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Intangible Cultural Heritage

Fact sheets

Intangible Cultural Heritage

Fact sheets

With over 700 annual traditionalfestivities and carnivals, and some 67languages and dialects that haveresisted forced migration, armed conflictand decline of the environment,Colombia’s intangible cultural heritageranks as one of the richest in LatinAmerica. This tremendous diversity ishardly surprising given Colombia’svaried population, which is made up ofmore than 83 native groups andnumerous communities of Africandescent. Bearing in mind the role ofintangible cultural heritage inpromoting creativity, tolerance andpeace, UNESCO supported nationwidecampaign in 2002 to alert communities,voluntary organisations and scientificand governmental institutions to theimportance of safeguarding Colombia’sintangible heritage.

Working on several fronts, the projectwas able to:

� Establish the Intangible HeritageCommittee (2004), an advisory bodyto Colombia’s Ministry of Culture tohelp with the creation of policies andand the elaboration of criteria forinscription on national lists ofintangible cultural heritage;

� Broadcast three TV spots on nationaland regional channels and place 40messages on some 200 regionalcommercial and community radiostations – as well as an advertisingcampaign in major newspapers. Acommunication strategy based onthe theme ‘Show Who You Are’ raisedawareness, especially amongColombian youth, about theimportance of looking afterColombia’s cultural diversity.

� Organize five regional seminars toencourage communities, culturalagents, native groups, and educationand communication professionals tobecome actively involved insafeguarding measures.

� Organize the First National Encounterfor intangible cultural heritage inMedellín (September 2005), whichled to the establishment of nationalnetworks and encouraged politicaldecision makers to support theratification of the Convention.

� Publish an educational brochure anda guide with advice on methods forassembling Colombia’s firstintangible cultural heritage inventory(RIPIC), as well as design a databasecompatible with existing nationalsystems, which helped with thetesting of inventory pilot projects (forexample, traditional music and dancein the Gran Magdalena region).

� Develop a website for disseminatingawareness-raising messages andother relevant information (links,bibliographical references,information on inventories) forgovernment and other official bodies.

The project’s main objectives – toinvolve the general public andshareholders in safeguarding actionsand to raise support for intangiblecultural heritage protection amongpolicy makers and elected officials –were on the whole achieved.

Three-year campaign to create interest in Colombia’s living heritage

Intangible Cultural Heritage

Intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation togeneration, is constantly recreated by communities and groups,and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thuspromoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.

LK The Carnivalof Barranquilla

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Polyphonic singing, music with two ormore separate melodic voices, is apopular tradition that used to be a centralpart of all areas of everyday life in Georgia,from ploughing fields to curing illnessesand celebrating festivities. Over the pastdecades, this tradition, usually passedfrom father to son, has been threatenedby issues such as the economic difficultiesexperienced in the early 1990s, whichhave weakened the networks of singersand restricted field research anddocumentation. The teaching of thistradition by the older generation to theyounger has also significantly declinedbecause of the shift from country to cityliving and limited teaching resources.

With the support of UNESCO, a projectwas launched to support the viability ofthe traditional polyphony. Besidesrecording and research activities, themain aim of the project was to supportthe passing on of singing skills andtraditions between generations throughnon-formal education. Seven Youth FolkSong Centres were set up in differentregions to cultivate the communicationof this tradition. Local authoritiesprovided a location, free of charge, forthe centres. At each centre, 10 to 15young students received training fromelderly Masters for a three-year period.To help the students learn, theInternational Centre for Georgian Folk

Song (ICGFS) produced teachingmaterials, audio cassettes, CDs andmusic scores, and organized seminarson teaching methods and usingequipment such as video recorders,video projectors, overhead projectors,DVD players, and Mini Disk recorders.

At these Youth Folk Song Centres, someone hundred young people have beensuccessfully trained in regional songs,reviving the slowly vanishing practiceof handing down the singing betweengenerations. Four out of the sevenCentres are continuing their work,thanks to funding from local sponsors.A school of the endangered practice ofkrimanchuli (Georgian yodelling) wasalso set up in the wake of the success ofthe Youth Folk Song Centres withfunding from ICGFS and the GeorgianPatriarchate. A majority of the studentshave gone on to find employment byteaching polyphonic songs, singing inlocal church choirs, and creating andmanaging small ‘ensembles’ performingregional songs at various social eventsand on stage. Another long-termimpact of the project is the proposedaddition of the traditional Georgianpolyphony into the national schoolcurriculum to be taught by graduatesof the Centre.

