43 elements inscribed on UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage lists
During their annual meeting, held online from 13 to 18 December, the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage inscribed four elements on UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding and 39 elements on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Chaired by Punchi Nilame Meegaswatte, Secretary General of the National Commission of Sri Lanka for UNESCO, the Intergovernmental Committee also added four projects to the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices and allotted $172,000 from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund to a safeguarding project presented by Mongolia, $116,400 to a project in Djibouti and a further $266,000 to a project in Timor-Leste.
For the first time this year, the Intergovernmental Committee decided to inscribe elements from Congo, Denmark, Haiti Iceland, Federated Republic of Micronesia, Montenegro, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Seychelles and Timor-Leste to UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage lists which now feature 630 elements from 140 countries.
New inscriptions on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:
Federated States of Micronesia — Carolinian wayfinding and canoe making
Carolinian wayfinding and canoe making refers to the centuries-old tradition of building and navigating long-distance canoes. Communities in Micronesia continue the indigenous traditions of building the ocean voyaging sailing canoes from local materials and of navigating, or wayfinding, with environmental cues rather than with maps or instruments. The canoes have a unique form and use dynamics quite unlike western craft. The asymmetrical design supports high-speed sailing and allows access to very shallow water. The practice is passed on through traditional apprenticeships lead by master canoe carvers and navigators who are organized into guilds.
Timor-Leste — Tais, traditional textile
Tais is the handwoven traditional textile of Timor-Leste. Used for decoration and to create traditional clothing for ceremonies and festivals, it is also a means of expressing cultural identity and social class, since the colours and motifs vary according to ethnic groups. Tais is made from cotton dyed with natural plants, and the complex process is traditionally reserved for women, who pass on the skills to the next generation in their communities. However, men sometimes participate by gathering plants to dye the cotton and by making the weaving equipment.
Estonia — Building and use of expanded dugout boats in the Soomaa region
The Estonian expanded dugout boat from the Soomaa region is a canoe-like boat, hollowed out from a single tree, with expanded sides and a shallow base. The most distinctive stage of the dugout boat construction is the expansion of the sides. With a combination of heat and moisture, the board of the dugout boat is significantly expanded, thus increasing its volume and maneuverability. Transmitted through apprenticeships and formal studies, dugout boat building and use is a communal activity that is accompanied by storytelling about legendary masters and their boats.
Mali — Cultural practices and expressions linked to the 'M’Bolon', a traditional musical percussion instrument
The M’Bbolon is a musical instrument used in southern Mali. It has a large calabash sound box covered with cowhide and a bow-shaped wooden neck with strings. The number of strings of the M’Bbolon determines how it is used. Single-stringed and two-stringed M’Bbolon are used for popular events and for rituals and religious ceremonies, whereas three-stringed and four-stringed M’Bbolon are used to accompany the praising of traditional chiefs, celebrate the heroic deeds of kings and accompany farmers in the fields. The instrument is taught through apprenticeships and by local associations.
The List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding features elements of living heritage whose viability is under threat. It mobilizes international cooperation and assistance to strengthen the transmission of these cultural practices, in agreement with the concerned communities. This List now numbers 71 elements.
Elements added to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, in order of inscription:
United Arab Emirates, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czechia, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Spain, Syrian Arab Republic – Falconry, a living human heritage
Falconry is the traditional art and practice of training and flying falcons and other birds of prey. Originally a means of obtaining food, falconry has acquired other values and has been integrated into communities as a recreational practice and a way of connecting with nature. Today, it is practiced by people of all ages in over eighty countries. Modern falconry focuses on safeguarding falcons, quarry and habitats as well as the practice itself. It is transmitted through mentoring, learning within families and formal training in clubs and schools.
Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen – Arabic calligraphy, knowledge, skills and practices
Arabic calligraphy is the artistic practice of handwriting Arabic script in a fluid manner to convey harmony, grace and beauty. Its fluidity offers infinite possibilities, even within a single word, since letters can be stretched and transformed to create different motifs. Arabic calligraphy is widespread in Arab and non-Arab countries and is practised by men and women of all ages. Originally intended to make writing clear and legible, it gradually became an Islamic Arab art for traditional and modern works. Skills are transmitted informally or through formal schools or apprenticeships.
