Inscribed in 2010 (5.COM) on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding
Found among the Uygur people concentrated largely in China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Meshrep constitutes the most important cultural carrier of Uygur traditions. A complete Meshrep event includes a rich collection of traditions and performance arts, such as music, dance, drama, folk arts, acrobatics, oral literature, foodways and games. Uygur muqam is the most comprehensive art form included in the event, integrating song, dance and entertainment. Meshrep functions both as a ‘court’, where the host mediates conflicts and ensures the preservation of moral standards, and as a ‘classroom’, where people can learn about their traditional customs. Meshrep is mainly transmitted and inherited by hosts who understand its customs and cultural connotations, by the virtuoso performers who participate, and by all the Uygur people who attend. However, there are numerous factors endangering its viability, such as social changes resulting from urbanization and industrialization, the influence of national and foreign cultures, and the migration of young Uygur to cities for work. Frequency of occurrence and the number of participants are progressively diminishing, while the number of transmitters who understand the traditional rules and rich content of the event has sharply decreased from hundreds to tens.
Decision 5.COM 5.1
The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, as follows:
- U1: Meshrep includes ritual practices, religious instruction, foodways, music and dance, games and jokes, and thrives as a living tradition providing local communities with a sense of identity and continuity;
- U2: Meshrep’s continuity is threatened because it is practised only in its simplified forms and there are few opportunities for young people to master its more elaborated arts and skills;
- U3: A number of safeguarding measures have been elaborated, demonstrating the commitment of the community and the State although these do not include some important strategies, their feasibility and sufficiency cannot easily be ascertained;
- U4: The nomination was elaborated with the support and approval of Uygur communities and Meshrep practitioners, and it includes expressions of the free, prior and informed consent of six representative inheritors;
- U5: Several different forms of Meshrep were included in May 2005 and June 2008, upon approval of China’s State Council, in the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage administered by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture.
These videos (and many more) can also be consulted through the UNESCO Archives Multimedia website