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The history of our art of dancing is older compared with the percussion musical instruments. Even in the early stages of primitive communal society  people used to dance by clapping hands under the harmonic melodies. The people of Azerbaijan created the dancing  charming the people with harmony and enthusiasm in the course of centuries. There were different kinds of dancing in the choreography of our nation. It is possible to show  the individual man and woman dancing, dancing in pairs and massive form, also the dancing accompanied by the rhythmic melodies. These dancing pleased the people for their choreographic  complication, harmony of steps, tenderness and exactness, rhythmic and playfulness. This rich moral resource evolved from simple into complicate, improved, polished and became pure. During primitive communal society different tribal members living in the territory of Azerbaijan used to dance when hunting  by clapping  hands or hitting wood or stones to each other. From this standpoint, the Gobustan and Gamigaya  over rock  depicts are very characteristic. The over rock pictures existing there are of great importance in exploration of  the rich cultural heritage of the Azerbaijan people, as well as,  the history of development of music and dancing culture.

Yalli- The primary form of which dates back to so many centuries ago when it was held around a ceremony bonfire, which is the source  of heat, light and  hot meals. The word “yal” means row, line of chain. The yalli dancers stand in one line or two rows and sometimes in some rows.

The yalli shaped as  traditional form existed in two forms; dancing and play yalli, but from time to time it was promoted and was enriched with new shades and as a result of which united new motions in itself and reached our time.

The homeland of some kinds of yalli out of 100 is the ancient land  of Nakhchivan which is the inseparable part of Azerbaijan. The yalli is considered our national heritage are follows: “Tanzara”, “Folk yalli”, “Gopu”, “Gazi-gazi”, “Hoynara”, “Sharur yalli”, “Four feet”, “Urfani”, “Arazi”, “Siyagutu”, “Khalafi”, “Ganimo”, “Nareyi”, “Galadan galaya”, “Three feet”, “Three steps”, “Kochdu balaban”, “Gulumeyi”, “Haghishda”, “Zari-zari” and others.

Zari-zari – The dancing belonging to the Azerbaijani people was widely  spread in Sharur region, especially in the villages of Havush and Shahbulag.

The “zari-zari” dancing is danced  by women at  the weddings or at the henna-apply ceremonies. It  may also be danced by men and children.

Hakhishta – This national dancing derived from the word “Ha khishla” is mainly danced merrily by hopping  with great enthusiasm. In this dancing the groups stand face to face as in the dancing of “Halay”. The distance between them is 5-6 m. A soloist girl stands in the middle of the group. The girl is invited to dancing and while demonstrating the certain motions she sings the text. And the  rest of the  girls say “Hakhishta” after the last sentence in chorus. As the dancing is played without music, the soloist sings the text as it is in “Meykhana”. The dancing may be accompanied by the percussion instruments (naghara, double-drums, dumbak).

Uch panja (Three paws)

According to the legend, one day a peasant  sees a bear walking on three paws while gathering wood in the forest. As the fourth paw was wounded the bear was walking hopping  folding one of his  paws. And this movement under the impression of those movements   reminded the dancing. So, the peasant creates the three paws dancing thereafter. Today this yalli is played in Sharur region and the villages and it covers  Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic with great interest. In most cases the dancing danced by old people  is of two parts; the slow and rapid parts.

Arazi- It is one of the ancient yalli kinds danced at the wedding ceremonies of the Aras river regions of which are Ordubad, Julfa, Sharur, Babak and Kangarli. Another name of this yalli is called “Papuro”. The yalli consists of two parts and is danced by men and women in a mixed form holding their little fingers to their shoulder position. The dancers put their right feet on the heel to the left side and then they quickly put their left feet to the front but not higher. This yalli is danced  by folklore dancing collectives in the cultural-massive events at the weddings and holiday ceremonies held in Nakhchivan city, as well as, Ordubad, Julfa, Sharur, Sadarak, Babak  regions of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic.

El yallisi (Folk yalli) (two feet) – the “El yallisi” consisting of 3 parts and gradually rising tempo is danced in Sharur region of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic . The “El yallisi” is danced with the dancers’ little fingers joined one another and fallen down position of simple motion, but dancing is difficult.

