14.COM 10.B.35

The Committee,

  1. Takes note that the Syrian Arab Republic has nominated Practices and craftsmanship associated with the Damascene rose in Al-Mrah (No. 01369) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The practices and craftsmanship associated with the Damascene rose are mainly practised by farmers and families in Al-Mrah village, in rural Damascus, who possess expert knowledge of producing essential oils and traditional medicine from the Damask Rose, among other things, as well as the village community and families who organize the yearly Damascene Rose Festival. The Damascene Rose begins to bloom in May when the picking commences and the annual festival kicks off. Farmers and their families head to the fields in the early morning to handpick the roses and then return home by afternoon, when the whole family helps sort the rose buds that are dried to make tea. The other rose petals are stored and prepared for distillation. The women of the village help each other make rose syrup, jam and pastries as they sing along to local tunes. Apothecaries sell the dried Damascene Rose for its numerous medicinal benefits. The festival attracts people from many surrounding villages who come to take part and enjoy the atmosphere. Rose-infused dishes are presented by women and a collection of folk songs and incantations celebrating the Rose are sung by all. The festival is a testament to the element’s unfading cultural significance for its bearers and their enduring commitment to its safeguarding.

  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 practices and craftsmanship associated with the Damascene rose in Al-Mrah are an important cultural symbol for Syrian people in general. Moreover, given its seasonality, the practice plays a role in regulating the lives of the local communities. It brings the community together through the sharing of different jobs and responsibilities. It also encourages responsibility towards the environment and highlights the need for respectful coexistence with it and has a major influence on artistic creations and expressions. The annual festival maintains a connection between rural families and city residents. It takes place at every harvest and symbolizes life, hope and growth, in anticipation of a good harvest in the coming year.

R.2:   The inscription of the practices and craftsmanship associated with the Damascene rose in Al-Mrah would reinforce the idea of intangible cultural heritage as a tool for sustainable development and highlight elements that contribute to building a harmonious relationship between human beings and nature. This could lead to cultural exchanges and dialogue to promote and advance cooperation in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage.

R.3:   Thanks to its importance, the viability of the element would appear to be ensured. The State Party and communities concerned have undertaken many safeguarding measures that complement the safeguarding measures proposed by the community of Al-Mrah for this nomination. The comprehensive set of safeguarding measures includes raising awareness about the element and ensuring its sustainability, providing support for the bearers and their families, supporting and encouraging the role of Syrian youth in safeguarding their intangible cultural heritage and organizing workshops, training sessions and educational activities.

R.4:   The communities have participated in the nomination process since 2016 by attending workshops and meetings and remaining in permanent contact with the team of experts. The bearers produced the specific proposals for the safeguarding measures and were involved in all stages of the process.

R.5:   The practices and craftsmanship associated with the Damascene rose in Al-Mrah was included in The National Inventory for Intangible Cultural Heritage Elements in 2017, when the inventory was created. The Syrian Cultural Heritage Support and the Development Unit at the Ministry of Culture is the body responsible for maintaining and updating the inventory, which takes place every two years.

  1. Decides to inscribe Practices and craftsmanship associated with the Damascene rose in Al-Mrah on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Encourages the State Party to take particular heed of the impact of over-commercialization on the safeguarding of the element, which is not taken into account in the safeguarding measures despite the potential increase in market demands;
  3. Commends the State Party for submitting an exemplary file that underlines the importance of traditional knowledge concerning nature and the universe and offers a positive example of the role of intangible cultural heritage as a tool for sustainable development.

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