6.COM 8.4

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Cambodia has nominated Long-necked lute and epic singing in Cambodia for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, described as follows:

Chapey Dang Veng is the Cambodian long-necked lute that lends its name to an epic singing tradition. The lute not only provides the epic singer with a pitch reference to help stay in key, but it also creates spaces between the singing parts, allowing the singer time to breathe and to think of what to sing next. Epic singers may be male or female, young or old, but all must be proficient in memorizing, improvising, versifying, singing and playing the lute. The tradition is closely interwoven with the life and traditional customs and beliefs of the Khmer people, and a good epic singer can call on a corpus of knowledge encompassing Buddhist literature, folk tales, legends, poetry and current events. Chapey Dang Veng is usually performed at traditional and religious celebrations, particularly in rural Cambodia in village temple grounds, with the epic stories and themes being selected by the performer to suit the occasion. Transmission of skills takes place within families and villages, with young apprentices learning through observation and gradual participation in rehearsals and performances. Chapey Dang Veng is still recovering from the loss of almost all the epic singers under the Khmer Rouge. Attempts at revitalizing the tradition are ongoing, but places for training and performance are lacking, as are financial and technical support.

  1. Decides that, from the information provided in nomination file 00519, Long-necked lute and epic singing in Cambodia satisfy the criteria for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, as follows:

U.1:   Singing and playing the long-necked lute are closely linked to the social and cultural traditions, beliefs and customs of the Cambodian people, persisting despite the disruptions of the Khmer Rouge period, even if now found in changed performance contexts and transmitted primarily through academic means;

U.2:   The current practice of the singing, and in particular its traditional modes of transmission, are threatened by the limited number of aging practitioners and the lack of occasions for performance and transmission, as well as by limited financial resources devoted to safeguarding;

U.5:   The long-necked lute and singing were included in the inventory of intangible cultural heritage of Cambodia published in 2004 by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts.

  1. Further decides that, from the information provided in nomination file 00519, Long-necked lute and epic singing in Cambodia do not satisfy the criteria for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, as follows:

U.3:   The submitting State has not defined a clear safeguarding strategy with defined roles, responsibilities and results that reflects the widest possible participation of the communities and that responds effectively to the threats identified;

U.4:   Participation of the community in the nomination process and in the implementation of safeguarding measures appears to be very limited and the nomination does not provide convincing evidence of the free, prior and informed consent of practitioners to inscription on the Urgent Safeguarding List.

  1. Decides not to inscribe Long-necked lute and epic singing in Cambodia on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding at this time and invites the State Party to submit a revised nomination that responds more fully to the criteria, for evaluation by the Committee in a subsequent cycle;
  2. Further invites the State Party to provide a clearer and more complete description of the element, providing an adequate level of detail for all its various aspects;
  3. Calls upon the State Party to ensure the widest possible participation of practitioners in the nomination process as well as in the elaboration of effective and sustainable safeguarding measures;
  4. Encourages the State Party to elaborate a concrete and relevant safeguarding plan, giving particular attention to strengthening the capacities for the transmission of the practice within its community and taking into account improvisation as a central aspect of oral transmission;
  5. While welcoming the support of key institutions such as the Department of Performing Arts and Royal University of Fine Arts, cautions against processes of folklorization and academicization.

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