Forty-six new elements added to Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage
The Aalst Carnival in Belgium, the Peking Opera, Spanish Flamenco, the Wayuu normative system in Colombia, the traditional skills of carpet weaving in Kashan in Iran, and falconry, presented by 11 countries, are among the 46 elements inscribed today on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. A UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee, chaired by Jacob Ole Miaron from Kenya and meeting in Nairobi until 19 November, examined and inscribed 46 of the 47 nominations presented.
The new inscriptions are:
Azerbaijan - The traditional art of Azerbaijani carpet weaving in the Republic of Azerbaijan - The Azerbaijani carpet is a traditional handmade textile of various sizes, with dense texture and a pile or pile-less surface, whose patterns are characteristic of Azerbaijan’s many carpet-making regions. Carpet making is a family tradition transferred orally and through practice. Men shear sheep in spring and autumn, while women collect dyestuffs and spin and dye yarn in the spring, summer and autumn. The weaving is undertaken during winter by the female members of the extended family, girls learning from their mothers and grandmothers and wives assisting their mothers-in-law. The carpet is made on horizontal or vertical looms using multi-coloured wool, cotton or silk yarn coloured with natural dyes. Applying special techniques to create pile carpets, weavers knot the pile yarn around threads of the warp; pile-less carpets are variously made with interlacing structural warps, wefts, and patterning wefts. The cutting of a finished carpet from the loom is an unusually solemn celebration. Carpet weaving is closely connected with the daily life and customs of the communities involved, its role reflected in the meaning of the designs and their applications. Thus, girls seated on carpets tell fortunes and sing traditional songs at Novruz (the regional New Year). The carpet is widely used for home furniture and decoration, and special carpets are woven for medical treatment, for wedding ceremonies, the birth of a child, mourning rituals and prayer.
Belgium - Aalst carnival - When the three-day Aalst Carnaval begins each year on the Sunday before the Christian Lent, it is the culmination of a year of preparation by the inhabitants of this city in East Flanders in northern Belgium. Exuberant and satirical, the celebration features a Prince Carnaval, who symbolically becomes mayor and receives the key to the city in a ceremony marked by ridicule of the city’s actual politicians; a procession of effigies of giants and ’Bayard’, the horse from the Charlemagne legends; a broom dance in the central market to chase away the ghosts of winter; a parade of young men dressed as women with corsets, prams and broken umbrellas and a ritual burning of the carnival effigy – accompanied by shouts insisting that the feast will go on for another night. In addition to the carefully-prepared floats of official entrants, informal groups join the festivities to offer mocking interpretations of local and world events of the past year. The 600-year-old ritual, drawing up to 100,000 spectators, is a collective effort of all social classes and a symbol of the town’s identity in the region. Constantly recreated by new generations, the ancient carnival’s collective laughter and slightly subversive atmosphere celebrate the unity of Aalst.
Belgium - Houtem Jaarmarkt, annual winter fair and livestock market at Sint-Lievens-Houtem - Houtem Jaarmarkt is an annual trading fair taking place in the village of Sint-Lievens-Houtem in the south-eastern Belgian province of East Flanders. Every year, on 11 and 12 November, the village becomes the site of the country’s last substantial open-air market for trading cattle and purebred horses. Hundreds of dealers proudly display their animals before judges, fellow traders, farmers and thousands of enthusiastic visitors. People travel from across the country to visit the five hundred stallholders and other traders: experiencing, seeing, touching and buying agricultural machinery or animals, and witnessing transactions that still retain old negotiating techniques such as handclapping. With more than six hundred horses and twice as many cows up for sale, the fair is a crucial date in the calendar and identity of professionals in the livestock trade. Each year a different foreign region is invited to present its attractions, regional products and craftsmanship at the fair, enabling the livestock breeders, farmers and artisans of different nations to meet and interact. The fair and market have a huge impact on the local community with private houses turned into public venues where one can enjoy music, drinks and food. For these two days the whole village is transformed into one open, welcoming space.
Belgium - Krakelingen and Tonnekensbrand, end-of-winter bread and fire feast at Geraardsbergen - The city of Geraardsbergen holds its annual market on the first Monday in March and celebrates the end of winter on Sunday eight days earlier, with the festival of Krakelingen and Tonnekensbrad. In the days before, shopkeepers decorate their windows, bakers bake special ring-shaped breads called krakelingen, and schoolteachers recount a tale explaining the origins of the ritual. On the day of the feast, a thousand-strong parade leaves the church of Hunnegem, led by the church dean and city councillors in historical costume. Carrying bread, wine, fish and fire, the participants make their way to Oudenberg Hill, climbing to the Holy Mary Chapel on the hilltop. Inside, the dean blesses the krakelingen and recites a prayer. The religious and secular authorities then drink wine from a sixteenth-century silver goblet containing tiny live fish, which has recently become a controversial custom. They then throw ten thousand krakelingen into the crowd, one containing a winning ticket. The prize is a golden jewel, especially created for the event. At night people gather again on the hill to light a wooden barrel, the Tonnekensbrand, to celebrate the arrival of spring. Spectators carry burning torches back down the hill to bring light to the city. The festive ritual yields a strong sense of continuity and historical awareness for its participants, evoking historical events and legends passed on from generation to generation.
China - Acupuncture and moxibustion of traditional Chinese medicine - Acupuncture and moxibustion are forms of traditional Chinese medicine widely practised in China and also found in regions of south-east Asia, Europe and the Americas. The theories of acupuncture and moxibustion hold that the human body acts as a small universe connected by channels, and that by physically stimulating these channels the practitioner can promote the human body’s self-regulating functions and bring health to the patient. This stimulation involves the burning of moxa (mugwort) or the insertion of needles into points on these channels, with the aim to restore the body’s balance and prevent and treat disease. In acupuncture, needles are selected according to the individual condition and used to puncture and stimulate the chosen points. Moxibustion is usually divided into direct and indirect moxibustion, in which either moxa cones are placed directly on points or moxa sticks are held and kept at some distance from the body surface to warm the chosen area. Moxa cones and sticks are made of dried mugwort leaves. Acupuncture and moxibustion are taught through verbal instruction and demonstration, transmitted through master-disciple relations or through members of a clan. Currently, acupuncture and moxibustion are also transmitted through formal academic education.