Denmark; Finland; Iceland; Norway; Sweden — Nordic clinker boat traditions
Nordic clinker boats are small, open wooden boats between five and ten metres long. For almost two millenia, the people of the Nordic region have been building clinker boats using the same basic techniques: thin planks are fastened to a backbone of keel and stems, and the overlapping planks are fastened together with metal rivets, treenails or rope. A symbol of common Nordic coastal heritage, today’s clinker boats are primarily used in traditional festivities and sporting events. Traditionally, knowledge was transmitted through apprenticeships, but formal training from public and private specialized boat-building institutions is now available as well.
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo — Congolese rumba
Congolese rumba is a musical genre and a dance used in formal and informal spaces for celebration and mourning. It is primarily an urban practice danced by a male-female couple. Performed by professional and amateur artists, the practice is passed down to younger generations through neighbourhood clubs, formal training schools and community organisations. The rumba is considered an integral part of Congolese identity and a means of promoting intergenerational cohesion and solidarity.
Plurinational State of Bolivia — Grand Festival of Tarija
Bolivia’s Grand Festival of Tarija takes place every year in August and September, with devotional processions, festivals, competitions and fireworks. Transmitted through families and the church, the festival has its origins in the colonial period, when the inhabitants of Tarija entreated Saint Roch to cure diseases and protect their loved ones. It is characterized by lively music and dancing, regional crafts, traditional dishes and pilgrims dressed in colourful costumes and masks. In addition to its religious significance, the festival marks the beginning of the growing season.
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela – Festive cycle around the devotion and worship towards Saint John the Baptist
The Venezuelan Saint John the Baptist celebrations originated in the eighteenth century in Afro-Venezuelan communities. Viewed as a symbol of cultural resistance and freedom, the festivities are characterized by joyful drumming, dancing, storytelling and singing and by processions with a statue of Saint John the Baptist. On 23 June, the Sanjuaneros visit with friends and go to churches and religious centres. On 24 June, the image of the saint is baptized in the local river, to commemorate the biblical event. The practices and knowledge are transmitted within families and through community groups and schools.
Ecuador – Pasillo, song and poetry
The pasillo is a type of music and dance that emerged in Ecuador in the nineteenth century. It is a fusion of elements of indigenous music, such as the yaraví, with a variety of genres including the waltz, the minuet and the bolero. The music is usually accompanied by guitars and performed in ballroom dances, public events and outdoor concerts. In terms of lyrics, it is essentially a musicalized poem, with lyrics relating to love, the homeland and daily life. To Ecuadorians, the pasillo is an identity marker and a form of collective expression. It is transmitted within families, in formal training centres, and through musical groups.
Panama — Dances and expressions associated with the Corpus Christi Festivity
The Corpus Christi festival is a religious festival in Panama that celebrates the body and blood of Christ. It combines Catholic tradition with popular practices and is characterized by theatrical performances, burlesque dances and colourful costumes and masks. The festival starts with a theatrical performance depicting the battle between good and evil, followed by a procession and gatherings in the streets and in family homes. The related knowledge and skills are passed on through participation in the festival and the involvement of youth in dance groups and mask-making teams, among others.
Peru – Pottery-related values, knowledge, lore and practices of the Awajún people
The Awajún people view pottery as an example of their harmonious relationship with nature. The preparation process comprises five stages: the collection of materials, modelling, firing, decorating and finishing. Each stage has specific meanings and values. The pots are used for cooking, drinking, eating and serving food, as well as for rituals and ceremonies. The thousand-year-old practice has permitted the empowerment of Awajún women, who use it as a means of expressing their personality. The practice is transmitted by the Dukúg wisewomen, female elders who pass on their expertise to other women in their families.
Malaysia — Songket
Songket is a Malaysian fabric handwoven on a traditional, two-pedal floor loom. The decorative weaving technique used to make the fabric entails inserting gold or silver thread in between the base threads so that they seem to float over a colourful woven background. The technique, which dates back to the sixteenth century, is passed on from mother to daughter and through formal training programmes. Men participate by creating the weaving equipment. Songket is used in traditional clothing for ceremonies, festive occasions and formal state functions.
Gamelan refers to the traditional Indonesian percussion orchestra and to the set of musical instruments used. The ensemble typically includes xylophones, gongs, gong-chimes, drums, cymbals, string instruments and bamboo flutes. The music is played by men, women and children of all ages, and is typically used in religious rituals and public events. Gamelan is an integral part of Indonesian identity dating back centuries. Transmission is done in formal contexts in primary through to tertiary education and in informal contexts such as within families and during workshops.
