14.COM 10.B.20

The Committee,

  1. Takes note that Kyrgyzstan has nominated Ak-kalpak craftsmanship, traditional knowledge and skills in making and wearing Kyrgyz men’s headwear (No. 01496) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Ak-kalpak craftsmanship is a traditional Kyrgyz handicraft. The Ak-kalpak is a traditional male hat made with white felt, which bears deep sacral meanings. Ak-kalpak craftsmanship is a cumulative, ever-evolving body of knowledge and skills passed down by craftswomen in the communities concerned comprising felting, cutting and sewing and pattern embroidery. Related knowledge and skills are transmitted via oral coaching, hands-on training and joint making in workshops. More than eighty kinds of Ak-kalpak can be distinguished, decorated with various patterns bearing a sacred meaning and history. Environmentally friendly and comfortable, the Ak-kalpak resembles a snow peak, with four sides representing the four elements: air, water, fire and earth. The four edging lines symbolize life, with the tassels on the top symbolizing ancestors’ posterity and memory, and the pattern symbolizing the family tree. Ak-kalpak unites different Kyrgyz tribes and communities and makes Kyrgyz people recognizable to other ethnic groups. It also fosters inclusivity when representatives of other ethnic groups wear it on holidays or days of mourning to express unity and sympathy. There are workshops all over the country where related knowledge and skills are passed down, and in 2013 a project entitled ‘From generation to generation’ was conducted on traditional Ak-kalpak-making techniques nationwide, resulting in an exhibition and published book.

  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:   The social dimension of Ak-kalpak has an integrating nature as it establishes ties between different Kyrgyz tribes and communities, men of different ages, education and status, and women engaged in craftsmanship. The practice unites people and provides them with a sense of shared cultural identity based on common cultural heritage, being at the same time a source of income for many young women. The element has been transmitted from generation to generation from mothers to daughters and in the communities of craftswomen.

R.2:   The inscription of Ak-kalpak craftsmanship would promote the interest in and respect for traditional handicrafts related to headwear-making and serve as an example for safeguarding and developing the headwear culture of other groups around the world. Moreover, it would attract national and international attention to foster the understanding of traditions related to sheep-breeding and sacred attitudes towards headwear, the use of wool, handicrafts and local embroidery patterns.

R.3:   Ak-kalpak craftsmanship has been safeguarded by the communities and bearers concerned through workshops, festivals, exhibitions, seminars, inventorying and research projects. It has also been safeguarded by the State Party through measures including school curricula in vocational institutions and media exposure. The proposed safeguarding measures are coherent and structured around four main fields: transmission; promotion; documentation and research; and awareness-raising. The measures were defined with the participation of the Ak-kalpak craftswomen community and representatives of the Craftsmanship Council and the State Party is committed to supporting them financially.

R.4:   Since 2014, the preparation of the nomination file had been carried out by the Ak-kalpak craftswomen community and the Craftsmanship Council. In 2015, a special work group of relevant stakeholders was established to provide more effective organizational and logistical support. After numerous meetings and round tables in different regions with the participation of the bearer communities, a draft nomination file was transmitted to the Ministry of Culture and the National Commission of the Kyrgyz Republic for UNESCO.

R.5:   The element was included in the National Inventory of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Elements of the Kyrgyz Republic in 2008; it was updated in 2015. The Ministry of Culture, Information and Tourism of the Kyrgyz Republic, the National Academy of Sciences of the Kyrgyz Republic and the National Committee for Intangible Cultural Heritage are the bodies responsible for maintaining and updating the inventory. The inventory is updated, on average, once every three years based on proposals from the communities, non-governmental organizations and practitioners concerned.

3. Decides to inscribe Ak-kalpak craftsmanship, traditional knowledge and skills in making and wearing Kyrgyz men’s headwear on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

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