05.12.2012 - UNESCOPRESS

Sixteen new elements inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© [2006] by Acervo PCR - Frevo Dancer - Olinda - Brazil

The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, meeting at UNESCO Headquarters until 7 December, inscribed new elements on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The new elements are from Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Ecuador, France, Hungary, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Mali, Morocco, Oman, Republic of Korea.

The following new elements were inscribed during today’s afternoon session:

Marches of Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse, Belgium

The Marches of Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse are a major component of the cultural identity of Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse in Wallonia, Belgium. These military marches commemorate the dedication of the village church and feature the participation of the entire village. The escorted processions consist of several companies, grouping tens, even hundreds of marchers. The participants dress in military uniforms, forming one or more companies that escort the religious procession, accompanied by drums, fifes and songs. Young people march alongside their parents in the Young Guard or other companies.

Ichapekene Piesta, the biggest festival of San Ignacio de Moxos, Bolivia

The Ichapekene Piesta festival combines the founder myth of the victory of Ignacio de Loyola with Moxeño indigenous beliefs. Festivities involve fireworks, singing, celebrations of masses, funeral wakes, alms-giving and feasts. The main rituals are a representation of the victory of Saint Ignatius and a choreographed procession of participants disguised as masked ancestors and animals. They reinforce the importance of respect for nature, and allow the Moxeños to be reborn into the Christian tradition in the presence of their ancestral spirits.

Frevo, performing arts of the Carnival of Recife, Brazil

Frevo is a Brazilian artistic expression comprising music and dance, performed mainly during the Carnival of Recife. Its quick frenetic and vigorous rhythm draws upon the fusion of musical genres such as marching music, Brazilian tango, square dance, polka and pieces of classical repertoire, performed by martial bands and fanfares. The music is essentially urban, and like the accompanying dance, ‘Passo’, is vigorous and subversive. The dance stems from the skill and agility of capoeira fighters, who improvise leaps to the electrifying sound of steel orchestras and bands.

Festival of Saint Francis of Assisi, Quidbó, Colombia

Every September and October the twelve Franciscan districts of Quibdó, Colombia, hold the Fiesta de San Pacho, a religious celebration of the community’s Afro-descendant Chocó identity. It begins with a Catholic ‘Inaugural Mass’ blended with traditional dances and chirimía music. A carnival parade follows with floats, costumes, dances and chirimía. Morning masses are celebrated with floats and carnival groups in the afternoon. Towards the end, the patron saint travels the Atrato River, and people celebrate the dawn with devotional hymns and perform the Grand Procession of the Saint.

Klapa multipart singing of Dalmatia, southern Croatia, Croatia

Klapa singing is a multipart singing tradition of Dalmatia. Multipart singing, a capella homophonic singing, oral tradition and simple music making are its main features. The leader of each singing group is the first tenor, followed by several tenori, baritoni and basi voices. During performances, the singers stand in a tight semicircle, and the first tenor starts the singing, followed by the others. The aim is to achieve the best possible blend of voices. Klapa songs deal with love, life situations, and the local environment.

Traditional weaving of the Ecuadorian toquilla straw hat, Ecuador

The toquilla straw hat is woven from fibres from a palm tree of the Ecuadorian coast. Farmers cultivate the toquillales and harvest the stems before separating the fibre from the outer skin. This is boiled to remove chlorophyll and dried for bleaching. Using this fibre, weavers produce the pattern, the crown and the brim of the hat and complete the process by washing, bleaching, oven treatment, ironing and pressing. Weaving a hat can take from one day to eight months, depending on its quality and finesse.

Fest-Noz, festive gathering based on the collective practice of traditional dances of Brittany, France

Fest-Noz is a festive gathering based on the collective practice of traditional Breton dances, accompanied by singing or instrumental music. The Breton cultural movement has preserved this expression of a living and constantly renewed practice of inherited dance repertoires with several hundred variations, and thousands of tunes. The Fest-Noz is characterized by an intense camaraderie among singers, musicians and dancers, significant social and intergenerational diversity, and openness to others. It is at the centre of an intense ferment of musical experiences and has spawned a veritable cultural economy.

Folk art of the Matyó, embroidery of a traditional community, Hungary

The folk art of the Roman Catholic Matyó community in and around the town of Mezőkövesd in north-eastern Hungary is characterized by floral motifs that are found in flat-stitch embroidery, interior decoration and architecture. The national popularity of Matyó embroidery has made it into a form of auxiliary income, enabling women to buy the fine fabrics and supplies necessary for making elaborate costumes. Most often practised as a communal activity, embroidery strengthens interpersonal relationships and community cohesion, while allowing for individual artistic expression.

Buddhist chanting of Ladakh: recitation of sacred Buddhist texts in the trans-Himalayan Ladakh region, Jammu and Kashmir, India

In the monasteries and villages of the Ladakh region of India, Buddhist lamas (priests) chant sacred texts representing the spirit, philosophy and teachings of the Buddha. The monks wear ritual clothing and use hand gestures and various musical instruments while praying for the spiritual and moral well-being of the people, for purification and peace of mind, to appease the wrath of evil spirits or to invoke the blessing of various Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, deities and rinpoches. Acolytes learn under the rigorous supervision of senior monks.

Qālišuyān rituals of Mašhad-e Ardehāl in Kāšān, Iran

Qālišuyān rituals commemorate Soltān Ali, a holy martyr among the people of Kāšān and Fin. According to legend his body was found and carried in a carpet to a stream where it was purified. Qālišuyān takes place at the Soltān Ali mausoleum where a carpet is washed in a holy stream by a huge gathering. People of Xāve gather to sprinkle rosewater on the carpet, which is then delivered to the people of Fin, who rinse it in running water, and sprinkle rosewater drops with decorated wooden sticks.

Traditional violin craftsmanship in Cremona, Italy

Cremonese violin craftsmanship is renowned for its traditional process of fashioning violins, violas, cellos and contrabasses. Each violin-maker constructs from three to six instruments per year, shaping and assembling more than 70 pieces of wood around an inner mould by hand, according to the different acoustic response of each piece. Every part is made with a specific wood, carefully selected and naturally well seasoned. Craftsmanship requires a high level of creativity to adapt techniques and personal knowledge to each instrument. No two violins are alike.

Nachi no Dengaku, a religious performing art held at the Nachi fire festival, Japan

Nachi no Dengaku is a Japanese folk performing art danced at Kumano Nachi Shrine during the annual Nachi Fire Festival. This key component of the festival takes the form of ritual dancing to flute music and drums for an abundant harvest of rice crops. It is performed by one flute player, four drummers, four players of Binzasara, a musical string instrument, and two others. Eight to ten performers dance to the music in a variety of formations. There are 22 repertoires, each performed in 45 minutes.

Cherry festival in Sefrou, Morocco

For three days in June each year, the local population of Sefrou celebrates the natural and cultural beauty of the region, symbolized by the cherry fruit and that year’s newly chosen Cherry Queen. The highlight of the festival is a parade with performing troupes, rural and urban music, majorettes and bands, and floats featuring local producers. The cherry festival provides an opportunity for the entire city to present its activities and achievements.

Cultural practices and expressions linked to the balafon of the Senufo communities of Mali, Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire, Mali - Burkina Faso - Côte d'Ivoire

The balafon of the Senufo communities of Mali, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire is a pentatonic xylophone composed of eleven to twenty-one keys of varying lengths arranged on a trapezoidal frame with gourd resonators of varying sizes arranged beneath. The player first learns to play a children’s balafon before advancing to full-size ones, under the instruction of a teacher. Played solo or as part of an ensemble during festivities, prayers, work, funerals and more, the balafon is a symbol of community identity.

Al ‘azi, elegy, processional march and poetry, Oman

Al ‘azi is a genre of sung poetry performed in the Sultanate of Oman. It takes the form of a poetry contest punctuated by sword and step movements and poetic exchanges between a singer poet and a choir. The poet, who recites improvised and memorized poems in Arabic, guides the other participants. They must pay attention to his movements and recitation, and respond with appropriate replies and movements. The poems express pride of belonging and eulogize the tribe, important people or historical moments.


Arirang, lyrical folk song in the Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea

Arirang is a popular form of Korean folk song, the outcome of many collective contributions. Essentially a simple song, it consists of the refrain ‘Arirang, arirang, arariyo’ and two simple lines that differ from region to region. While dealing with diverse universal themes, the simple musical and literary composition invites improvisation, imitation and singing in unison. A great virtue is its respect for human creativity, freedom of expression and empathy. Everyone can create new lyrics, adding to the song's regional, historical and genre variations, and cultural diversity.


Inscriptions on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity are scheduled to continue on Thursday. The Representative List covers cultural expressions which are testimony to the diversity of intangible heritage.  It is designed to help raise awareness of the importance of this heritage.  More inscriptions are scheduled to take place later in the day.


Journalists wishing to cover the Committee meeting should request accreditation.

UNESCO Press Service: Lucía Iglesias Kuntz, +33 (0) 1 45 68 17 02

Broadcast media: Carole Darmouni, +33 (0) 1 45 68 17 38

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