Projects and activities on intangible heritage in which UNESCO is involved
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Support to the implementation of the 2003 Convention through the development and maintenance of an information management system and the production, translation and dissemination of training materials to Spanish-speaking countries10-2009/12-2010,
The project contributes to strengthening the capacities of States Parties to the Convention to participate more effectively in the international mechanisms of the Convention through the development and maintenance of the information management system and the ICH website. It also helps tp enhance the international exchange of information by collecting and disseminating country information on safeguarding measures and good practices implemented at the national level. It also finances the translation into Spanish, production, and dissemination to Spanish-speaking countries of the newly-published Information Kit on ICH:. It also supports the publication of locally-adapted brochures about intangible heritage in Latin America.
Action Plan for the Safeguarding and Revitalization of the Cultural Space of the Holy Spirit Brotherhood of the Villa Mella’s Congos01-2003/12-2009, Dominican Republic
- Cultural space of the Brotherhood of the Holy Spirit of the Congos of Villa Mella
- © Museo de Hombre Dominicano
The Brotherhood of the Holy Spirit of the Congos of Villa Mella is distinguished in the fields of music, dance and popular festivities. The musicians play hand-drums called congos, which origin is attributed to the Holy Spirit. The Festival of the Holy Spirit, celebrated at Pentecost, features prayers, dances and singing, accompanied by the music of the congos and a procession carrying the dove representing the Holy Spirit.
- Preservation and revitalization of the cultural space and to the promotion of intercultural exchanges.
- Integrate a larger part of the population into the celebrations and practices of the Brotherhood,older generations who are responsible for the continuation of the tradition.
- Inventories and documentation of the Brotherhood’s cultural expressions including music and dance
- Various workshops on the preservation of the oral tradition and the social memory of the cultural space will be carried out at local, regional and national levels
- A community centre hosting craftsmen’s workshops, performances, classes and symposia will be established.
Action Plan for the safeguarding of the traditional medicine Kallawaya03-2007/12-2009, Bolivia (Plurinational State of)
- Andean cosmovision of the Kallawaya
- © Vice Ministerio de Cultura
Los kallawayas, famosos por su vasto conocimiento del mundo botánico y mineral, practican técnicas médicas y rituales de curación que son un fiel exponente del sistema de creencias indígenas. Su conocimiento de las plantas medicinales se amplía sin cesar, pues los curanderos kallawayas y sus aprendices buscan continuamente nuevos métodos de curación en los diversos y muy variados ecosistemas de la región andina.
The safeguarding action plan seeks, through intergenerational transmission, to ensure the preservation and transmission of the knowledge and wisdom of the Kallawaya culture, whose activity is bound to the ancestral healing medicine of the culture of the Andes.
The main objectives of the safeguarding project are to:
- promote the preservation and safeguarding of Kallawaya culture at local, regional and national levels;
- strengthen the techniques and transmission of traditional medicine,
- strengthen the knowledge concerning healing with natural medicines;
- create the necessary conditions to ensure the transmission of the traditional knowledge;
- promote Kallawaya culture, as part of the multicultural identity of Bolivia; and
- to promote the practice of traditional medicine in hospitals of the municipalities of the Bautista Saavedra province.
Safeguarding of the Sacred Songs of the Voodoo Cult of the lakou Dereal of the Community of Bizoton05-2008/12-2009, Haiti
The Bizoton community is situated in the the Dereal lakou in Western Haïti. Every song and dance in the vodou cult can be associated with a prayer and every gesture that goes with it is codified in function of a specific divinity.
- Identification and documentation of the sacred songs of the vodou cult of the Dereal lakou
- Raise awareness among the members of the community of Bizoton of the value of their rich heritage *Promotion of the sacred songs of the vodou cult of the Dereal lakou
- Workshops on the methodology used for the creation of an inventory with the participation of the tradition bearers and the youngsters of the Bizoton Community
- Elaboration of an inventory of the sacred songs of the vodou cult of the Dereal lakou
- Production and dissemination of a CD
Action Plan for the Safeguarding of the Oruro Carnival04-2005/06-2009, Bolivia (Plurinational State of)
- Carnival of Oruro
- © Tetsuo Mizutani / UNESCO
The main event of the Oruro Carnival is a procession of thousands of dancers and musicians. The sumptuous costumes, beautifully painted masks, folk dances and songs bear witness to the influence of indigenous and Spanish cultures.
The project aimed at increasing the viability of the Carnival through the reinforcement of existing transmission mechanisms, the introduction of new ones and raising awareness among all concerned parties as to its function and importance.
Field research was undertaken in order to inventory and catalogue the twenty-one dances and forty-seven fraternities of the Oruro Carnival in their interrelated aspects, which include music, costumes and choreography. The project also made a series of publications, documenting the results of the investigations, inventory-making activities and the project itself. Interactive workshops to train the actors involved directly and indirectly in the Carnival was also organized.
Strengthening the Transmission of the Traditional Textile Knowledge of Taquile12-2006/06-2009, Peru
- Taquile and its textile art
- © Instituto Nacional de Cultura / Dante Villafuerte
The island of Taquile in Titicaca lake is known for its weaving tradition preserving elements from pre-Hispanic Andean cultures. Weaving is done on fixed and pedal looms to produce characteristic garments. Taquile weaving uses new, contemporary symbols and images while retaining traditional styles and techniques.
The safeguarding action plan aims at preserving and enhancing the transmission of Taquile textile arts and thus to strengthening their cultural identity. The first activity aims at documenting the skills and knowledge involved in the textile arts as well as related social practices, through a local communal inventory of Taquile textile arts, elaborated by Taquile community members, especially young people. The second component is to strengthen intergenerational and inter-communal transmission of the technologies, aesthetics and cultural practices involved in textile arts by reinforcing local education institutions and promoting exchange of knowledge and skills between older and younger weavers. The third activity aims to promote Taquilean cultural and artistic expressions through producing a documentary video and a publication containing information on the other project components and developing educational materials to be used in Taquilean schools.
Action Plan for the Safeguarding of the Garifuna Language, Music and Dance04-2006/06-2009, Belize - Guatemala - Honduras - Nicaragua
The Garifuna communities, spread over Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, have kept alive their common language, oral traditions, music and dances. Although still practiced on various occasions, these are changing considerably as the Garifuna language is less often spoken.
The safeguarding project focuses mainly in the preservation of the Garifuna language through language revitalization, lexical expansion programs and the promotion of teaching, learning and practicing. It will also develop an inventory of Garifuna art forms (such as songs, music, dances and related customs etc.) and promote regional Garifuna festivals with a view to confronting the erosion of the Garifuna culture in the heart of modern day communities. As a general objective, the project seeks to strengthen the capacities of the Garifuna communities in order to promote the safeguarding of its heritage.
The proposed activities will be undertaken by means of the three following main components:
- Revitalization of the use of the Garifuna Language
- development of inventories and archives of Garifuna art forms
- dissemination and promotion of Garifuna Intangible Cultural Heritage
Action Plan for the Safeguarding of Rabinal Achi Dance Drama12-2006/05-2009, Guatemala
- Rabinal Achí dance drama tradition
- © Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes / GMA PRO
The Rabinal Achí dance drama is a play with musical and dance interludes based on myths about political conflicts between two Maya groups. The characteristics of the text and versification are evidence of a sophisticated pre-Hispanic Amerindian literary style.
The safeguarding plan aims at supporting the Rabinal Achí dance-drama group in their efforts to safeguard and transmit their skills, knowledge and experience. The project intends to strengthen the transmission of the Rabinal Achí dance-drama to younger generations through workshops; increase awareness among practitioners as well as Guatemalan society in general of the value of this cultural expression and the need to safeguard it; and strengthening the capacities of the Rabinal Achí dance-drama group to enable them to continue this tradition. Activities include transmission workshops and performances of the Rabinal Achí dance-drama, recruiting and training new dancers (children, young people and adults), publishing promotional material, whose revenues will go to a fund for dance groups and developing a training manual to teach the Rabinal Achí at different school levels of the national education system.
Action Plan for the Safeguarding of El Güegüense04-2007/03-2009, Nicaragua
- El Güegüense
- © Instituto Nicaragüense de Cultura (INC)
Popular throughout Nicaragua, the El Güegüense is a satirical street drama accompanied by music and dance, developed in the eighteenth century. The beautifully costumed and masked protagonist, El Güegüe, cleverly uses verbal artistry in Spanish, Basque and Nahuatl, an Amerindian language, to demonstrate subservience to the colonial authorities while ridiculing them.