China - Peking opera - Peking opera is a performance art incorporating singing, reciting, acting, martial arts. Although widely practised throughout China, its performance centres on Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai. Peking opera is sung and recited using primarily Beijing dialect, and its librettos are composed according to a strict set of rules that prize form and rhyme. They tell stories of history, politics, society and daily life and aspire to inform as they entertain. The music of Peking opera plays a key role in setting the pace of the show, creating a particular atmosphere, shaping the characters, and guiding the progress of the stories. ‘Civilian plays’ emphasize string and wind instruments such as the thin, high-pitched jinghu and the flute dizi, while ‘military plays’ feature percussion instruments like the bangu or daluo. Performance is characterized by a formulaic and symbolic style with actors and actresses following established choreography for movements of hands, eyes, torsos, and feet. Traditionally, stage settings and props are kept to a minimum. Costumes are flamboyant and the exaggerated facial make-up uses concise symbols, colours and patterns to portray characters’ personalities and social identities. Peking opera is transmitted largely through master-student training with trainees learning basic skills through oral instruction, observation and imitation. It is regarded as an expression of the aesthetic ideal of opera in traditional Chinese society and remains a widely recognized element of the country’s cultural heritage.
Colombia - Marimba music and traditional chants from Colombia’s South Pacific - Marimba music and traditional chants of Colombia’s South Pacific region are the heritage of Afro-Colombian groups in the departments of Valle del Cauca, Cauca and Nariño. Chanting by women and men (cantadoras and chureadores) blends with acoustic instruments, handcrafted using local materials: palm-wood Marimbas, wooden and leather bass and hand drums, and bamboo and seed rattles. This music is performed principally during four rituals: Arrullo, Currulao, Chigualo and Alabao. Arrullo is a saint worship ritual led by women, who prepare the saints, candles and altars and perform chants accompanied by drums and, on occasion, Marimbas. The Currulao (or Marimba Dance) is a festive occasion. Men play the Marimba and perform profane chants while people sing, dance, eat and drink, and recount stories. The Chigualo is a wake following the death of a young child. The body is covered with flowers and a cappella chants are performed around it. The Alabao is a wake following the death of an adult, where extremely sad chants are sung, also a cappella. Musical knowledge of these traditions is passed on orally from generation to generation with younger performers guided by more experienced musicians. With a large proportion of the Afro-Colombian population of the region having moved to urban areas in recent decades, their musical heritage remains an important source of community identity, whether in their home villages or in town.
Colombia -The Wayuu normative system, applied by the Pütchipü’üi (palabrero) - The Wayuu community inhabits the Guajira Peninsula straddling Colombia and Venezuela. Its legislative system comprises a body of principles, procedures and rites that govern the social and spiritual conduct of the community. The system, inspired by principles of reparation and compensation, is applied by the local moral authorities, the Pütchipü’üi or palabreros (orators), who are experts in resolving conflicts and disputes between the local matrilineal clans. When problems arise, the authority of the Pütchipü’üi is sought by both parties in a dispute, the offender and those offended against. After analysing the situation, the Pütchipü’üi informs the authorities concerned of his intention to resolve the conflict peacefully. In the event that the word – Pütchikalü – is accepted, dialogue is established, wherein the Pütchipü’üi acts with diplomacy, caution and intelligence. The compensation system employs symbolism, represented primarily by the offering of necklaces made of precious stones or sacrifices of cattle, sheep and goats. Even the most serious crimes are compensated, compensations being offered at special events to which the disputing families are invited to re-establish social harmony through reconciliation. The Pütchipü’üi acquires his role by virtue of being a maternal uncle – an honoured role in the Wayuu system of matrilineal clans – and by possessing a character grounded in ethics and morals.
Croatia - Gingerbread craft from Northern Croatia - The tradition of gingerbread making appeared in certain European monasteries during the Middle Ages and came to Croatia where it became a craft. Gingerbread craftspeople, who also made honey and candles, worked in the area of Northern Croatia. The process of making gingerbread requires skill and speed. The recipe is the same for all makers, utilizing flour, sugar, water and baking soda – plus the obligatory spices. The gingerbread is shaped into moulds, baked, dried and painted with edible colours. Each craftsperson decorates gingerbread in a specific way, often with pictures, small mirrors and verses or messages. The gingerbread heart is the most common motif, and is frequently prepared for marriages, decorated with the newlyweds’ names and wedding date. Each gingerbread maker operates within a certain area without interfering with that of another craftsperson. The craft has been passed on from one generation to another for centuries, initially to men, but now to both men and women. Gingerbread has become one of the most recognizable symbols of Croatian identity. Today, gingerbread makers are essential participants in local festivities, events and gatherings, providing the local people with a sense of identity and continuity.
Croatia - The Sinjska Alka, a knights’ tournament in Sinj - The Sinjska Alka is a chivalric tournament that takes place annually, as it has since the eighteenth century in the town of Sinj, in the Cetinska krajina region. During the contest, knights ride horses at full gallop along a main street, aiming lances at an iron ring hanging on a rope. The name of the tournament derives from this alka or ring, a word whose Turkish origin reflects the historical co-existence and cultural exchange between two different civilizations. The tournament rules, codified in a 1833 statute, promote ethics and fair play, and stress the importance of participation in community life. Participants must be members of local families of Sinj and the Cetinska krajina region. The whole community helps to make, conserve, restore and reconstruct weapons, clothes and accessories to support the continuation of the tradition. The tournament is also entwined with local religious practices, social gatherings, family visits and festivities at home and in the open air. The Sinjska Alka is the only remaining example of the medieval knightly competitions that were regularly held in the Croatian coastal towns until the nineteenth century. It has become a marker of local history and a medium for transferring collective memory from one generation to another.
Czech Republic - Shrovetide door-to-door processions and masks in the villages of the Hlinecko area - The Shrovetide processions take place in the town of Hlinsko and six nearby villages in the Hlinecko area of Eastern Bohemia in the Czech Republic. This popular carnival custom takes place at the end of winter, during Shrovetide – the period just before the Christian Lent. Village men and boys, disguised in masks that depict traditional characters (red masks for boys and black for married men), go from door to door around the village, accompanied by a brass band. The procession stops at each house and four of the men perform a ritual dance, with the householder’s permission, to secure a rich harvest and prosperity for the family. In return, the masked men receive treats and collect a fee. A symbolic ‘Killing of the Mare’ ritual takes place after the last house has been visited, during which a mare is condemned for its alleged sins and a humorous and topical testament is read out. Following the ‘execution’ the mare is revived with alcohol, signalling the commencement of a dance as the masks frolic with onlookers. The Shrovetide processions – banned in turn by the Catholic Church in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and by the socialist government in the twentieth century – play an important role in securing cohesion within the village community. Young people and children help with the preparations and parents make copies of traditional masks for their sons.
