Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 11.COM 10.b.10

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Egypt has nominated Tahteeb, stick game (No. 01189) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

In ancient Egypt, tahteeb was used as a form of martial arts. Its role has since changed to that of a festive game but some of the symbolism and values associated with the practice remain. Performed in front of an audience, it involves a brief, non-violent interchange between two adversaries, each wielding a long stick while traditional music plays in the background. Complete control must be exercised as no striking is allowed. Practitioners are male both young and old, mostly from Saeedy populations in upper Egypt, particularly rural areas where the tahteeb stick has been used by inhabitants as part of their daily lives and considered a sign of manhood. The rules of the game are based on values such as mutual respect, friendship, courage, strength, chivalry and pride. Tahteeb is practised in public and private social settings. Sometimes competitions are held to encourage new players and special tahteeb evenings involving different governorates that can last almost a week. Transmission occurs within families, neighbourhoods and to anyone who wishes to learn. The game gives participants confidence from skills acquired and a sense of pride performing before their community. It also helps to strengthen family ties and foster good communal relations.

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

R.1:   The submitting State demonstrates that tahteeb constitutes an element of intangible cultural heritage as defined in Article 2 of the Convention. Communities, groups and individuals concerned throughout much of Egypt recognize it as part of their cultural heritage, embodying mutual respect, dignity and social cohesion and thus providing a sense of belonging to its practitioners. While of martial origin, tahteeb’s contemporary functions relate to entertainment and festive celebration while bringing practitioners and audiences together in both rural and urban communities. The nomination file also contains a detailed account of transmission mechanisms, both formal and informal;

R.2:   Tahteeb is an element of intangible heritage deeply rooted in Egyptian society; its origins go back to ancient Egypt; and its strong presence in Egyptian culture has continued throughout the different eras of its history up until now as its traditions and rules reflect essential societal values such as pride, chivalry, courage and respect. The inscription of the Tahteeb stick game is a strong international recognition that would raise the profile and awareness of this particular element, and intangible cultural heritage in general and would encourage all official and civil society stakeholders to work and collaborate further. The inscription of the element will strongly promote the teaching of this game as part of the physical education curricula at the educational institutions and convey the values of intangible cultural heritage to the younger generation. Further, the inscription will contribute to urban-rural dialogue and mutual respect;

R.3:   The communities concerned have (and continue to) play an important role in the viability of tahteeb with their dedication to practising and perfecting it through informal competitions, and their eagerness to pass it on to their children. The submitting State has described safeguarding measures that include the active participation of relevant communities in the development and implementation of these measures especially through the Train the Trainers TTT program to form new Tahteeb trainers and players. The program is led by a local non-governmental organization; it ensures the involvement of communities, traditional bearers and practitioners to protect the element from any decontextualization effects. The TTT program has also been validated on the governmental level by the Egyptian Ministries of Sports and Culture. The implementation phase started in 2016;

R.4:   The submitting State has demonstrated the participation of communities, non-governmental organizations and individuals in the nomination process from several locations in Egypt. The free, prior and informed consent to the nomination of the element from various members of the communities concerned is demonstrated through consent letters and a short film;

R.5:   Tahteeb was inventoried in 2013 by the Association of Upper Egypt for Education and Development, and the Egyptian National Commission for UNESCO (currently in charge of the inventory list of intangible cultural heritage in Egypt). The inventory is elaborated with the participation of communities and is regularly updated.

  1. Inscribes Tahteeb, stick game on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Thanks the delegation of Egypt for the clarifications provided to the Committee on the information included in the file concerning criteria R.2, R.3 and R.5.