Thailand — Nora, dance drama in southern Thailand
Nora is a centuries-old form of dance theatre and improvisational singing usually based on stories about the Buddha or legendary heroes. Performers wear colourful costumes with headdresses, bird-like wings, ornate scarves, and swan tails that give them a bird-like appearance. Performed in local community centres and at temple fairs and cultural events, nora is a community-based practice with deep cultural and social significance for the people of southern Thailand. Performances use regional dialects, music and literature to reinforce cultural life and social bonds. The practice is passed on by masters in homes, community organizations and educational institutions.
Viet Nam — Art of Xòe dance of the Tai people in Viet Nam
Xòe is a form of Vietnamese dancing that is performed at rituals, weddings, village festivals and community events. There are several types of xòe dances, but the most popular form is circle xòe, wherein dancers form a circle and perform basic movements that symbolize wishes for community health and harmony. An important identity marker for the Tai people in northwestern Viet Nam, the xòe dance is accompanied by various instruments, including gourd lutes, drums, cymbals and reed flutes. It is transmitted within families, dance troupes and schools.
India — Durga Puja in Kolkata
Durga Puja is an annual festival celebrated in the fall in India and Bangladesh. It marks the ten-day worship of the Hindu mother-goddess Durga. Characterized by Bengali drumming, large-scale installations and clay sculptures made from unfired clay from the Ganga River, the festival has come to signify ‘home-coming’ or a seasonal return to one’s roots. During the event, the divides of class, religion and ethnicities collapse as crowds of spectators walk around to admire the installations. Durga Puja is transmitted by families, art centres and traditional media, among others.
Sri Lanka — Traditional craftsmanship of making Dumbara Ratā Kalāla
Dumbara mats are traditional hand-made mats used as wall hangings, tapestries or cushion covers. Of great cultural significance for Sri Lankans, the mats are made by a community called kinnara that traditionally supplied ornamental mats to the royal palace between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries. Today, artisans weave the mats for local buyers and tourists. Dumbara mats are made with the fibres of the hana plant and decorated with symbolic motifs and designs. The weaving techniques are transmitted from parents to children through observation and practice.
Turkmenistan – Dutar making craftsmanship and traditional music performing art combined with singing
Dutar is a traditional instrument and musical genre from Turkmenistan. The dutar instrument is a long-necked, two-stringed lute with a pear-shaped body covered by a thin wooden sounding board. The instrument is used in all of the main genres of Turkmen music and singing. As for dutar music, it can either be played alone or accompanied by singing or poetry and prose. Dutar music is an essential part of Turkmen ceremonies, national celebrations, festivals and social gatherings. Artisanry and related skills are traditionally passed on from father to son, and performance skills are transmitted orally and through demonstration.
Seychelles – Moutya
Moutya was brought to Seychelles by the enslaved Africans who arrived with the French settlers in the early eighteenth century. A sensual dance with simple choreography, it is traditionally performed around a bonfire to the beating of drums. Historically, moutya was a psychological comfort against hardship and a means of resisting social injustice. It is usually performed spontaneously within the community, as well as at gatherings and cultural events. Moutya is transmitted informally through performance, observation and imitation and formally through research, documentation and dissemination.
Madagascar – Malagasy Kabary, the Malagasy oratorical art
Malagasy kabary is a poeticized dialogue performed in front of an audience. It is highly structured and consists of proverbs, maxims, rhetorical figures and wordplay. Originally used by leaders to communicate with the community, it has become inseparable from social life in Madagascar, used for festivities, funerals, ceremonies and popular events. The practice, which is transmitted formally and informally through observation, usually involves two orators in front of a gathering. It can last several hours, depending on the type of event.
Senegal — Ceebu Jën, a culinary art of Senegal
Ceebu jën is an emblematic Senegalese dish. Although recipes vary from one region to the next, it is typically made with fish steak, broken rice, dried fish, mollusc and seasonal vegetables, such as onions, parsley, carrots, eggplant, white cabbage, cassava, sweet potato, okra and bay leaf. The recipe and techniques are traditionally passed down from mother to daughter. In most families, ceebu jën is eaten with the hands, although spoons or forks are usually used in restaurants. Viewed as an affirmation of Senegalese identity, the dish has become the national dish of Senegal.
