Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 10.COM 10.B.34

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Uzbekistan has nominated Ropewalking (No. 01087) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The art of tightrope walking in Uzbekistan, otherwise known as dorbozlik, is performed as part of traditional art and entertainment programmes on public holidays, at festivals and fairs, and as part of wedding celebrations. Practitioners perform a variety of spectacular feats on ropes raised 20 to 25 metres off the ground, demonstrating their courage, dexterity, skill and fearlessness. Displays of ropewalking form part of national and local customs and traditions, and are often improvised in the middle of open-air market squares, rallying a large crowd. The audience provides encouragement and moral support interacting directly with the performers, reinforcing a longstanding relationship that promotes and strengthens the identity and integrity of the art and its vital role in community celebrations. The main bearers are the ropewalkers – traditionally, boys and men of varying ages trained in the knowledge and skills from an early age – although girls from ropewalking dynasties have increasingly begun to take part in the art. Today, more than 40 troupes of Dorbozs maintain and popularize traditions of dorbozlik art by promoting the techniques among the younger generations. Techniques are transmitted from generation to generation within families using a traditional master-apprentice approach. All groups of Dorbozs recognize their art as part of traditional cultural heritage and as a marker of their identity.

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

R.5:   The element was included in 2013 in the Intangible Cultural Heritage National List of the Ministry of Culture and Sports, elaborated in conformity with Articles 11 and 12 of the Convention.

  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.1:   The nomination needs to outline more clearly the scope of the element, its community and its cultural meanings, as well as to explain how such an art, which incorporates a high degree of peril, can be adequately presented and understood in the international context, in particular due to the involvement of children; furthermore, the nomination should avoid claims, even if posed indirectly and in passing, that relate to such arts or similar arts in other countries;

R.2:   Instead of focusing on the element itself, the argumentation should explain how the inscription will have a positive impact on the visibility of intangible cultural heritage in general; moreover, the question of the scope of the element, including the issue related to the danger for children, should be addressed in view of demonstrating how the inscription of the element can encourage dialogue and respect for cultural diversity worldwide;

R.3:   Safeguarding measures are overly generic rather than concrete and specific, and contain some repetitions, unclear language and misplaced information; the engagement of communities, stakeholders and government in their implementation is insufficiently explained;

R.4:   Given that the scope of the element and its community are not clearly defined, it is difficult to assess community participation in the nomination process; additional information is required to demonstrate a coherence between assertions and evidence, in particular since families of ropewalkers and non-governmental organizations that figure prominently throughout the file did not consent to the nomination, while those offering consent are little mentioned elsewhere; in addition, one of only three letters of consent refers to an element with a broader scope.

  1. Decides to refer the nomination of Ropewalking to the State Party for additional information and invites it to resubmit the nomination to the Committee for examination during a following cycle;
  2. Reminds the State Party, if it wishes to resubmit the nomination, to avoid references to originality, for they do not conform to the spirit of the Convention.