The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage, holding its 8th session until 7 December, today inscribed 14 elements on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity serves to raise awareness of intangible heritage and provide recognition to communities’ traditions and know-how that reflect their cultural diversity. The List does not attribute or recognize any standard of excellence or exclusivity.
The titles of the newly inscribed elements below (in chronological order of inscription) lead to web pages with information, pictures and videos:
Annual pilgrimage to the mausoleum of Sidi ‘Abd el-Qader Ben Mohammed (Sidi Cheikh) - Algeria
Every year at the end of June, Sufi communities undertake a three-day pilgrimage to the mausoleum of Sidi ‘Abd el-Qader Ben Mohammed (Sidi Cheikh) in El Abiodh Sidi Cheikh. The pilgrimage renews peaceful ties among the Sufi brotherhood and contributes to the growth of Sufism. It also promotes community values such as hospitality and collective practices such as praises, Koran recitations, secular chants and dances. Festivities – including fencing, equestrian competitions and dances – complement the prayers and rituals at the heart of the pilgrimage.
Imzad music is a characteristic feature of Tuareg populations and is performed by women on a single-stringed bowed instrument known as the Imzad. The musician sits with the instrument on her knees and plays it with a bow. The Imzad provides melodic accompaniment to poetic or popular songs, frequently sung by men on ceremonial occasions in Tuareg camps. It is often performed to drive away evil spirits and alleviate the pain of the sick. The musical knowledge is transmitted orally according to traditional methods of observation and assimilation.
Traditional art of Jamdani weaving - Bangladesh
Jamdani is a time-consuming and labour-intensive form of handloom weaving traditionally practised by craftspeople around Dhaka. The sheer cotton textiles are renowned for the richness of their motifs, which are woven directly on the loom. Bengali women wear Jamdani saris as a symbol of identity, dignity and self-recognition, both for everyday wear and at celebrations. The traditional motifs and weaving techniques are transmitted by master weavers to disciples and are handed down within families in the weaver community.
In Oostduinkerke, shrimpers mounted on horseback drag a net through the surf to catch shrimp. A good knowledge of the sea and the sand strip and a close relationship with one’s horse are essential. The tradition gives the community a strong sense of collective identity and plays a central role in social and cultural events, especially the two-day Shrimp Festival. Twelve households, each with its own speciality, are active in shrimp fishing. Knowledge is handed down from generation to generation, with experienced shrimpers demonstrating their fishing techniques to beginners.
The Círio de Nazaré festival in Belém honours Our Lady of Nazareth. On the second Sunday of October, a wooden image of Our Lady proceeds from Sé Cathedral to Sanctuary Square in what is one of the world’s largest religious processions. Vast numbers travel from across Brazil to attend a festival that blends sacred and profane elements, reflecting the rich multicultural character of Brazilian society. While local devotees build altars and welcome visitors, children accompany parents to the festivities, thus ensuring transmission of this heritage.
Chinese Zhusuan is a time-honoured traditional method of performing mathematical calculations with an abacus. By moving beads along rods, practitioners can perform addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, exponential multiplication, root and more complicated equations. Zhusuan has been handed down through the generations, using traditional models of oral teaching and self-learning. Beginners can make quick calculations after some fairly basic training, while proficient practitioners develop an agile mind. Zhusuan is widely used in Chinese life and is an important symbol of traditional Chinese culture and identity.
Mediterranean diet – Cyprus, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Morocco, Portugal, Spain
The Mediterranean diet involves a set of skills, knowledge, rituals, symbols and traditions concerning crops, harvesting, fishing, animal husbandry, conservation, processing, cooking, and particularly the sharing and consumption of food. Eating together is the foundation of the cultural identity and continuity of communities throughout the Mediterranean basin. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes values of hospitality, neighbourliness, intercultural dialogue and creativity and plays a vital role in cultural spaces, festivals and celebrations, bringing together people of all ages, conditions and social classes.
The festival of Maskel is celebrated across Ethiopia on 26 September to commemorate the unearthing of the True Holy Cross of Christ. Celebrations centre around the burning of the Damera bonfire in Maskel Square in Addis Ababa. Hundreds of thousands of people from diverse communities flock to the square as colourfully dressed priests chant hymns and prayers and perform their unique rhythmic dance. Maskel brings families and communities together from across the nation and promotes spiritual life through reconciliation, social cohesion and peaceful coexistence.
Limousin septennial ostensions - France
The Limousin septennial ostensions are grand ceremonies and processions organized every seventh year for the exhibition and worship of relics of Christian saints. The festivities are attended by large crowds who gather to see the reliquaries as they process through the towns. Preparation of the ostensions is a communal, year-long undertaking that helps to strengthen social bonds. The festivities also play an important role in helping recently arrived or former inhabitants to integrate and in reuniting families when relatives return to join in the celebrations.
Qvevri wine-making takes its name from the distinctive egg-shaped earthenware vessel – the Qvevri – in which wine is fermented and stored in villages and towns throughout Georgia. The tradition plays a vital role in everyday life and celebrations, and forms an inseparable part of the cultural identity of Georgian communities, with wine and vines frequently evoked in Georgian oral traditions and songs. Knowledge of this heritage is passed down by families, neighbours and friends, all of whom join in the communal harvesting and wine-making activities.
Sankirtana encompasses an array of arts performed to mark religious occasions and various stages in the life of the Vaishnava people. Drummers and singer-dancers enact the lives and deeds of Krishna through devotional songs that often produce an ecstatic reaction among devotees. Sankirtana takes place on public festive and religious occasions that unite the community, and is also performed to commemorate individual life-cycle ceremonies. The whole society is involved in its safeguarding, with the specific knowledge and skills traditionally transmitted from mentor to disciple.
Catholic processions featuring large shoulder-borne processional structures take place throughout Italy, especially in Nola, Palmi, Sassari and Viterbo. These communal celebrations require the involvement of musicians and singers, as well as skilled artisans who manufacture the processional structures and create the ceremonial clothes and artefacts. The coordinated, equitable sharing of tasks in a common project is a fundamental part of the celebrations. The structures are recreated annually through informal transmission of the techniques and knowledge concerned.
Washoku is a comprehensive set of skills, knowledge and traditions relating to the preparation and consumption of food, and respect for natural resources. Typically seen during Japanese New Year celebrations, it takes the form of special meals and beautifully decorated dishes using fresh ingredients, each of which has a symbolic meaning. These are shared by family members or collectively among communities. The basic knowledge and skills related to Washoku are passed down in the home at shared mealtimes.
Kyrgyz epic trilogy: Manas, Semetey, Seytek – Kyrgyzstan
The Kyrgyz epic trilogy of Manas, Semetey and Seytek expresses the historical memory of the Kyrgyz people. It owes its survival to a community of storytellers who perform the epic, using special forms of narration, rhythm, tone and gestures, at village events and nationwide celebrations and on national holidays. The trilogy helps young people to understand their own history and culture, the natural environment and the peoples of the world; it also provides them with a sense of identity and promotes ideas of tolerance and multiculturalism.
The Committee is to continue examining other nominations in view of their possible inscription on the Representative List on Thursday, 5 December.
Picture gallery (updated to include new inscriptions):
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