Bahrain — Fjiri
Fjiri is a musical performance that commemorates the history of pearl diving in Bahrain. Viewed as a means of expressing the connection between the Bahraini people and the sea, the practice dates back to the late nineteenth century, it is usually performed and transmitted in cultural spaces called durs by descendants of pearl divers and pearling crews and by other individuals interested in preserving the tradition. During the performance, an all-male group of musicians sits in a circle, singing and playing percussion instruments. The centre of the circle is occupied by dancers and the lead singer.
Iraq—Traditional craft skills and arts of Al-Naoor
Al-naoor is a wooden wheel made of twenty-four columns and with clay jugs attached to its outer circumference. The wheel is used on the streams of the Euphrates River in Iraq, where water levels are lower than the adjacent fields. It is installed vertically on the streams of the river. As the current rotates the wheel, the jugs collect water, carry it to the top of the wheel, and pour it into the waterways leading to the fields. A source of livelihood for many, including local artisans, al-naoor knowledge and skills are transmitted through family, literature and formal education.
Palestine — The art of embroidery in Palestine, practices, skills, knowledge and rituals
In Palestine, women’s village clothing usually consists of a long dress, trousers, a jacket, a headdress and a veil. Each garment is embroidered with a variety of symbols including birds, trees and flowers. The embroidery is sewn with silk thread on wool, linen or cotton, and the choice of colours and designs indicates the woman’s regional identity and marital and economic status. Embroidery is a social and intergenerational practice around which women gather and collaborate to supplement their family’s income. The practice is transmitted from mother to daughter and through formal training courses.
Syrian Arab Republic — Al-Qudoud al-Halabiya
Al-Qudoud al-Halabiya is a form of traditional music from Aleppo with a fixed melody. Sung for religious and entertainment purposes with the accompaniment of a musical ensemble, the lyrics vary according to the type of event. Although it has been influenced by social changes, the qudoud has retained its traditional elements and continues to be performed throughout the city. It is a vital part of Aleppan culture and is viewed as a source of resilience, particularly in times of war. The practice is transmitted informally between mentors and youth and formally through school curricula, media broadcasts and programmes.
Morocco — Tbourida
Tbourida is a Moroccan equestrian performance dating back to the sixteenth century. It simulates a succession of military parades, reconstructed according to ancestral Arab-Amazigh conventions. During a tbourida, a troupe of riders perform a parade composed of an acrobatic arms drill and the simulation of a war departure. The riders wear period costumes and accessories representing their tribe or region, and the horses are bridled and saddled with traditional materials. Transmission takes place from generation to generation within families, through oral traditions and by observation.
Turkey — Hüsn-i Hat, traditional calligraphy in Islamic art in Turkey
The hüsn-i hat is the centuries-old art of calligraphy in Turkey. Traditional tools include a glazed paper, a reed pen, pen knives and soot ink. Many calligraphers, or hattats, make their own tools and play an important role in the transmission of the hüsn-i hat tradition, passing on their knowledge, craftsmanship skills and values through apprenticeships. The hüsn-i hat can be written on paper, leather, stone, marble, glass and wood, among others. It is traditionally used for religious and literary texts.
Finland — Kaustinen fiddle playing and related practices and expressions
Kaustinen folk music is a Finnish tradition of which the fiddle is the leading instrument. Based on playing by ear, it is characterized by syncopated and accented rhythms that are easy for people to dance to. Most inhabitants of Kaustinen and neighbouring communities consider it an essential aspect of their identity and a symbol of equality. Its distinctive style and technique have been transmitted formally and informally for over 250 years, and the music is performed in public and private contexts, including at the annual Folk Music Festival.
Denmark — Inuit drum dancing and singing
Drum dancing and drum singing are traditional forms of Inuit artistic expression in Greenland. Frequently featured in celebrations and social events, they can be performed by an individual or group. During a drum dance, the drum, or qilaat, is moved in different directions and its frame is struck to produce a sharp, echoing beat. The drum song is a lyrical narration of daily life. For Greenlandic Inuit, drum dancing and singing represents a shared identity and a sense of community. The practice is passed on through cultural associations, clubs, dance studios and institutions.
Malta — L-Għana, a Maltese folksong tradition
Għana is used to describe three related types of rhymed folksong in Malta. The most popular form is the ‘quick-wit’ għana, an improvised duel between one or two pairs of singers, focusing on rhymes, convincing argumentation and witty repartee. Għana sessions are held year-round in public and private venues and are viewed as a platform for informal social and political debate and reflection on shared history. An integral part of Maltese culture, the practice is transmitted through families and is considered vital to the preservation of the unique Semitic Maltese language.