These developments have helped raiseawareness of the value of safeguardingthis tradition and intangible culturalheritage in general. The projectsucceeded thanks to a creativepartnership and collaboration from awide range of stakeholders, and hasbecome a model for other heritage-related activities.

Revival of intergenerational transmission of Georgiantraditional polyphony

Intangible Cultural Heritage

Intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation togeneration, is constantly recreated by communities and groups,and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thuspromoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.

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Pete

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(a nomadic group living in the

neighbouring Rift Valley Province,

extending into the Republic of Tanzania to

the south) and of the Tessa (representing

the neighbouring communities living on

both sides of the Kenyan-Ugandan

borders) were invited to participate in the

open-air forum as witnesses and

mediators. The Kalenjin and Luo people –

who are immediate neighbours of the

Luhya – were also present.

Many symbols associated with resolution

and peace-making were observed. Some

of which were the exchange of gifts

(grinding stones, cloths and ornaments),

sharing of locally brewed alcoholic

beverage Busaa using long, thin straws,

greetings and calling of names in

recognition of other groups, sharing of

food and drinks, numerous references to

murembe or milembe peace tree, and the

singing of commonly known songs.

In the run up to this event, the Department

of Culture facilitated the organization of

consultations within and between different

groups. The open-air forum was conceived

by many as a natural and festive way to

Western Kenya is a home to many

communities that belong to the second

largest ethno-linguistic group of the

country called the Luhya. For a very long

time the different Luhya communities

have co-existed peacefully amongst

themselves, as well as with their

neighbours, including the Luo and Kalenjin,

and groups living across the border in

Uganda such as the Teso, Sabaot and the

Samia communities. The reason why the

region, which is sometimes called the

‘land of peace’, has so rarely experienced

conflicts may be attributed to the

traditional mechanisms and cultural

practices that the Luhya and their

neighbours used to solve disagreements.

In recent times, however, Kenya became

subject to tensions cumulating in the

crisis following the presidential election of

December 2007. The violence resulted in

more than 1,000 causalities and about

350,000 Kenyans were internally

displaced. Major towns in Western

Province experienced looting,

destructions of buildings and parts of the

population were displaced.

While the situation has calmed down with

the establishment of a coalition

government in early 2008, an atmosphere

of suspicion and tension still exist among

many Luhya sub-communities. With a view

to contributing to reconciliation amongst

them, the Department of Culture, the

National Museums of Kenya and UNESCO –

in cooperation with communities in

western Kenya – convened an open-air

forum in Kakamega to promote elements of

intangible cultural heritage which can play a

role in preventing and resolving conflicts.

This activity was designed in accordance

with the spirit of the 2003 Convention for

the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural

Heritage, which Kenya ratified in October

2007. This international legal instrument

recognizes, in its preamble, the 'invaluable

role of the intangible cultural heritage as a

factor in bringing human beings closer

together and ensuring exchange and

understanding among them'.

The open-air forum took place on 9

December 2008 in Muliro Garden in the

town of Kakamega. More than 25

communities, led by their chiefs and

representatives, participated in the event.

All around the garden there were tents

with demonstrations of medicinal plants,

traditional foodways (e.g. ingredients,

cooked items, grinding competitions), and

craft items depicting peace making

scenes. Each group was then called to

perform – dancing, singing and showing

short theatrical sketches – in the field,

forming a large circle. Performers

interacted much with the audience, of

around 8,000 to 9,000 people.

The event was graced by the presence of

the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry

of State for Culture and National Heritage

and the Commissioner of Western

Province. Furthermore, a group of Maasai

Open-air forum on intangible cultural heritage andconflict resolution in Kenya (9 December 2008, Kakamega)

Intangible Cultural Heritage

Intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation togeneration, is constantly recreated by communities and groups,and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thuspromoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.

