Projects and activities on intangible heritage in which UNESCO is involved
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Action plan for the Safeguarding of the Ahellil of Gourara12-2006/09-2009, Algeria
- Ahellil of Gourara
- © CNRPAH/UNESCO
The Ahellil is a series of collective chants performed at social gatherings and celebrations of the Berber-speaking population of the Gouara region. Starting with short well-known songs performed by the whole group, the performances build to a conclusion featuring the most accomplished singers.
The safeguarding action plan aims at/
- ensuring the viability of the Ahellil of Gourara through activities including the establishment of a “Committee for the Safeguarding of the Ahellil of Gourara” (CSAG) to implement the plan;
- encouraging transmission to younger generations by teaching Ahellil (initiation) in schools and colleges of Gourara;
- organizing training workshops on Ahellil music, poetry and choreography; identifying Ahellil bearers and conducting inventory-making and data collection?
- organizing an annual festival (with Jury and Awards) to promote the Ahellil; and
- creating a website and newsletter on Ahellil, supported by the production of audio and video materials.
Action Plan for the Safeguarding, Promotion and Development of the Cultural Space of the Bedu in the regions of Petra and Wadi Rum12-2006/03-2009, Jordan
- Roasting coffee beans - The Cultural Space of the Bedu in Petra and Wadi Rum
- © Jordanian Commission for Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage
The Bedu have preserved wide-ranging knowledge and skills related to the area around Petra and Wadi Rum, including traditional medicine, camel husbandry, tent-making craftsmanship, tracking and climbing as well as rituals of coffee-making and oral traditions reflecting their mythology.
The principal goal of the project is to safeguard the main features of the lifestyle and oral expressions of the Bedu that have developed in two selected areas of Southern Jordan (Petra and Wadi Rum region) over the course of millennia and that are being lost due to inevitable societal changes.
The action plan revolves around two projects:
- The collection and intergenerational transmission of oral heritage;
- The transmission and adaptation of knowledge and know-how related to camel and weaving, two “pillars of bedu culture”.
The main beneficiaries are communities of settled and mobile bedu living in and around the sites of Petra and Wadi Rum.The action plan is being implemented by the Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development through its network of community development centers in the regions of Petra and Wadi Rum, and through several independent community-based associations.
Safeguarding traditional games of the Afar and the Somali people in the Horn of Africa12-2006/03-2009, Djibouti
Traditional board games have long been an important pastime among the nomadic societies of the Horn of Africa. Practice and transmission of these games is now at risk, though, as a result of urbanization and the effects of globalization.
This safeguarding project aims at revitalizing the transmission of the knowledge and skills related to traditional board and ball games in the Horn of Africa. The rules of the games as well as their origins and functions will be researched, and kits and manuals on these games will be published and distributed. The project will organize workshops and tournaments in order to increase transmission by practitioners and continued practice of traditional games by young people. Public information and awareness-raising will also be done through the media.
Safeguarding traditional Somali performing arts04-2008/03-2009, Somalia
Before the civil war Somalia enjoyed a vibrant cultural life, in which traditional performing arts played a major role. Aware of the role that cultural practices may play in fostering social cohesion and in reconciliation processes in future post-conflict Somalia, the project aims to
- identify traditional performing arts practices of Somali people with a view to safeguarding this heritage,
- highlight the role that cultural practices can play in reconciliation process for the post conflict Somalia, and
- contribute to the rehabilitation of Somali culture.
Core activities of the project include:
- the identification of traditional performing arts of Somali communities in the North Eastern Province in Kenya;
- the preparation of a draft inventory of those traditions; and
- the acquisition of extant audiovisual materials related to traditional performing arts of Somali people.
Action plan for the safeguarding of the Song of Saana11-2005/01-2009, Yemen
- Song of Sana’a
- © Samir Mokrani
The Song of Sana’a is a group of songs accompanied by the fine sound of the Yemeni lute and a lightly struck copper tray. The poetic repertory, written in both Yemeni dialects and classical Arabic, abounds in wordplay and is renowned for its emotional content.
The project was designed to:
- promote knowledge about the Song of Sana’a;
- raise awareness about its functions and its importance for society; and
- ensure its safeguarding through teaching, research and inventory making activities.