Portugal — Community festivities in Campo Maior
The Community Festivities of Campo Maior is a popular event during which the streets of Campo Maior in Portugal are decorated with millions of colourful paper flowers. The community’s street commissions decide the date and colour themes, and neighbours work on the decorations for months. There is a sense of friendly competition between streets to see which one will have the best design. The decorations are thus kept secret until the eve of the festivities, when the town is transformed overnight. The practice strengthens creativity and community belonging, and is transmitted within families and schools.
Tajikistan — Falak
Falak, meaning ‘heaven’, ‘fortune’ and ‘universe’, is the traditional folklore music of the mountain people of Tajikistan. The expressive and philosophical musical genre may be performed by a male or female soloist, a cappella, with a single instrumental accompaniment or with an ensemble and dancers. Characterized by their high range, falak songs most often relate to love, pain, suffering and the homeland. The practice is viewed as a state of mind and an identity marker for mountain communities, and it is passed from one generation to the next within families and through formal education.
Bulgaria — Visoko multipart singing from Dolen and Satovcha, South-western Bulgaria
Visoko is a traditional practice of multipart singing that is unique to the Bulgarian villages of Dolen and Satovcha. There are three types: low-pitched, high-pitched, and a combination of the two. Visoko songs, also known as summer songs, were traditionally sung outdoors by women working in the fields. Today, the practice is passed on to women and girls through local singing groups. It is emblematic of local musical practice and creates a sense of community among singers in the groups while contributing to social ties between the singers and their audiences.
Ukraine — Ornek, a Crimean Tatar ornament and knowledge about it
Örnek is a Ukrainian system of symbols and their meanings, used in various mediums such as embroidery, weaving and pottery. The symbols are arranged to create a narrative composition. There are around thirty-five symbols in total, each with its unique meaning and connotations. The Crimean Tatar communities understand the meaning of the symbols and often commission artisans to create certain compositions with specific meanings. The practice and knowledge are transmitted by skilled artisans within families and communities, in informal contexts such as embroidery classes, and in formal contexts such as universities.
Belgium — Namur stilt jousting
Namur stilt jousting is a Belgian tradition dating back to the early fifteenth century. During a joust, participants attempt to knock all the members of the opposing team to the ground. Jousts usually take place during festivals in the streets and squares of Namur. Entry is free, and spectators gather around the jousting zone and cheer on their favourite teams. Stilt jousting is a strong marker of Namur’s identity and is seen as a factor of cohesion. The practice is transmitted through trainings at the local stilt jousting association as well as through family tradition and in schools.
Italy – Truffle hunting and extraction in Italy, traditional knowledge and practice
Italian truffle hunting and extraction is a set of practices that has been transmitted orally for centuries. With the help of a dog, the truffle hunters, or tartufai, identify the areas where the underground fungus grows. They then use a spade to extract the truffles without disturbing the soil conditions. A source of revenue for many rural communities, truffle hunting involves a wide range of skills and knowledge related to the management of natural ecosystems. It is also associated with popular feasts that mark the beginning and end of the truffle season.
Netherlands — Corso culture, flower and fruit parades in the Netherlands
Dating back to the late nineteenth century, a corso is an annual Dutch parade and competition of elaborate floats or boats decorated with flowers, fruit, vegetables and, in some cases, people in costumes. The practice creates a sense of social cohesion and solidarity, as groups of friends or entire neighbourhoods often spend months preparing floats up to 20 metres long and 10 metres high. Corso culture is passed on through apprenticeships, school programmes and participation in the annual parade, which takes place on streets or in rivers and is typically accompanied by bands and theatre performances.
Uzbekistan – Bakhshi art
Bakhshi is the performance of epic stories with the accompaniment of traditional musical instruments. The storytellers, also called bakhshis, recount heroic, historical and romantic epic poems based on myths, legends, folk tales and legendary chants. Successful bakhshis must be able to captivate listeners with their melodies and to narrate stories in an interesting and original way. Bakhshi is a vital part of Uzbek lifestyle, and the storytellers are always welcome guests in family ceremonies, rituals, public holidays and local festivities. The practice is passed on within families and through formal bakhshi schools.
