Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 11.COM 10.a.5

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Ukraine has nominated Cossack’s songs of Dnipropetrovsk Region (No. 01194) for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:

Cossack songs are sung by communities of the Dnipropetrovsk region which tell stories about the tragedy of war but also the personal relationships of Cossack soldiers. Singers practise the tradition in three different groups: Krynycya, Boguslavochka and Pershocvit. The songs are sung for pleasure and so practitioners can have a connection to the past – their ancestors and their community’s history. Many of the singers, both men and women, are aged in their 70s and 80s and have been involved in the practice for most of their lives. The groups operate around two main performers: the first who has knowledge of all the song lyrics starts the singing, then the second begins (in an upper voice), followed by the rest of the group (with middle and lower voices). If male singers are not present in the group, women impersonate them by deepening their voices. The singers normally meet regularly and while not requiring an audience, may sometimes give a concert. It is a tradition that is transmitted within families where younger members learn from those more experienced, but its continuity is now in question due to an aging bearer population and the sparsity of other knowledge sources for new generations to learn from.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria:

U.1:   Cossack’s songs of the Dnipropetrovsk Region constitute an important element of the intangible cultural heritage of this area and involve singers recounting the tragic and heroic history of their land, providing a sense of continuity and identity for the local population. Knowledge and skills are transmitted within a group of singing practitioners. The element meets the requirement of mutual respect among communities, groups and individuals, and contributes to sustainable development;

U.2:   The file demonstrates how the viability of the element is threatened, with only three singing groups still active. The main threat to the continuity of the element is the drastic reduction of the element’s bearers and the almost complete cessation of the process of intergenerational transmission within the singers’ groups. Other external threats described in the file are of a more generic nature;

U.3:   The nomination file describes past efforts to help safeguard the element and presents a detailed plan for the coming period, centred around the existing three active singing groups. Activities proposed are relevant (e.g. field research for element identification and organization of master classes);

U.4:   The nomination file was prepared in collaboration with the communities concerned and other stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations and government authorities. The file provides attestations of community consent from groups of bearers and notes the need for standard declarations because of the weak capacity of the aged practitioners. There are no customary practices governing access to the element;

U.5:   The file demonstrates that the element was included in 2014 in the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Ukraine. The inventory was developed with the active participation of researchers, practitioners and representatives of non-governmental organizations. The inventory is regularly updated and maintained by the Ukrainian Centre for Cultural Studies of the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine.

  1. Inscribes Cossack’s songs of Dnipropetrovsk Region on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding;
  2. Reminds the submitting State about the importance of a balanced involvement both of the Ukrainian Association of Young Researchers of Folklore and the practising communities in the nomination and safeguarding processes;
  3. Further reminds the submitting State of the need to define clear priority areas and clear sequencing of activities in the elaboration and implementation of the proposed safeguarding plan and budget;
  4. Invites the submitting State to ensure the participation of communities in the implementation of the safeguarding plan and in the elaboration of future such plans and to pay specific attention to the increase in the number of practitioners when assessing the effectiveness of the measures proposed;
  5. Encourages the submitting State when promoting the element at the international level, to provide a translation of lyrics that are part of the Cossack’s songs into widely-spoken languages.