Xtaxkgakget Makgkaxtlawana: the Centre for Indigenous Arts and its contribution to safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage of the Totonac people of Veracruz, Mexico
Selected in 2012 on the Best safeguarding practices
- Xtaxkgakget Makgkaxtlawana: the Centre for Indigenous Arts and its contribution to safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage of the Totonac people of Veracruz, Mexico
The Center for Indigenous Arts was designed as a response to a long-term desire of the Totonac people to create an educational institution to transmit their teachings, art, values and culture, while also providing favourable conditions for indigenous creators to develop their art. The structure of the centre represents a traditional settlement comprising house-schools, with each ‘House’ specialized in one of the Totonac arts for apprentices to follow, such as pottery, textiles, paintings, art of healing, traditional dance, music, theatre and cuisine. At the ‘House of Elders’, students acquire the essential values of the Totonac and an orientation in the meaning of creative practice. The transmission of knowledge is integral and holistic. The house-schools embrace creative practice as something intrinsically linked to its spiritual nature. The centre proposes cultural regeneration, revitalizing the Totonac cultural practices through such means as the use of the Totonac language as the vehicle for teaching, the recovery of forgotten traditional techniques, artistic production, reestablishment of traditional governing bodies and reforestation of the plants and trees needed for cultural practice. The centre also promotes ongoing cooperation with creators and cultural agencies from other states of the country and from around the world.
Decision 7.COM 9.2
The Committee (…) decides that, from the information provided in the proposal, [this Programme] responds as follows to the criteria for selection in Paragraph 7 of the Operational Directives:
- P.1: The Centre for Indigenous Arts provides a formal space for non-formal intergenerational transmission of Totonac values, oral traditions, crafts, traditional medicine, cuisine and performing arts that complements the traditional home-based methods of cultural transmission;
- P.2: The Centre has participated in numerous festivals and workshops, interacting with institutions from various countries to promote Totonac arts and greater awareness of intangible cultural heritage in general; it is not explained how these efforts constitute coordination at the regional and international levels to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage;
- P.3: The Centre’s mission is to contributes to the safeguarding of Totonac intangible cultural heritage and to cultural diversity and sustainable development, through identification, documentation, education and awareness raising;
- P.4: The Centre’s continued existence and the on-going support it receives are testimony to its demonstrated effectiveness in safeguarding Totonac heritage and strengthening its transmission;
- P.5: The programme has been initiated, conceptualized and implemented with the active participation of the Totonac communities at various levels, and their free, prior and informed consent for the proposal is attached;
- P.6: The Centre, through its transmission of traditional know-how through semiformal education and promotion of artistic creativity permitting its self-sufficiency, could serve as a regional and international safeguarding model;
- P.7: The Centre and its participants have expressed their willingness to cooperate with the dissemination of the programme, if selected as Best Safeguarding Practice;
- P.8: The programme is periodically evaluated quantitatively and qualitatively in relation to annual work plans by a team that includes the teachers of tradition, coordinators of the house-schools, an Assistant Academic Director, an Assistant Operations Director and a General Director;
- P.9: Operating on the basis of the communities’ self-management and promoting income generation, the programme, by virtue of its modularity, expresses the will for mutual assistance and dialogue between cultures and could serve as a model for developing countries.
Selects Xtaxkgakget Makgkaxtlawana: the Centre for Indigenous Arts and its contribution to safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage of the Totonac people of Veracruz, Mexico as a programme, project or activity best reflecting the principles and objectives of the Convention;
Commends the Totonac people and the local authorities of Veracruz for their initiative and their shared commitment to the safeguarding of Totonac intangible cultural heritage;
Takes further note that the Centre promotes a holistic view of the intangible cultural heritage of the Totonac people and celebrates the values of dialogue and mutual assistance.
© 2013 by Promysel
These videos (and many more) can also be consulted through the UNESCO Archives Multimedia website