Music and dance were proudly celebrated at the launch of the Survival of a Culture: Kurds in Australia exhibition.
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria
Music and dance – powerful symbols of survival for Victoria’s Kurdish community – were proudly celebrated at the recent launch of Survival of a Culture: Kurds in Australia, the latest community exhibition at Immigration Museum.
Kurdish people in Australia trace their origins back more than 10,000 years to Kurdistan in the Middle East. Their culture is marked by a long history of invasion and occupation, and more recently by cultural suppression and waves of displacement after their homeland was divided among Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey at the end of World War I.
The exhibition celebrates the distinctive culture of the Kurds and the ways in which the Kurdish community in Australia has revitalised their long-held traditions.
“Dancing and playing of their instruments was one way they could keep their culture alive,” said Maria Tence, community Exhibitions Manager. “The Kurdish community don’t perform to recorded music, it’s always live. If they can’t play music, they don’t perform.”
The significance of live music in keeping their culture alive has been particularly challenging. Most of the Kurdish community now live in ultra conservative countries where women have been forbidden from playing any musical instrument; and one Kurdish instrument, the daf, is not even allowed to be played by males. Its banning has turned it into a symbol of survival and struggle for the Kurdish people, and it is proudly on display in the exhibition.
The exhibition also includes traditional costumes, musical instruments, dance, poetry, tattoos, hand-made carpets, hand-woven crafts and household wares and a variety of community photographs.
“Moving to Australia has given Kurdish people the freedom to express an identity that is repressed in the countries they came from,” said Maria. “The Kurdish community in Australia is hoping that young women here will take up playing musical instruments, which women since two generations back were banned from doing.”
Survival of a Culture: Kurds in Australia is showing at Immigration Museum until 12 September.