Intangible Cultural Heritage of Asia and the Pacific

Toy ox-cart with mallets © Doganay Cevik / CRF Toy Collection

Cultural Research Foundation in Turkey

The Cultural Research Foundation (CRF) was founded in 2002. Led by folklorists and anthropologists, the work of CRF regarding intangible cultural heritage can be categorized as

  • Researching and documenting ICH,
  • Sharing and promoting ICH through publications and events, and
  • Creating cultural heritage awareness, especially for pre-school and youth.

CRF, accredited under the UNESCO ICH Convention in 2012, carries out this work under the sections of Culinary Culture, Toy, Crafts and Rituals Research Programs. CRF is also a member of the Izmir ICH Commission.

The Turkey Folklore Portal, a digital folklore platform, also called Folk-Portal (https://folk-portal.org), is a new example of our recent work representing two programs. The website was designed by CRF and supported by the EU Sivil Dusun Program to record ICH elements on a common digital platform for future use. It aims to provide a functional and sustainable digital environment in which individuals, communities and groups can share their ICH by documenting, sharing, expressing, and presenting our living cultural heritage and to promote the ICH Convention through the initiatives of civil society.

Folk-Portal brings people and communities together in a free, easily-accessible, and dynamic digital platform, which is based on the spirit and objectives of the Convention. The portal has no restrictions other than international human and animal rights with regards to race, religion, language, gender, ethnic group, and copyrights. For this reason, it is open to all people, institutions, communities, and groups who are willing to share ICH elements and to exchange information.

Toy Research Program

This program, led by coordinator Ceren Gogus, aims to investigate the place of games and toys in culture, to determine their change in historical processes, to examine and record the current situation of the games, and to maintain their transmission and presentation to future generations as ICH elements. The program is composed of four subsections: research, education, publication, and publicity.
Research

Interview and observation methods are used in field research. The data, obtained with photography, audio recordings, and documentary video throughout Turkey, is recorded in the archives of CRF. Some of the topics include the place of traditional toys in rituals, the way they are used, local names given to toys, and their role in the oral transmission. The artisans who produce toys by traditional methods are also documented during the field research.

Toy Collection

The CRF toy collection is composed of traditional toys made from natural materials, including wood, metal, cloth, paper, bone, and plants, collected from many countries and different regions of Turkey. The collection, consisting of about four hundred toys, is exhibited in Turkey and abroad.

Spinning-Top Collection

This collection is composed of two hundred spinning tops of different features from thirty countries. The collection includes spinning tops from around the world made of materials such as wood, paper, glass, brass, tin, and tree seed, representing their own culture.

Publications

Anatolian Toy Culture, a publications based on our research conducted since 2002, is about to be finished. For the publication, we performed professional photo shootings in various museums in Turkey and contacted several toy collectors.

Education

In cooperation with various institutions and organizations, CRF has conducted workshops in schools to teach about traditional toys based on hand skills. CRF has provided consultancy services to school groups participating in the games and toys projects within the framework of TUBITAK’s (The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) grant program that supports primary schools.

Multi-vision presentations and training have been carried out in cooperation with different institutions. Some of these include presentations on traditional games and toys and toy-making workshops at Ankara Anatolian Civilizations Museum, a workshop by the Child Museums Association at Bilkent University, the Spring Fest of the METU Turkish Folklore Community, World Game Playing Day events organized by Marmara University, and Spring Fest organized by Ankara University Child Culture Research and Application.

In 2013, all the toys belonging to Ankara University Faculty of Educational Sciences Toy Museum were photographed in the framework of the Toy Museum Inventory Project, to be used in the educational activities of the museum and CRF.

Publicity

The Datca Toy Fest, started in 2005 in cooperation with the Datca Municipality with the support of the Child Museums Association, is still organized today to promote Anatolian toys with the supported of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Universal Toys and Peg-Tops Exhibition opened within the framework of Little Ladies Little Gentlemen Theater Festival for Children
Toys from the World Exhibition opened during the Changes in the Contemporary Children Games and Toys Symposium (Ankara, 2010; exhibition catalogue was published)

Anatolia Folk Toys Exhibition held during the twenty-first International Pekin Book Fair in Pekin, China in 2014 (Turkey as Guest of Honor; exhibition catalogue was published).

