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Şexbizinî(Kurdish) dance.
Şexbizinî(Kurdish) dance.
The Ohuokhai dance.
The Ohuokhai dance.
Yalli (Kochari, Tenzere), traditional group dances of Nakhchivan
DomainsFolk dance
RegionMiddle East
Inscription history
Inscription2018 (13th session)

Halay is a regional category of folk dance styles in central, southern, eastern, and southeastern Turkey. Halay and similar dances are parts of multiple folk dance traditions and cultures throughout the Middle East and regions in proximity.[1][2]

These dances are mostly found in weddings and generally accompanied by zurna and davul,[3] but in the recent years, electronic instruments have started to replace them. Typically, Halay dancers form a circle or a line, while holding each other in many ways, such as finger to finger, shoulder to shoulder, or even hand to hand. The last and the first player may hold a piece of cloth. It usually begins slow and speeds up.[3]

Due to the restrictions concerning COVID-19 pandemic in Turkey Halay dance had been restricted in weddings. Because of the pandemic weddings were required people to hold sticks connecting each other, rather than their hands.[4]

Etymology and Name

The linguistic origin of the term Halay is not fully known. There are multiple theories.

The original etymology given in the Kubbealtı Dictionary is that the word is derived from the word "alay", which means "community, crowd".

The word "alay" was transferred to Turkish from Persian. In Persian, it is taken from the Greek  aláyi(on) αλάγιον "independent cavalry unit in the Byzantine army (10th century)".

The Greek word(aláyi) is taken from the Latin "alae". This word(alae) is the plural of the Latin "ala" 1st wing, 2nd the name given to the cavalry units in the Roman army.

The Latin word was recorded at the 2nd century BC and refers to the cavalry units deployed to the right and left of the infantry unit in the centre. The Greek form first appears in the 959 compilation of laws by Constantine VIII Porphyrogennetos. The original meaning of the Turkish word is a cavalry unit in neat ranks, unlike the traditional Turkish raiding order.[5][6]

It is known as Govend or Dîlan in Kurdish, as Ḥeggāʾ (ܚܓܐ) in Syriac, as Yallı in Azerbaijani, as šurǰpar (Շուրջպար) in Armenian, as Chaláï (Χαλάϊ) in Greek, and as Halay in Turkish.

Some of the Halay Types

See also


  1. ^ Sahan, Tülay (2017-08-01). Migration und Suchtverhalten. Ein Halay-Tanz-Forschungsprojekt (in German). Diplomica Verlag. ISBN 978-3-96146-557-6.
  2. ^ Celiker, Anna Grabolle (2015-06-19). Kurdish Life in Contemporary Turkey: Migration, Gender and Ethnic Identity. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-0-85772-597-4.
  3. ^ a b Jan Laurens Hartong (2006). Musical Terms Worldwide: A Companion for the Musical Explorer. Semar Publishers Srl. pp. 132–. ISBN 978-88-7778-090-4.
  4. ^ "Traditional halay dances at weddings to be performed with sticks". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved 2021-06-05.
  5. ^ by derivating "h-" to the word "alay" (topluluk, kalabalık)| Kubbealtı Sözlük
  6. ^ [1]