Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) — This afternoon 11 elements have been added to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage following the decisions adopted by the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, taking place until 2 December in Ethiopia.
The Representative List includes forms of expression that testify to the diversity of intangible heritage and raises awareness of its importance. The review of nominations for inscription on this list will continue on Thursday 1 December.
The following elements were inscribed during today’s afternoon session (in order of inscription):
Spain—Valencia Fallas festivity
The Fallas festivity is a traditional practice of communities in Valencia to mark the coming of spring. It features a monument of caricatures by local artists that provides a commentary on current social issues. Erected in the town square from 14 to 19 March, it is then set alight, symbolizing a rejuvenation of social activity. Marching bands, outdoor meals and fireworks are part of the festivity, which enhances social cohesion and provides an opportunity for collective creativity; the element is passed on within families.
Dominican Republic—Music and dance of the merengue in the Dominican Republic
The merengue is considered part of the Dominican community’s national identity playing an active role in various aspects of the people’s daily lives – from education and social gatherings and celebrations to political campaigning. In 2005, November 26 was declared National Merengue Day with merengue festivals held each year. Danced in pairs, flirtatious gestures are used as dancers move to music. Passed on through participation, the traditional practice attracts people of different social classes helping to promote respect and coexistence within communities.
Egypt—Tahteeb, stick game
In ancient Egypt, tahteeb was a form of martial arts. Now a festive game, some of the old symbolism and values associated with the practice remain. Performed before an audience, it involves a brief, non-violent interchange between two adversaries wielding long sticks while folk music plays. Practitioners are male, mostly from Saeedy populations in upper Egypt. Rules of the game are based on mutual respect, friendship, courage, chivalry and pride. It is passed on within families and neighbourhoods in the communities.
Ethiopia—Gada system, an indigenous democratic socio-political system of the Oromo
Gada is a traditional system of governance of the Oromo people in Ethiopia, developed from knowledge gained over generations. It regulates political, economic, social and religious activity serving as a mechanism for enforcing moral conduct, building community cohesion, and expressing culture. Gada is organized into five classes taught by oral historians, with each having to progress through a series of grades before it can take the leadership. Men, whose fathers are members, participate. The element is passed on within families and at school.
Republic of Korea—Culture of Jeju Haenyeo (women divers)
On Jeju Island, a community of women, some in their 80s, goes diving to gather shellfish for a living. The Jeju haenyeo (female divers) harvest up to seven hours a day, 90 days of the year holding their breath for every 10m dive. Beforehand, prayers are said for safety and an abundant catch. The element is passed on in families, fishery cooperatives and The Haenyeo School. The traditional practice advances women’s status in the community, represents the island’s identity and promotes sustainability.
Azerbaijan; Iran (Islamic Republic of); Kazakhstan; Kyrgyzstan; Turkey— Flatbread making and sharing culture: Lavash, Katyrma, Jupka, Yufka
Making and sharing flatbread (lavash, katyrma, jupka or yufka) in communities of Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey is a widely-practised tradition. It usually involves family members but in rural areas, neighbours may participate together. Baked in an oven, metal plate or cauldron the bread is shared at regular meals, weddings, births, funerals and various holidays, particularly for prosperity. Passed on by participation and from master to apprentice, the practice expresses hospitality, solidarity and symbolizes common cultural roots reinforcing community belonging.
France—Carnival of Granville
The Carnival of Granville is a four-day celebration that takes place in the lead up to Shrove Tuesday. Involving the local community and nearby communes, festivities include a series of float processions that often take a humorous look at current events, politics and celebrities involving the work of 2,500 ‘carnivalists’; marching bands; balls for different age groups; a confetti battle and ‘night of intrigues’ for carnival-goers to dress in costume. Contributing to community unity, transmission occurs within families and committees.
Georgia—Living culture of three writing systems of the Georgian alphabet
Georgia’s written language has produced three alphabets – Mrgvlovani, Nuskhuri and Mkhedruli – which remain in use today. Mrgvlovani was the first alphabet from which Nuskhuri was derived and then Mkhedruli. The alphabets coexist thanks to their different functions, reflecting an aspect of Georgia’s diverse cultural identity. Its educational system is based on the Mkhedruli alphabet taught in primary and high school and in the home, while Mrgvlovani and Nuskhuri are practised and taught predominately by its Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church community.
Germany— Idea and practice of organizing shared interests in cooperatives
A cooperative is an association of volunteers that provides services to community members to improve living standards, overcome shared challenges and promote positive change. Based on the subsidiarity principle that puts personal responsibility above state action, cooperatives allow for community building through shared interests and values. Today, a quarter of Germany’s population participate in the practice passed on within cooperatives, universities, via the German Cooperative and Raiffeisen Confederation, The Akademie Deutscher Genossenschaften, the German Hermann-Schulze-Delitzsch Society and the German Friedrich-Wilhelm-Raiffeisen Society.
Greece— Momoeria, New Year's celebration in eight villages of Kozani area, West Macedonia, Greece
From December 25 to January 5, dancers, actors and musicians in Kozani, Greece, perform in village streets and visit homes to wish each other prosperity for the new year. The Momoeria dancers represent the priests of Momos (god of laughter and satire) or commanders of Alexander the Great trying to convince nature not to endanger the livelihood of villagers, while actors perform a play with musicians. Passed on by older generations, it is part of community identity and builds social integration.
Japan—Yama, Hoko, Yatai, float festivals in Japan
In cities and towns throughout Japan, float festivals are held annually to pray to the gods for peace and protection from natural disasters. The Yama, Hoko and Yatai float festivals, considered the biggest events of the year, involve the collaborative efforts of various sections of the community and, as a traditional practice, reflect the diversity of local culture. Responsibilities are shared by everyone, from float construction to music and coordination with senior bearers teaching the young; workshops are also held.
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