Today this yalli is danced in the city of Nakhchivan and Shahbuz region, mainly at the wedding ceremonies and certainly the people prefer to dance it.

Sharur yalli- this yalli is mainly danced by juveniles and children. The yalli consisting of 6-8 dancers contains two parts: two - middle and rapid parts. During dancing the position of the hands become very strange: at every one person  dancers stand hand in hand from backside. There is a handkerchief in the right hand of the first dancer and he holds the right hand of the third dancer with his left hand. But the second dancer holds the waist of the first dancer with his right hand and he holds the right hand of the fourth dancer with his left hand. The third dancer holds the left hand of the first dancer with his right hand but he holds the right hand of the fifth dancer with his left hand.

The “Sharur” yalli constitutes the fundamental part of the folklore repertoire in Sharur and Kangarli regions of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic.

Dordayag (Four feet) – The name of this Azerbaijan folk yalli was taken from the movement  of swaying at the beginning of the dancing and making four steps. This yalli regarded one of the oldest ones. The yalli created in Sharur region, later spread more widely and became lovely for those who were devoted to our national –moral values. During dancing the dancers hold one another’s  little fingers at the position of their shoulders . The yalli, consisting of slow and rapid motions, is danced both by men and women. This yalli is usually danced at the weddings and different cultural–public  events of Sharur, Sadarak and Kangarli regions of the autonomous republic.

Gatar maghami- This yalli was spread in the village of Yengija of Sharur region and only danced by women. The number of women standing in the row reaches about 30-40. They stand by one-another and turn upper parts of their bodies to the right and join their fingers with the dancers standing beside. The yalli, consisting of the middle temper and being danced a bit rapidly, a step is made forward with the right foot by I tact and in the same place the left foot is put beside the right foot. Again  step is made forward with  right foot. By  II tact step is made forward with  left foot and the right foot is put beside the left foot. Again  step is made forward  with left foot.

Turaji – There is such a legend about the Turaji dancing in Nakhchivan. Once upon a time Najafgulukhan, the khan of the Garabagh khanate, had a very beautiful dancer and khan always appreciated her beauty and art. Once this dancer demonstrates very mastery miracles of dancing. at the wedding of the khan’s son. The khan admiring the view says loudly: -You are dancing as turaj (partridge).

Thereinafter,  the dancing is called “Turaji”. The old dancing of  XIX century dedicated to a beautiful mountain bird, even today is very famous and the folklore dancing collective consisting of girls at Nakhchivan Teachers Institute bears the name of this dancing.

Rangi- “Rangi” considered one of the ancient female dancing is characterized for its detailed movements. This dancing is still played in Nakhchivan.

Dona yalli-  it is usually danced by women, but occasionally by men and while dancing they say “I wish my lover turn to me, turn to me, turn to me”, hoping that their lovers will do it. This time the yalli leader sings this song under the ancient Azerbaijan music. The homeland of “Dana yalli” is Sharur region of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and today this yalli is repeatedly danced by the Sharur Folk Yalli collective.

Gulumeyi- This word was derived from the component of “Ay gulum hey” and today it is the name of the dancing “Gulumeyi” belonging to the Azerbaijani people. Mainly girls and young women play this dancing at the “Henna-apply” ceremonies and in different merry  events. The yalli, which is mainly danced in Sharur region, is played in the “Khinayakhdi” (Henna apply) by the bride’s friends and female relatives. But traditionally, the “Gulumeyi” is danced before the bride moves to bridegroom’s  house and after the guests leave the house.  5-10 people  make a circle and dance in this dancing. The teams meet  at the end of the dancing with simple steps and slight soaring. The  group  on the left dances towards the right but the group on the right dances towards the left and finish dancing.

Gazi-gazi- This dancing is included to the famous groups of games  belonging to the regions of Sharur, Shabuz and Kangarli of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. A group of men dancers raise their hands to their breast position holding the hands of one another and a yalli head with a stick in his hand stands at the head but a footer stands at the foot of the team. The sticks in the hands of the yalli head and yalli footer are to punish the guilty in the dancing. The dancers play this dancing so selfishly, arrogantly. This yalli consisting of slow, middle and rapid parts must be repeated by all dancers under the supervision of the yalli head (holder). Otherwise, the dancer who does not follow the movement is punished .