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Improving rural women’s ability to readand write has been of great concern inYemen. Various literacy classes weredeveloped and made available to Yemeniwomen, but found little success. Aninvestigation into why the project lackedconcrete results found that what wasbeing taught was not adapted to thedaily lives of these women. Because ofthis, the course did not keep their interest.The classes, which promoted literacy as atool for development, ended upsupporting a modern economic systemrather than traditional herding or fishingactivities. The women attending theclasses became discouraged as theirtraditional knowledge and skills inagriculture were often disregarded.

To try to encourage and keep theirinterest in learning to read and write, thecourse began to focus on oral, orspoken, poetry. A new programme,‘Literacy through Poetry’, was created.This programme was inspired by theprominent role oral poetry plays inYemeni society, where people use shortpoems and rhyming proverbs to expressdeep feelings and opinions. For example,Yemeni women compose their ownsongs and sing them while doingdomestic chores or working in the fields.

The programme first encouraged womento discuss issues that interest them. Thewomen composed poetry and proverbs,and copied them down on large sheetsof paper hung on the wall. Thesewomen’s voices then became texts fromwhich the women learned to recognizethe letters of the alphabet, leading toliteracy. The typed texts were also handedout to the women to learn to read theirown words in a typed form. Each classwas different as the teaching materialdepended on the learners themselves. Atthe end of the pro gramme, each studentreceived a bound collection of the textsthey created.

The results of the pilot project wereremarkable. The drop out rate was low,and the success rate high: 72% of thelearners in the first phase, and 63% in thesecond phase, successfully learned toread and write, and nearly all of themexpressed an interest in continuing theireducation. A wider consequence of theprogramme is increased respect for thewomen by their family members andmore community interest in educatingadult women in general. The womenlearners began actively participating innational elections, composing poemsabout various issues, and some even

developed new genres of poetry. Thesuccess of the programme has beenespecially important since the tradition ofwomen’s poetry, which is usually sung, isincreasingly under threat from newmedia and neo-conservative attitudesthat lessen the value of women’straditional songs and stories.

‘Literacy through Poetry’ is an exampleof a project where using oral traditionsand expressions made the learners, andespecially women, interested in adulteducation. This, in turn, invigorated andadded value to endangered oraltraditions.

For futher information on this project,please see:www.najwaadra.net/literacy.html

Text courtesy of Najwa Adra

Literacy programme through teaching traditional oralpoetry: the case of rural women in Yemen

Intangible Cultural Heritage

Intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation togeneration, is constantly recreated by communities and groups,and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thuspromoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.

conclude a process of reconciliation. One

of the chiefs announced during the forum

that a regional livestock market in the

Mount Elgon and Bungoma districts –

whose operation had been suspended

since the post-election violence – would

be reopened, reflecting the fact that the

communities concerned are on speaking

terms again.

The open-air forum was also an occasion to

inform the general public of the area about

the progress of inventorying intangible

cultural heritage in Western Province. Forty-

four representatives, chiefs and their

assistants had come together, as part of the

preparation for the open-air forum in the

second half of November 2008, to discuss

the 2003 Convention and to identify

elements of intangible cultural heritage

that are considered important for their

communities. So far, some of the aspects

identified include practices and rituals

associated with initiations, birth, marriage,

death, foods and food preparation,

beverages, performing arts, governance,

architecture, medicinal plants and springs,

and oral tradition and languages.

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Koutammakou, a cultural landscapelocated in the North-East of Togo andspread over the border with Benin,shelters the Batammariba. Their houseswith towers made of earth, thetakyièntas are a remarkable example ofa traditional settlement system thatremains vibrant, active and changing,and where rituals, traditions andexpressions are closely associated withnature. The Batammariba live accordingto strong traditional rules that definesome ceremonial spaces, springs, rocks,sacred small woods or sites for certaincultural practices, such as initiatoryceremonies. Certain parts of thetakyièntas play important parts indifferent ceremonies and representBatammariba’s cosmos.

