Opening ceremony of the exhibition dedicated to “Chovqan”

The inauguration of the exhibition dedicated to the “Chovqan” - a traditional Karabakh horse-riding game inscribed on the UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, together with a presentation of book of famous French writer and expert Jean-Louis Gouraud “Karabakh horse” - took place on May 6 2015  at the UNESCO headquarters. The event is organized within the framework of the “European Museums Night” which will take place on May 16 2015 at UNESCO.  

At the opening ceremony Mr. Alfredo Pérez de Arminan, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Culture expressed his gratitude to the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and the Permanent Delegation of the Republic of Azerbaijan to UNESCO for organizing such a great exhibition. Mr. Arminan commended the active role of the Republic of Azerbaijan in the implementation of the UNESCO’s 2003 Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention. Assistant Director-General noted that the inscription of “Chovqan” on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding shows the great importance paid by the Government of Azerbaijan to the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage. 

The Permanent Delegate of the Republic of Azerbaijan to UNESCO – Mr. Anar Karimov welcomed the participants of the exhibition for the attendance and informed them that UNESCO joins the European Night of Museums for the 7th consecutive year and this year Azerbaijan is invited to be guest of honour at this important event. Mr. Karimov noted that “Chovqan” game and its traditions play the significant role in shaping identity and culture of the Azerbaijanis. It was stressed that the references to “Chovqan” game can be found in poems of the great Azerbaijani poet Nizami Ganjavi, in the ancient Turkic epic story of Dede Korkut and in the essays of famous travellers. It was mentioned that the traditional game in case of Azerbaijan is closely linked to the unique Karabakh horse race, physically best adapted for “Chovqan”due to their famous character and ability. Quite widespread in the past in their area of origin, Karabakh horses are now confronted to the danger of disappearance, due the military occupation of Karabakh. Despite these difficulties, the measures to safeguard the Karabakh horses are undertaken by the State and the inscription of “Chovqan”, on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding in 2013 has also contributed to the wider dissemination of the game in other regions of Azerbaijan and gave additional incentives for its safeguarding. Mr. Karimov highlighted the efforts of the First Lady of Azerbaijan, President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador – Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva in promotion of UNESCO values and the support to UNESCO’s programme in many areas and stressed the role of Heydar Aliyev Foundation in organization of the exhibition. Permanent Delegate thanked Jean-Louis Gouraud for his excellent work in writing the book “Karabakh horse”. He noted that “Chovqan” game embodies cultural heritage and sport at the same time and mentioned that these two elements promote peace and bring people together. In this regard, he gave an example of Azerbaijan’s activities in this area: one being the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue and the other one – the First European Games, information regarding which is also available at the exhibition.

The famous French writer and expert, author of the book “Karabakh horse” stressed that “Chovqan” is played uniquely with the Karabakh horses and the recognition by UNESCO of this game as intangible cultural heritage of humanity is a huge success for Azerbaijan. It was stressed that the Government of Azerbaijan plays significant role in preserving and safeguarding of Karabakh horses. He stressed that Karabakh horses are among the 3 “pureblood breed” horses in the world.

After the opening ceremony, Permanent Delegates accredited to UNESCO, representatives of UNESCO Secretariat, members of French society and media got familiarized with the exhibition and obtained a copy of the book “Karabakh horse” from the author with his signatures. 

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