In addition, the work of Toy and Culinary Culture Research Programs has been shared with the accredited CSOs in Rome, Paris, Barcelona, and Brussels in the framework of the Network Forming with International CSOs event held in 2017 with the support of the EU Sivil Dusun Program.

Culinary Culture Research Program

The Culinary Culture Research Program, coordinated by Nihal Kadioglu Cevik, deals with eating and drinking traditions, which is a multi-layered and visible area of intangible cultural heritage. The program is composed of four subsections: inventory, publication, education, and publicity.

Inventory

Research methods and techniques in social sciences and field research by folklorists and ethnologists are used for the inventory-making work regarding culinary culture. Observations are held in cultural places and interviews with tradition transmitters are carried out. The processes of obtaining food, such as agricultural production, hunting and fishing activities, and local markets, are examined. Traditional cookery, site-kitchen relation, materials, and supplies related to cooking and meal preservation, street food, ceremonial food and drinks, and food with sanctity are covered. The beliefs, practices, and oral transmissions involved in the cultural food processes from production to consumption are examined as an expression of cultural identity. The data obtained by photographs, audio recordings, and documentary videos are logged in the CRF’s archive. The data is evaluated with a interdisciplinary approach and constitutes the basis of education, publication, and publicity work.

An example of such inventory work is depicted in the research and documentary film work on Noah’s Pudding conducted throughout Turkey. In the film, Noah’s Pudding Ritual in Alevi-Bektashi, Qadiri, and other groups is documented. (Noah’s Pudding Ritual; a ritual based on cooking a symbolic dessert containing traditions of its own and is still popular as a common point in the cultures of different ethnic, religious, and cultural groups living in Turkey.)

Publications

Hamsiname Publication and Publicity Project / EU-CFCU: This project was carried out within the framework of the protection / support of cultural rights program by the EU during the 2006-2007 period as referenced by UNESCO and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The documentary film was prepared as a result of the anchovy culture documentation work of the Eastern Black Sea Region and was published as a DVD in the Turkish and Laz languages.

Georgian Culinary Culture Project / EU-CFCU: This project was carried out within the framework of the protection / support of cultural rights program by the EU during the 2006-2007 period as referenced by UNESCO and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The book titled Georgian Cuisine was prepared with data obtained from culinary culture field research conducted in the Eastern Black Sea Region. The publication was published in Turkish and Georgian.

Hamsi Kurban O Göze / Book 2009: CRF prepared and Heyamola Yayinevi published Hamsi Kurban O Göze as a result of field research related to fishing and traditional anchovy cultures with information and documentation investigating the historical process of anchovy cultures and their place in the ecosystem in the Black Sea Region.

Education

Izmir Province with its Intangible Cultural Heritage Values: At a CRF event, the Izmir Province Directorate of Culture and Tourism and TAKEV Schools, secondary school students were trained on the UNESCO ICH Convention and the ICH elements of Izmir and their protection.

“Our Cultural Heritage” Educational Event (2015): CRF and the Izmir Metropolitan Municipality kindergarten cooperated to provide preschool children and their teachers practical training about Izmir’s cultural heritage elements as well as olive and olive oil culture in the region.

Publicity

Anchovy Culture Publicity Event: Organized by CRF and the Turkish-American Association, the traditional culinary featured and publicized the anchovy culture of the Black Sea Region. At the same event, ICH Convention and the Ceremonial Keskek Tradition, which is registered on the UNESCO ICH Representative List, were also publicized.

Conclusion

Our research, publication, promotion, and education work is carried out in partnership or cooperation with public institutions, municipalities, academic institutions, educational institutions (especially Izmir Municipality Izelman kindergartens), art institutions (especially, photography art institutions), CSOs, and tradition transmitters. I hope this work can be strengthened through additional joint projects and be useful in safeguarding and promoting UNESCO ICH.