"Dig into the roots of culture, and it will grow. It's like grass that is growing and cannot stop, and music is like the fertilizer for that."

Burning Spear

There is a sense of music and dance in any Azerbaijani Turk. There are more than 20 Azerbaijani dances, and some, like Yalli Dance, have been recognized by UNESCO as cultural heritage. Musical instruments such as the Qopuz, Kemancha, Qaval, Qarmon and Naghara are familiar to all Azerbaijani people. Azerbaijani people love having music and dance in all their traditional ceremonies, such as Kosa Gelin, Tekem, Chomche Khatin tradition and etc.

"Cultural differences should not separate us from each other, but rather cultural diversity brings a collective strength that can benefit all of humanity."

Robert Alan

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 Azerbaijani Folk Dance 

Azerbaijani folk dances are developed and performed by Azerbaijani Turks during centuries. Known for their fast tempo and the dancers' traditional clothing, these dances play important role in preserving the beauty of our culture. List of the dances are here.

Enjoy some Nelbeki dance by "Buta Azerbaijani Dance Ensemble" from California here.

Another nice video clip in the capital of the republic of Azerbaijan, Baku. Here.

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 Qopuz 

Azerbaijani Qopuz (Turkish: Kopuz, Kyrgyz Komuz) is an ancient Turkic instrument used in Central Asian music. In Turkic legends, Dede Korkut is believed to be the inventor of the kopuz and the golcha gopuz was mentioned in the epic Book of Dede Korkut.

Wanna see more?
Click here to watch a nice qopuz performance.

Who wants to hear how does "Qopuz" sound like? Hit here!

Qizil Gul (Qızıl Gül) is a popular flower in Azerbaijan used for flavoring the Dough, making jam and Gülab (Rose Water). Watch how

Wanna have some fun?
Listen to an old Azerbaijani folkloric song about Qizil Gul here

Listen to an Uyghur song about Qizil Gul here

Listen to an old Kyrkiz song about Qizil Gul here

Qizil Gul (Qızıl Gül) is a popular flower in Azerbaijan used for flavoring the Dough, making jam and Gülab (Rose Water). Watch how

Wanna have some fun?
Listen to an old Azerbaijani folkloric song about Qizil Gul here

Listen to an Uyghur song about Qizil Gul here

Listen to an old Kyrkiz song about Qizil Gul here

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 Chomche Khatin/Gelin 
(Çömçə Xatın/Gəlin) 

Chomche in Azerbaijani Turkic is a large spoon. This show is performed by women and kids to ask for rain during the dry season. They hold Chomche in their hands and knock at doors asking for donations to be used for making a traditional soup called "Ash" while singing a song in Azerbaijani.

Click here to watch our video about this tradition.

Iranian Azerbaijanis during Chomche Khatin tradition

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 Yalli Dance 
( Yallı Rəqsi ) 

Included in the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Yalli dance is a kind of group dance performed in a circle or line, and it sometimes involves some elements of games, pantomime (imitating bird or other animals), and certain movements.

Are you ready for a fun and informative video clip by UNESCO about Azerbaijani Yalli? Click here!

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 Art of Azerbaijani Ashiq 
(Aşıq) 

Guarding our language, literature and music, "the art of Azerbaijani Ashiqs" is considered an emblem of Azerbaijani national identity because it combines poetry, folklore stories, literature, and instrumental music into traditional performance art.
The earliest traces of the art of Azerbaijani Ashiqs can be found in the 7th century Book of Dede Qorqud, which contains the most famous epic stories of the Oghuz Turks.
The art of Azerbaijani Ashiqs has been inscribed on UNESCO's List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Read more about Ashiqs here.
Read about various types of Ashiq songs here.

Chumche in Azerbaijani Turkic is a large spoon. This show is done by women and kids to ask for rain during the dryness season. They hold Chumche in their hands and knock people's doors asking for presents. Then, they make a traditional dish called "Ash". They sing this song when doing all these:

Chumche khatin ne ister?

