Four “intangible cultural elements” of Azerbaijan were added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List during the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Rabat, Morocco.

The skills recently added to UNESCO’s list include sericulture and traditional production of silk for weaving, Pehlevanliq culture: traditional zorkhana games, sports and wrestling, Telling tradition of Molla Nasreddin and Culture of Çay (tea), a symbol of identity, hospitality and social interaction.

All of these elements play a central role in Azerbaijani culture, with the traditional production of silk weaving also represented by Afghanistan, Islamic Republic of Iran, Türkiye, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

Pehlevanliq, in particular, has been a big part of traditional sports and games, such as wrestling, and individual performances. Pehlevans use specific heavy tools that resemble medieval weapons, such as swords, shields and bows, to the sound of traditional music or fast-beating drums.

The Social practice of “The Telling Tradition of Nasredding Anectodes” is also being jointly celebrated with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Türkiye, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. It involves retelling tales by the philosopher and sage Nasreddin, which are full of wisdom and witty repartees.

Tea ceremonies, which have evolved over centuries, also hold a “special place” in Azerbaijan and neighbouring countries. Azerbaijanis serve tea in a special pearshaped glass called an armudu, often together with lemon and sugar, honey, jam, nuts and sweets.

The announcement means Azerbaijan now has 19 intangible elements and three sites on UNESCO heritage lists.

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