- Takes note that Bangladesh has nominated Jatra traditional performing arts (No. 01070) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:
Jatra is a traditional form of open-air folk theatre performed throughout rural Bangladesh during the winter months. Performances of popular plays combine mythological heroes and plots from religious epics with folk song and dance. Jatra features at religious and social festivals where it attracts a wide audience irrespective of caste or creed. Its vitality is closely linked to its grass-roots popularity and as such it constitutes an important marker of rural cultural identity. Jatra also conveys socio‑political messages, which often serve to motivate people towards improving social welfare. Furthermore, the practice has developed a capacity to establish effective mass communication with the rural community through the form of entertainment. An array of practitioners, including government, local communities, public and private groups and individuals have actively led efforts for the popularization and transmission of Jatra. The Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy organizes events including seminars, workshops, competitions and stage performances that contribute to the intergenerational transmission of Jatra. The owner of each company usually acts as the director coordinating a troupe, which consists of actors, artists, musicians and technicians. The learning process starts at home under the supervision of parents or seniors, although master practitioners conduct classes for interested performers.
- Decides that the information included in the file is not sufficient to allow the Committee to determine whether the following criteria are satisfied:
R.1: The nomination fails to explain the scope of Jatra traditional performing arts, the characteristics of their communities, bearers and practitioners, the relationship between transmission at home and through programmes offered by the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, the function of Jatra for various segments of society, or the nature and level of threats it faces; inappropriate terms such as ‘glorious’, ‘the most ancient’, ‘essence’ or ‘original’ and ideas such as to regain the glory and dignity of Jatra in its original form raise concerns about the motivation underlying the nomination, which is also characterized by an overall lack of clarity;
R.2: Given that the element is not clearly defined, its inscription on the Representative List would not contribute to enhancing the visibility of intangible cultural heritage in general and awareness of its significance; the desired outcomes of inscription are directed solely to Jatra and, moreover, inscription is seen as a mechanism to accelerate awareness of the risk of the element’s extinction;
R.3: The description lacks clarity and coherence while indicating a conception of Jatra as a medium to transmit messages in a distinctly top-down manner, as well as the intention to protect its ‘original’, ‘moral’, ‘healthy’ and/or ‘dignified’ form; the promotion of Jatra as an industry has remained insufficiently explained; evidence of the submitting State’s commitment to support the safeguarding is also lacking;
R.4: It is unclear which communities were actively involved in the nomination process and whether Jatra bearers and practitioners participated beyond their limited share in providing information and consent; no information is given regarding respect for customary practices governing access to specific aspects of the element;
R.5: The nomination does not provide a clear explanation of the inclusion of the element in an inventory drawn up in conformity with Articles 11 and 12 of the Convention; it is not clear how the extract provided reflects such an inventory.
- Decides to refer the nomination of Jatra traditional performing arts to the State Party for additional information and invites it to resubmit the nomination to the Committee for examination during a following cycle;
- Reminds the State Party, if it wishes to resubmit the nomination, that the protection of ‘original forms’ and similar concepts underlying the current nomination are not in conformity with the principles and objectives of the Convention.