France - Compagnonnage, network for on-the-job transmission of knowledge and identities - The French Compagnonnage system is a unique way of conveying knowledge and know-how linked to the trades that work with stone, wood, metal, leather, textiles and food. Its originality lies in its synthesis of varied methods and processes of transmitting knowledge: national and international educational travel (known as the ‘Tour de France’ period), initiation rituals, school-based teaching, customary learning and technical apprenticeship. The Compagnonnage movement involves almost 45,000 people, who belong to one of three groups of compagnons. Those aged 16 years or over who wish to learn and/or develop their skills in a given profession can apply to join a Compagnonnage community. Training lasts on average five years, during which apprentices regularly move from town to town, both in France and internationally, to discover types of knowledge and ways of passing them on. To be eligible to transmit this knowledge the apprentice must produce a ‘masterwork’, examined and assessed by the compagnons. Compagnonnage is popularly perceived as the last movement to practice and teach certain ancient craft techniques, to deliver true excellence in craft training, to closely integrate the development of the person and the training of the worker, and the last to perform trade initiation rites.
France - The craftsmanship of Alençon needle lace-making - The technique of point d’Alençon is a rare technique of needle lace-making, practised in the town of Alençon in Normandy in north-west France. Alençon needle lace is unusual because of the high level of craftsmanship required and the very long time that it takes to produce (seven hours per square centimetre). The pieces of openwork textile using the technique are used for decorative purposes in civil and religious life. The piece is made up of design elements held together by a finely stitched net. Its process comprises a number of successive stages: drawing and pricking of the design on parchment, creating the outline of the design and the background netting, then the typical stitching of the patterns, shading with filling stitches, decorating with designs, and embroidering to create relief. Then the lace is removed from the parchment with a razor blade; trimmed and, finally, the filling stitches are polished with a lobster claw. Each Alençon lace-maker knows how to complete all the stages of the process – knowledge that can only be transmitted through a practical apprenticeship. To fully master Alençon needle lace-making requires seven to ten years of training. The learning method relies on a close relationship between the specialized lace-maker and the apprentice, and is exclusively based on oral transmission and practical teaching.
France - The gastronomic meal of the French - The gastronomic meal of the French is a customary social practice for celebrating important moments in the lives of individuals and groups, such as births, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, achievements and reunions. It is a festive meal bringing people together for an occasion to enjoy the art of good eating and drinking. The gastronomic meal emphasizes togetherness, the pleasure of taste, and the balance between human beings and the products of nature. Important elements include the careful selection of dishes from a constantly growing repertoire of recipes; the purchase of good, preferably local products whose flavours go well together; the pairing of food with wine; the setting of a beautiful table; and specific actions during consumption, such as smelling and tasting items at the table. The gastronomic meal should respect a fixed structure, commencing with an apéritif (drinks before the meal) and ending with liqueurs, containing in between at least four successive courses, namely a starter, fish and/or meat with vegetables, cheese and dessert. Individuals called gastronomes who possess deep knowledge of the tradition and preserve its memory watch over the living practice of the rites, thus contributing to their oral and/or written transmission, in particular to younger generations. The gastronomic meal draws circles of family and friends closer together and, more generally, strengthens social ties.
India - Chhau dance - Chhau dance is a tradition from eastern India that enacts episodes from epics including the Mahabharata and Ramayana, local folklore and abstract themes. Its three distinct styles hail from the regions of Seraikella, Purulia and Mayurbhanj, the first two using masks. Chhau dance is intimately connected to regional festivals, notably the spring festival Chaitra Parva. Its origin is traceable to indigenous forms of dance and martial practices. Its vocabulary of movement includes mock combat techniques, stylized gaits of birds and animals and movements modelled on the chores of village housewives. Chhau is taught to male dancers from families of traditional artists or from local communities. The dance is performed at night in an open space to traditional and folk melodies, played on the reed pipes mohuri and shehnai. The reverberating drumbeats of a variety of drums dominate the accompanying music ensemble. Chhau is an integral part of the culture of these communities. It binds together people from different social strata and ethnic background with diverse social practices, beliefs, professions and languages. However, increasing industrialization, economic pressures and new media are leading to a decrease in collective participation with communities becoming disconnected from their roots.
India - Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan - Songs and dances are an expression of the Kalbelia community’s traditional way of life. Once professional snake handlers, Kalbelia today evoke their former occupation in music and dance that is evolving in new and creative ways. Today, women in flowing black skirts dance and swirl, replicating the movements of a serpent, while men accompany them on the khanjari percussion instrument and the poongi, a woodwind instrument traditionally played to capture snakes. The dancers wear traditional tattoo designs, jewellery and garments richly embroidered with small mirrors and silver thread. Kalbelia songs disseminate mythological knowledge through stories, while special traditional dances are performed during Holi, the festival of colours. The songs also demonstrate the poetic acumen of the Kalbelia, who are reputed to compose lyrics spontaneously and improvise songs during performances. Transmitted from generation to generation, the songs and dances form part of an oral tradition for which no texts or training manuals exist. Song and dance are a matter of pride for the Kalbelia community, and a marker of their identity at a time when their traditional travelling lifestyle and role in rural society are diminishing. They demonstrate their community’s attempt to revitalize its cultural heritage and adapt it to changing socioeconomic conditions.
India - Mudiyettu, ritual theatre and dance drama of Kerala - Mudiyettu is a ritual dance drama from Kerala based on the mythological tale of a battle between the goddess Kali and the demon Darika. It is a community ritual in which the entire village participates. After the summer crops have been harvested, the villagers reach the temple in the early morning on an appointed day. Mudiyettu performers purify themselves through fasting and prayer, then draw a huge image of goddess Kali, called as kalam, on the temple floor with coloured powders, wherein the spirit of the goddess is invoked. This prepares the ground for the lively enactment to follow, in which the divine sage Narada importunes Shiva to contain the demon Darika, who is immune to defeat by mortals. Shiva instead commands that Darika will die at the hand of the goddess Kali. Mudiyettu is performed annually in ‘Bhagavati Kavus’, the temples of the goddess, in different villages along the rivers Chalakkudy Puzha, Periyar and Moovattupuzha. Mutual cooperation and collective participation of each caste in the ritual instils and strengthens common identity and mutual bonding in the community. Responsibility for its transmission lies with the elders and senior performers, who engage the younger generation as apprentices during the course of the performance. Mudiyettu serves as an important cultural site for transmission of traditional values, ethics, moral codes and aesthetic norms of the community to the next generation, thereby ensuring its continuity and relevance in present times.