(What does lady Chumche want?)

Allahdan yaghish ister (She wants rain from God)
Chumche khatin yagh ister allahdan yaghish ister

(Lady Chumche want butter and rain from God)

Chumche khatin un ister od ister
(She wants flavor and fire)

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 Mugham Music 
(Muğam) 

No form of music touches Azerbaijanis to the heart more than the sound of Mugham. Mugham is one of the many folk musical compositions of Azerbaijan. Typical instruments used when playing Mugham are Kamancha, Qaval, Caucasian Tar, and etc. The masters of Azerbaijani Mugham sang poems written by Azerbaijani poets like Fuzuli, Habibi and Khatai (First king of Safavid dynasty).

UNESCO has proclaimed Azerbaijani Mugham a "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" and added it to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists in 2008.

Click here to watch UNESCO's video clip about Mugham.

Azerbaijani Kamancha is also listed in UNESCO's heritage list. Click here to listen to a short music performing Azerbaijani masterpiece "Ayriliq" by Kamancha.

"A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots."

Marcus Garvey

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 Chille Night 
(Çillə Gecəsi) 

The winter solstice represents the longest night of the year. Azerbaijani Turks call this night Çillə (Chille).

On the night of Chille, all family members gather around "Kürsü" to celebrate by reciting Azerbaijani Turkic "Bayati" and "Hekim Fuzuli" poems. Playing "Tapmaja" is another form of entertainment during this night.

"Çillə Süfrəsi" or "Chille table" is set up on the Chille night. Halva, peshmek, noghul (sweet-dipped almonds or peanuts), watermelon, butternut pumpkin, pomegranate, apple, quince, almond, walnut, raisins, chickpeas and popcorn, are served on this night.

On this night the newly-wed groom's family send "Chille Payi" or "Khoncha" to the new bride. Chille Payi should be sent before sunset and it entails a decorated basket of watermelon, sweets, orange, pomegranate, mirror, fabrics, etc.

Considering Chille and Sonay together, one may realize that the change of seasons always were of importance for our ancestors.

Chille consists of 3 parts in Azerbaijani culture. First 40 days are called "Big Chille" (Böyük Çillə), the following 20 days are "Small Chile" (Kiçik Çillə)​, then "Qari Nene Chillesi" comes at the end of the Small Chille and it lasts for 10 days. Watch our video about Azerbaijani Chille, here.

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 Azerbaijani Rugs 
(Xalça) 

Azerbaijani rug-weaving was added to the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity in 2010. Some of famous Azerbaijani rugs you may know are Tabriz, Heris, Ardabil, Shirvan, Karabakh and Ganja rugs. Although sold under the name "Persian", rugs from Iranian Azerbaijan may have Turkic structure because they are woven by ethnic Turks in Iran. Click here to learn more about the different forms of knotting.

Here you can learn more about the difference between Persian rugs and Turkic rugs.

Click here to visit Azerbaijan's National Carpet Museum.

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 Stuffed Grape Leaves 
(Yarpaq Dolması) 

Derived from Dolmaq infinitive, Dolma in Azerbaijani Turkic means "Stuffed". This food is made by stuffing the grape leaves.

You can try "Yalançı Dolma" or fake Dolma if you want no meat in your stuffed leaves. There is another type of stuffed grape leaves which is called "Sarma". Sarma in Azerbaijani and Turkish means "to wrap" and it is a dish in which grape leaves are wrapped around the ingredients. This dish is called Yarpak Dolması among Anatolian Turks, Dolmeye barge mo among Persians and Dolmayi Galayi among Kurds.

Let's make some Dolma! Click here to get the recipe from Feride.

