New inscriptions to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

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Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) - Sixteen new elements have been added to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage following the decisions adopted by the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, taking place until 2 December in Ethiopia.

The Representative List includes forms of expression that testify to the diversity of intangible heritage and raises awareness of its importance. The review of nominations for inscription on this list will continue on Thursday 1 December.

The following elements were inscribed during today’s session (in order of inscription):

Afghanistan; Azerbaijan; India; Iran (Islamic Republic of); Iraq; Kazakhstan; Kyrgyzstan; Pakistan; Tajikistan; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Uzbekistan— Nauryz, Navruz, Nawrouz, Nevruz, Nooruz, Novruz, Nowrouz or Nowruz

New Year in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan is celebrated on March 21st known as Nauryz, Navruz, Nawrouz, Nevruz, Nooruz, Novruz, Nowrouz or Nowruz. For two weeks, various customs take place including a special meal, family visits, public rituals and street performances to encourage peaceful communities, shared and promoted through participation.

Bangladesh— Mangal Shobhajatra on Pahela Baishakh

Mangal Shobhajatra is a festival for the public that celebrates Pahela Baishakh (New Year’s Day) on April 14, organized by students and teachers of Dhaka University’s Faculty of Fine Art. The tradition began in 1989 when students, frustrated by living under military rule, wanted to bring the community hope for a better future. It features floats and masks symbolizing strength, peace and a driving away of evil to allow for progress. With knowledge of the element shared by the school, it promotes public solidarity and democracy.

Belgium—Beer culture in Belgium

Making and appreciating beer is part of the living heritage of a range of communities throughout Belgium. It plays a role in daily life, as well as festive occasions. Almost 1,500 types of beer are produced in the country including by some Trappist communities. Craft beer has become particularly popular. Beer is also used by communities for cooking, producing products like beer-washed cheese, and paired with food. Knowledge of the element is shared in the home, social circles, breweries, universities and public training centres.

China—The Twenty-Four Solar Terms, knowledge of time and practices developed in China through observation of the sun’s annual motion

The ancient Chinese divided the sun’s annual circular motion into 24 segments, calling each segment a specific ‘Solar Term’. The criteria for its formulation were developed through the observation of changes of seasons, astronomy and other natural phenomena. The element remains of particular importance to farmers for guiding their practices. Some rituals and festivities are associated with the terms, which have contributed to the community’s cultural identity. Knowledge of the element is transmitted through formal and informal means of education.

Cuba—Rumba in Cuba, a festive combination of music and dances and all the practices associated

Rumba in Cuba is associated with African culture but also features elements of Antillean culture and Spanish flamenco. A symbol of marginal Cuban society, the practice developed in poor neighbourhoods of cities, shanty towns and rural areas spreading from west to east of the country. Rumba in Cuba, with its chants, movements, gestures and music acts as an expression of resistance and self-esteem while evoking grace, sensuality and joy to connect people. Knowledge of the element occurs via imitation within families and neighborhoods.

Spain—Valencia Fallas festivity

The Fallas festivity is a traditional practice of communities in Valencia to mark the coming of spring. It features a monument of caricatures by local artists that provides a commentary on current social issues. Erected in the town square from 14 to 19 March, it is then set alight, symbolizing a rejuvenation of social activity. Marching bands, outdoor meals and fireworks are part of the festivity, which enhances social cohesion and provides an opportunity for collective creativity; the element is passed on within families.

Dominican Republic—Music and dance of the merengue in the Dominican Republic

The merengue is considered part of the Dominican community’s national identity playing an active role in various aspects of the people’s daily lives – from education and social gatherings and celebrations to political campaigning. In 2005, November 26 was declared National Merengue Day with merengue festivals held each year. Danced in pairs, flirtatious gestures are used as dancers move to music. Passed on through participation, the traditional practice attracts people of different social classes helping to promote respect and coexistence within communities.

Egypt—Tahteeb, stick game

In ancient Egypt, tahteeb was a form of martial arts. Now a festive game, some of the old symbolism and values associated with the practice remain. Performed before an audience, it involves a brief, non-violent interchange between two adversaries wielding long sticks while folk music plays. Practitioners are male, mostly from Saeedy populations in upper Egypt. Rules of the game are based on mutual respect, friendship, courage, chivalry and pride. It is passed on within families and neighbourhoods in the communities.