Inscription of the Koutammakou on theWorld Heritage List in 2004 broughtabout many changes, and a massivenumber of tourists started visitingKoutammakou and disrupting the wayof life of the Batammariba people. In2007, UNESCO started a two-year pilotproject to safeguard their intangiblecultural heritage, including Litammari,the language of Batammariba, with theparticipation of the Batammaribecommunity, and in close cooperationwith the Togolese Ministries of Cultureand of Primary and SecondaryEducation.

One of the main aims of the project isto promote sustainable tourism thatrespects local traditions. Sacred placesin each Koutammakou village havebeen mapped out and published toprevent tourists from loitering in sacredsites A model of a takyiènta with no feeto enter has been built for tourists tolearn about the Batammariba’senvironment. A selected number ofBatammariba have been trained tobecome tourist guides, welcomingvisitors and explaining their culture.

Information about a code of behaviourthat conforms to cultural rules inKoutammakou is now available totourists, researchers and those wantingto make films on Batammariba. Thisinformation on culturally appropriatebehaviour is helping to promoterespectful tourism, while continuing toprovide visitors with the informationabout the wealth of Batammariba'stangible and intangible heritage.

This approach, which combinessafeguarding of both tangible andintangible heritage, contributes topreserving the cultural landscape ofKoutammakou, and helps theBatammariba community to continuepassing on their traditional knowledgeand skills to future generations.

Safeguarding ICH through sustainable culturaltourism: the case of the Batammariba ofKoutammakou, a World Heritage Site in Togo

Intangible Cultural Heritage

Intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation togeneration, is constantly recreated by communities and groups,and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thuspromoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.

L Batammaribapractising divinationin front of a‘takyiènta’

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Alongside its emblematic waterpuppetry, Viet Nam has a number oflesser-known local puppetry traditions.One such tradition is the rod puppetryof the Tay people of Tham Roc village inThai Nguyen Province, north of Hanoi.Dating back at least five generations,the puppeteers had not performed forseveral decades when the Viet NamMuseum of Ethnology commissioned aset of puppets for its collection in 1997.Encouraged by this interest, Tham Rocvillagers wondered whether it mightnot be possible to see them performonce again.

Museum researcher La Cong Y, himselfa Tay, suggested the audiovisualdepartment make an ethnographic filmof the tradition. The museum mobilizedthe financial support of the FordFoundation's Hanoi office, and museumstaff members were soon being trainedin video documentation and editing.The team went to work in Tham Roc in 1999.

An immediate obstacle was thatvillagers no longer performed thepuppet shows, having rejected them asa vestige of superstition in the wave ofrevolutionary fervour of the 1950s.

Luckily they had carefully packed thepuppets in wooden crates and storedthem in the rafters of a village elder'shome. The stewards of the traditionexplained to the filmmakers, however,that the villagers were reluctant tobring them out because the puppet'sspiritual patrons could easily beoffended. Special ceremonies had to beperformed before they could open thecrates and work the puppets again.

With the cameras recording, thepuppets were finally brought to light –and to life. The ethnographic videoneeded a narrative climax, and whatcould be better than the firstperformance of the Tay Puppets ofTham Roc in decades? The villagersenthusiastically set to work, withgrandfathers teaching grandsons – and,for the first time, granddaughters – howto manipulate the puppets and recountthe ancient texts. The performancerecorded for the museum was not to bethe last. Buoyed by the video's success,Tham Roc puppeteers have sinceperformed several times in their homeprovince and at the Ethnology Museumin Hanoi. As the museum's formerdirector Nguyen Van Huy noted, ‘Thetraditional skills involved in making and

manipulating puppets were re-established ... and the bond betweenmembers of the community wasstrengthened’ – all through adocumentation project.

Documenting and revitalizing Tham Rocpuppetry in Viet Nam

Intangible Cultural Heritage

Intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation togeneration, is constantly recreated by communities and groups,and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thuspromoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.

J Ma Quang Chongand Ma Quang Englearning tomanipulate the rodpuppets of Tham Rocvillage.Ph

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In the late 1990s the Austrian Academyof Sciences in Vienna collaborated withthe Institute of Papua New GuineaStudies to make the collection of PapuaNew Guinean sound recordings in itsPhonogrammarchiv widely accessible.In 2000 the Academy published a setincorporating five CDs of music,storytelling and other linguistic materialtogether with a CD presenting theoriginal documentation with a printed223-page English translation, updatedwith relevant information about thecollectors and the collections’significance*.

