12.COM 11.B.20

The Committee

  1. Takes note that the Lao People’s Democratic Republic has nominated Khaen music of the Lao people (No. 01296) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The khaen music of the Lao people is played with a mouth organ that resembles panpipes but made with bamboo tubes of varying lengths, each with a metal reed. The player blows into the instrument through an air chamber and the sound produced depends on the size of the tube. Khaen music is popular in all regions of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic due to its harmonic richness. It is usually part of village festivals and it is customary for people listening to it to become active participants in the songs and dances, rather than merely spectators. Khaen music is an integral part of Lao life that promotes family and social cohesion. Thanks to the use of bamboo, the practice is also linked to natural agriculture and healthy lifestyles. Families play an important role in transmitting the art and khaen player associations exist in many local communities where young people can learn the art. To maintain the practice in spite of lifestyle changes – including urbanization – several local communities, associations and groups have begun various initiatives to consolidate and promote it through formal and non-formal education. In 2005, the Association of Khaen Arts was established and various festivals are organized to promote and enhance the art.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1:   The element is practised widely in many different communities in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and is referred to in proverbs. Khaen is practised in numerous settings, including during village festivals, accompanying traditional songs and dances, and at various community and religious ceremonies. The knowledge and practice of khaen music are transmitted to young people through formal and non-formal teaching methods, especially through various communities, starting with the family, in schools or cultural centers. The element holds diverse functions and meanings within the traditional folk culture of Lao people. It also represents an image of good health owing to the use of bamboo materials for the instruments. Efforts are made to constantly renew the knowledge associated with khaen music to adapt to the evolution of society, cultural diversity and technological progress.

R.2:   The inscription of khaen music and its performance would encourage international dialogue because the element not only represents a practice that is commonly shared by diverse communities both across the country and in other countries, but also embraces regional and community variations, such as in terms of the shape of the instrument, the number of tubes used and the related events and melodies. Khaen represents harmonious interactions with the environment and nature, thereby demonstrating the relevance of living heritage for sustainable development and the potentiality and creativity of intangible cultural heritage in the process of modernization in general.

R.3    Several local communities, associations, groups or persons have undertaken various initiatives to consolidate and raise awareness about the element through educational or promotional activities. The government has created a national action plan and policies for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage. Legal protection and funding resources are ensured. The measures listed have already been undertaken with the involvement of the communities.

R.4:   Through a series of consultations and successive workshops organized by the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, the representatives of the communities, associations and individuals concerned participated actively in all stages of the preparation of the nomination. Their views were also reflected in the surveys carried out on those occasions. In addition to the consent letters, photographs and books are supplied as supporting documentation in the file.

R.5    The inventory was drawn up with the active participation of the communities and practitioners concerned. The element was included in the inventory as reviewed in 2013 and approved in 2014. The Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism granted the necessary administrative authorisations, with the support of cultural councillors at all levels. The inventory is regularly updated.

  1. Inscribes Khaen music of the Lao people on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Thanks the Delegation of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic for the clarifications provided to the Committee on the information included in the file concerning criteria R.3 and R.5;
  3. Encourages the State Party to ensure the regular updating of the inventory;
  4. Invites the State Party to plan and implement safeguarding measures with the participation of the communities.

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