Kochari- It is one of the widely spread yalli types in Azerbaijan, especially in Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. As  seen from its name, the creators of this dancing are nomadic tribes. At  the same time, this dancing is included to the lovely dancing of the Azerbaijani people. The “Kochari” dancing, consisting of slow and rapid parts, is of three versions. The men or women lining up one after another or one woman after one man , a yalli head (holder) holds a stick in his / her hand. This stick isn’t to punish the dancers but actually it is of dance character.

Today this dancing is played in folklore collectives in Sharur, Sadarak, Kangarli, Julfa and Shahbuz regions and it gives a special color to the weddings.


Urfani- It is the chief yalli of Sharur region. The yalli, distinguished  with grandeur, loftiness, manliness  rich in other elements  having a complicated structure, is mainly danced by men and requires more ability from the dancer. This yalli is included in the ancient yalli groups of Azerbaijan. The “Urfani” yalli is also played by women of Nakhchivan city, Sharur, Shabuz, Ordubad and Kangarli regions together with men. In most cases the young girls and boys order this dancing at the weddings to demonstrate their dancing skills and abilities. The “Urfani” of two versions which is played very slowly and rapidly consists of two forms.

It is better to note that this yalli is too difficult and one must learn it slowly beginning from the most detailed elements.

Kochdu balaban – It appeared in Ordubad of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. It is danced under the sounds of the balaban and dumbak or zourna and dumbak. This is the reason why this dancing is called so. The originality of the yalli is that, while dancing 5-6 people  stand holding on one-another’s shoulders firmly  in the shape of a circle and the same number of people climb up their shoulders. This kind of element exists in the dancing of the “Gazi-gazi” yalli. However,  this element is individual there. But the dancing begins so in the yalli “kochdu balaban” . The people standing below move very slowly, they step to the right with their right foot and then they put their left foot beside  their right feet. In  this way they move round the circle.

Galadan–galaya - According to different diagonals the men stand on the left of the audience but the women line up on the right of the audience. The melody of this yalli is very popular and is always accompanied with the song as given below:

From fortress to fortress

I wish I were a stone 

To comings and goings

I wish I were a comrade

One of the characteristic features of the yalli is that, both a male yalli holder and a female yalli holder hold a wooden sword in their hands in the process of dancing. At the beginning of dancing they throw the swords in the middle of the area. By holding each other’s elbows they stand closely crossing their fingers in cross position move  towards the left side. The actions are very simple; firstly to step to the right and to put the left foot across the right foot.

Uchayag (Three feet) – This dancing emerged in Ordubad  region of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and is very ancient folklore dancing but it is considerably different from the “Tanzara” appeared in Nakhchivan and Sharur regions.There are no games in this dancing, it means it is of dancing character. The yalli consists of slow and rapid parts.

Chopudum (Chopu-chopu) - The game part of the dancing starting under  the sound of music, after the teams of the uchayag yalli stand face to face, is called “Chopudum”. The two yalli holders stand face to face. One of them takes something out of his pocket and puts it in the mouth of the opposite man. The second yalli holder must repeat the act very quickly. If the second yalli holder doesn’t have the very thing, his friends have the right to assist him. If the very thing is found, the second yalli holder does any action in his turn (lies down, sits down, runs etc). This time the first yalli holder must do the same action. If the needed thing isn’t found or the first yalli holder can’t do the very action this time all team members  who lose are punished with a special stick (1-1,5 m length) prepared in advance. The loser team has the right to resist but not to beat (strike). The members of the  winner team enjoy and dance. But the losers become sad and bend their heads down. One of the winners hits on the shoulder of a loser friendly, the second one gives sweet to his rival, the third jumps on the back of the loser one.

This way the chopudu dancing is over. This yalli is danced in all ceremonies and holiday events of Ordubad and people enjoy it.