Indonesia - Indonesian Angklung - Angklung is an Indonesian musical instrument consisting of two to four bamboo tubes suspended in a bamboo frame, bound with rattan cords. The tubes are carefully whittled and cut by a master craftsperson to produce certain notes when the bamboo frame is shaken or tapped. Each Angklung produces a single note or chord, so several players must collaborate in order to play melodies. Traditional Angklungs use the pentatonic scale, but in 1938 musician Daeng Soetigna introduced Angklungs using the diatonic scale; these are known as angklung padaeng. The Angklung is closely related to traditional customs, arts and cultural identity in Indonesia, played during ceremonies such as rice planting, harvest and circumcision. The special black bamboo for the Angklung is harvested during the two weeks a year when the cicadas sing, and is cut at least three segments above the ground, to ensure the root continues to propagate. Angklung education is transmitted orally from generation to generation, and increasingly in educational institutions. Because of the collaborative nature of Angklung music, playing promotes cooperation and mutual respect among the players, along with discipline, responsibility, concentration, development of imagination and memory, as well as artistic and musical feelings.
Iran (Islamic Republic of) - The music of the Bakhshis of Khorasan - In Khorasan Province, the Bakhshis are renowned for their musical skill with the dotār, a two-stringed, long-necked lute. They recount Islamic and Gnostic poems and epics containing mythological, historical or legendary themes. Their music, known as Maghami, consists of instrumental and/or vocal pieces, performed in Turkish, Kurdish, Turkmen and Persian. Navāyī is the most widespread magham: diverse, vocal, rhythmless, accompanied by Gnostic poems. Other examples include the Turkish maghams Tajnīs and Gerāyelī, the religious themes of Shākhatāyī, and Loy, an antique romantic magham, belonging to the Kormanj Kurds of Northern Khorasan. Bakhshis consider one string of the dotār to be male and the other female; the male string remains open, while the female is used to play the main melody. Bakhshi music is passed on through traditional master-pupil training, which is restricted to male family members or neighbours, or modern methods, in which a master trains a wide range of students of both genders from diverse backgrounds. The music transmits history, culture, ethical and religious fundamentals. Therefore, the social role of the Bakhshis exceeds that of mere narrator, and defines them as judges, mediators and healers, as well as guardians of the ethnic and regional cultural heritage of their community.
Iran (Islamic Republic of) - The Pahlevani and Zoorkhanei rituals - Pahlevani is an Iranian martial art that combines elements of Islam, Gnosticism and ancient Persian beliefs. It describes a ritual collection of gymnastic and callisthenic movements performed by ten to twenty men, each wielding instruments symbolizing ancient weapons. The ritual takes place in a Zoorkhane, a sacred domed structure with an octagonal sunken arena and audience seats. The Morshed (master) who leads the Pahlevani ritual performs epic and Gnostic poems and beats out time on a zarb goblet drum. The poems he recites transmit ethical and social teachings and constitute part of Zoorkhanei literature. Participants in the Pahlevani ritual may be drawn from any social strata or religious background, and each group has strong ties to its local community, working to assist those in need. During training, students are instructed in ethical and chivalrous values under the supervision of a Pīshkesvat (champion). Those who master the individual skills and arts, observe religious principles and pass ethical and moral stages of Gnosticism may acquire the prominent rank of Pahlevanī (hero), denoting rank and authority within the community. At present, there are 500 Zoorkhanes across Iran, each comprising practitioners, founders and a number of Pīshkesvats.
Iran (Islamic Republic of) - The ritual dramatic art of Ta‘zīye - Ta‘zīye (or Ta’azyeh) is a ritual dramatic art that recounts religious events, historical and mythical stories and folk tales. Each performance has four elements: poetry, music, song and motion. Some performances have up to a hundred roles, divided into historical, religious, political, social, supernatural, real, imaginary and fantasy characters. Each Ta‘zīye drama is individual, having its own subject, costumes and music. Performances are rich with symbolism, conventions, codes and signs understood by Iranian spectators, and take place on a stage without lighting or decoration. Performers are always male, with female roles being played by men, and most are amateurs who gain their living through other means but perform for spiritual rewards. While Ta‘zīye has a prominent role in Iranian culture, literature and art, everyday proverbs are also drawn from its ritual plays. Its performances help promote and reinforce religious and spiritual values, altruism and friendship while preserving old traditions, national culture and Iranian mythology. Ta‘zīye also plays a significant role in preserving associated crafts, such as costume-making, calligraphy and instrument-making. Its flexibility has led it to become a common language for different communities, promoting communication, unity and creativity. Ta‘zīye is transmitted by example and word of mouth from tutor to pupil.
Iran (Islamic Republic of) - Traditional skills of carpet weaving in Fars - Iranians enjoy a global reputation in carpet weaving, and the carpet weavers of Fars, located in the south-west of Iran, are among the most prominent. Wool for the carpets is shorn by local men in spring or autumn. The men then construct the carpet loom – a horizontal frame placed on the ground – while the women convert the wool into yarn on spinning wheels. The colours used are mainly natural: reds, blues, browns and whites produced from dyestuffs including madder, indigo, lettuce leaf, walnut skin, cherry stem and pomegranate skin. The women are responsible for the design, colour selection and weaving, and bring scenes of their nomadic lives to the carpet. They weave without any cartoon (design) – no weaver can weave two carpets of the same design. Coloured yarn is tied to the wool web to create the carpet. To finish, the sides are sewn, extra wool is burned away to make the designs vivid, and the carpet is given a final cleaning. All these skills are transferred orally and by example. Mothers train their daughters to use the materials, tools and skills, while fathers train their sons in shearing wool and making looms.
Iran (Islamic Republic of) - Traditional skills of carpet weaving in Kashan - Long a centre for fine carpets, Kashan has almost one in three residents employed in carpet-making, with more than two-thirds of the carpet-makers being women. The carpet-weaving process starts with a design, elaborated from among a series of established styles, including motifs such as flowers, leaves, branches, animals and scenes taken from history. Woven on a loom known as a dar, the warp and woof are of cotton or silk. The pile is made by knotting wool or silk yarns to the warp with the distinctive Farsi knot, then held in place by a row of the woven woof, and beaten with a comb. The Farsi weaving style (also known as asymmetrical knotting) is applied with exemplary delicacy in Kashan, so that the back side of the carpet is finely and evenly knotted. The colours of Kashan carpets come from a variety of natural dyes including madder root, walnut skin, pomegranate skin and vine leaves. The traditional skills of Kashan carpet weaving are passed down to daughters through apprenticeship under instruction from their mothers and grandmothers. Apprenticeship is also the means by which men learn their skills of designing, dyeing, shearing, loom-building and tool-making.
Japan - Kumiodori, traditional Okinawan musical theatre - Kumiodori is a Japanese performing art found on the Okinawa islands. It is based upon traditional Okinawan music and dance, but also incorporates elements from mainland Japan, such as Nogaku or Kabuki, as well as from China. Kumiodori dramas recount local historical events or legends, accompanied by a traditional three-stringed instrument. The phrases have a particular rhythm, based upon traditional poetry and the distinctive intonation of the Ryukyu scale, and are performed in the ancient language of Okinawa. The physical movements of the performers evoke those of a pythoness at traditional rituals of ancient Okinawa. All parts are performed by male actors, and techniques unique to Okinawa can be seen in the methods of hair-dressing, costumes and decorations used on stage. The need to strengthen transmission motivated Kumiodori performers to establish the Traditional Kumiodori Preservation Society, which trains performers, revives discontinued dramas, and carries out performances on a regular basis. In addition to classical works that emphasize themes of loyalty and filial duty, new dramas have been produced with modern themes and choreography, but retaining the traditional Kumiodori style. Kumiodori plays a central role in preserving ancient Okinawan vocabulary as well as transmitting literature, performing arts, history and ethics.
Japan - Yuki-tsumugi, silk fabric production technique - Yuki-tsumugi is a Japanese silk-weaving technique found principally in Yuki City and Oyama City, along the Kinu River, north of Tokyo. The region boasts a warm climate and fertile lands, which are ideal for the growth of mulberry trees and sericulture. The Yuki-tsumugi technique is employed to produce pongee silk (also called raw silk) – a light and warm material with a characteristic stiffness and softness, traditionally used to make kimonos. Production of the material includes several stages: silk floss is spun into yarn by hand, with patterns added by hand-tying bundles of yarn before dyeing the yarn with indigo, then the silk is woven using a back-tension loom. The silk floss for the yarn in Yuki-tsumugi weaving is produced from empty or deformed silkworm cocoons, otherwise unusable for the production of silk yarn. This recycling process plays a significant role in supporting local sericulture communities. The traditional techniques to produce Yuki-tsumugi are transmitted by members of the Association for the Preservation of Honba Yuki-tsumugi Weaving Technique. This association is directly engaged in maintaining traditions of spinning, dyeing and weaving, passed down from generation to generation within the community. It promotes transmission of Yuki-tsumugi through exchange of skills, training of young weavers, and practical demonstrations.
Lithuania - Sutartinės, Lithuanian multipart songs - Sutartinės (from the word sutarti – to be in concordance) is a form of polyphonic music performed by female singers in north-east Lithuania. The songs have simple melodies, with two to five pitches, and comprise two distinct parts: a meaningful main text and a refrain that may include nonce words. There are almost forty different styles and ways of performing Sutartinės. Mainly, they can be performed by two singers in parallel seconds; by three singers in strict canon, all performing both phrases of the melody at staggered intervals; or by two groups of singers, the lead singer of each pair singing the main text, while the partner sings the refrain, before the second pair repeats. The poetic texts encompass many themes, including work, calendar rituals, weddings, family, wars, history and moments of daily life. Choreography is uncomplicated and movements are moderate, often austere, such as walking in the form of a circle or star while linking arms and stamping feet. Sutartinės are performed on solemn occasions, as well as festivals, concerts and social gatherings. Their performance promotes the sharing of cultural values and provides a feeling of cultural identity, continuity and self-esteem. Sutartinės are usually sung by women, but men perform instrumental versions on pan-pipes, horns, long wood trumpets, fipple flutes and plucked zithers.
Luxembourg - The hopping procession of Echternach - Each year, on the Tuesday of Pentecost (a Christian religious festival), the hopping procession of Echternach (Iechternacher Sprangprëssioun) takes place in the medieval town centre of Echternach, the oldest city in Luxembourg. Documented since the year 1100, the procession is founded on the cult of Saint Willibrord, a monk and founder of the Abbey of Echternach, revered for his missionary activities, his kindness and gift of curing certain illnesses. Despite the opposition of the Church due to the pagan elements of the procession, its successive bans did nothing to stop it spreading to the rest of the region and permeating every social class. The procession begins early in the morning in the courtyard of the ancient abbey, in the presence of the highest ecclesiastical authorities in the country and of many other countries. Singers recite litanies and then some 8,000 dancers take over, split into 45 groups according to a ritual transmitted from generation to generation. It ends with a service in the basilica. The current procession is a religious event deeply rooted in the tradition expressed through prayer, songs and dance – the historical form of worship. Nowadays, the procession, supported by the civil and religious authorities is increasingly popular despite secularization, with an average each year of 13,000 participants coming from Luxembourg and the neighbouring regions.
Mexico - Parachicos in the traditional January feast of Chiapa de Corzo -The traditional Great Feast takes place from 4 to 23 January every year in Chiapa de Corzo, Mexico. This celebration of music, dance, handicrafts, gastronomy, religious ceremonies and feasting takes place in honour of three Catholic saints: Saint Anthony Abbot, Our Lord of Esquipulas and, most importantly, Saint Sebastian. The dances of the Parachicos – the word refers both to the dancers and to the dance – are considered a communal offering to these saints. They start in the morning and conclude at night, as the dancers carry statues of saints throughout the city, visiting places of worship. Each dancer wears a carved wooden mask with headdress, serape, embroidered shawl and multicoloured ribbons, and plays chinchines (maracas). The dancers are led by the severely-masked Patron, who carries a guitar and whip, while playing a flute accompanied by one or two drummers. As they dance, he intones praises to which the Parachicos respond with cheers. The dance is transmitted and learned simultaneous with its performance, with young children taking part, imitating the adult dancers. The technique of mask-making is passed from generation to generation, including cutting of the wood, drying, carving and decorating. The dance of the Parachicos during the Great Feast embraces all spheres of local life, promoting mutual respect among communities, groups and individuals.
Mexico - Pirekua, traditional song of the P’urhépecha - Pirekua is a traditional music of the indigenous P’urhépecha communities of the State of Michoacán, Mexico, sung by both men and women. Its diverse mix of styles draws on African, European and indigenous American origins, with regional variations identified in 30 of the 165 P’urhépecha communities. A Pirekua, which is generally sung with a gentle rhythm, may also be presented in non-vocal styles using different beats such as sones (3/8 time) and abajeños (6/8 time). Pirekua can be sung solo, in duets or trios, or accompanied by choral groups, string orchestras and mixed orchestras (with wind instruments). Pirériecha (Pirekua singers and interpreters) are renowned for their creativity and interpretations of older songs. Lyrics cover a wide range of themes from historical events to religion, social and political thought and love and courtship, making extensive use of symbolism. Pirekua acts as an effective medium of dialogue between the P’urhépecha families and communities that practise it, helping to establish and reinforce bonds. Pirériechas also act as social mediators, using songs to express sentiments and communicate events of importance to the P’urhépecha communities. Pirekua has traditionally been transmitted orally from generation to generation, maintaining its currency as a living expression, marker of identity and means of artistic communication for more than a hundred thousand P’urhépecha people.
