makes colours and lines to emanate the light, to express insight harmony by means of musical accords, which make to ally with a spirit of universal wholeness. It could be achieved through a soul and heart of folk artist; he feels it in native nature, a broad expanse of mountains, steppe, forest, in myths, tales, songs and dances – this makes the tradition alive in the present days. The festival “Boysun bahori” demonstrated it with a great force, exposing not only a talent of the Uzbek people, their strong spirit, but, what is even more important, their love for motherland, national traditions and folk culture. By the way, the Boysun Festival was a public initiative. And this fact proves again the importance of preservation of folk traditions.
The significance of such event is tremendous, especially now when mentality of the people, especially of children, is under a strong influence of alien values when spiritual core of folk art is being exhausted by any kinds of show-business, which lead to profanation of national values. The modern culture, in the key aspects of aesthetic and ethic education, ecology of nature and culture needs the national art that, in Central Asian culture, has rich sources. Folk art like a native language needs the state and international protection. Oasis of folk cultural traditions, as the world heritage, should be inviolable and protected from destructive invasions and affects.
In Russia the folk art and Russian village, as a keeper of the traditional folk culture, survived hard experience on the ways of the Soviet history beginning with collectivization. In those years the folk art was related to the past and considered adversary to the modern time by its religious essence. The ethnography and Marxist philosophy had stated so. Thus a basic foundation of the culture – folk art was taken out of the system of culture and substituted with amateur activity, which was declared as “modern folk art”. Many works on aesthetic, folklore, ethnography and art critic were devoted to confirmation of this false ideological concept, which now requires careful revising and confirmation of actual folk art as a part of culture, independent unit reproducing its own creativity and traditions within modern human culture.
In the post-Soviet period, immediately after eliminating of ideological doctrines and bans, occurred revelation of religious feelings. In the course of rising of national self-consciousness many fields of folk art have been revived as schools of national culture. In Palekh and Mstera was revived icon painting that had been there for 300 years. Turning back to its roots, the lacquer miniature has enriched; painted blue-white ceramics “Gzel”, which was widespread before the revolution and minimized in the Soviet years up to one enterprise, is reviving now. Today thousands of people, masters from many villages are involved in the folk craft.
But old stereotypes of minding concerning the folk art and art management balk, and sometimes become harm, to revival of the folk crafts. I suppose the experience of Uzbekistan, a state policy in regard with the folk culture is very informative for Russia!
Researcher, The Setouchi Research
Vitality of any society depends on preservation of its traditional values. In this regard the proclamation by UNESCO of some regions as Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible of Humanity has great international significance. The Boysun district is geographically isolated and handicapped area that in many respects caused here the reservation of ancient unique culture being a result of long development and interaction of the peoples living here.
World culture, forms of folk traditional art are various by their types. Today it is important to realize that tangible and intangible heritage should be studied as a whole and should become a significant component of modern social life. I am sure we must jointly protect and preserve all outstanding pieces of folk traditional culture in their historical, ethnological, linguistic and philological aspects. The festival “Boysun bahori” is a notable event and I hope that it will have annual character and become actual holiday for everybody. I hope also that the Afghan people will be able to participate in this festival too. I would like that this tradition will involve the other areas proclaimed as the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage.
We also should appeal the existence and importance of the Cultural Space of the Boysun District from this site of Central Asia for all over the world. This festival is a part of long term strategy in the matter of preservation of intangible heritage, and it is important to create normative instruments in this regard.
My visit here became an important event in my life, in further I intent to continue the study of the culture of Uzbekistan. I hope that unique cultural space of Boysun will become a spiritual treasure for future generations.
The scientific conceptualization of processes in modern traditional culture has extremely high importance. Therefore, the program of the Festival included the International Scientific Conference. The scholars from France, Japan, Korea, Turkey, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan took part in the work of the Conference. There were four subject sections: “Folk Holidays and Rites”, “Epos and Oral Poetic Art”, “Music and Musical Instruments”, “Traditional Crafts and Folk Everyday Culture”. The participants of the Festival finalized its work with the Boysun Declaration.
We, the participants of the International Scientific Conference “Folklore and Folk Art in the Context of Modern Art Culture”, held in Boysun (Uzbekistan) on May 24 – 25, 2002 within the program of the Open Folk Festival “Boysun Bahori”:
- Expressing sincere gratitude to His Excellency President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov for his policy of support and promotion of the development of traditional culture and art;
- Expressing sincere gratitude to UNESCO, the Khokimiyat of the Surkhandarya province and Boysun district, the organizers and sponsors for their participation in the Festival;
- Pointing that Folklore and Folk Art are the most important basis of spiritual development of the society;
- Emphasizing that each national culture forms a wealth of all humanity;
- Emphasizing that proclamation of Boysun District as the Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity will become the important action in the promotion of traditional culture in all Central Asian regions and a part of long-term strategy on its preservation;
- Pointing that life stability of the traditional cultural heritage obtains a special importance on a background of world process of globalization.
1. To hold the scientific conferences dedicated to the preservation and development of traditional art within the context of modern culture not less than one time per two years. In particular, to pay special attention to such problems as “Ecology and Eco-Ethno-Consciousness of Folk Art”, “Women as Bearers of Traditions of Oral and Intangible Heritage”, “Traditional Culture and Modern Art”.
2. To prepare and publish the book “Traditional Culture of Central Asian States in the Modern Time (1990-2002)” within the frames of the regional UNESCO network on folklore.
3. To organize the Boysun Complex Historical and Folk-Ethnographical Expedition on the basis of Historical and Ethnographical Centre in Boysun, having among its purposes the edition of the Atlas of Folklore and Folk craft Centers of this region and publications of the expedition’s materials.
4. To work out the program of propagation and popularization of masterpieces of Boysun cultural heritage on the basis of modern technical facilities (audio CD, video CD and others) as well as TV programs propagating the values of folk culture.
5. To address UNESCO to render support in the contacts with the other centers proclaimed by UNESCO the Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
6. To address UNESCO in regard with cooperation in publishing of the materials of folk-ethnographical expeditions, which the scientific centers of Uzbekistan have exercised for many years.
7. To add to the program of further festivals:
- Competitions of documentation films on the subjects of folk art and everyday folk culture
- Fairs of traditional folk craft
- Special nomination of the festival program – “Traditional Holidays and Rites”.