The Guadeloupean Gwoka (France), Smoke sauna in the Võro community of Estonia and the Japanese traditional craft of hand-making paper, Washi are among ten new elements inscribed this afternoon on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The UNESCO Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage is meeting in Paris until 28 November. The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity includes elements that demonstrate the diversity of this heritage and raise awareness about its importance.
Baile Chino, Chile
Bailes Chinos are brotherhoods of musicians who express their faith through music, dance and singing. Performed mainly by men, the dances consist of jumps and flexing movements of the legs, performed to the music of drums and flutes. Sung couplets recount holy stories and address religious subjects while a drummer leads the choreography and controls the tempo of the music. Brotherhoods function as a model for social integration and cohesion to which almost the entire local community subscribes.
Arirang folk song in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Arirang is a popular lyrical singing genre performed on various occasions among family, friends and communities, as well as on public occasions and at festivities. Transmitted and recreated orally, it exists in multiple traditional forms as well as symphonic and modern arrangements. Arirang songs typically contain a gentle and lyrical melody and speak about leaving and reunion, sorrow, joy and happiness. They reinforce social relations, thus contributing to mutual respect and peaceful social development.
Smoke sauna tradition in Võromaa, Estonia
The smoke sauna tradition is an important part of everyday life in the Võro community of Estonia. It comprises a set of traditions including the actual bathing customs, the skills of making bath whisks, building and repairing saunas, and smoking meat in the sauna. Practised usually on Saturdays but also before major festivals or family events, it is primarily a family custom whose main function is to relax the body and mind. Families take turns hosting each other.
Gwoka is one of the most identifiable elements of Guadeloupean society, combining responsorial singing in Guadeloupean Creole, rhythms played on the Ka drums and dancing. Gwoka unites these three areas of expression and emphasizes individual qualities of improvisation. The participants and public form a circle in which dancers and soloists enter in turn and perform, facing the drums. It strengthens identity and provides a feeling of communal development and individual pride, conveying values of conviviality, resistance and dignity.
Mastic is cultivated on the island of Chios from the aromatic resin mastiha, extracted from the shrub pistacia lentiscus. The traditional culture of mastic is a family occupation: men take care of the natural fertilization and pruning of the shrubs in winter, and women prepare the ground around the trunk in summer then collect the tears of mastic. The culture of mastic represents a comprehensive social event, around which networks of alliances and mutual help have been established.
The craft of the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru represents the traditional technique of manufacturing brass and copper utensils in Punjab. The process begins with procuring cakes of metal that are flattened into thin plates and then hammered into curved shapes. Utensils are manually finished by polishing with sand and tamarind juice. They may be manufactured for ritual or utilitarian purposes, both for individual and community use on special occasions such as weddings or at temples. The process of manufacturing is transmitted orally from father to son.
The traditional practice of cultivating head-trained bush vines is transmitted through generations of vine growers and farmers of the island of Pantelleria. The technique consists of several phases, from preparing the ground, planting the vine, pruning the stem and finally harvesting grapes The knowledge and skills of bearers and practitioners are handed down in families through oral instruction in the local dialect and through practice. Rituals and festivals organized between July and September allow the local community to share this social practice.
The traditional craft of hand-making paper, or Washi, is practised in three communities in Japan. The paper is made from fibres of the paper mulberry and used for letter writing and books, but also to make paper screens, room dividers and sliding doors. Families and their employees work under masters who have inherited the techniques from their parents. The communities play roles in keeping this craftsmanship viable, ranging from the cultivation of mulberry, training in the techniques and the creation of new Washi products.
Kazakh traditional art of Dombra Kuy, Kazakhstan
The art of Dombra Kuy refers to a solo composition performed on a traditional pear-shaped, long-necked, two-stringed, plucked musical instrument. The music aims to connect people to their historic roots and traditions through classical and improvised pieces. It is performed at family and community gatherings, and is usually accompanied by narrated stories and legends. It plays an important role in strengthening social cohesion among Kazakh people while providing them with a sense of identity and belonging.
Traditional knowledge and skills in making Kyrgyz and Kazakh yurts (Turkic nomadic dwellings), Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan
The yurt is a nomadic dwelling used among the Kazakh and Kyrgyz peoples. It has a wooden circular frame covered with felt and braided with ropes, and can be easily assembled and dismantled. The wooden frames are made by men and their apprentices, while women make the interior decorations and exterior coverings, ornamented with traditional zoomorphic, vegetative or geometric patterns. All festivities are held in a yurt, which remains a symbol of family and traditional hospitality, fundamental to the identity of the Kazakh and Kyrgyz peoples.
The Committee will continue the inscription of elements on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity tomorrow.
Journalists wishing to cover the Committee session (UNESCO, Room I, 125, avenue de Suffren, Paris) are requested to contact UNESCO’s Press Service for accreditation