Mexico - Traditional Mexican cuisine - ancestral, ongoing community culture, the Michoacán paradigm - Traditional Mexican cuisine is a comprehensive cultural model comprising farming, ritual practices, age-old skills, culinary techniques and ancestral community customs and manners. It is made possible by collective participation in the entire traditional food chain: from planting and harvesting to cooking and eating. The basis of the system is founded on corn, beans and chili; unique farming methods such as milpas (rotating swidden fields of corn and other crops) and chinampas (man-made farming islets in lake areas); cooking processes such as nixtamalization (lime-hulling maize, which increases its nutritional value); and singular utensils including grinding stones and stone mortars. Native ingredients such as varieties of tomatoes, squashes, avocados, cocoa and vanilla augment the basic staples. Mexican cuisine is elaborate and symbol-laden, with everyday tortillas and tamales, both made of corn, forming an integral part of Day of the Dead offerings. Collectives of female cooks and other practitioners devoted to raising crops and traditional cuisine are found in the State of Michoacán and across Mexico. Their knowledge and techniques express community identity, reinforce social bonds, and build stronger local, regional and national identities. Those efforts in Michoacán also underline the importance of traditional cuisine as a means of sustainable development.
Mongolia - Naadam, Mongolian traditional festival - Naadam is a national festival celebrated every year from 11 to 13 July across Mongolia that focuses on three traditional games: horseracing, wrestling and archery. Mongolian Naadam is inseparably connected to the nomadic civilization of the Mongols, who have long practiced pastoralism on Central Asia’s vast steppe. Oral traditions, performing arts, national cuisine, craftsmanship, and cultural forms such as long song, Khöömei overtone singing, Bie biyelgee dance and Morin khuur fiddle also feature prominently during Naadam. Mongolians follow special rituals and practices during the festival, such as wearing unique costumes and using distinctive tools and sporting items. Festival participants revere the sportsmen, sportswomen, and children who compete, and winners are rewarded titles for their achievements. Ritual praise songs and poems are dedicated to the contestants in the events. Everyone is allowed and encouraged to participate in Naadam, thus nurturing community involvement and togetherness. The three types of sports are directly linked with the lifestyles and living conditions of the Mongols and their transmission is traditionally undertaken through home-schooling by family members, although formalized training regimens have recently developed for wrestling and archery. The rituals and customs of Naadam also accentuate respect for nature and the environment.
Mongolia - The Mongolian traditional art of Khöömei - Khöömei is a form of singing originating in western Mongolia, in the Altai mountains. The performer imitates sounds of nature, simultaneously emitting two distinct vocal sounds: along with a continuous drone, the singer produces a melody of harmonics. Khöömei literally means pharynx, and it is believed to have been learned from birds, whose spirits are central to shamanic practices. The multitude of Khöömei techniques in Mongolia are grouped within two main styles: the kharkhiraa (deep Khöömei) and isgeree Khöömei (whistled Khöömei). In kharkhiraa the singer sings a drone in a normal voice, while emphasizing the undertone or subharmonic one octave below. In isgeree Khöömei, it is the overtones above the fundamental note of the drone that are emphasized, creating a higher-pitched whistle. In both cases, the drone is produced with very taut vocal cords, and the melody is created by modulating the size and shape of the mouth cavity, opening and closing the lips and moving the tongue. Khöömei is performed by Mongolian nomads in a variety of social occasions, from grand state ceremonies to festive household events. Khöömei is also sung during herding, and inside the yurt to lull babies to sleep. Traditionally, Khöömei is transmitted orally from bearer to learner, or via master-to-apprentice.
Oman - Al-Bar’ah, music and dance of Oman Dhofari valleys - Al-Bar’ah is a Bedouin musical tradition from the Dhofar mountains in southern Oman. It takes the form of a warlike dance performed to drums and the chanting of poetry in a local tribal dialect. Al-Bar’ah is performed in a half circle formed by ten to thirty men and women. As they chant and clap, two male dancers holding khanjars (daggers) perform codified dance movements, brandishing their daggers above shoulder level. The dancers’ steps are uncomplicated, but coordination with other performers and the music requires considerable skill. Each tribe has its own characteristic form of al-Bar’ah, possessing different drum rhythms and dance movements. The musical accompaniment is provided by the al-kasir, al-rahmâni and ad-daff drums and al-qassaba flute. The dance is performed outdoors, on occasions such as weddings, circumcisions and religious feasts. As for other Omani Bedouin dances, class and other distinctions are erased, as tribal leaders perform alongside the most humble of the population. The tradition represents the chivalric spirit, strength, courage, generosity and hospitality associated with Bedouins. The dance also emphasizes poetic themes of love and flirtation. Al-Bar’ah has many practitioners from Dhofar, who contribute to maintaining and transmitting its poetic variety and practice.
Peru - Huaconada, ritual dance of Mito - Huaconada is a ritual dance performed in the village of Mito in the province of Concepción in the central Peruvian Andes. Every year, on the first three days of January, masked men known as huacones perform a choreographed series of dances in the centre of the town. The huacones represent the former council of elders, and for the duration of Huaconada they become the town’s highest authority. The tronador (whip) they carry and their masks emphasize this role, the latter characterized by accentuated noses that evoke the beak of the condor, creature that represents the spirit of the sacred mountains. The dance involves two types of huacones: elders who wear traditional costumes and finely-carved masks inspiring respect and fear; and modern huacones who wear colourful dress, their masks embodying terror, sadness or mockery. During Huaconada, the modern huacones dance circumscribed steps around the elders, who have greater freedom to dance improvised movements because of their seniority. An orchestra plays different rhythms, beating out time on a small indigenous drum called a tinya. Huaconada synthesizes distinctive elements from the Andes and Spain while incorporating new, modern elements. Only those of good conduct and moral integrity may become huacones. The dance is traditionally passed on from father to son, while clothing and masks are also inherited.
Peru - The scissors dance - The scissors dance is performed by inhabitants of Quechua villages and communities in the south-central Andes of Peru, and now in urban settings. This competitive ritual dance is performed during dry months coinciding with the main phases of the agricultural calendar. The scissors dance takes its name from the pair of polished iron rods, resembling scissors blades, wielded by each dancer in his right hand. Together with a violinist and a harpist, a dancer forms a cuadrilla (team) that represents a given village or community. To perform, two or more cuadrillas face each other, and the dancers must strike the blades together in time to the rhythm of the accompanying musicians, while performing a choreographed duel of step-dancing, acrobatics and increasingly demanding movements. The competition or atipanakuy may last up to ten hours, and physical ability, quality of the instruments, and expertise of the accompanying musicians, are all evaluated to determine the winner. The dancers wear outfits embroidered with golden fringes, multicoloured sequins and small mirrors, but while in costume are forbidden from entering churches because of the tradition that their abilities are the result of a pact with the devil. Regardless, the scissors dance has become a popular part of Catholic festivities. The physical and spiritual knowledge implicit in the dance is passed on orally from master to student, with each cuadrilla of dancers and musicians giving pride to its village of origin.
Republic of Korea - Daemokjang, traditional wooden architecture - The term ‘Daemokjang’ refers to traditional Korean wooden architecture and specifically to the woodworkers who employ the traditional carpentry techniques. The activities of these practitioners also extend to the maintenance, repair and reconstruction of historic buildings, ranging from traditional Korean houses to monumental wooden palaces and temples. The Daemokjang are in charge of the entire construction process, including the planning, design and construction of buildings, and the supervision of subordinate carpenters. The wooden structures created by Daemokjang are smooth, simple and unadorned – distinctive features of traditional Korean architecture. The traditional construction processes require both technical skills to design the building with consideration to its size, site and function, and aesthetic sense to select the lumber for the construction materials, cut and shape the wood, and assemble and interlock the separate wooden pieces without using nails, creating the so-called ‘joints that withstand a millennium’. The know-how of Daemokjang has been handed down from generation to generation and takes decades of education and field experience to master. In working to restore monumental buildings using traditional techniques, Daemokjang practitioners reinterpret the beauty of traditional architecture with their artistic creativity and re-create it with their technical skills.
Republic of Korea - Gagok, lyric song cycles accompanied by an orchestra - Gagok is a genre of traditional Korean vocal music sung by men and women to the accompaniment of a small orchestra, one of several forms of singing that together constitute jeongga, or ‘right song’. Formally a music associated with the higher classes, Gagok is today widely popular throughout the country. Gagok comprises twenty-six namchang or songs for men, and fifteen yeochang or songs for women. Namchang are characterized by strong, deep, resonant voices, while yeochang are characterized by high-pitched, thin voices. Gagok songs are composed either in a solemn, peaceful key or a melancholic one, and use 10-beat or 16-beat rhythm. The traditional instrumentation of the orchestra includes the geomungo six-string zither, daegeum bamboo transverse flute, gayageum twelve-string zither and piri (small double-reed pipe). Gagok songs are acclaimed for their lyrical patterns, balance, refined melodies and advanced musical composition. Acquiring skill as a singer takes extensive time and effort and performance requires dedication and extreme control. Gagok is preserved and transmitted by practitioners, their communities and related organizations in local heritage training centres. Gagok has played an important role in the establishment of Korean identity.
Spain - Flamenco - Flamenco is an artistic expression fusing song (cante), dance (baile) and musicianship (toque). Andalusia in southern Spain is the heartland of Flamenco, although it also has roots in regions such as Murcia and Extremadura. Cante is the vocal expression of flamenco, sung by men and women, preferably seated, with no backing singers. The gamut of feelings and states of mind – grief, joy, tragedy, rejoicing and fear – can be expressed through sincere, expressive lyrics characterized by brevity and simplicity. Flamenco baile is a dance of passion, courtship, expressing a wide range of situations ranging from sadness to joy. The technique is complex, differing depending on whether the performer is male (heavier use of the feet) or female (gentler, more sensual movements). Toque or the art of guitar playing has long surpassed its original role as accompaniment. Other instruments, including castanets, hand-clapping and foot-stamping are also employed. Flamenco is performed during religious festivals, rituals, church ceremonies and at private celebrations. It is the badge of identity of numerous communities and groups, in particular the Gitano (Roma) ethnic community, which has played an essential role in its development. Transmission occurs through dynasties, families, social groups and Flamenco clubs, all of which play a key role in its preservation and dissemination.
Spain - Human towers - Castells are human towers built by members of amateur groups, usually as part of annual festivities in Catalonian towns and cities. The traditional setting is the square in front of the town hall balcony. The human towers are formed by castellers standing on the shoulders of one another in a succession of stages (between six and ten). Each level of the tronc, the name given to the second level upwards, generally comprises two to five heavier built men supporting younger, lighter-weight boys or girls. The pom de dalt – the three uppermost levels of the tower – comprises young children. Anyone is welcome to form the pinya, the throng that supports the base of the tower. Each group can be identified by its costume, particularly the colour of the shirts, while the cummerbund serves to protect the back and is gripped by castellers as they climb up the tower. Before, during and after the performance, musicians play a variety of traditional melodies on a wind instrument known as a gralla, setting the rhythm to which the tower is built. The knowledge required for raising castells is traditionally passed down from generation to generation within a group, and can only be learned by practice.
Spain - The chant of the Sybil on Majorca -The chant of the Sybil is performed at matins on the night of 24 December in churches throughout Majorca. The chant marks the annual Christmas Vigil, and is sung by a boy or girl accompanied by two or more altar boys or girls. During the chant they walk through the church towards the chancel, the singer carrying a sword in his or her hands, held upright in front of the face, while the altar boys or girls carry candles. At the end of the song a cross is drawn in the air with the sword. The versions of the chant performed on the island vary little from their Gregorian roots: each is sung a cappella with music between the verses provided by an organ. The costume worn by the singers usually consists of a white or coloured tunic, sometimes embroidered around the neck and hem, and often worn with a cape. The head is covered with a cap of the same colour as the tunic. The rite involves all the church parishes on Majorca with old and young generations working side-by-side as singers, costume-makers, celebrants and other helpers, thus ensuring its transmission.
Spain; Greece; Italy; Morocco - The Mediterranean diet - The Mediterranean diet constitutes a set of skills, knowledge, practices and traditions ranging from the landscape to the table, including the crops, harvesting, fishing, conservation, processing, preparation and, particularly, consumption of food. The Mediterranean diet is characterized by a nutritional model that has remained constant over time and space, consisting mainly of olive oil, cereals, fresh or dried fruit and vegetables, a moderate amount of fish, dairy and meat, and many condiments and spices, all accompanied by wine or infusions, always respecting beliefs of each community. However, the Mediterranean diet (from the Greek diaita, or way of life) encompasses more than just food. It promotes social interaction, since communal meals are the cornerstone of social customs and festive events. It has given rise to a considerable body of knowledge, songs, maxims, tales and legends. The system is rooted in respect for the territory and biodiversity, and ensures the conservation and development of traditional activities and crafts linked to fishing and farming in the Mediterranean communities which Soria in Spain, Koroni in Greece, Cilento in Italy and Chefchaouen in Morocco are examples. Women play a particularly vital role in the transmission of expertise, as well as knowledge of rituals, traditional gestures and celebrations, and the safeguarding of techniques.
