09.09.2019 - UNESCO Office in Kabul

UNESCO organizes second workshop on community-based inventory of ICH in Bamiyan

Workshop participants with Mr. Said Anwar Azad, one of Afghanistan’s most famous Dambura players ©UNESCO

2019.09.11 | UNESCO and the Government of Afghanistan have recently organized the second capacity-building initiative on community-based inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in Afghanistan. This workshop, possible due to the generous support of the European Union, took place between August 19 and 21, at the Gholghola Hotel, in Bamiyan.

In addition to ICH practitioners from Bamiyan, the workshop counted with the participation of representatives from NGOs and local universities, national and local government officials, and representatives from the Ministry of Information and Culture (MoIC) from the provinces of Herat and Nangarhar. UNESCO also invited representatives from the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) and Turquoise Mountain (TM) to present during the training. These two organisations have both been active in the field of documentation and share a clear vision for safeguarding ICH in the country, having worked alongside UNESCO in providing support to the MoIC in this field for the past 18 months.

A first workshop on community-based inventory was held in Bamiyan in 2018, and the initial documentation of three ICH elements took place then: barack (felt weaving), the tavakhana (a technique where cooking pits are also used for heating living chambers within a home), and the mihrab (the traditional system through which water is distributed through agricultural fields). During the 2019 workshop, initial documentation took place on two new ICH elements: the Dambura, a musical traditional shared between Hazara and Uzbek groups, preeminent in the Bamiyan region; and kolokhi, a traditional earth cooking technique used especially during the potato harvesting today.

The workshop focused on key-concepts of community-based inventorying and documentation, with class-type sessions, group exercises and fieldwork. On the last day, participants were given the challenge of presenting the needs for documenting the ICH elements that had inventoried, as well as identifying some of the safeguarding measures that could contribute to their sustainable practice and viability. Amongst the many suggestions put forward by participants are the need to continue providing support to the inventorying and documentation of ICH as part of a larger safeguarding process, additional training opportunities, the need for a national and a regional inventory, and providing opportunities to showcasing some of Bamiyan’s most significant ICH during festive and holiday events.

For the past few years, UNESCO has worked closely with the Government of Afghanistan and local partners such as AKTC and TM, to implement the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. It is expected that following the last capacity-building initiatives on community-based inventory and documentation, a new workshop will be held in early 2020 to initiate the process of nominating some of the country’s most significant ICH to both the Representative List of the ICH of Humanity and the List of ICH in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

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