14.COM 10.B.24

The Committee,

  1. Takes note that Mongolia has nominated Traditional technique of making Airag in Khokhuur and its associated customs (No. 01172) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Traditional technique of making Airag in Khokhuur and its associated customs includes the traditional method of making airag – a fermented beverage made from mare’s milk – and the related equipment, such as the khokhuur (cowhide vessel), buluur (paddle) and khovoo (kibble), associated with the social customs and rituals. The basic airag-making technique consists of milking the mares, cooling the fresh milk, and repeatedly churning it inside the khokhuur – over 500 times – with starter left inside to assist fermentation. The khokhuur and related equipment are made by individuals with centuries-old knowledge and skills, and the skills required for preparing and maintaining the yeast are also particularly important. A nutritious and easily digestible beverage, airag is an important part of the daily diet of Mongolians and has also been proven to be effective for curing certain diseases. It also plays an essential role as a symbolic beverage in the daily lives of herders and various social celebrations: airag is used and served as a key holy drink during various fests and in offerings and ritual blessings. Bearers and practitioners inherit the related traditional practices and knowledge from their parents, which has kept the tradition alive for thousands of years.

  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 traditional technique of making airag and its associated customs conveys sociocultural information that reflects and explains the essential characteristics of the social relations of the communities of herders. A symbol of happiness, airag serves as a vivid tag of the cultural identity of the Mongolian nation, boosting cohesion among members of society and representing an important symbol of solidarity.

R.2:   The inscription of the traditional technique of making Airag in Khokhuur and its associated customs would increase the visibility and awareness of intangible cultural heritage associated with nomadic culture, recognizing its contribution to cultural diversity and human creativity and facilitating greater positive dialogue not only among nomadic communities but also between nomadic herders and urban communities. Furthermore, the tradition of nomadic pastoral land use, caring for horses and making airag could provide information about practices relating to the preservation of nature without harming the environment.

R.3:   The State Party has implemented various activities in close cooperation with local municipalities and non-governmental organizations to ensure the viability of the element. The proposed safeguarding activities have been discussed and planned through numerous consultations and will be implemented by community-based non-governmental organizations in two phases, from 2019 to 2025. Phase one will establish and initiate a sustainable programme to safeguard, promote, research, publicize and transmit the element. Phase two will establish the conditions to strengthen its status among other cultural elements on the national cultural heritage representative list, with a view to establishing it as an important sector of the cultural industry.

R.4:   The nomination file is the result of five years of work. The procedures adopted for the preparation of the file were thoroughly discussed among the bearers, researchers, groups and communities concerned. Local governments and the communities concerned prepared the nomination file and appendixes together, from the early stage of the preparation of the nomination. The documents submitted are the result and expression of the collaborative work of all the stakeholders.

R.5:   The element was included on the National Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2013. The National Center for Cultural Heritage is the organization with the directive and duty to register, inform, create and maintain the information database and organize the inventorying of intangible cultural heritage at the local, regional and national levels with support from the communities and other relevant bodies. The government continues to monitor and annually update the information database of the inventory with the participation of the communities, groups and individuals concerned to ensure it reflects the latest information on intangible cultural heritage.

  1. Decides to inscribe Traditional technique of making Airag in Khokhuur and its associated customs on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Commends the State Party for proposing an element that shows how the nomadic pastoral use of land can be a way of achieving environmental protection and sustainability;
  3. Encourages the State Party, when submitting nomination files in the future, to avoid standardized consent letters;
  4. Further encourages the submitting State to pay attention to the possible unintended results of the inscription of the element, including its jeopardization, and invites it to reflect upon this when implementing the proposed safeguarding measures.

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