Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 17.COM 7.b.44

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Azerbaijan and Türkiye have nominated Culture of Çay (tea), a symbol of identity, hospitality and social interaction (No. 01685) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Tea culture in Azerbaijan and Türkiye is an important social practice that shows hospitality, builds and maintains social ties, and is used to celebrate important moments in the lives of communities. Although there are several types of tea and brewing techniques, communities in both countries primarily harvest and consume black tea. Communities brew tea by using a wide variety of kettles, produced using traditional craftsmanship. The drink is served freshly-brewed and hot, in pear-shaped cups made from glass, porcelain, faience or silver. It is typically accompanied by sweets, sugar, lemon slices, jams and dried fruits. In certain regions of Azerbaijan, some communities also add local spices and herbs to the tea, such as cinnamon, ginger and thyme. Tea culture is an essential part of daily life for all layers of society, providing a strong sense of cultural identity. The bearers include tea farmers and harvesters, tearoom owners, tea makers, and the artisans who make the associated tools, utensils and sweets.

  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 is a part of social and cultural life associated with Çay (tea) and is associated with a set of crafts and agricultural skills. The file explains the roles and responsibilities of the bearers across different practices, such as tea planting, knowledge transmission, using the samovar, preparing sweets and fruits and making teapots and cups. The transmission of the element takes place within families, where young people learn brewing techniques by observing their family members and practising the tea rituals. The skills of producing teapots, tea baskets and other items associated with the element are transmitted through master-apprentice relationships. The element promotes friendly relations between people, and is associated with various social events (such as weddings and other ceremonies) in both countries. The cultural meanings of the element are evidenced through its connection with poems, proverbs, stories and the names of many regions in Türkiye. The element enhances sustainable development by following the principles of sustainable agriculture and the use of eco-friendly materials.

R.2:   At the local level, inscription will highlight the role of traditional teas for tea culture and draw attention to other cultural and social spaces that are linked to intangible cultural heritage. It will encourage craftspeople to safeguard and transmit their knowledge and skills. At the national level, it will increase the visibility of intangible cultural heritage, as the element is a significant part of the cultural identities of the people in both submitting States. It will also promote greater awareness about safeguarding intangible cultural heritage that is linked to agricultural practices. At the international level, inscription will highlight the role of intangible cultural heritage in the sustainable use of resources, social cohesion and sustainable development. It will encourage communities in the submitting States and neighbouring countries to develop joint projects for the promotion and safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage.

R.3:   Past and current safeguarding activities in both submitting States included training courses, awareness-raising activities, and tea-related events and workshops. Both submitting States have implemented comprehensive measures to support transmission, research, inventorying, documentation and awareness-raising activities. In addition, the file includes a set of joint measures from the two submitting States. These include the establishment of channels of exchange among communities and NGOs from both countries, joint awareness-raising initiatives, the establishment and development of databases and expert exchange programmes. The communities, groups and individuals in both submitting States were involved in planning the proposed safeguarding measures through various meetings.

R.4:   The file describes the processes of preparing the nomination form in the respective States Parties and how the traditional bearers, individuals and NGOs of Azerbaijan and Türkiye were involved in the various stages and meetings of the process. The nomination file was finalized with the participation of representatives from both States Parties and submitted in 2020. In both countries, communities, groups, individuals, NGOs and academicians submitted letters of consent for the joint nomination of the element.

R.5:   The element was included in the Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Azerbaijan on 28 April 2010 and in the Intangible Cultural Heritage National Inventory of Türkiye on 12 March 2020. Information about the organizations involved in maintaining the inventories in both submitting States is provided. In Azerbaijan, the inventorying of the element involved NGOs and public unions, as well as communities and experts. In Türkiye, the inventories are based on the participation of the communities concerned. The inventory of Azerbaijan is updated every three years, while the inventory of Türkiye is updated at least once a year.

  1. Decides to inscribe Culture of Çay (tea), a symbol of identity, hospitality and social interaction on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.