The project activities encompass the following:
- preparation and development of an inventory of the Song of Sana’a;
- establishment of archives within the institutional infrastructure of the Yemeni Centre for Musical Heritage and the training of researchers in field survey and inventorying;
- encouragement of Transmission of the Song of Sana’a, especially the old masters’ skills to younger generations, through the opening of master classes and scholarships for students;
- preservation of the musical instruments through lute-making workshop with scholarships for students;
- awareness raising campaign and the dissemination of recordings, with the production of promotional documentation such as CDs, DVDs and books.
Preservation, Revitalization and Promotion of Jemaa el-Fna Square, Marrakech03-2004/12-2008, Morocco
- Cultural space of Jemaa el-Fna Square
- © UNESCO / Jane Wright
Dating back to the fourteenth century, the triangular Jemaa el-Fna Square has become the symbol of Marrakech, protected as part of Morocco’s artistic heritage since 1922. It features a unique concentration of traditions, such as storytelling, healing and various forms of entertainment as well as commercial activities.
The project consists of pedagogical workshops, which have been organized in several schools around Marrakech. The preparatory work necessary for archiving and creating databases has started. Books and educational materials about the cultural space will be published, and a website will be designed.
The project aims to raise awareness within schools as well as in communities at the national and international levels. It also expects to facilitate the transmission of knowledge to younger generations and document the intangible cultural heritage elements associated with this cultural space.
Safeguarding Palestinian Hikaye11-2006/09-2008, Palestine
- Hikaye narration session
- © MOC
The Hikaye narrative presents fictitious and contemporary issues of Palestine society from the perspective of women storytellers. Narrated in colloquial Arabic, its expressive power lies in the use of language, speech rhythms and vocal inflections.
A global action plan was elaborated to ensure the safeguarding of the Palestinian Hikaye as a form of oral expression through training, scientific research and archiving as well as support to the ongoing practice of the narratives. The aim is to bring together the largest possible number of community members and institutions involved at different levels in the study and practice of the Palestinian Hikaye, and coordinate their efforts within a national endeavour to identify and revitalize it. Various funding sources have been identified to finance the implementation of the action plan. The current project focuses mainly on research and archiving. It will ensure the proper documentation of the Hikaye through audio and visual recordings of tale telling in different geographical areas, including refugee camps. It also includes the creation of a national archive as well as awareness raising activities.
Enhancing Women’s Role as Custodians and Artisans of Egyptian Handicrafts01-2005/05-2006, Egypt
For over centuries, women have used their innovative and artistic talents to create artefacts passing them from mother to daughter. The “Tally” embroidery, famous in Upper Egypt, and the cross-stitches embroidery of both Siwa and Sinai are unique forms of art dating back to the 19th century. This heritage is under threat because of the permeation of advanced and easier technologies, and a lack of market awareness.
In response to the threat of industrial standardization, the Egyptian National Council for Women (NCW) has taken initiatives with UNESCO to safeguard Egyptian intangible heritage manifested in the domains of traditional craftsmanship, oral traditions and expressions, proverbs and performing arts. This project included documentation in combination with the collection of all forms and patterns of the Tally. It also aimed at training young women artists, craftsmen, documentalists and teachers in recording and documenting the work and in accessing and retrieving historical artistic records. Furthermore, small-scale enterprises were developed to create gainful employment to women living in underserved regions and villages.
Promotion and documentation of women’s intangible cultural heritage in Mauritania2004/2005, Mauritania
The aim of this initiative, implemented in 2004/2005, was to promote the role of women as bearers and creators of a rich intangible heritage, in particular oral traditions (stories, tales, proverbs, etc.) and traditional knowledge (cooking, traditional craftsmanship etc.) in the Maghreb region. The pilot project of this initiative was launched in Mauritania, a country where oral heritage plays a particularly important role for the transmission of traditional knowledge and cultural identity.
The project aimed at collecting traditional stories from women in the four national languages of Mauritania (Hassaniya, Peul, Soninke and Wolof), based on the existing archives of oral heritage started by the IMRS (Mauritanian Institute for Scientific Research). The collected material was used for the preparation of learning material in the four national languages within the framework of literacy projects.