Inscribed in 2021 (16.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Moutya was brought to Seychelles by the enslaved Africans who arrived with the French settlers in the early eighteenth century. They used to practise this dance at night in the forest, at a distance from the plantation house where their masters lived. Historically, Moutya was a psychological comfort against hardship and poverty and a means of resisting servitude and social injustice. A sensual dance with simple choreography, it is traditionally performed around a bonfire. The musical instrument used is a large drum with a narrow rim made of goat hide which is played mostly by men. The dance begins with the heating of the drums over a bonfire. Once the drums have been warmed, the drummers set the beat and men in the crowd call out various themes, usually social commentaries, to which the female dancers respond in high-pitched tones. The men and women begin to dance to a moderate tempo involving hip-swaying and feet-shuffling. The dancers come close, but do not physically touch. Moutya continues to be a form of expression of cultural identity to this day, retaining its traditional dance form. It is usually performed spontaneously within the community, as well as at social gatherings and cultural events. Moutya is transmitted informally through performance, observation and imitation and formally through research, documentation and dissemination.