Marimba music and traditional chants from Colombia’s South Pacific region
Inscribed in 2010 (5.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
- Marimba music and traditional chants from Colombia’s South Pacific region
Marimba music and traditional chants of Colombia’s South Pacific region are the heritage of Afro-Colombian groups in the departments of Valle del Cauca, Cauca and Nariño. Chanting by women and men (cantadoras and chureadores) blends with acoustic instruments, handcrafted using local materials: palm-wood Marimbas, wooden and leather bass and hand drums, and bamboo and seed rattles. This music is performed principally during four rituals: Arrullo, Currulao, Chigualo and Alabao. Arrullo is a saint worship ritual led by women, who prepare the saints, candles and altars and perform chants accompanied by drums and, on occasion, Marimbas. The Currulao (or Marimba Dance) is a festive occasion. Men play the Marimba and perform profane chants while people sing, dance, eat and drink, and recount stories. The Chigualo is a wake following the death of a young child. The body is covered with flowers and a cappella chants are performed around it. The Alabao is a wake following the death of an adult, where extremely sad chants are sung, also a cappella. Musical knowledge of these traditions is passed on orally from generation to generation with younger performers guided by more experienced musicians. With a large proportion of the Afro-Colombian population of the region having moved to urban areas in recent decades, their musical heritage remains an important source of community identity, whether in their home villages or in town.
Decision 5.COM 6.8
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: Marimba music and traditional chants are transmitted from generation to generation and constantly recreated by Afro-Colombians, thus providing them with a sense of community and belonging, even in new urban settings and changing social conditions;
- R.2: Their inscription on the Representative List could contribute to promoting cultural diversity and the values of human creativity, mutual respect and understanding, while increasing visibility and awareness of intangible cultural heritage;
- R.3: The nomination describes current and recent efforts of bearers, communities and officials to ensure viability of the element, notably the ongoing Marimba Route programme that reflects the ideas, priorities and commitments of the entire society;
- R.4: The nomination is the result of the shared efforts of communities, groups and individuals whose opinions and priorities are reflected in all stages of its elaboration, and they have provided their free, prior and informed consent;
- R.5: Marimba music and traditional chants from Colombia’s South Pacific region are included since 2009 in the Representative List of Immaterial Cultural Heritage Goods, maintained by the Ministry of Culture.
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