Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 11.COM 10.B.13

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Georgia has nominated Living culture of three writing systems of the Georgian alphabet (No. 01205) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The evolution of Georgia’s written language has produced three alphabets – Mrgvlovani, Nuskhuri and Mkhedruli – which all remain in use today. Mrgvlovani was the first alphabet from which Nuskhuri was derived and then Mkhedruli. The alphabets coexist thanks to their different cultural and social functions, reflecting an aspect of Georgia’s diversity and identity. Their ongoing use in a cultural sense also gives communities a feeling of continuity. The alphabets Mrgvlovani and Nuskhuri are practised and taught informally predominately by the community of the Georgian Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church. For example, the alphabets feature in texts used by church worshippers, such as the psalms and hymns and on inscriptions of display items used in the church, like the icons. Traditional craftspeople (goldsmiths, embroiderers, icon-painters and sculptors) who create pieces for the church can also be considered as practitioners and transmitters of the alphabets, as well as some theological schools, tertiary institutions, linguists, scholars and historians. Georgia’s educational system, however, is based on the Mkhedruli alphabet. Taught in primary and high school, the Mkhedruli alphabet is also transmitted informally in the home from older to younger generations. The Mrgvlovani and Nuskhuri alphabets are taught in schools in Georgia but at a basic level.

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

R.1:   The living culture of three writing systems of the Georgian alphabet is practised by the great majority of the Georgian population as an important part of their cultural identity and self-expression. They recognize it as part of their cultural heritage, strengthening the cultural unity and diversity of the nation and providing a sense of historical continuity. The element is transmitted to the next generation through formal and informal training in churches, schools and by electronic means. The element provides access to the cultural and literary heritage of Georgian society;

R.2:   The inscription of the element on the Representative List is likely to contribute to the visibility of writing systems as intangible cultural heritage worldwide. It is also likely to encourage dialogue between communities and promote the diversity of writing systems and graphic creativity, as well as cooperation between secular and religious communities at a national level. Human creativity would be enhanced through the use of different forms of expression and communication related to the element;

R.3:   Historically, the element has been protected by national authorities, numerous civil society organizations and local communities. The file provides sufficient information concerning future safeguarding measures related to legislation, education, research, new technologies (improvement of computer fonts and software) and support of secular and religious communities involved in practising the element. These will involve national institutions, the Orthodox Church and local communities. The submitting State confirms that different institutions and groups were involved in planning the proposed safeguarding measures;

R.4:   The submitting State describes consultations and participation of a range of parties concerned, including representatives of government, religious institutions, communities, non-governmental organizations and experts in the nomination process. The attached evidence of consent is mostly in the form of voluminous petitions. The submitting State confirms that there are no restrictions associated with the element;

R.5:   The file demonstrates that the Georgian State and the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation attributed the status of National Monument to the element in 2015. The inventorying process was undertaken with the participation of the communities and groups concerned and relevant non-governmental organizations and the inventory is regularly updated.

  1. Inscribes Living culture of three writing systems of the Georgian alphabet on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Thanks the delegation of Georgia for the clarifications provided to the Committee on the information included in the file concerning criterion R.5.