An IDP from Shusha is making sure that an ancient craft doesn’t disappear" />

How to make a ‘tar’ with a beautiful voice – secrets of a craft

An IDP from Shusha is making sure that an ancient craft doesn’t disappear

Gurban Verdiev is an IDP from Shusha. Nowadays, he lives in Azerbaijan’s Barda region, in Mustafaly village. Gurban has a small workshop, and makes tars.

The tar is a traditional Azerbaijani string instrument. The process of making tars is long and complex. The tar-maker’s main aim, Gurban says, is to stick as closely as possible to the traditional standards of the craft. The size of the tar, as well as the materials and methods used to make the instruments, have all been determined, centuries ago.

As a very young man, Gurban went to the workshop in Shusha, and asked to be taken on. In that workshop, he says, the old standards approved by the Ministry of Culture were observed religiously.

Nowadays, Gurban laments, no one is interested in his craft.

‘At one time, no one was interested in tars at all. At that point, I couldn’t see any reason to carry on with my craft, so I gave it up. Then I went back to it. These days, things have improved somewhat, but we still only sell one or two tars a year. It’s hard without any support.’

One solution, Gurban suggests, would be to organise special fairs, which would attract tourists and help promote business. In the meantime, he says, he will simply carry on with his work in order to preserve the traditional tar, so as its secrets can be properly handed down to future generations.  

Unheard Voices is part of International Alert’s work on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It is the result of work produced with journalists from societies affected by the conflict and their collaborative efforts to highlight its effects on the daily lives of people living in the conditions of ‘no war, no peace’. The purpose is to ensure their voices are heard both at home, in their own societies and on the other side of the conflict divide, allowing readers to see the real faces hidden behind the images of ‘the enemy’.
This project is funded by the European Union as part of the European Partnership for the Peaceful Settlement of the Conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh (EPNK).
The materials published on this page are solely the responsibility of the journalists and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of International Alert or its donors. All our journalists adhere to a Code of Conduct, which can be found here.
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