Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 10.COM 10.B.29

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Tajikistan has nominated Art of Chakan embroidery in Kulob (No. 01097) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Chakan embroidery is the art of sewing ornaments, motifs and images with coloured threads on cotton or silk fabrics, practised in the region of Kulob. It makes use of symbolic depictions and mythological images related to nature and the cosmos, such as pomegranate flowers, nightingales, the sun and stars, which express people’s wishes and hopes. Chakan embroidery is used to decorate women’s shirts, pillows, bedspreads, headscarves, towels, curtains and coverlets for cradles. Chakan craftswomen come together almost every day to spend time sewing while talking, telling stories and singing folksongs. Each group member has a specific duty, such as cutting the textile, selecting ornaments and coloured threads, drawing and applying the ornaments, embroidering needlepoint images and sewing the cloth. A leader controls operations, takes orders for embroidery products, locates raw materials, manages production and sells the finished products in the bazaar. Knowledge and skills of embroidery are transmitted in the family from mothers, grandmothers and elder sisters to young girls, or in groups where skilled seamstress women teach young women. This practice is considered by the Tajiks as a marker of national identity: craftswomen and local people wear embroidered clothes with pride for festivals, competitions, musical programmes, weddings, celebrations and holidays.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria:

R.1:   The art of Chakan embroidery is traditionally transmitted from older to younger women in families and neighbourhood groups, but nowadays also in organized groups, artisan workshops, art schools and colleges; it is widely used by the Kulob population, while for its practitioners, it functions as a means of socialization and a source of additional earning;

R.4:   The nomination file results from extensive consultations involving bearers, practitioners, local cultural organizations and production companies, experts and governmental officials; a group of Chakan craftswomen, a local company and two museums provided their free, prior and informed consent.

  1. Further decides that the information included in the file is not sufficient to allow the Committee to determine whether the following criteria are satisfied:

R.2:   Instead of providing information on how an inscription would contribute to the visibility of intangible cultural heritage in general and awareness of its significance, all efforts are directed to the promotion of Chakan embroidery, including the encouragement of diversity and creativity that it incorporates, and the prospects following its inscription;

R.3:   The proposed safeguarding measures concentrate on further promotion, tighter organization of bearers and modes of transmission, spread of the element in other districts of the Khatlon region, and the increase of production companies, neglecting to address possible unintended consequences of inscription, such as over-commercialization or industrialization; concurrently, the role of bearers, practitioners and other members of the Kulob community is not clearly explained or specified, nor how they could benefit from the presented safeguarding measures;

R.5:   The element is included in the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, however no evidence is provided of the participation of communities, groups and relevant non-governmental organizations in the identification and definition of the element; besides, further information is needed to clarify the discrepancy of data regarding the year, reference number, name of the inventory, entity responsible for its maintenance and frequency of updating, as well as the scope of the element.

  1. Decides to refer the nomination of Art of Chakan embroidery in Kulob to the State Party for additional information and invites it to resubmit the nomination to the Committee for examination during a following cycle;
  2. Suggests the State Party, if it wishes to resubmit the nomination, to synchronize images and subtitled text in the video.