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 Golden Flower 
(Qızıl Gül) 

Qizil Gul (Qızıl Gül) is a popular flower in Azerbaijan and Turkic culture. It is used for flavoring the Dough, making jam and Gülab (Rose Water). Watch how


Listen to an old Azerbaijani folk song about Qizil Gul here

Listen to an Uyghur song about Qizil Gul here

Listen to an old Kyrkiz song about Qizil Gul here

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Qizil Gul (Qızıl Gül) Season in Iranian Azerbaijan

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 Teething dish for baby 
(Dişlik or Hədik) 

In Azerbaijani tradition baby’s first tooth is celebrated by cooking a kind of traditional Azerbaijani dish with seven grains. Then the guardian of the kid gives Dishlik/Hedik to the family and neighbors and they, in return, put some toys or teething objects in the bowl that they got. The teething kid also eats from that food and people believe this food will make teeth grow faster and more smoothly.

Watch this video to learn how to make Azerbaijani Hedik or Dishlik for your teething baby!

Here is a video clip about Iranian Azerbaijanis celebrating a baby's first tooth in Ardabil.

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 Kelaghayi 
(Kəlağayı) 

Kelaghayi or "Baş Örtüyü" is a 4 sided silk fabric worn by Azerbaijani women since old times. This type of high quality silk Kelaghayis were made in Tabriz, Üç Qaya (Osku), Ganja, Shamakhi, Sheki and Nakhchivan cities.

The colors and even the patterns of Kelaghayi often have special meanings and are chosen depending on the woman's age or the event she is attending. For example, older women tend to wear dark-colored Kelaghayis while younger women prefer brighter ones.

If a woman gives a Kelaghayi to a man, it means that she accepted his proposal of marriage. She would then wear a red kelaghayi at their henna party.

Order your silk Kelaghayi today from here.

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 Filmography 

Some Old Azerbaijani Movies:

1. O Olmasin Bu Olsun

Mostly known by the name of the main character, "Meshedi Ibad" this musical comedy movie is a story about a beautiful young woman (Gulnaz) who is in love with his boyfriend, Sarvar, but is obliged to marry an old rich man.

2. Nasimi

This movie is depicting the life of a prominent Azerbaijani philosopher and poetImadaddin Nasimi.

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 Water Tuesday 
(Su Çərşənbə axşamı) 

Azerbaijani people used to go to the water sources early morning on the first Wednesday of the last month of winter. They used to jump over the water so the water would wash and take away their pain and sufferings. Then they cut the water with a scissor so their fate continues to bring good to their lives. They used to bring some water to their homes and splash it in 4 corners of their houses because they believed "Su Aydınlıqdır" which means "the water is the brightness".

Click here to watch our video about Water Tuesday.

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 Hanging a Scarf 
( Şal Sallamaq) 

Shal (scarf) Sallamaq (hanging) is a tradition passed down throughout generations among Azerbaijani Turks. Shal Sallamaq is one of the practices of last Tuesday of the year. Younger folks would go on top of roofs where they used to have a small opening in old times, and pass a very long scarf through the opening. The house residents then would tie into the hanging end of the scarf a handful of nuts or other treats  and shout: Pull up! May God grant your wishes!

Click here to watch EnglishAzerbaijani's video about this tradition.

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 Azerbaijani Valentine
(Sonay; The Last Moon) 

Most people consider Sonay as Azerbaijani Valentine's day. They buy gifts for their lovers with moon symbols on this day. You may wonder why moon? Watch our video about Sonay here to know why.

Wanna know more? Let's read a novel about Sonay by Nasir Menzuri,  here!

 
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Tekem and Tekemchi
(Təkəm və Təkəmçi)

Tekem in Azerbaijani means a male goat and Tekemchi (Təkəmçi) is the ventriloquist with a Tekem puppet. Tekemchis performing and singing are heralds of spring and Nevruz in Azerbaijan. This type of rituals originate from agricultural communities and are therefore connected with nature. The most important part of this tradition is the Turkic poems song by the Tekemchi. Click here to watch our video about this tradition.