Ethiopia—Gada system, an indigenous democratic socio-political system of the Oromo

Gada is a traditional system of governance of the Oromo people in Ethiopia, developed from knowledge gained over generations. It regulates political, economic, social and religious activity serving as a mechanism for enforcing moral conduct, building community cohesion, and expressing culture. Gada is organized into five classes taught by oral historians, with each having to progress through a series of grades before it can take the leadership. Men, whose fathers are members, participate. The element is passed on within families and at school.

Republic of Korea—Culture of Jeju Haenyeo (women divers)

On Jeju Island, a community of women, some in their 80s, goes diving to gather shellfish for a living. The Jeju haenyeo (female divers) harvest up to seven hours a day, 90 days of the year holding their breath for every 10m dive. Beforehand, prayers are said for safety and an abundant catch. The element is passed on in families, fishery cooperatives and The Haenyeo School. The traditional practice advances women’s status in the community, represents the island’s identity and promotes sustainability.

Azerbaijan; Iran (Islamic Republic of); Kazakhstan; Kyrgyzstan; Turkey— Flatbread making and sharing culture: Lavash, Katryma, Jupka, Yufka

Making and sharing flatbread (lavash, katyrma, jupka or yufka) in communities of Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey is a widely-practised tradition. It usually involves family members but in rural areas, neighbours may participate together. Baked in an oven, metal plate or cauldron the bread is shared at regular meals, weddings, births, funerals and various holidays, particularly for prosperity. Passed on by participation and from master to apprentice, the practice expresses hospitality, solidarity and symbolizes common cultural roots reinforcing community belonging.

France—Carnival of Granville

The Carnival of Granville is a four-day celebration that takes place in the lead up to Shrove Tuesday. Involving the local community and nearby communes, festivities include a series of float processions that often take a humorous look at current events, politics and celebrities involving the work of 2,500 ‘carnivalists’; marching bands; balls for different age groups; a confetti battle and ‘night of intrigues’ for carnival-goers to dress in costume. Contributing to community unity, transmission occurs within families and committees.

Georgia—Living culture of three writing systems of the Georgian alphabet

Georgia’s written language has produced three alphabets – Mrgvlovani, Nuskhuri and Mkhedruli – which remain in use today. Mrgvlovani was the first alphabet from which Nuskhuri was derived and then Mkhedruli. The alphabets coexist thanks to their different functions, reflecting an aspect of Georgia’s diverse cultural identity. Its educational system is based on the Mkhedruli alphabet taught in primary and high school and in the home, while Mrgvlovani and Nuskhuri are practised and taught predominately by its Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church community.

Germany— Idea and practice of organizing shared interests in cooperatives

A cooperative is an association of volunteers that provides services to community members to improve living standards, overcome shared challenges and promote positive change. Based on the subsidiarity principle that puts personal responsibility above state action, cooperatives allow for community building through shared interests and values. Today, a quarter of Germany’s population participate in the practice passed on within cooperatives, universities, via the German Cooperative and Raiffeisen Confederation, The Akademie Deutscher Genossenschaften, the German Hermann-Schulze-Delitzsch Society and the German Friedrich-Wilhelm-Raiffeisen Society.

Greece— Momoeria, New Year’s celebration in eight villages of Kozani area, West Macedonia, Greece

From December 25 to January 5, dancers, actors and musicians in Kozani, Greece, perform in village streets and visit homes to wish each other prosperity for the new year. The Momoeria dancers represent the priests of Momos (god of laughter and satire) or commanders of Alexander the Great trying to convince nature not to endanger the livelihood of villagers, while actors perform a play with musicians. Passed on by older generations, it is part of community identity and builds social integration.

Japan—Yama, Hoko, Yatai, float festivals in Japan

In cities and towns throughout Japan, float festivals are held annually to pray to the gods for peace and protection from natural disasters. The Yama, Hoko and Yatai float festivals, considered the biggest events of the year, involve the collaborative efforts of various sections of the community and, as a traditional practice, reflect the diversity of local culture. Responsibilities are shared by everyone, from float construction to music and coordination with senior bearers teaching the young; workshops are also held.

