11 elements inscribed on the Urgent Safeguarding List
The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage, meeting in Bali (Indonesia) from 22 to 29 November, has added 11 new items to the List of Intangible Heritage in need of urgent safeguarding:
Eshuva, Harákmbut sung prayers of Peru’s Huachipaire people: The Huachipaire are an indigenous ethnic group speaking the Harákmbut language and living in Peru’s southern Amazon tropical forest. The Eshuva or sung prayer is an expression of Huachipaire religious myths, performed for healing or as part of traditional ceremonies. According to oral tradition, the Eshuva songs were learned directly from the forest’s animals, and are sung to summon nature spirits to help to alleviate illness or discomfort or promote well-being. Performed without musical instruments Eshuva songs are sung only in the Harákmbut language.
Al Sadu, traditional weaving skills in the United Arab Emirates: Al Sadu is a traditional form of weaving practised by Bedouin women in rural communities of the United Arab Emirates to produce soft furnishings and decorative accessories for camels and horses. Bedouin men shear the sheep, camels and goats, and women gather in small groups to spin and weave, exchanging family news and occasionally chanting and reciting poetry. Girls learn by watching during these gatherings and are gradually given tasks to do, such as sorting the wool, before learning the more intricate skills involved.
Yaokwa, the Enawene Nawe people’s ritual for the maintenance of social and cosmic order, Brazil: The Enawene Nawe people living in the southern Amazon rainforest perform the Yaokwa ritual each year during the seven-month dry season to honour the Yakairiti spirits and ensure cosmic and social order. The different clans alternate responsibility: one embarks on fishing expeditions throughout the area while another prepares offerings of rock salt, fish and ritual food for the spirits, and performs music and dance. Yaokwa and the local biodiversity it celebrates represent an extremely delicate and fragile ecosystem whose continuity depends directly on its conservation.
Saman dance, Indonesia: Boys and young men among the Gayo people of Aceh province in Sumatra perform the Saman sitting on their heels or kneeling in tight rows. Dancers clap their hands, slap their chests, thighs and the ground, click their fingers, and sway and twist their bodies and heads in time with the shifting rhythm. The verses they sing offer guidance and can be religious, romantic or humorous in tone. The Saman is performed to celebrate national and religious holidays, cementing relationships between villages..
Traditional skills of building and sailing Iranian Lenj boats in the Persian Gulf, Islamic Republic of Iran: Iranian Lenj vessels are traditionally hand-built from wood and are used by inhabitants of the northern coast of the Persian Gulf for sea journeys, trading, fishing and pearl diving. The traditional knowledge surrounding Lenjes includes oral literature, performing arts and festivals, in addition to the sailing and navigation techniques and terminology and weather forecasting, and the skills of wooden boat-building. Today, wooden Lenjes are being replaced by cheaper fibreglass substitutes and the philosophy, culture and traditional knowledge of sailing in the Persian Gulf are gradually fading.
Naqqāli, Iranian dramatic story-telling, Islamic Republic of Iran: Naqqāli dramatic performance has long played an important role in Iranian society, from the courts to the villages. The performer – the Naqqāl – recounts stories in verse or prose accompanied by gestures and movements, and sometimes instrumental music and painted scrolls. Both entertainers and bearers of Persian literature and culture, Naqqāls need to be acquainted with local cultural expressions, languages and dialects, and traditional music. Naqqāli requires considerable talent, a retentive memory and the ability to improvise with skill to captivate an audience.
Secret society of the Kôrêdugaw, the rite of wisdom in Mali: For the Bambara, Malinké, Senufo and Samogo peoples of Mali, the secret society of the Kôrêdugaw is a rite of wisdom performed at festivals and many other occasions. Initiates provoke laughter with behaviour characterized by gluttony, caustic humour and wit, but also possess great intelligence and wisdom. The society educates, trains and prepares children to cope with life and to deal with social problems. The Kôrêdugaw symbolize generosity, tolerance, inoffensiveness and mastery of knowledge, embodying the rules of conduct that they advocate for others.
The Moorish Epic T’heydinn, Mauritania: The T’heydinn epic encompasses dozens of poems in the Hassaniya language lauding the glorious feats of Moorish emirs and sultans and preserving the collective memory of society. Sung by griots and accompanied by traditional stringed instruments such as the lute, harp and kettledrum, the poems are passed down from father to son, with young griots first learning the instrumental skills before being initiated into the poetic tradition. Performances are occasions for regional tribal and family reunions, strengthening social ties and promoting social peace and mutual assistance.
Folk long song performance technique of Limbe performances - circular breathing, Mongolia: The Limbe is a side-blown flute of hardwood or bamboo, traditionally used to perform Mongolian folk long songs. Through the use of circular breathing, Limbe performers are able to produce the continuous, wide-ranging melodies characteristic of the long song. Limbe playing is characterized by euphonious melodies, melisma, hidden tunes and skilful and delicate movements of the fingers and tongue. The small number of skilled performers has become cause for concern, with only fourteen individual Limbe practitioners remaining.
Xoan singing of Phú Thọ Province, Viet Nam: Xoan singing is practised in Phú Thọ Province, Viet Nam, in the first two months of the lunar year. Xoan guilds traditionally performed in sacred spaces such as temples, shrines and communal houses for the spring festivals. Xoan singing is accompanied by dancing and musical instruments such as clappers and a variety of drums. Knowledge, customs and techniques for singing, playing and dancing are traditionally transmitted orally by the guild leader. In recent years the singing has been taken up by clubs and other performing groups.
Hezhen Yimakan storytelling, China: Narrated in the language of the Hezhen people of north-east China, and taking both verse and prose forms, Yimakan storytelling consists of many independent episodes depicting tribal alliances and battles, including the defeat of monsters and invaders by Hezhen heroes. Yimakan performers improvise stories without instrumental accompaniment, alternating between singing and speaking, and make use of different melodies to represent different characters and plots. Yimakan plays a key role in preserving the Hezhen mother tongue, religion, beliefs, folklore and customs.
A total of 18 dossiers are up for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in need of Urgent Safeguarding.
During the Bali session, the Committee will also consider 39 items the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity; 8 proposals of programmes for the Register of Best Safeguarding Practices; four requests for financial assistance.
The Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage was adopted by UNESCO’s General Conference in 2003 and now includes 139 States Parties. Only those countries that have ratified the Convention are eligible to present items for inscription on the Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.
The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage has 24 representatives of UNESCO Member States, elected for a term of four years. Half the Committee is renewed every two years.
The entire session of the Committee is webcast here.
Information regarding all the nominations and experts’ recommendations can also be found on that website.
TV broadcasters can download footage here.
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