Intergovernmental Committee inscribes ten cultural practices on UNESCO’s Lists of Intangible Heritage


The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage meeting in the Colombian capital on Wednesday morning inscribed one more element on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding and nine elements on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Inscriptions are scheduled to continue this afternoon and tomorrow.

Element added to the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:

Spring rite of Juraŭski Karahod, Belarus
The spring rite of Juraǔski Karahod is performed by residents of Pahost village on St George’s Day, and includes various ceremonial activities. Traditionally, the ritual involves two cycles: the first takes place in the courtyard, where animals are led out of the barn after winter. The second involves a number of ceremonies, including the baking and distribution of a ceremonial bread (Karahod) and the sacrificial burying of ‘black’ bread. Despite the community’s concerted efforts, the element is threatened by numerous factors, including an ageing population of practitioners, unemployment, general socio-economic conditions in the region and globalization.

This brings to five the total number of elements added to the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding during this year’s Committee session. This List 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.

Elements added to the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Armenian letter art and its cultural expressions, Armenia
Armenian letter art and its cultural expressions represents the centuries-old art of Armenian writing, the rich culture of decorating letters, and its numerous applications. The element is distinguished by its wide range of ornamental scripts, characterized by different shapes such as birds, animals and mythical creatures. Beyond its primary function to record and communicate information, Armenian letter art has penetrated almost all layers of society, particularly folk art. Educational institutions at all levels, youth centres and the Armenian Apostolic Church play a key role in its transmission.

Transhumance, the seasonal droving of livestock along migratory routes in the Mediterranean and in the Alps, Austria, Greece, Italy
Transhumance, the seasonal droving of livestock along migratory routes in the Mediterranean and Alps, is a form of pastoralism. Every year in spring and autumn, thousands of animals are driven by groups of herders along steady routes from dawn to dusk. The practice comprises horizontal transhumance, in plain or plateau regions, and vertical transhumance, typically in mountain regions. The practice shapes relations among people, animals and ecosystems and involves shared rituals and social practices, and is one of the most sustainable, efficient livestock farming methods.

Date palm, knowledge, skills, traditions and practices, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen
In the submitting States, the date palm has given rise over the centuries to numerous associated crafts, professions and traditions. Bearers and practitioners include date palm farm owners, farmers who nurture the plant, craftspeople producing traditional related products, date traders, artists, and performers of associated folkloric tales and poems. The date palm has played a pivotal role in helping people face the challenges of life in the harsh desert environment, and the cultural relevance and proliferation of the element over the centuries demonstrate local communities’ commitment to its preservation.

Ommegang of Brussels, an annual historical procession and popular festival, Belgium
Ommegang of Brussels, an historical procession and popular festival, takes place annually over two evenings in July, in the historic centre of Brussels. The celebration begins with a crossbow competition and a ceremony in the Sablon Church. Various groups then form a large procession through the city to the Grand-Place, where they join the Magistrate of Brussels. The modern Ommegang was recreated in 1928-1930 and the tradition has now evolved into a festive local event. Many people have been involved in the event over the past 40 or 50 years and groups of volunteers now form active associations.

The festival of the Santísima Trinidad del Señor Jesús del Gran Poder in the city of La Paz, Bolivia (Plurinational State of)
The Gran Poder festival takes place every year on the Day of the Holy Trinity in the city of La Paz. The Parade begins with a procession involving 40,000 devotees who dance and sing in honour of the patron saint. The procession moves through the streets with 7,000 musicians, greeted by a euphoric atmosphere. On the following day, the procession members carry the patron saint on their shoulders. The festival stimulates and transforms the social life of La Paz. It is rooted in a particular way of living Andean Catholicism.

Traditional technique of making Airag in Khokhuur and its associated customs, Mongolia
The traditional technique of making Airag in Khokhuur and its associated customs includes the production of Airag, a fermented beverage made from mare’s milk, and related equipment, such as the khokhuur (cowhide vessel). To prepare Airag, freshly-milked mare’s milk is churned inside the khokhuur over 500 times, using a starter to assist fermentation. Airag is a nutritious beverage, a staple in the Mongolian diet. Bearers and practitioners inherit the related knowledge from their parents, keeping the thousands’ years old tradition alive.

Cultural Complex of Bumba-meu-boi from Maranhão, Brazil
The cultural complex of Bumba-meu-boi from Maranhão is a ritualistic practice involving forms of musical, choreographic, performing and playful expression. The practice is heavily charged with symbolism. It reproduces the cycle of life, offering a metaphor for human existence itself. Each year, the groups concerned reinvent this celebration, recreating songs, comedies, costumes, and embroideries for the occasion. Culminating at the end of June, the festival cycle involves numerous manifestations, including public performances, and rituals around the death of an ox. It is a period of renovation during which energies are reinvigorated.

Morna, musical practice of Cabo Verde, Cabo Verde
Morna is a traditional Cape Verdean musical and choreographic practice with instrumental accompaniment that incorporates voice, music, poetry and dance. Morna can be either sung or played only with instruments, primarily chordophones, including the guitar, violin, and ukulele. The lyric poetry can be improvised, with topics including love, departure, separation, reunion, and the motherland. It is now mainly performed in Cape Verdean Creole. Bearers and practitioners include instrument players, singers, poets and composers, and the practice is performed at key life events such as weddings, christenings, and family reunions.

Byzantine chant, Cyprus, Greece
As a living art spanning more than 2,000 years, the music system of the Byzantine chant is a significant cultural tradition that originated in the Byzantine Empire. Focused on musically enhancing the liturgical texts of the Greek Orthodox Church, it is inextricably linked to spiritual life and religious worship. This exclusively vocal music employs different rhythms to accentuate desired syllables of specific words. Byzantine chant is transmitted through Church services and is flourishing thanks to the dedication of experts and non-experts alike.

The Representative List seeks to enhance visibility for the traditional practices and know-how of communities without recognizing standards of excellence or exclusivity.



More information and webcast of Committee session:

B-rolls: Urgent Safeguarding List, Representative list

Media contacts:

Lucía Iglesias Kuntz, UNESCO Press Office,; +33680240729

Roni Amelan, UNESCO Press Office,; + 33(0)786435876

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