Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 17.COM 7.b.34

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan have nominated Traditional embroidery in Central Asia (No. 01733) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The traditional embroidery in Central Asia is used for decorating fabric products and decorative items such as pillows, headdresses, curtains and bags. The most complete art of embroidery is revealed in wall carpets, ceremonial clothing and interior decorative items such as tablecloths. Embroidered dresses are also widely used by music folk groups and dance ensembles. Primarily practiced by women, the embroidery styles and techniques vary according to tribe, area or region. The ornaments include symbolic and mythological images of nature and space, each with a specific name and meaning. The threads are traditionally made of cotton, wool and silk fibres and coloured using natural pigments from plants and minerals. Traditionally, embroidery is transmitted informally and formally. At around six years old, girls sit next to their relatives to observe the process and participate in simple activities. The practice is also transmitted through apprenticeships with experienced seamstresses, who instruct young girls aged sixteen to twenty years old on the intricacies of embroidery, including the selection of threads, the drawing of ornaments, the application of patterns to fabric and sewing techniques.

  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 element involves sewing of ornaments, including organic images and symbols, with dyed threads on cotton or silk fabrics, and sometimes on leather. The bearers and practitioners are mainly women and girls, who use objects with embroidery in their daily lives. Some male masters also work together with women and girls. The knowledge and skills are transmitted in two ways: (a) learning from mothers, grandmothers and sisters within the family; and (b) through formal training in schools and institutions. The traditional embroidery is an element of national identity in the submitting States. Items with embroidery are often found at fairs, festivals, weddings, celebrations and holidays. The element also contributes to the development of relationships in society, as women gather to work, interact and spend time together.

R.2:   At the local level, inscription will contribute to promoting the concept of intangible cultural heritage in the three submitting States because the element is largely known within the societies of the participating States. At the national levels, inscription will encourage national embroidery art exhibitions, competitions, craft fairs, research and national conferences. At the international level, inscription will promote communication and regional collaboration among practitioners within Central Asia and beyond. Inscription will further promote dialogue among communities, groups, individual masters and public organizations in Central Asia and foreign countries, as well as encourage participation at the exhibitions and festivals devoted to handmade crafts and other cultural events.

  1. Further considers that the information included in the file is not sufficient to allow the Committee to determine whether the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity are satisfied:

R.3:   The file provides information about various proposed safeguarding measures from each submitting State, including research and documentation, training, events and publications. However, the file does not provide any joint safeguarding measures from the submitting States. Furthermore, while it was mentioned that Uzbekistan and Tajikistan involved practitioners and communities, there was a lack of detail on how the communities concerned were involved in planning the proposed safeguarding measures and their implementation. There were also errors in Section 3.b(iii), where information about another element (‘Orteke’, submitted for inscription to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in this cycle) was presented in this file, and the information did not correspond to the element of traditional embroidery.

R.4:   The file explains that the nomination process entailed the participation of bearers of the element, as well as communities and groups who are involved in embroidery production, including local and regional institutions, NGOs, scientific research institutes and intangible cultural heritage experts from the submitting States. However, the file lacks detailed information that demonstrates the widest possible participation of the communities in the different stages of the nomination, and the nomination process appeared to be largely coordinated by the States Parties and experts. In addition, there was an imbalance in the number of letters submitted by the States Parties, with four letters submitted by one of the submitting States. Some letters of consent also appear to be submitted by national museums and government organizations rather than by the communities themselves.

R.5:   The element is included on the respective inventories of the submitting States. Details of the inventory, including the organization responsible for maintaining the inventories and the frequencies of updating the inventories were provided in the file. The nomination file explained the procedures of updating of each State Party's respective inventory. However, the file lacked information about the participation of communities, groups and individuals in the inventorying process, and the process appeared to be led by experts in all three submitting States.

  1. Decides to refer the nomination of Traditional embroidery in Central Asia to the submitting States Parties and invites them to resubmit the nomination to the Committee for examination during a following cycle;
  2. Encourages the States Parties to devote more time and resources to coordinating the preparation of future multinational nomination files, including the development of joint safeguarding measures;
  3. Further encourages the States Parties, when submitting nomination files in the future, to ensure that information is included in its proper place.