United Arab Emirates; Austria; Belgium; Czechia; France; Germany; Hungary; Italy; Kazakhstan; Republic of Korea; Mongolia; Morocco; Pakistan; Portugal; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; Spain; Syrian Arab Republic - Falconry, a living human heritage

Originally a way to obtain food, falconry has evolved to be more associated with conservation, cultural heritage and community engagement. Falconers train, fly and breed the birds developing a bond with them and becoming their main protectors. Present in 60 countries, aspects of the practice may vary but the methods remain similar. Falconers practise in groups. Some travel weeks at a time recounting stories in the evenings. Transmission occurs within families, by apprenticeship, mentoring or training in clubs and schools.

India - Yoga

The philosophy behind the ancient Indian practice of yoga has influenced various aspects of how India’s society functions, from health and medicine to education and the arts. Based on unifying the mind with the body and soul for greater mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing, it consists of a series of poses, meditation, controlled breathing, word chanting and other techniques. Traditionally transmitted from master to pupil, nowadays yoga ashrams, hermitages, educational institutions and community centres also help to transmit the practice.

Iraq - Khidr Elias feast and its vows

Every February communities in Iraq honour a holy figure called Alkhidr who is believed to grant worshippers their wishes, particularly those who are in need. Families gather on a sacred hill dressed in traditional clothes enjoying special dishes and performing dabkka (a popular dance), or deliver offerings by the bank of the Tigris making vows for wishes to be granted and sending candles along the river. The cultural practice, said to build social cohesion, is transmitted by families and schools.

Saudi Arabia - Almezmar, drumming and dancing with sticks

Almezmar is a traditional practice of the Hijazi community in Saudi Arabia performed for family celebrations or national events. Involving up to 100 male practitioners, two rows stand opposite each other clapping and chanting songs about gallantry or love. Drums beat in the background while pairs of performers twirl large sticks in the group’s centre and others follow. Transmitted by performing arts troupes and heritage centres, the practice acts as an identity marker and part of the community’s collective memory.

Kazakhstan - Kuresi in Kazakhstan

Kuresi in Kazakhstan is a type of traditional wrestling practised in communities that requires players to battle it out on foot to get the opponent’s shoulders on the ground. Where trainers previously coached boys to participate in local contests, these days kuresi is a national sport practised by men and women with international competitions taking place, broadcast in multiple countries. Said to build tolerance, goodwill and solidarity amongst communities, kuresi is transmitted in master classes and sports clubs.

Mauritius—Bhojpuri folk songs in Mauritius, Geet-Gawai

Geet-Gawai is a traditional, pre-wedding ceremony combining rituals, prayer, songs, music and dance performed mainly by Bhojpuri-speaking communities in Mauritius. Taking place at the bride or groom’s home, it involves family members and neighbors. Married women sort items like rice and money in a piece of cloth while others sing songs to honor Hindu gods and goddesses. Next, everyone dances to uplifting songs. An expression of community identity and collective memory, it is passed on within families, by community centers and academies.

Mexico—Charrería, equestrian tradition in Mexico

Charrería is a traditional practice of livestock herding communities in Mexico that began in the XVI century. Initially used to help herders from different estates better coexist, these days purpose-built associations and schools assist in perpetuating the tradition, also considered a sport, by training community members to a competition level standard. Different categories of charrería are performed by male and female practitioners in front of an audience. It is considered an important aspect of community identity and way of transferring social values to younger generations.

Nigeria—Argungu international fishing and cultural festival

Every year in the north-west of Nigeria, communities participate in the Argungu International Fishing and Cultural Festival. The four day festival between February and March, features kabanci – water competitions including hand fishing, canoe racing, wild duck catching – and other traditional practices. Men and boys participate, while women perform songs and dances. Considered a contributor to identity and means of maintaining peace between the Argungu and neighbouring Sokoto, knowledge on the tradition is passed on within chieftaincies involved, families and via apprenticeships.

Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)— Carnival of El Callao, a festive representation of a memory and cultural identity

The Carnival of El Callao, practiced in communities of Venezuela, is associated with emancipation celebrations in the French-speaking islands of the Caribbean. Running from January to March, it features parades of people dressed as characters from history and fantasy, music, dancing and concerts throughout town streets with up to 3,000 people participating. The carnival highlights Callaoense history, reinforces its cultural identity, promotes unity and encourages younger generations to discover their heritage. This element is passed on mainly within families and schools run by bearers.