Asma–kasma- This dancing is one of the ancient traditional wedding examples. At present this dancing is played at the weddings of Ordubad, Julfa, Babak, Sharur, Sadarak and Kangarli regions of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic as well as at the wedding ceremonies of Nakhchivan city. As a bride was taken to the bridegroom under the sounds of  this music, it was called “Asma-kasma” (threat). When bride is taken the musicians play and the women accompanying the bride dance in front of the bride. The dancing is accompanied by music. The dancers and audience sing songs. The speed of the dancing is slow, a bit exaggerated and jumping-like.               

Asta Garabaghi- As  is seen from the name, this dancing appeared in Garabagh, inseparable part of the Republic  of Azerbaijan but later it was widely spread in the southern regions of the republic and especially in Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and  in Shahbuz region.

This dancing is simply called “Garabaghi” in Nakhchivan. Only the old men and women of the village Khinjab of Kangarli region dance it. The action setting of the dancing is stable, in its slow part it is danced in the place of standing but then, a bit moving. In Shahbuz only the old women dance it.

Kasma – It is one of the ancient dancings widely spread in Nakhchivan. Its music is simple but interesting. It is included in the comic dancing groups. Only men play this dancing. Jumping, hopping, repeatedly strike and spring actions are characteristic for this dancing. The dancer tries to dance as amusingly  as he can. “Kasma” is one of the ancient dancings played at the wedding ceremonies of all regions of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic.

Gizlar bulaghi –The spring mentioned in this dancing is situated not far from Nakhchivan. The girls used to assemble here, enjoyed and sang songs. The dancing “Gizlar bulaghi” emerged with this event. Even today the people of Ordubad, Julfa, Sharur, Babak, Sadarak, Kangarli, Shahbuz of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic use this melody at their weddings and other ceremonies.

Tanzara – The meaning of this dancing, which is famous in the villages of Charchiboghan, Chomakhtur and other villages of Sharur region, is “Gizili tanbatan” (Half golden)  literally and today Tanzara is included in the repertoire of the folklore dancing collectives respectively. The women dancing used to wear all kinds of golden things, –including necklaces, beads, rings,  ear-rings and  other jewelry and those women expressed beauty and brightness. The name of Tanzara one of the ancient dancings of the Azerbaijan people, is related to this. Tanzara means- half gilt, half decoration. This dancing is played by the folklore dancing collective of the Vaykhir village cultural house joining their little fingers. Firstly they step three steps ahead and  beat the tips of their  left feet on the ground and then they put their left feet ahead and  stand on it for a while, then they make three small steps back and speed up their movements a bit more in the second part with the actions of the first part.

Tello – It is a musical yalli type related to a girl name. This yalli is in the repertoir of the folklore collectives of Sharur, Sadarak, Shahbuz, Julfa, Babak regions of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. The “Tello” yalli is characteristic for men and women,  mixed form of dancing. The dancers hold their little fingers with one-another and raise hands to their shoulder position. The process of dancing consists of two middle and rapid speed parts and this time the dancers swing the shoulders up and down. This dancing is also played in  most regions of Azerbaijan.

Uzundara – Once it was a speedy yalli dancing in the region of Sharur. Two rows of dancers consisting of men and women used to play it. During dancing the male yalli holder held a stick in his hand but the female yalli holder carried a kerchief. After dancing of both groups, the yalliholder of the women group used to “fight” in a funny way. The uzundara has been included in the repertoire of the folklore collective of Kultapa village cultural house of Babak region, though it is  also on the agenda  in Sharur, Julfa and Ordubad regions of the autonomous republic.                                                                      

Gopu – It is a kind of yalli included in the dancing series, which the people of Azerbaijan have been dancing it since ancient times till today. This yalli depicts the fragment of cranes flocking in spring. This yalli is only played in Sharur and Kangarli regions.

According to its style, this dancing is called “gopu”. The “Gopu” which is played by men and women in two row demonstrating their arrogance, swagger (exaggeration), consists of three parts: slow, middle and quick.

At present “Gopu” dancing  belonging to Azeri people has been included in the repertoire of the folklore collective operating under the supervision of the Cultural and Tourism Department of Kangarli region, Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic.