22.04.2013 - UNESCO Office in Jakarta

Japanese Government Supports ‘Second Community-based Inventory of the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage’ held from 16-18 April in Suai sub-district, Timor-Leste

The ‘Second Community-based Inventory of the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)’ was successfully held from April 16-18 2013 in Suai sub-district of Cova Lima, Timor-Leste. The workshop was jointly organized by the State Secretariat of Arts and Culture of the Ministry of Tourism of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, the Cova Lima District government and UNESCO, with financial support from the Government of Japan through UNESCO Japanese Funds-In-Trust for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

This workshop brought together around 50 participants, including governmental officials, national and district culture officials, community leaders from Suai, local artisans, musicians and dancers, and other community members of the Suai sub-district. The aim of this workshop was to build on the introductory community inventorying workshop held in October 2012 and equip participants, especially community members, with the practical techniques and skills needed to undertake inventory work of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Day one of the workshop focused on developing the skills of participants to undertake inventorying work with the two UNESCO ICH experts, Mr. Rahul Goswami from India and Mr. Anthony Parak from Papua New Guinea, covering the topics of photography, interviewing techniques, and cultural mapping. The opening day also featured presentations by staff of the State Secretariat of Arts and Culture, who shared the results of the preliminary inventorying of ICH elements from the October 2012 workshop undertaken with input from local community members of Suai. This also provided the opportunity for community members to see the tangible results of the last workshop and give comments on data collected.

The second day of the workshop focused on the implementation of the skills and knowledge participants had gained through the workshop through the inventorying of ICH elements in the field. The 50 participants split into separate groups to inventory ICH elements selected by community members, including: Aker, a type of plant used for a number of purposes including creating baskets, rope, houses etc; Ekipa Bua Malus, betelnut used for ceremonies and by village elders; Uma Lisan, a traditional house used as a place for ceremonies; and Tisi Koto Moruk, a type of food that requires special preparation. Each group was involved in interviewing community elders, documenting ICH elements through photographs and video, and compiling date using the inventorying form developed by the government with input from community groups.

The final day of the workshop featured presentations from each of the groups in which they elaborated on the data collected, the inventory techniques used and images and video taken. After the presentations a lively debate ensured with comments from community members, and workshop participations on the accuracy of data collected, what could have been included and improved, and the importance of documenting ICH. The two UNESCO ICH experts also provided comments on the presentations, including on what could have been improved and what was done well. The facilitators also provided further information on how to store collected data and the importance of developing ICH databases.

This workshop was held as part of a series of capacity building workshops in Timor-Leste which were held in November 2011, April 2012 and October 2012 respectively. The first workshop focused on the Ratification of the Convention, the second on Implementation of the Convention and the third on a community based inventorying including giving participants a broad overview of the ICH Convention, principles of community inventorying and an introduction to inventorying work. A further workshop on Nomination of ICH elements to the UNESCO Convention is planned for later in 2013.


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