Switzerland—Winegrowers’ Festival in Vevey

The Winegrowers’ Festival is part of the living heritage of Vevey in Switzerland that recognizes the community’s winegrowers. Originally a pageant, it now features 15 events over three weeks and 5,000 contributors. Based on a traditional theme with prizes for the best winegrowers, as well as music, food and processions to neighboring La Tour-de-Peilz, the festival is run by the Vevey Brotherhood of Winegrowers with the help of additional volunteers. It encourages community spirit, artistic life and facilitates winegrower knowledge.

Viet Nam—Practices related to the Việt beliefs in the Mother Goddesses of Three Realms

To meet spiritual needs, everyday wishes and gain help in achieving good health and success communities in Viet Nam worship the Mother Goddesses of Three Realms: heaven, water, and mountains and forests. This includes the Mother of the World Liễu Hạnh and other heroic spirits. The tradition involves daily worship, ceremonies, rituals and festivals. Passed on by bearers, such as temple priests, the activities provide a basis for social relations connecting the community and maintaining an aspect of its cultural heritage.

Romania; Republic of Moldova --Traditional wall-carpet craftsmanship in Romania and the Republic of Moldova

Traditionally, wall carpets produced by weaver communities of Romania and the Republic of Moldova were used for decoration, funerals, exhibitions and as part of a bride’s dowry. These days, they are mainly appreciated as works of art. Techniques have changed from vertical/horizontal looms practiced in some parts to tight picking and other forms, with weavers now able to work from home. An expression of creativity, identity and tool for social cohesion, it is passed on within families and by craft centers and colleges.

Slovakia; Czechia—Puppetry in Slovakia and Czechia

Puppet theater for communities in Slovakia and Czechia is a popular form of traditional folk entertainment, but also a way of conveying a vision of the world and teaching moral values. An integral part of local theatre and literary tradition, it contributes to socialization, creativity and participant identity. Featuring puppets mostly made of wood and animated using various methods, the traditional cultural practice is passed on by performer communities, puppetry dynasties, not-for-profit organizations and music and arts schools.

Slovenia—Škofja Loka passion play

In Škofja Loka, Slovenia, a folk play procession takes place in the town’s medieval center during Lent and Easter. The Škofja Loka Passion Play, based on the ancient works of a Capuchin monk, demonstrates 20 scenes of the stations of the cross and others from the Old Testament and New Testament, involving 900 local performers and 400 additional volunteers. Performed every six years, it is considered a contributor to community identity and cohesion, passed on within families and by schools and local craftspeople.

Tajikistan—Oshi Palav, a traditional meal and its social and cultural contexts in Tajikistan

Oshi palav (pilaf) is a traditional dish of communities in Tajikistan recognized as a part of their cultural heritage. The ‘King of Meals’ is based on a recipe using vegetables, rice, meat and spices but up to 200 varieties exist. Considered an inclusive practice that brings people of different backgrounds together, it is prepared to be enjoyed at regular mealtimes, as well as social gatherings, celebrations and rituals. Skills associated with the practice are passed on within families and cooking schools.

Turkey—Traditional craftsmanship of Çini-making

Çini are traditional, handmade glazed tiles and ceramics made in Turkey with colourful motifs found on building facades and in homes. The designs, representing local customs and beliefs, are drilled on paper, transferred to the surface with contours hand drawn, then the work dyed, glazed and fired. Practiced formally and informally in traditional workshops, public education centres, universities and in the home, çini making is considered an outlet for self-expression, development, healing and a symbolic aspect of Turkey’s cultural identity.

Uzbekistan—Palov culture and tradition

There is a saying in Uzbekistan that guests can only leave the host’s house after palov has been offered. Prepared with rice, meat, spices and vegetables, the traditional dish is also enjoyed as a regular meal, to celebrate special occasions, help those in need or honor loved ones who have passed. Passed on from master to apprentice, within families, peer groups and community-based institutions, the practice acts to strengthen social ties, promote solidarity and is part of the community’s cultural identity.

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