14.COM 10.B.28

The Committee,

  1. Takes note that Norway has nominated Practice of traditional music and dance in Setesdal, playing, dancing and singing (stev/stevjing) (No. 01432) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

In the practice of traditional music and dance in Setesdal, playing, dancing and singing (stev/stevjing), traditional dance and music belong together, interwoven in the social context. The melodies are named after the ‘gangar’ dance and are mostly dance tunes; the melodies of the ‘stev’ songs can be played on instruments, and the lyrics often describe the dancing or playing of the practitioners. The ‘stev’ are often performed in the intervals between the dancing and playing, and are sung solo or by two or more singers in a dialogue with each other called ‘stevjing’. The lyrics are four-line verses telling a story. The dance is practised either by solo couples or by multiple couples in a clockwise circle with a change of dance partners and can be performed in either a modest way or wildly and vigorously. The music is performed on the ‘Hardanger’ fiddle, Norway’s national instrument, and the jaw harp. Setesdal can be traced back to the 18th century, and has enjoyed continuous transmission. It is constantly evolving, with new song texts being made for traditional ‘stev’ tunes, and new tunes composed. The traditional form of transmission – through social gatherings or from adult experts to younger generations – remains the main method of learning 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:   The practice of traditional music and dance in Setesdal, playing, dancing and singing (stev/stevjing) is a set of dances and songs performed for leisure by inhabitants of the valley of Setesdal. The singing helps safeguard the local dialect and the lyrics are written for the different situations of daily life, as well as being used for celebrations such as anniversaries, weddings or the national day. ‘Stev’ are also used in local newspapers for advertisements and debates or as a humoristic battle where the performers tease each other with verses. The practice provides both practitioners and the community as a whole with a strong sense of identity and pride.

R.2:   The inscription of the practice of traditional music and dance in Setesdal, playing, dancing and singing (stev/stevjing) would contribute to ensuring the visibility of intangible cultural heritage, mostly by raising awareness about other forms of dance and music. Moreover, the influence of minority groups – the Romani/Tater – as reflected particularly in the instrumental playing, may highlight intercultural dialogue and respect for cultural diversity. It would also enhance the sense of local identity and pride among practitioners, who practise the element during annual and family events and rituals.

R.3:   Thanks to the constant efforts of the community, a large number of safeguarding measures have been undertaken that ensure the viability of the element. The State Party has proposed a set of awareness-raising and recruitment measures on the one hand, and documentation and promotion-related measures on the other. These measures are an improvement upon the previous ones as they are concrete and realistic and include funding and grants from various governmental levels (national, county and municipal).

R.4:   Local communities of the Setesdal valley and particularly the non-governmental organization Setesdal spelemannslag actively participated in the nomination process, which was disseminated at the local, regional and national levels and supported by other institutions. The initiative to nominate the element came from the practitioners themselves, who were represented throughout the process.

R.5:   The practice of traditional music and dance in Setesdal, playing, dancing and singing (stev/stevjing) has been included in the National Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory since 2017. The inscription process was carried out using a community-based methodology and the inventory is updated regularly, as planned by the Arts Council of Norway.

  1. Decides to inscribe Practice of traditional music and dance in Setesdal, playing, dancing and singing (stev/stevjing) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Encourages the State Party, when submitting nomination files in the future, to avoid standardized consent letters.

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