The Austrian anthropologist, RudolfPöch, recorded the bulk of the materialin three different regions of NewGuinea from 1904 to 1906. There arealso recordings of a Papua NewGuinean teenager in Europe, made in1907 by Fr. Wilhelm Schmidt, andothers made in Papua New Guinea in1908–09 by Fr. Josef Winthuis, the firstmissionary to make field recordings inthe country. The CD set was distributedto institutions and cultural centres inPapua New Guinea with publicawareness promoted through localnewspapers and radio stations. So far,few people knew that such historicrecordings existed, and the interest inand usage of these materials had beenlimited. But since recently, linguists andmusicologists have benefited fromcomparing the recordings with presentpractices. Of particular importance isthe first recording of Tok Pisin, or NewGuinean Pidgin, now the most widelyspoken language in the country.

Some of the recordings documentceremonial songs no longer performed– as they were prohibited bymissionaries or replaced by ceremoniesfrom neighbouring groups. Suchtraditions are today only rememberedin a very fragmentary form. Supportedby photographs taken during this earlyfieldwork, the recordings also serve toreconfirm contemporary performance

practices, providing documentaryevidence that some traditions are beingproperly maintained.

Since the names of the singers aredocumented many communitymembers today can hear the voices oftheir ancestors. Finally, localperformance groups are using therecordings to stimulate village elders torecall performance practices of theiryouth, which can then be passed on toyounger generations. Without theserecorded examples as a starting pointsuch revitalizations efforts are almostimpossible.

Old recordings, preserved on the otherside of the globe have greatsignificance to Papua New Guineatoday. They speak of traditions thatmight otherwise have been lost, andthey reconfirm ancestral traditions.Those recorded may have died longago, but their voices continue to inspiretheir descendants in many ways.

* Tondokumente aus dem Phonogrammarchiv der

Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

Gesamtausgabe der historischen Bestände 1899 -1950.

Series 3: Papua New Guinea (1904 -1909). Dietrich

Schüller (ed.), commentary by Don Niles

(www.oeaw.ac.at/verlag).

The value of old recordings today: the case of Papua New Guinea

Intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation togeneration, is constantly recreated by communities and groups,and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thuspromoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.

Intangible Cultural Heritage

Text courtesy of Don Niles(Institute of Papua New GuineaStudies) and Dietrich Schüller(Austrian Academy of Sciences)

K Baifa men singinginto the phonograph.Photo taken duringthe recording ofphonogram 524 byRudolph Pöch, CapeNelson, 12 November1905

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Traditional board games have longbeen an important pastime for thenomadic societies of the Horn of Africa.The practice and passing on of thesegames is now at risk due tourbanization and the effects ofglobalization.

In 2007, UNESCO started a project torevitalize the practice of thesetraditional games among all agegroups. The Centre for Studies andResearch in Djibouti carried outfieldwork for the project in various partsof the country, interviewingknowledgeable players and collectinginformation on the practice, functionand history of the games. Using thisresearch, local association Paix & Laitcreated a model kit, containing all thematerials to play the games.

In December 2007, the Ministryresponsible for culture organized thefirst national tournament of traditionalboard games. One hundred and twentyplayers fought their way throughregional competitions to participate inthe national tournament, which wascovered extensively by the nationalmedia.

Safeguarding board games of the Afar and Somalipeople of the Horn of Africa

Intangible Cultural Heritage

Intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation togeneration, is constantly recreated by communities and groups,and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thuspromoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.

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Enthusiasm for game play increased.Using the above-mentioned kit, theAssociation Paix et Lait organizedseveral workshops, at the University ofDjibouti and in high schools in differentparts of the country, in whichexperienced board game playerstaught students how to play traditional games while discussing the value and

the function of such practices ofintangible cultural heritage. Studentswere also encouraged to continueplaying these games as part of their after-school or extra-curricular activities. At theproject's end, those involve reviewed theresults and discussed strategies for anational safeguarding plan for traditionalAfar and Somali games.

