Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 13.COM 10.b.15

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Georgia has nominated Chidaoba, wrestling in Georgia (No. 01371) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Chidaoba (wrestling) is an ancient form of martial art practised by a large proportion of the male population throughout all the regions, villages and communities of Georgia. Bearers of the tradition include young people, city residents, sports clubs, educational institutions and amateur organizations. The practice is a complex phenomenon that combines elements of wrestling, music, dance and special garments (‘chokha’). Having had a combat function until the late Middle Ages, Chidaoba gradually became a spectacular sport. Tournaments take place in an open-air arena, surrounded by a large audience, accompanied by a wind instrument (‘zurna’) and Georgian drum (‘doli’) music, which marks the beginning. Wrestlers attempt to defeat each other through special holds, and vibrant music enhances the dynamics of the contest. The code of conduct is chivalric, and occasionally the wrestlers leave the arena with a Georgian folk dance. Chidaoba uses an important number of special wrestling holds: there are an estimated 200 such holds and counter-holds, the combination of which speaks to the wrestlers’ creativity. The practice encourages a healthy lifestyle and plays an important role in intercultural dialogue. From early spring to autumn, young people practise wrestling outdoors, mastering skills previously acquired by watching matches, and there are wrestling sections in almost every village and city of Georgia.

  1. Decides 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:   Chidaoba, wrestling in Georgia, serves an important cultural function in the country extending beyond the sporting performance; the accompanying folklore expressions underline its traditional role in society. Thanks to its chivalric nature, wrestling promotes friendship and respect among people and Georgians recognize it as an important symbol of their identity. As a popular cultural expression, it is reflected in oral folklore, the arts, fiction and cinematography.

R.2:   Due to the complexity of the element, its inscription would arouse interest in identifying different types of intangible cultural heritage. New synergies among different sports organizations in the country and abroad would be created, intercultural dialogue fostered and international multidisciplinary research promoted. The inscription would also promote human creativity by highlighting how resourceful wrestlers must be in combining different holds and making quick decisions.

R.3:   Past safeguarding measures are described in detail and supplemented with a timeline of the evolution of the element in Georgian history. A complex set of safeguarding measures has been designed, reflecting all aspects of the tradition. These include: adjusting the national legal framework for sports and games; integrating wrestling into the educational system; providing training and coaching within the communities; improving the infrastructure needed to organize tournaments; promoting accompanying expressions such as music, dance or costume-making; and establishing a specialized museum devoted to Chidaoba. National institutions play a pivotal role in the implementation of the safeguarding measures, working closely with local communities.

R.4:   The National Agency for Protecting Cultural Heritage established an interagency working group responsible for drafting the nomination; its members are practitioners, representatives of local communities and wrestling federations and field experts. About twenty meetings were organized and the views of the practitioners were duly incorporated into the file. The nature of the free, prior and informed consent is well-explained in the nomination and is richly attested to in numerous consent sheets resulting from an extensive awareness-raising campaign.

R.5:   Since 2011, the element has been included in the Intangible Cultural Heritage State Register, which is regularly updated. Chidaoba was identified by its community of practitioners, represented by the National Federation of Georgian Wrestling, researchers and other experts. The information contained in the inventory was collected among practising wrestlers, other participants and spectators.

  1. Inscribes Chidaoba, wrestling in Georgia on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Commends the State Party for its precise description of community participation, including the division of gender roles and responsibilities.