Safeguarding of Vanuatu Sand Drawings

  • Project budget: $ 110,401
  • Source:
    • Japan Funds-in-Trust (553VAN4001)
  • Dates of implementation:
    • 01/03/2005 - 01/07/2008

Benefitting country(ies): Vanuatu


Sand drawing is a multifunctional “writing” produced on the ground, in sand, volcanic ash or clay, using one finger to draw a graceful, often symmetrical composition of geometric patterns. It serves as a means of communication among the members of some 80 ethnolinguistic groups.

The objectives of the safeguarding project are to:

  • Raise awareness about the importance of the sand drawings at the community, provincial and national levels ;
  • Revitalize the practice of sand drawings in tradition-bearing communities and enhance the conditions for the on-going transmission of the tradition;
  • Incorporate the study of sand drawings into school curricula;
  • Elaborate a national law for the protection of traditional knowledge and culture so as to safeguard sand drawings and related cultural expressions.

The main activities include:

  • Identify sand drawing designs and stories that can be used in the public realm and establish a database and an Internet site dedicated to sand drawings;
  • Study opportunities and requirement for introducing sand drawings into the national curriculum and develop a teacher’s guide for teaching sand drawings;
  • Draft a national law for the protection of traditional knowledge and culture for nationwide consultations.
  • Organize public events, such as performances, exhibitions and festivals to promote and transmit the skills of expert sand drawers;
  • Establish permanent interactive sand drawing display for the National Museum of Vanuatu.

01/12/2004 - 01/07/2008 – Action Plan for the Safeguarding and Revitalization of the Oral Tradition of the Aka Pygmies of the Central African Republic01/01/2003 - 01/07/2008 – National inventory revival of the traditional ceramics