Aken Aytes, or Aken Songs, is a folk art form popular among the Kazakh ethnic group, in which the performer improvises a song while playing the tamboura. The performer is also called an Aken, which means "poet" in Kazakh, as the lyrics are always beautiful, humorous or inspiring. Being an Aken is a challenging job as the art is usually performed in a sing-off, with two Akens exchanging lyrics in an antiphonal style. To have the best performance, an Aken must have a rich knowledge of culture and history. Most importantly, they have to respond fast and outwit the opponent until they're lost for words. On CGTN's "Into Xinjiang" journey, we sing together in a Kazakh yurt with several Akens and express our joy and happiness via the lyrics and rhymes.
Aken Aytes was added to the national intangible cultural heritage list in China in 2006. Xinjiang, home to many ethnic Kazakhs, organizes various contests to help preserve and promote the traditional art each year.
Hosts: Li Jingjing, Saina
Director: Xi Yufan
Videographers & technicians: CGTN Livestream Team
Producers: Li Xiang, Xu Jiye
Chief editor: Zhang Wan
Supervisor: Zhang Shilei