The transformation of cultural heritage: from the Ottoman’s dervish musicians to today’s professional ritual performers
One of the deeply rooted and ancient traditions of faith that had evolved in Anatolia, Mevleviyeh has a special place amongst the belief systems with its proposition of a dhikr journey under the guidance of “music” in the name of journey to reach maturity. While there are various aspects of dervish edwucation in the Mevlevi tradition that are based on religious education rituals, an important part of this education involves the efforts to understand God and universe and to reach God through music. For this purpose, the Sema practices in which every movement represents a meaning within a systematic whole, and the Mevlevi ritual music accompanying Sema have created the most striking examples of the relationship between faith and music for centuries. Considering the influence of religious music tradition in the Ottoman world maqam tradition, the important role of these rituals in many practices related to maqam music will also be evident. The sole tradition of education and way of transmission in this period, the meşk tradition is a significant element serving not only the technical details of music but also the transfer of all kinds of behavior associated with this tradition in the transmission of Sema education and ritual music. Within this transmission, the aspect of music serving the spiritual maturation is combined with the teachings of Sufi thinking in the semantic world, and in this way, a musical ethic developed within the tradition of Mevleviyeh morals is transmitted from the master to the apprentice within the meşk tradition. Thus, the transmission between the master and the student is not only the practice of a piece but also the sharing of belief and behavior styles, which are extensions of the philosophical world of this music. For this reason, the rituals in the Mevlevi lodges, on the one hand, created a deep-rooted culture regarding belief systems, on the other hand, played a very active role in the progress of traditional music style.
With the enactment of the law on the closing of the tekkes and zawiyas in 1925, in addition to the performances of Mevlevi ritual tradition, all activities regarding the education of dervish musicians and the transmission of the ritual tradition came to an end. However, although the ban on the dervish education tradition has continued, the ritual tradition has come to the fore again since 1940s with the support of the Turkish state that accepts this tradition as a cultural heritage, and the rituals have been exhibited in many platforms both in Turkey and abroad. Today, this tradition continues to exist within the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and associations and foundations associated with Mevleviyeh.
In this study, the representation venues of the Mevlevi rituals and the meaning the ritual performers ascribe to this music will be evaluated based on today’s music and transmission venues, and the values that enable this tradition to reborn will be revealed. The study question is “In what ways Mevlevi rituals’ representation, education and performance venues have been transformed from past to present, and how has this transformation affected the semantic world of the performers representing this tradition?”
The study will be carried out using the culture analysis design, one of the qualitative research methods. The data will be collected mainly through interviews.
mevlevi ritual tradition, tradition and representation, ritual performance, faith and music