J Demonstration ofthe traditional game‘Ri’yo Ka Dhalis’ atthe launch of theproject in February2007

L Compendiumcontaining all thematerials to playtraditional games inthe Horn of Africa

Intangible Cultural Heritage

Intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation togeneration, is constantly recreated by communities and groups,and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thuspromoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.

In Vanuatu, items like pig tusks, wovenmats and stringed shells have agenerally recognized cultural value.They also have economic value due totheir use in the local economy and givesocial prestige.

In 2004, the Vanuatu Cultural Centre(VKS) launched a project designed tostrengthen and promote a bankingsystem based on traditional wealthitems instead of regular money. Withthe support of UNESCO, VKS’s voluntary'fieldworkers', who are in factcommunity members motivated toparticipate in the project, wereprovided with materials, such as pigfences and barbed wires that helpedthem to secure their existence withinthe local economy and for which theyhad to pay in traditionalwealth items. This had the effect ofsupporting the continuous productionof items of traditional wealth,stimulating income generation, andencouraging the revival of traditionalVanuatu values and practices.

A field survey identified communitiesthat may be suitable for traditionalbanking. Strategies were then createdto promote the production andbanking of various traditional forms ofwealth. A national campaign was alsoorganized to increase awareness of thefunctions and values of traditionaleconomic approaches. The VanuatuGovernment declared 2007 the ‘Year ofthe Traditional Economy’. Thiscemented traditional economies – andthe safeguarding of the knowledge andpractices involved, within governmentpolicy. The project was successful byinvolving both chiefs of localcommunities and governmentrepresentatives. VKS made active use ofits unique network of fieldworkers – themost far-reaching network of anyorganization in Vanuatu – and the mosteffective grassroots cultural network inthe Pacific, successfully extending theproject across the country.

Traditional money banks in Vanuatu

L Chief Paul TahiHubwehubwenVanua, from NorthPentecost island,President of theMalvatumauriNational Council ofChiefs, wearing pigtusks, ‘Bari memea’money mats and‘Homu’ shell beadnecklace, Port Vila,September 2004.

J The procession on18 November 2006 inPort Vila celebratingthe VanuatuGovernment’s officialdeclaration of 2007as the ‘Year of theTraditional Economy’.

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Intangible Cultural Heritage

Intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation togeneration, is constantly recreated by communities and groups,and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thuspromoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.

After more than 100 years of researchand document ation, an enormousvolume of musical recordings andrelated photographic, audiovisual andwritten documentation on traditionalmusic has been accumulated in EastEuropean State archives. UNESCO’s 2003 Convention provided an impetusfor exploring new uses for these archives beyond their traditional roles inthe areas of research and education.Increasingly, materials from thesearchives are being used to reinforce orrevitalize music and dance traditions inthe communities concerned.

The Institute for Musicology of theHungarian Academy of Sciences,together with European partneracademies, has developed a projectcalled ‘Open Musical Archives on theInternet’ to provide the general publicwith free and easy access to theseinvaluable music and dance databases.The 'Bartók System', already part of the

Institute’s website (www.zti.hu),contains over 14,000 traditional songsand associated information collected byBéla Bartók, Zoltán Kodály, and theircollaborators and successors between1896 and 1940. The database of ‘MusicalSound Publications’ on the same websitecontains another 6,000 traditional songsand melodies published on vinyl records,magnetophone or other mediabetween 1950 and 2000.

A mapping tool is integrated into thedatabase search engine to helpcommunities find musical expressionsfrom their own region. Visitors to the sitecan listen to or download all of thesemusical expressions. The onlinedatabases are receiving many visits fromcommunities that are graduallyincluding earlier musical documentationin educational curricula and culturalprogrammes. In return, communitymembers provide new documentationof contemporary expressions.

