Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 10.COM 10.B.7

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Azerbaijan has nominated Copper craftsmanship of Lahij (No. 00675) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Copper craftsmanship of Lahij is the traditional practice of making and using copperware concentrated in the Lahij community in the Caucasus. The copper-smelting master coordinates the entire process and is accompanied by an apprentice who learns the necessary techniques while helping the master. The coppersmith-hammerer pumps the air into the ovens and hammers the smelted copper into thin plates. A craftsperson then polishes the hammered copper plates and decorates the ready copperware with engravings. This final stage of the process is said to be particularly important as the designs used often have an environmental focus, reflecting the bearer’s traditional knowledge and cultural values. The master is responsible for selling the copperware in the workshops and remunerating the work of the other craftspeople involved. The tradition is transmitted within families from father to son. Numerous families in Azerbaijan come to buy copperware in Lahij and use it in their daily lives believing it improves the health benefits of food. For artisans, the tradition represents a major source of living and provides a strong sense of identity and community pride. Copper craftsmanship also reinforces family relationships within the Lahij community and is perceived as a clear marker of Lahij identity.

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

R.1:   Transmitted through apprenticeship primarily within Tat-speaking families, the copper craftsmanship provides local communities with a sense of belonging and continuity; besides securing a source of living, the element helps intergenerational and inter-ethnic communication, fosters respect for the linkage between intangible and material values, and promotes a balanced approach to the use of renewable natural resources, thus strengthening sustainable development;

R.2:   In addition to raising awareness about regional intangible cultural heritage and traditional craftsmanship in general, the inscription of the element bears witness to a dialogue between communities, as well as to creativity within the framework of traditional stylistic patterns that themselves attest to the region’s cultural diversity;

R.3:   The community of practitioners and a non-governmental organization devised a comprehensive set of concrete safeguarding measures pertaining to systematization of community efforts, transmission, research, media promotion, sustainable recycling of source material, and follow-up of expected results; their implementation is fully supported by the government through funding and provision of requisite human resources;

R.4:   The nomination was initiated and carried out in close collaboration between a number of tradition bearers and a working group consisting of experts, several prominent craftspeople, representatives of a local non-governmental organization and the municipality; all concerned parties provided their free, prior and informed consent to the nomination;

R.5:   With the wide support, approval and engagement of the local community, the copper craftsmanship of Lahij was included in 2014 in the Azerbaijani Inventory (Register) of Intangible Cultural Heritage which is maintained by the Documentation and Inventory Board.

  1. Inscribes Copper craftsmanship of Lahij on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Commends the State Party for a well-elaborated file that can serve as a good example regarding all inscription criteria, as well as for the corresponding attention paid to appended video;
  3. Invites the State Party to deliberate in collaboration with all parties concerned whether and how a possible spread of the element outside of primarily the families of Tat‑speaking craftspeople would affect these families and the community of Lahij as a whole.