Inscribed in 2010 (5.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
- Human towers
- © 2006 by Rita Lamsdorff
Castells are human towers built by members of amateur groups, usually as part of annual festivities in Catalonian towns and cities. The traditional setting is the square in front of the town hall balcony. The human towers are formed by castellers standing on the shoulders of one another in a succession of stages (between six and ten). Each level of the tronc, the name given to the second level upwards, generally comprises two to five heavier built men supporting younger, lighter-weight boys or girls. The pom de dalt – the three uppermost levels of the tower – comprises young children. Anyone is welcome to form the pinya, the throng that supports the base of the tower. Each group can be identified by its costume, particularly the colour of the shirts, while the cummerbund serves to protect the back and is gripped by castellers as they climb up the tower. Before, during and after the performance, musicians play a variety of traditional melodies on a wind instrument known as a gralla, setting the rhythm to which the tower is built. The knowledge required for raising castells is traditionally passed down from generation to generation within a group, and can only be learned by practice.
Decision 5.COM 6.40
The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:
- R.1: Human towers are recognized by Catalan people as an integral part of their cultural identity, transmitted from generation from generation and providing community members a sense of continuity, social cohesion and solidarity;
- R.2: Their inscription on the Representative List could promote intangible cultural heritage as a means of reinforcing social cohesion, while encouraging respect for cultural dialogue and human creativity;
- R.3: The safeguarding measures being implemented and those planned are carefully described, and the commitments of both the State and the communities are well demonstrated, all aiming at ensuring the viability of the element;
- R.4: The nomination was elaborated through a process of consultation and cooperation with the bearers of the tradition who have provided their free, prior and informed consent;
- R.5: Human towers are registered in the Inventory of the Ethnological Heritage of Catalonia, maintained and updated by the Department of Culture and Media.
© 2009 by Departament de Cultura i Mitjans de Comunicació de la Generalitat de Catalunya
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