13.COM 10.B.14

The Committee

  1. Takes note that France has nominated the skills related to perfume in Pays de Grasse: the cultivation of perfume plants, the knowledge and processing of natural raw materials, and the art of perfume composition (No. 01207) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The skills related to perfume in Pays de Grasse cover three different aspects: the cultivation of perfume plants; the knowledge and processing of natural raw materials; and the art of perfume composition. The practice involves a wide range of communities and groups, brought together under the Association du Patrimoine Vivant du Pays de Grasse (Living Heritage Association of the Region of Grasse). Since at least the sixteenth century, the practices of growing and processing perfume plants and creating fragrant blends have been developed in Pays de Grasse, in a craft industry long dominated by leather tanning. Perfume plant cultivation involves a wide range of skills and knowledge, for instance pertaining to nature, soil, weather, biology, plant physiology and horticultural practices, as well as specific techniques such as extraction and hydraulic distillation methods. The inhabitants of Grasse have made these techniques their own and helped improve them. In addition to technical skills, however, the art also calls for imagination, memory and creativity. Perfume forges social bonds and provides an important source of seasonal labour. Related knowledge is mostly transmitted informally through a long learning process that still takes place primarily in perfumeries. In recent decades, however, there has been a growing interest in standardizing learning through formalized teaching.

  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 skills related to perfume production in Pays de Grasse are transmitted by three groups of interrelated, interdependent tradition bearers, thereby creating social bonds across society and generations. Cherished and developed for centuries, the practice is a symbol of the community’s identity. It plays a key role in the community’s social life as it is reflected during religious celebrations and local festive events dedicated to aromatic plants.

R.2:   At the international level, the inscription would strengthen relations and encourage cultural interactions with other communities that possess specialized skills related to perfume production and inspire innovations and research into new natural ingredients. In addition, the State Party has already taken several actions related to the element to promote the importance of intangible cultural heritage in general and highlight the diversity of people participating in perfume-making in the region due to different waves of immigrants. By highlighting this diversity, cultural dialogue has been nurtured at the national level.

R.3:   The community of practitioners strives to remove obstacles in the transmission of the element and avert the loss of related traditional skills, supported by the local government. The Association of Living Heritage in the Pays de Grasse was established to promote the needs of the tradition bearers and to create a platform for ongoing dialogue, planning and implementing safeguarding measures. The association collaborated with the Grasse authorities and the Pays de Grasse urban community in improving conditions for the practice, transmission and promotion of the element. The safeguarding plan is the result of long-lasting dialogue among the stakeholders.

R.4:   The community of practitioners and other relevant stakeholders widely supported the nomination and provided a large, varied range of support letters. The nomination file was mostly drawn up by the Association of Living Heritage in the Pays de Grasse, which represents the Grasse community and consists of different practitioners related to perfume production. The nomination was widely promoted among the tradition bearers, who had many opportunities to get involved in the nomination process.

R.5:   The skills related to perfume production in Pays de Grasse have been included in the Inventory of France’s Intangible Cultural Heritage since 2014. A comprehensive extract from the inventory is provided in the nomination file. The element was inventoried in line with the Convention through a community-based approach. It can be updated at any time according to the needs and wishes of the communities concerned.

  1. Inscribes the skills related to perfume in Pays de Grasse: the cultivation of perfume plants, the knowledge and processing of natural raw materials, and the art of perfume composition on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Invites the State Party to take into consideration the high risk of over-commercialization of the element and encourages it to remain focused on the cultural and social aspects of the element when planning and implementing the safeguarding measures.

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