Mongolian art of singing, Khoomei
Inscribed in 2009 (4.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
- Mongolian art of singing, Khoomei
The Mongolian art of singing: Khoomei, or Hooliin Chor (‘throat harmony’), is a style of singing in which a single performer produces a diversified harmony of multiple voice parts, including a continued bass element produced in the throat. These singers may perform alone or in groups. Khoomei is practised today among Mongolian communities in several countries, especially in Inner Mongolia in northern China, western Mongolia and the Tuva Republic of Russia. Traditionally performed on the occasion of ritual ceremonies, songs express respect and praise for the natural world, for the ancestors of the Mongolian people and for great heroes. The form is reserved for special events and group activities such as horse races, archery and wrestling tournaments, large banquets and sacrificial rituals. The timing and order of songs is often strictly regulated. Khoomei has long been regarded as a central element representing Mongolian culture and remains a strong symbol of national or ethnic identity. As a window into the philosophy and aesthetic values of the Mongol people, it has served as a kind of cultural emissary promoting understanding and friendship among China, Mongolia and Russia, and has attracted attention around the world as a unique form of musical expression.
- Consent of communities: English
Decision 4.COM 13.19
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: The Mongolian art of singing: Khoomei is recognized by the community as an important part of its identity and continuity that is continually recreated, innovated and transmitted as a symbolic expression of its culture;
- R.2: Inscription of the element on the Representative List would contribute to a better understanding of the Mongolian people’s special attachment and interaction with nature, to increased awareness among younger generations and academia, and to strengthened respect and cooperation between countries in the region;
- R.3: National and local institutions and the community have elaborated safeguarding measures designed to improve the system of transmission and to promote the popularization of the art form among younger generations;
- R.4: The element has been nominated in a process that widely involved the community of practitioners and audience, alongside local governing bodies, academic institutions, professional organizations and transmitting bodies, and their free, prior and informed consent was provided in writing;
- R.5: The element is inscribed on the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage administered by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture.
© 2008 IMARI
These videos (and many more) can also be consulted through the UNESCO Archives Multimedia website