Montenegro – Cultural Heritage of Boka Navy Kotor: a festive representation of a memory and cultural identity
Boka Navy is a traditional NGO founded in 809. Comprised of a community of seafarers, it has played a vital role in preserving and promoting maritime history and tradition. The organization is also the backbone of the annual St. Tryphon festivities. During formal celebrations, members wear traditional uniforms, carry historic weapons and perform a traditional circle dance. Membership is voluntary and open to men, women and children of all ages. Knowledge and skills are transmitted from generation to generation within families and through Boka Navy committees, which organize trainings, exhibitions, conferences and publications.
Poland – Flower carpets tradition for Corpus Christi processions
The tradition of arranging flower carpets is inherently linked to the feast of Corpus Christi in Poland. For the feast, which involves a mass followed by a procession, families in several villages use flowers to arrange colourful and symbolic carpets on the route of the procession. The tradition unites the entire community and has shaped local identity. The practice has been passed on for generations, especially within families. Pattern-making workshops are also regularly held in schools, with support from the parish and non-governmental organizations.
Haiti —Joumou soup
The Intergovernmental Committee decided this inscription based on the advice of the Evaluation body and following a fast-track procedure given the specific circumstances due to the hardships recently endured by the country.
Joumou or giraumon soup is a traditional Haitian pumpkin soup made with vegetables, plantains, meat, pasta and spices. It is a celebratory dish, deeply rooted in Haitian identity, and its preparation promotes social cohesion and belonging among communities. Originally reserved for slave owners, Haitians took ownership of the soup when they gained independence from France, turning it into a symbol of their newly acquired freedom and an expression of their dignity and resilience. It is made from giraumon, a variety of pumpkin once cultivated by the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean, and is prepared and consumed specifically on the first of January – Haiti’s Independence Day – when it constitutes the first meal of the year. It also serves as traditional Sunday breakfast. The preparation of Joumou soup is a family and community affair: women manage the overall activities, children help to prepare the ingredients, artisans make the aluminium pots and other utensils used to prepare the soup, and farmers work the land to harvest the vegetables. Today, several variations of the soup can be found in Caribbean and Latin American cuisines.
The Representative List seeks to enhance visibility for the traditions and know-how of communities. The List now numbers 530 elements.
Inscriptions on the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices:
Philippines — The School of Living Traditions (SLT)
In 1995, the Sub-commission on Cultural Communities and Traditional Arts of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts – the lead agency mandated to preserve, promote and develop Philippine culture and the arts – affirmed the need to safeguard traditional knowledge and practices from rapid cultural devaluation. This paved the way for the School of Living Traditions programme, involving informal, community-managed learning centres where practitioners can transmit their communities’ knowledge, intangible cultural heritage, skills and values to younger generations.
Kyrgyzstan – Nomad games, rediscovering heritage, celebrating diversity
Kyrgyz people’s cultural heritage is intrinsically linked to the nomadic lifestyle. However, during the Soviet era, which came with forced sedentation, many elements became endangered, including traditional games. Traditional game practitioners and knowledge bearers held their first major meeting in 2007 to discuss current challenges and safeguarding needs for the traditional nomad games. These discussions shaped the Nomad Games: Rediscovering Heritage programme, which focused on documentation and identification of the variety of traditional games in different parts of the country.
Islamic Republic of Iran – National programme to safeguard the traditional art of calligraphy in Iran
With the advent of technology, the tradition of Iranian calligraphy gradually declined. The safeguarding of the Iranian calligraphic tradition thus became a major concern in the 1980s, and a national programme was developed for this purpose by NGOs in collaboration with the government. This programme aimed to expand informal and formal public training in calligraphy, publish books and pamphlets, hold art exhibitions, and develop academic curricula while promoting appropriate use of the calligraphic tradition in line with modern living conditions.
Kenya – Success story of promoting traditional foods and safeguarding traditional foodways in Kenya
In Kenya, traditional foodways were under threat. Understanding that a decline in food diversity and knowledge would have serious ramifications on health and on food and nutrition insecurity, in 2007 Kenya committed to safeguarding related practices. Two main initiatives were launched, in collaboration with scientists and communities. The first involved inventorying traditional foods and their uses, and the second entailed working with primary schools to identify and inventory traditional foodways. Both initiatives have led to related activities carried out independently by local institutions.
The Register of Good Safeguarding Practices allows States Parties, communities and other stakeholders to share successful safeguarding experiences and examples of how they surmounted challenges faced in the transmission of their living heritage, its practice and knowledge to the future generation. The Register now features 29 good practices.
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