Marches of Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse

Inscribed in 2012 (7.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Country(ies): Belgium



Marches of Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse

The Marches of Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse are a major component of the cultural identity of the eponymous region found between the rivers of Sambre and Meuse in Wallonia, Belgium. The marches commemorate the dedication of churches of many villages and small towns honouring the Saint to whom the religious buildings are dedicated. The whole villages and towns participate. The escorted processions consist of several companies, based on a military model, and each company group tens, even hundreds of marchers. The participants dress in military uniforms, forming one or more companies that escort the religious procession. A committee and/or a statutory body manage each company, organizing the course of the march and ensuring the correct formations. Young people march alongside their parents in the Young Guard or other companies. The transmission of traditions occurs orally, often within the family circle, but also during gatherings, meetings, banquets or balls necessary for the organization of the march. Dynasties of fifes and drums have been created that transmit their knowledge, songs and music to new musicians. Similarly, drum and fife manufacturers and dozens of artisan clothes designers pass on their craftsmanship in reconstituting and creating instruments, costumes, flags and accessories. The marches play a key role in enhancing integration, assembling men and women from different backgrounds and promoting social cohesion.


Decision 7.COM 11.6

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: Les Marches de l’Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse combinent la dévotion religieuse avec la musique, les traditions orales et l’artisanat, et impliquent la communauté tout entière, y compris les enfants et les aînés, réunissant des praticiens de diverses origines sociales dans un esprit de cohésion sociale ;
  • R.2: Inscription of the Marches of Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse on the Representative List could contribute to the visibility of the intangible cultural heritage more broadly and awareness of its significance, particularly in places where similar processions are practised;
  • R.3: Current safeguarding measures are described and future measures such as museum projects, education work, reasearch and publication, regulatory measures are proposed;
  • R.4: Several communities, representatives and local authorities participated actively in the nomination process, and the officials of fifteen marches, as well as the mayors of the cities and towns on whose territory they take place, gave their free, prior, and informed consent to the inscription;
  • R.5: With the participation of the concerned communities, a number of different marches of Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse were included in 2004 and 2011 in an inventory of intangible cultural heritage carried out and regularly updated by the Oral and Intangible Heritage Commission.

Inscribes the Marches of Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.



© Télésambre, 2010

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