8.COM 7.A.6

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Indonesia has nominated Tenun Ikat Sumba weaving of Indonesia (No. 00868) for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:

Weavers in villages throughout Sumba Island on the Indonesian archipelago create woven cotton textiles that are renowned for their beauty and the great variety of patterns and motifs, and rich in cultural values related to the life and environment of the Sumba people. The weaving is carried out and transmitted by women, who spin the cotton, make the natural dyes and design the traditional patterns and motifs that are created through resist-dyeing. Certain threads are bound tightly together with string or palm leaves so that the dye cannot penetrate the tied sections. After dyeing, the ties are loosened and the process is repeated for each colour. Choosing designs and tying the threads requires a high degree of skill, and mothers traditionally transmit the techniques to their daughters prior to marriage. Some Tenun Ikat Sumba pieces are prized as heirlooms or status symbols. Today they are worn only at special ceremonies such as births, graduations, marriages or funerals. These ceremonies are becoming less frequent, however, and the number of craftspeople has also dropped due to migration. Transmission has diminished accordingly and few children now learn to make Tenun Ikat Sumba or understand the traditional cosmological beliefs and symbolism of its animal and plant motifs.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Urgent Safeguarding List:

U.1:   Tenun Ikat Sumba is linked to the cultural identity of the Sumba people, formerly as daily wear and now as ceremonial clothing; the skills and know-how of weaving and dyeing are transmitted from mothers to daughters; the community concerned encompasses a range of craftspeople, their customers and aficionados, researchers, other stakeholders and State authorities;

U.2:   Despite the efforts of the communities, Tenun Ikat Sumba is threatened due to such factors as changes of lifestyle, reduction in the ceremonial uses of the textile, scarcity and fluctuating costs of raw materials, competition from cheaper factory-made materials and a resulting decrease in the number of weavers;

U.4:   The nomination was prepared in consultation with representative members of communities and groups, and free, prior and informed consent was provided from a wide range of community members;

U.5:   Tenun Ikat Sumba is included in the national cultural heritage inventory maintained by the Directorate for Internalization of Values and Cultural Diplomacy of the Ministry of Education and Culture; the inventory classifies it as ‘still maintaining’ its viability.

  1. Further decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination does not satisfy the following criterion for inscription on the Urgent Safeguarding List:

U.3:   The proposed safeguarding measures continue efforts of the past two decades that do not seem to have been effective, and it is not demonstrated why they should become more effective in the future; it is not clear how the measures – particularly the formalization of transmission – reflect the will or aspirations of the practitioners or aim at strengthening their capacities; no measures are elaborated responding to several of the risks identified, such as the scarcity and fluctuating costs of raw materials, the lack of financial resources and equipment for practitioners; moreover, the proposed introduction of a regulation to make the wearing of Tenun Ikat Sumba obligatory is contrary to the spirit of the Convention.

  1. Decides not to inscribe Tenun Ikat Sumba weaving of Indonesia on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding;
  2. Notes that efforts have been mobilized to revitalize the element through a variety of safeguarding measures, including raising awareness of its importance and its introduction into formal education;
  3. Requests the State Party to provide coherent information concerning the viability of the element and the extent to which its continuity is threatened;
  4. Invites the State Party to involve the practitioners more fully in the preparation and implementation of safeguarding measures, and not only as informants;
  5. Encourages the State Party to consider possible impacts of formalized transmission on the current modes of transmission among the community of practitioners;
  6. Recalls that all safeguarding measures should be voluntary and reflect the will and aspirations of the community concerned and that compulsion should have no place among them;
  7. Notes with concern the resemblance of this nomination to others previously submitted by the State Party, the identification of threats in generic terms, a standardized approach to proposed safeguarding measures and the preponderance of quantitative methods based on small samples over qualitative analysis.

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