12.COM 11.B.9

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Cuba has nominated Punto (No. 01297) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Punto is the poetry and music of Cuban peasants, consisting of a tune or melody over which a person sings an improvised or learned stanza of ten octameter verse lines, with a rhyming scheme. There are two main variants of Punto: punto libre, a tune of free metre; and punto fijo, which can be in key or crossed. Throughout history, the element has typically been practised in the countryside, though variants now exist throughout the rest of the population. Punto is an essential element of Cuban intangible cultural heritage open to all, which promotes dialogue and expresses the feelings, knowledge and values of the communities concerned. Knowledge and techniques related to the practice are transmitted from one generation to the next, with one key method of transmission being based on imitation. A teaching programme is also organized in Houses of Culture across the country, involving workshops taught by bearers and practitioners of the element. Seminars, workshops, contests, festivals and events aimed at safeguarding and revitalizing Punto are organized throughout the country and an occupational category has now been assigned to the work of the practitioners and bearers, turning this into a way of living for many.

  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:   Punto is the poetry and music of Cuban peasants, accompanied by string and percussion instruments. Bearers of the practice can be children or elders, regardless of education, gender or religion. The element is transmitted orally by imitation from one generation to the next and is constantly recreated by its practitioners. It is taught through games in Houses of Culture all over the country and at schools, and performed at festivals and during political commemorations. Punto is closely tied to the sense of cultural identity of the communities concerned, which ensures its continuity. Punto means both the element and its associated performing space. It is present in family and social gatherings, festivals, homes, plazas or institutions, which become spaces for the dissemination of the element where everyone participates spontaneously and of their own free will. The file demonstrates how the element plays a significant role in rituals and other socio-cultural practices of the communities concerned and Cuban society in general.

R.2:   Punto is an expression that is essentially based on dialogue, which is pertinent when considering its potential to contribute to the international visibility of intangible cultural heritage. The messages transmitted by Punto acknowledge the importance of mutual respect and the diversity of cultural manifestations. Its inscription would also raise awareness of Cuban peasant culture at the international level and provide new occasions for the exchange of knowledge between families, institutions and music groups in various regions and communities.

R.3:   The viability of Punto is ensured through transmission, research and awareness-raising activities. The proposed measures are well-defined and clearly presented. The communities, agencies and institutions that work with the element teach Punto at schools and organize festivals, contests and other events to reinforce the tradition. In spite of the limited resources available, certain funds have been allocated to safeguarding, including for the assignment of an occupational category to practitioners of the element, which would mean they could receive a guaranteed contribution to their livelihood. Such measures are aimed at encouraging the continued practice and transmission of the element. Communities are actively involved in all stages of the safeguarding activities.

R.4:   Cultural institutions, groups and individual bearers of the element participated in the nomination process through several stages. These stages are outlined in the file, including revisions of the inventory, awareness raising, obtaining consent, and several meetings and discussions with non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders. The file presents letters expressing the free, prior and informed consent of the institutional representatives, as well as of the practitioners of Punto (for instance poets, improvisers, musicians, interpreters, writers and composers). Many letters of consent are provided, which testify to the communities’ profound attachment to the element.

  1. Further decides that, on the basis of the information provided by the submitting State to the Committee at its present session concerning the body in charge of updating the inventory and the frequency of updating, the following criterion for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity is satisfied:

R.5:   The element was inventoried for the preparation of the Atlas of the Instruments of Folk and Popular Music of Cuba in 1997 and the Ethnographic Atlas of Cuba: Popular and Traditional Culture in 2000 by the Institute for Cultural Research Juan Marinello, the Centre for the Research and Development of Cuban Music, the National Council for Houses of Culture and the Cuban Institute of Anthropology. The submitting State provided information concerning the body responsible for maintaining that inventory and the frequency with which it is updated.

  1. Inscribes Punto on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

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