The safeguarding action plan intends to strengthen the conservation of the traditional structures of the phenomenon “El Güegüense”; to increase knowledge about this cultural expression; to promote cultural identity values and to reinforce financial support of the tradition.
The main activities include:
- establishing the National Council for the Safeguarding of El Güegüense;
- elaborating legislative measures to protect El Güegüense;
- inventorying and recording the cultural elements in the play El Güegüense;
- establishing awards for practitioners of the knowledge;
- designing programs that includes its knowledge and its study in school programs;
- creating a “Centro El Güegüense” in the city of Diriamba;
- promoting through transmission activities the handicrafts related to El Güegüense in order to develop support mechanisms contributing to the financial support to craftspeople and cultural industries dealing with the play.
Action Plan for the Safeguarding of the Traditional Knowledge, Oral and Graphic Expressions of the Wajapi in Amapa07-2006/11-2008, Brazil
- Oral and graphic expressions of the Wajapi
- © Conselho das Aldeias Waiapi-Apina
Wajapi communities in northern Amazonia have a long history of producing and using vegetable dyes to adorn their bodies with geometric motifs and symbols. Motifs of the jaguar, anaconda, butterfly and fish animate the worldview and oral traditions of the Wajapi.
The safeguarding project aims at supporting the Wajãpi in their efforts to document their skills, experiences and knowledge related to their manifold oral and graphic expressions as they are embodied, most prominently, in the kusiwa graphic system. This project will complement the broader set of activities undertaken by the “Wajãpi Programme”, which started in 1992.
The project focuses on documentation and dissemination of information related to the oral and graphic expressions of the Wajãpi. The participative documentation will be undertaken by the Wajãpi themselves. The project is composed of three main lines of action: (i) undertaking of an ethnological survey, (ii) elaboration of an inventory in the form of an electronic database in close cooperation with the respective custodians, (iii) implementation of dissemination and diffusion activities on Wajãpi oral and graphic expressions” focus on both young Wajãpi and public managers working with indigenous communities in order to increase their knowledge and appreciation of Wajãpi oral and graphic expressions and the need to safeguard the context in which they are practiced.
Action Plan for the Safeguarding of the Carnival of Barranquilla01-2005/10-2008, Colombia
- Carnival of Barranquilla
- © Ministry of Culture of republic of Colombia
Masqueraded dancers, actors and musicians delight crowds through performances marked by European, African and indigenous influences. To enhance the transmission of the tradition, the Children’s Carnival was created and has become a vital element of the carnival.
- Field research to create an inventory and database and to select the expressions of the Carnival to be safeguarded
- Creation of a cultural map of the Colombian Caribbean region
- Support of the formation of the Network of the Carnival of Barranquilla, consisting of institutions involved in the preservation of this heritage.
- Assistance to seasoned performers in order to enable them to transmit their extensive choreographic, theatrical and musical know-how to younger generations.
These activities are intended to raise awareness among the inhabitants of the region as to the value of their cultural expressions and the urgent need to safeguard them. Conditions ensuring the continuation of the Carnival will be reinforced through a network and support systems for the local community.
Action Plan for the Safeguarding of La Tumba Francesa06-2005/08-2008, Cuba
- La Tumba Francesa
- © UNESCO
The dance, song and drumming style known as Tumba Francesa (French Drum) was brought to Cuba by Haitian slaves in the 1790s. It embodies one of the oldest and most tangible links to the Afro-Haitian heritage of Cuba’s Oriente province and developed from an eighteenth- century fusion of music from Dahomey in West Africa and traditional French dances.
- Ensure the viability of « La Tumba Francesa »
- Reinforcement of intergenerational transmission of knowledge and skills
- Creation of an inventory of the different elements of « La Tumba Francesa »
- Organisation of awareness-raising campaigns
- Establishment of capacity-building programmes
- Production of pedagogical publications and multimedia material
Action plan for safeguarding the Maroon Heritage of Moore Town08-2005/06-2008, Jamaica
- Maroon heritage of Moore Town
- © The Institut of Jamaïca
The Moore Town Maroons elaborated new collective religious ceremonies that incorporated various spiritual traditions. These expressions and practices, which were then named Kromanti Play, continue to represent the very foundation of Maroon identity. As part of their heritage, the inhabitants of Moore Town also possess a unique system of communally-held “treaty lands”, a local political structure and the use of the abeng, a side-blown “talking” horn of Jamaican origin which serves as a means of long-distance communication.
