14.COM 10.B.1

The Committee,

  1. Takes note that Armenia has nominated Armenian letter art and its cultural expressions (No. 01513) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Armenian letter art and its cultural expressions constitutes the centuries-old art of Armenian letters, Armenian scripts, the rich culture of decorating letters and its various uses. The element is based on the Armenian alphabet created in 405 AD by Mesrop Mashtots, following the ‘one-letter-for-one-sound’ principle. The element is also distinguished by its wide range of ornamental scripts, generally classified by their shapes; knots, birds, animals, people, and mythical or imaginary creatures. Since their invention, Armenian letters have not only served their primary function to create written heritage, but also as numbers, cryptographs, riddles, etc. Today, the letters are also used in handicrafts. Armenian letter art has penetrated almost all layers of society, particularly folk art. The element is practised across the Armenian territory and is integral to the cultural identity of Armenian people. Its bearers and practitioners include artists, carpet weavers, embroiderers, sculptors, linguists, calligraphists, jewellers and others. Educational institutions at all levels are involved in transmitting the related knowledge and skills to future generations, and several youth centres accord great importance to teaching Armenian letter art. Since 2008, continuous support has been shown for the annual ‘Granshan’ international design competition, and the Armenian Apostolic Church is central to acquainting children and youngsters with the element.

  1. Considers 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:   Armenian letter art and its cultural expressions is considered as the main instrument of safeguarding the Armenian language and spiritual culture. It plays an important function in terms of public literacy, self-expression and solidarity for Armenians all over the globe. The element covers a wide range of related practices, the main objective of which is to secure the transmission of diverse knowledge to young people. It plays a crucial role in developing comprehensive education in schools, folk arts, science, calligraphy and publishing, among other fields.

R.2:   The inscription of the element would promote its visibility in different regions and social circles in Armenia as well as in the diasporas, where the development of the letter art would be fostered. It would have a particularly high impact on the development of cross-community relations and in terms of encouraging local communities to increase the visibility of other elements of intangible cultural heritage. The inscription has the potential to strengthen the natural dialogue between older and younger generations as well as the transfer of knowledge, enriching the practice of the element. The element remains a source of inspiration for many creative individuals. As such, its inscription could encourage such a creative approach and inspire many young people to devise their own ideas and novel concepts in relation to the element.

R.3:   Numerous, diverse efforts have been and continue to be undertaken to safeguard Armenian letter art and its cultural expressions, the viability of which has also been ensured through new creations such as carpet-weaving, children’s books, embroidery, the production of manuscripts, sculpture and festivities. One special safeguarding measure concerns Article 15 of the Constitution, which stipulates that Armenian language and cultural heritage, including the Armenian letter art, are under the care and protection of the State. The proposed safeguarding measures continue the efforts undertaken by the State Party and include research, documentation, promotion and transmission initiatives as well as awareness-raising among the public and the younger generation about the safeguarding of the element.

R.4:   Through a working group, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education and Science, the communities, representatives of folk crafts and creative unions, as well as individuals and non-governmental organizations concerned, actively participated in preparing and developing the nomination file at all stages, ensuring a comprehensive presentation of the element. The working group, formed of representatives of the above-listed spheres, took stock of the proposals and opinions received earlier from various regions and organizations of Armenia, thus playing an active role in the planning process.

R.5:   The Armenian letter art and its cultural expressions was included in the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Armenia in 2018. It was identified and defined with the active participation of various communities, groups, individuals, non-governmental organizations and cultural and educational organizations through several stages, in a well-structured process. The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia is the body responsible for maintaining the inventory.

  1. Decides to inscribe Armenian letter art and its cultural expressions on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Reminds the State Party that updating is an important part of the inventorying process and invites it to include detailed information in its next periodic report on the implementation of the Convention at the national level concerning the periodicity and mode of updating of the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Armenia, in accordance with Article 12.1 of the Convention

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