Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 16.COM 8.b.13

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Finland has nominated Kaustinen fiddle playing and related practices and expressions (no. 01683) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Kaustinen folk music is a Finnish tradition where the fiddle (violin), although not the only instrument, is the main melodic instrument. It is in fact the violin (with or without other instruments) that cadences the dances or the songs. Based on playing by ear, it is characterized by syncopated and accented rhythms that are easy for people to dance to. The distinctive style and playing technique of Kaustinen folk music have existed for over 250 years, and there is a repertoire of several hundred tunes from the area. Kaustinen folk music is played in many contexts: in private, in organized groups, during public celebrations and ceremonies (including wedding parties), at concerts and public jam sessions, and at the annual Kaustinen Folk Music Festival. Performers often wear traditional costumes. Most inhabitants of Kaustinen and neighbouring communities consider this music an essential aspect of their personal and community identity, even if they are not practitioners themselves. It is felt to represent a sense of belonging and viewed as a means of strengthening cross-generational ties. The significance of the practice is evident in the names of public spaces and in symbols such as the presence of the fiddle in the Kaustinen coat of arms.

  1. Considers 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:  The large number of practitioners of the element illustrates the element’s vitality. The transmission of knowledge takes place informally within families and among friends, and formally at the Perhonjokilaakso Community College and the Kaustinen Folk Musicians’ Association. Although traditionally performed by men, in its current form the practice now includes players and participants of all genders. The element is an important marker of personal and community identity and is characterized by equality, with everyone having the right to express themselves through the element.

R.2:  At the local level, inscription might inspire greater interest in other elements of intangible cultural heritage. At the national level, inscription may encourage greater funding and investment, as well as cooperation and networking between different communities involved in the safeguarding of local traditions across the country. At the international level, inscription can highlight the importance of flexible approaches in safeguarding efforts, as communities respond to changing environments and times. It would also promote cultural diversity and human creativity by adding to other traditional performing arts on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

R.3:  The file explains past and current efforts to ensure viability by the communities, groups and individuals concerned, and proposes a general framework for continuing safeguarding measures if the element were to be inscribed. It also includes the mainstreaming of intangible cultural heritage into school curricula and educational institutions, as well as continued documentation, archiving and dissemination. The general safeguarding measures seem to have been integrated more generally into folklore and music studies programmes. The file also demonstrates a process of community engagement in the development of the proposed measures and in their implementation.

R.4: The file demonstrates wide community participation in the nomination process, including the involvement of a working group (consisting of practicing individuals of all genders and associations concerned with the element) in various workshops and field visits. The file was accompanied by several letters of consent including from the associations performance groups and a number of male and female practitioners, thus reflecting free, prior and informed desire to nominate the element. There are no customary practices or restrictions on information related to the element.

R.5: The element was inscribed on the National Inventory of Living Heritage on 23 November 2017. The inventory is administered by the Finnish Heritage Agency, and elements may be submitted for inclusion every two years. There is also a Wiki-inventory and along with the National Inventory articles on the elements need to be updated and revised every three years by community representatives. Updating is coordinated and supervised by the Finnish Heritage Agency.

  1. Decides to inscribe Kaustinen fiddle playing and related practices and expressions on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Commends the State Party for a well-prepared file that demonstrates the involvement of communities through the nomination process and presents a comprehensive set of safeguarding measures, formulated by various associations and stakeholders and involving management and monitoring efforts.