Documentation of musical heritage in HungaryPh

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J Béla Bartókcollecting folk music inAnatolia at Jürük

L Béla Bartóktranscribing folk musicfrom phonographrecording

k György Martin isrecording folk songsfrom a Gypsywoman in Hungary

Text courtesy of Laszlo Felföldi, Institute for Musicology of theHungarian Academy of Sciences

The Cocolo dancing tradition firstemerged in the mid-nineteenthcentury among Caribbean-Englishspeaking immigrant workers who hadcome to the Dominican Republic. Thecommunity remained culturally andlinguistically distinct and establishedtheir own churches, schools,benevolent societies and mutualassistance lodges. Their dancing dramaperformances were their mostdistinctive form of cultural expression.Blending music and dance, thetradition draws stylistically from Africanorigins, while adding elements takenfrom European traditions.

Cocolo drama performances takes placeat Christmas, on St Peter’s Day and atcarnivals. Troupes weave togetherthemes and performances from avariety of cultures, including Christmascarolling, masquerades, or the stagingof theatrical adaptations of well-knownstories or themes, like ‘David and Goliath’‘Moko-Yombi’ or ‘Cowboys and Indians’.

Today, the descendants of the Cocolosare well integrated within Dominicansociety and spread across the country.While the elders still speak Caribbean-English at home, most members of theCocolo communities speak Spanish. Asa consequence, the Cocolo dancingdrama tradition is endangered. There is

only one troop of elder actorscommitted to actively passing thetradition on to younger generations.UNESCO, in close cooperation withcommunity members, developed aproject to contribute to therevitalization of the tradition. It aimedto improve practice conditions byenhancing recognition of the traditionand increasing financial support.

The main feature was a festival thattook place in December 2007 for thefirst time in San Pedro de Macorís, the200-year-old birthplace of Cocolohistory. The festival, named GoodMorning Wavaberry after a traditionalCocolo song, highlighted the Cocolos’contribution to Dominican culture. Itwas also an opportunity for the Cocolocommunity to discuss strategies tosafeguard their cultural expressions,and helped raise awareness at anational level. Another vital step wasthe legal registration of the Cocolocommunity, which in the long termmay secure the tradition bearers’ officialstatus and recognition withinDominican society.

The Cocolo dancing tradition, Dominican Republic

Intangible Cultural Heritage

Intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation togeneration, is constantly recreated by communities and groups,and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thuspromoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.

JL First Festival ofthe Cocolo Culture inthe streets of SanPedro de Macorís,Dominican RepublicPh

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Intangible Cultural Heritage

Intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation togeneration, is constantly recreated by communities and groups,and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thuspromoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.

Shashmaqom is the classical musictradition of Central Asia. This urbanmusic tradition has evolved over morethan ten centuries in the towns of whattoday are Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, andis closely associated with the cities ofBukhara and Samarkand. The word‘Shashmaqom’ means ‘six maqoms’,‘maqom’ meaning a musical suite thatcombines instrumental music withvocals. An orchestra of lutes, fiddles,frame-drums and flutes accompaniesthe singer or singers.

The practice of Shashmaqom requiresspecial training involving oral teachingfrom master to student, as standardnotation only records the basicframework. Since the 1970s, manyShashmaqom performers havemigrated. Following independence in1991, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan havetaken measures to safeguardShashmaqom, but only a fewperformers have maintained local styles.

In 2005 UNESCO started a two-yearsafeguarding project, which includedtraining programmes and masterclasses, traditional instrument-making,the preparation of an inventory, archive

support and the publication of researchand audio recordings.

One aspect of this project was the jointorganization by Tajikistan andUzbekistan of an ‘International Festivalof Shashmaqom Performers’ inNovember 2006. The festival took placein Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan.Joint performances by Tajik and Uzbekartists made the event a celebration ofcultural dialogue and mutualunderstanding. The event receivedwide media coverage and was followedby a round table on the Safeguarding ofShashmaqom Traditions, whichgathered scholars, performers andcomposers from the two countries.

The project united Shashmaqompractitioners from both sides of theborder, which will certainly contributeto its continuation. The project alsoresulted in the organization of masterclasses on performing and instrument-making, while inventory work andtraining has begun at the Tajik NationalConservatory in Dushanbe and theResearch Institute of Fine Arts inTashkent (Uzbekistan).

Shashmaqom – safeguarding of a commonheritage, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan

The tanbur, orlong-necked lute,is used extensivelyin Shashmaqom

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