Turkey - Kırkpınar oil wrestling festival - The Kırkpınar oil wrestling festival takes place in Edirne, Turkey. Thousands of people from different age groups, cultures and regions travel every year to see Pehlivan (wrestlers) fight for the Kırkpınar Golden Belt and the title of Chief Pehlivan. Each festival is launched by its patron, the Kırkpınar Aga, in a ceremony featuring forty bands of davul drums and zurna shawms. The golden belt is carried through the city in a procession, followed by prayers recited in the Selimiye Mosque. The wrestling bouts customarily take place at the Men’s Field. The master of ceremonies introduces the Pehlivans to the audience, reciting in verse their names, titles and skills. Next, the oil man oils the wrestlers assisted by the towel holder, before the warm-up exercises and greetings. The wrestlers each wear kıspet, thick trousers made of water buffalo or cow leather. As the wrestling takes place, the drum and shawm bands play the traditional repertoire of the festival. Kırkpınar oil wrestling is open to men from all cultures, regions and ages without discrimination between religion, language or race. Pehlivans are considered exemplary figures in society with attributes such as generosity, honesty, respectfulness and adherence to traditions and customs. All Pehlivans are trained in the master-apprentice tradition.
Turkey - Semah, Alevi-Bektaşi ritual - Semahs can be described as a set of mystical and aesthetic body movements in rhythmic harmony. They constitute one of the twelve main services found in Cem rituals, religious practices performed by adherents of Alevi-Bektaşi, a belief system based on admiration for Ali, the fourth caliph after the prophet Muhammed. Semahs are performed by semahçıs (Semah dancers), accompanied by devout musicians playing the saz long-necked lute. Various forms of Semah exist in Alevi-Bektaşi communities across Turkey, each with distinct musical characteristics and rhythmic structures. One consistent characteristic is the performance of the ritual by both men and women, side by side. Semah rituals are founded upon the concept of unity with God as part of a natural cycle: people come from God and return to God. There are two forms of Semah: İçeri Semahs are performed in Cems only among adherents as part of the twelve services; Dışarı Semahs are performed independent of services to promote Semah culture to younger generations. Semahs are the most crucial means for the transmission of the Alevi-Bektaşi tradition. All practices, traditional motifs and teachings are passed on orally, and distinct genres of art and literature associated with the tradition continue to thrive. In this way, Semahs play a crucial role in fostering and enriching the traditional music culture of Turkey.
Turkey - Traditional Sohbet meetings -Traditional Sohbet Meetings play a crucial role in transmitting Turkish folk literature, folk dances and music, village plays as well as societal values. Turkish men meet regularly indoors, especially in winter, to discuss local social and cultural issues, safeguard traditions, and encourage solidarity, mutual respect and a sense of community. Meetings may include music, dances and plays, all enjoyed while consuming local dishes. A traditional Sohbet meeting may last until the early morning. Meetings are open to men above the age of 15 or 16, regardless of ethnicity, religion or status, with the basic requirement that members be of honest families, be trustworthy and respectful of their elders, and not gamble or display public drunkenness. Members may be penalized with a fine for missing a meeting, except under extenuating circumstances. Mothers and wives encourage male members to attend because of the associated social and cultural benefits. Communities usually comprise five to thirty persons and are guided by leaders, appointed by election or proposed by elders. Members of the community all have equal rights and commitments. The Sohbet meetings fulfil an important educational function by transferring ethical values such as social justice, tolerance, benevolence and respect.
United Arab Emirates; Belgium; Czech Republic; France; Republic of Korea; Mongolia; Morocco; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; Spain; Syrian Arab Republic - Falconry, a living human heritage - Falconry is the traditional activity of keeping and training falcons and other raptors to take quarry in its natural state. Originally a way of obtaining food, falconry is today identified with camaraderie and sharing rather than subsistence. Falconry is mainly found along migration flyways and corridors, and is practised by people of all ages, men and women, amateurs and professionals. Falconers develop a strong relationship and spiritual bond with their birds, and commitment is required to breed, train, handle and fly the falcons. Falconry is transmitted from generation to generation as a cultural tradition by a variety of means, including mentoring, learning within families, or formalized training in clubs. In Mongolia, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, for example, falconers take their children to the desert and train them to handle the bird and build a relationship of trust with it. While falconers come from different backgrounds, they share common values, traditions and practices such as the methods of training and caring for birds, the equipment used and the bonding between falconer and the bird, which are similar throughout the world. Falconry forms the basis of a wider cultural heritage, including traditional dress, food, songs, music, poetry and dance, all of which are sustained by the communities and clubs that practise it.
Viet Nam - Gióng festival of Phù Ðông and Sóc temples - The Gióng festival of Phù Đổng and Sóc temples is celebrated annually in outlying districts of Hanoi, the capital of Viet Nam. Each spring, before the rice harvest, the Việt people honour the mythical hero, god and saint, Thánh Gióng, who is credited with defending the country from foreign enemies, and is worshipped as the patron god of the harvest, national peace and family prosperity. The festival at Phù Đổng temple, which takes place in the fourth lunar month in the village of his birth, symbolically re-enacts his feats through the riding of a white horse into battle and the orchestration of an elaborate flag dance to symbolize the battle itself. Young men receive extensive training to play the roles of Flag Master, Drum Master, Gong Master, Army Master and Children’s Master, while 28 girls aged 9 to 13 are selected to play the enemy generals. The Flag Master’s dancing movements and drum and gong sounds convey the development of the battle, and paper butterflies released from the flag symbolically disperse the invaders. The arrival of rains after the festival is seen as a blessing from the saint for an abundant harvest. The celebrations at Sóc temple, where saint Gióng ascended to heaven, take place in the first lunar month and include the ritual of bathing his statue and a procession of bamboo flowers to the temple as offerings to the saint.
In order to be inscribed, the elements must comply with a series of criteria, including contributing to spreading the knowledge of intangible cultural heritage and promoting awareness of its importance. Nominees for the inscription must also justify protective measures taken to ensure their viability.
The Committee will continue on 17 November to examine the remaining nomination, Armenian cross-stones art. Symbolism and craftsmanship of Khachkars, Armenia.
Press contacts, UNESCO Division of Public Information:
Lucía Iglesias Kuntz
+ 33(0)6 07 84 26 76 / l.iglesias(at)unesco.org;
Isabelle Le Fournis
+ 33(0)6 12 19 74 01 / i.le-fournis(at)unesco.org
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