Altaic Storytelling Quote of the Week: Turkish Hikâye as Performance Art

. . . every performance [of a Hikâye] is a unique social event; no aşık can expect the same performance context twice. The text of a performance can be written down or recorded. But a recording, no matter what the means used, cannot represent a three-dimensional performance that includes verbal expression, poetry, music, physical movement, and of course, the audience. Dismantling a live, complex storytelling event — a social occasion — reduces this event to a printed record, a lifeless, flat existence on paper that misrepresents the genre and can misguide folklorists.

(From Hikâye: Turkish Folk Romance as Performance Art, by Ilhan Boşgöz)

2 thoughts on “Altaic Storytelling Quote of the Week: Turkish Hikâye as Performance Art

  1. The word “hikaye” simply means “story” in Uyghur. It is perhaps most often used to refer to a written work of fiction, but it can also refer to an oral story or the plot of a movie. I think the specific performance genre described in the quote above is probably closest to either an “etot” or a “dastan” in Uyghur. An “etot” is a satirical story enacted through staged theatrical performance. A “dastan” is a poem that is transmitted orally by a trained “dastanchi” usually with the accompaniment of a stringed instrument. It is never repeated the same way twice, but usually ends with a few words of moral advice which convey the overall message of the narrative of the poem. It seems as though the “etot” entered Uyghur performance via Russian cultural influences in the last century. Perhaps before its arrival theatrical performance might have been referred to as a “hikaye.”

    Here is a link to a bit more on the history and contemporary role of the etot in Uyghur society:

    Here is a bit more of a discussion of the dastan form:


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