- Reinforcement in the transmission of the Maroon Heritage to future generations
- Enhancing knowledge and raising respect amongst the younger generation for the values of the Maroon culture
- Strengthening existing resources to be used in the transmission, documentation and dissemination of the Maroons’ knowledge and practices.
- Surveys, interviews and research are conducted to collect relevant information and knowledge on Maroon culture together
- Training sessions for the Maroon participants in field research and audio-visual documentation
- Establishment and maintenance of an inventory/database and archive of the Maroon heritage of Moore Town.
Oxherding and Oxcart Traditions in Costa Rica10-2006/03-2008, Costa Rica
- Oxherding and oxcart traditions in Costa Rica
- © Carmen Murillo / Ministerio de Cultura, Juventud y Deportes
The safeguarding project’s objective is to contribute to revitalizing and safeguarding the oxherding and oxcart tradition in Costa Rica through education and awareness-raising activities, empowerment of oxherders’ and artisans’ organizations and inventory and research activities. A national network for safeguarding and revitalizing the tradition will be established, and training workshops organized on cultural management and resource management for members of oxherders’ and artisans’ organizations. An inventory in digital format containing the different expressions of the oxcart tradition and a practical manual containing the technical and artistic processes involved in making and decorating oxcarts will be produced. One aim of the project is to enhance the capacities of oxherders’ and artisans’ organizations to propose and manage current and future safeguarding activities in cooperation with government, civil society and the private sector. Additionally, the Plan proposes to sensitize the public to the importance of this tradition.
Language Documentation in Three Indigenous Communities in Brazil09-2007/12-2007, Brazil
- Ka’apor godfather dancing with child
- © UNESCO
This three-part project was undertaken by the Emilio Gueldi Museum, Brazilian government, and Foundation for the Development of Amazonia to document the language and oral heritage of three indigenous communities:
- The Ka’apor baptism festival involves a full day of singing, myth telling, celebration and ritual. Linguists recorded digital video and audio of the festival, compiled the footage, and returned it to the community. An annotated DVD is being prepared to share the ceremony with non-Ka’apor.
- In the Guaporé Indigenous Area, a project linguist worked with the Djeoromitxi people and the Brazilian government to equip a new cultural center with a multimedia-ready computer. Following a series of language seminars for local teachers and computer training sessions for local students, five CDs of Djeoromitxi myths and stories were recorded and edited by the students and distributed in Djeoromitxi villages.
- As the third prong of this project, team members worked with the Paresi community to record some of their most sacred myths, recounted in their traditional settings, as well as the rituals surrounding the traditional game of head ball. These recordings, too, were annotated by and distributed among community members.
Each of these activities excited strong interest in further documentation and preservation among the participating communities.
Bi-national Action Plan for the Safeguarding and Revitalization of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of the Zápara Community12-2005/09-2007, Ecuador - Peru
- Oral heritage and cultural manifestations of the Zápara people
- © Anne-Gael Bilhaut/UNESCO
The Zápara communities in the Amazon have developed a complex oral culture expressed through their myths, rituals, artistic and medical practices. Their traditions are deeply marked by their environment and reflect a profound knowledge of the Amazonian jungle.
The project aimed at facilitaing the revival of the Zápara language and to encourage binational encounters in the hope of strengthening the organization of the Zápara community in Ecuador and Peru. The project also intended to ensure continued transmission of oral and other traditions and introduce such transmission in areas where native speakers no longer exist.
A census both in Ecuador and Peru was conducted in order to determine the number and exact location of all the members of the Zápara community and the degree of conservation of the Zápara language. Various meetings were organized in order to bring together the Zápara people in both countries, allowing them to meet one another and forge links.
Preservation of language and oral traditions in Maya, Yucatán2006/2007, Mexico
19 teacher training schools to use educational tools on oral traditions Maya developed during the project and technical collection, transcription and classification of oral traditions
Learning from innovative language policies in Latin American countries2004/2006, Bolivia (Plurinational State of) - Brazil - Colombia - Ecuador - Peru - Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)
Several Latin American countries have long-standing experience in implementing linguistic policies concerning indigenous languages. In order to take stock of these experiences and to transmit good practices, UNESCO’s Havana Office -- with the support of UNAMAZ, the Association of Amazonian Universities, the Casa de las Américas and UNESCO Offices in Brasilia, Quito and Lima -- prepared six reports on linguistic policies in Bolivia, Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela, with a focus on endangered languages and associated oral traditions and expressions. The reports were published as a book and CD entitled Lenguas y culturas en Amazonia. ¿Diversidad en peligro? (Amazonian Languages and Cultures: Diversity in danger), which was officially launched on the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, 21 May 2006. The collection analyses current language policies and stresses the urgent need for concerted multilateral efforts to safeguard Amazonia’s indigenous languages.
Public awareness campaign in Colombia on the importance of safeguarding the intangible heritage (pilot project)07-2003/12-2005, Colombia
The Colombian government developed this pilot project within the framework of a promotional campaign titled Colombian Intangible Cultural Heritage: Show Who You Are. Through newspapers, national television stations and radio announcements, the project promotes the concept of intangible heritage, thereby sensitizing the general public as to the value of various types of intangible expressions from the country’s different cultures and regions. In addition to the publication of posters and brochures, training workshops were held for local authorities charged with developing inventories. Regional workshops were also organized for the staffs of cultural, education and communication institutions as well as for teachers, representatives of indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities and the general public.
Through regional workshops, the notion of “heritage” has been broadened so that Colombians now understand their traditions, folklore and especially their music, dances, crafts and celebrations as part of their nation’s heritage. This pilot project, designed to sensitize the general public and particularly young people regarding the value of the intangible heritage and its fragile nature, will serve as a future model for the other Latin American countries.
Basic vocabulary of indigenous languages in Brazil2002/2005, Brazil
During 2002 and 2003, UNESCO’s Brasilia Office supported the initial steps in the creation of a comprehensive register of Brazilian indigenous languages in danger of disappearing, in partnership with FUNAI’s Museum of the Indian. Based on a basic vocabulary established by linguists and anthropologists, researchers prepared an audio-visual archive of many indigenous languages of Brazil, including transcriptions. During 2004 and 2005, the project entered a second stage, expanding the register and culminating in the publication in CD-Rom format to increase the reach of the research.
Revitalisation of Traditional Masquerade Performing Arts and Costume Making05-2002/08-2004, Dominica - Saint Lucia - Saint Kitts and Nevis
Masquerade performing arts and costume-making traditions in the Caribbean derive from traditions of enslaved persons brought to the region during the three hundred year Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. These performing arts, that are rich in symbolism and social values, encompass various significant narrative and creative traditions, and play a vital role in maintaining the cultural identity within a community. However, they are particularly vulnerable to many adverse impacts of globalisation.
- The project was designed to identify, safeguard and revitalise traditional masquerade arts in three Caribbean countries, namely, Saint Lucia, the Commonwealth of Dominica and St Kitts–Nevis
- Transmission of this heritage
- Development of pilot projects in the field of tourism
- Assisting the tradition bearers to implement safeguarding projects
- Establish income-generating activities.
- Community based research and training related to the traditional masquerade arts
- Community based research and training related to costume-making in the Caribbean
- Recognition of the income-generating potential of this art form particularly in the field of tourism
- Economical empowerment of several practitioners and craft workers
Contribution to the publication of the 2004 issue of the directory Oralidad2004, Haiti
The journal “Oralidad” has been published by the UNESCO Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean since 1988. Each edition is designed to promote, revitalize and assist in the dissemination of the oral tradition in the region; it is read by academicians, linguists, anthropologists, students, researchers, cultural entities, communities and bearers of the oral tradition and intangible heritage. The project lent financial support for the creation of Issue 13, which was devoted to oral traditions commemorating the abolition of slavery. The publication contributed to the celebration of the International Year to Commemorate the Struggle against Slavery and its Abolition and the bicentenary of the revolution in Haiti. It is available online.