Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 12.COM 11.B.3

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Azerbaijan has nominated Dolma making and sharing tradition, a marker of cultural identity (No. 01188) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Dolma tradition is a set of knowledge and skills relating to the preparation of the traditional meal ‘dolma’, which takes the form of small fillings (containing meat, onion, rice, peas and spices) wrapped in fresh or pre-cooked leaves or stuffed in fruits and vegetables. The name of the tradition originates from the shortened Turkish word ‘doldurma’, meaning ‘stuffed’. The meal is shared within families or local communities, with different methods, techniques and ingredients used to prepare the traditional meal by different communities. The tradition is present throughout the Republic of Azerbaijan, and is perceived as a central culinary practice in all regions. It is enjoyed on special occasions and gatherings and expresses solidarity, respect and hospitality. It is transmitted from generation to generation and transcends ethnic and religious boundaries within the country. Bearers consist of traditional cooking practitioners, mostly women, and the wider community of people that use dolma for various cultural and social purposes. The tradition is transmitted through parent-child relationships, while formal transmission mainly occurs in vocational and apprenticeship schools. The element enjoys great visibility within Azerbaijani society, and its viability is ensured by the communities through numerous awareness-raising activities and events such as festivals, vocational schools that teach the tradition and the preparation of publications on the subject.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1:   The Dolma making and sharing tradition has a strong social function, being perceived as a central culinary practice by the communities concerned. It is practised both by individuals and collectively by women preparing the meal during a huge range of cultural and social activities, ceremonies, rituals, traditional holidays, weddings and festive events. The knowledge and skills related to the practice are transmitted through observation, communication, the explanation of the techniques and the principle of ‘learning by doing’.

R.2:   The inscription of the dolma tradition on the Representative List would contribute to fostering intercultural and intergenerational dialogue between community-bearers of the practice from different cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds and would encourage them to benefit from the socialization opportunities that the tradition offers its bearers. The inscription would promote respect for cultural diversity and human creativity, taking into account the great variety of dolma ingredients and different cooking methods used by the communities. It would also promote the diversity of ethnic cultures and encourage respect for the differences of others and for the norms of coexistence. The file further demonstrates that the inscription of the element would raise awareness about traditional culinary practices that use natural ingredients available in local contexts, advocating for nutritional values that contribute to the maintenance of good health.

R.3:   The viability of the element is safeguarded by the communities, groups, individuals and authorities concerned through awareness-raising events, publications aimed at enhancing the promotion of dolma making and its social and cultural functions within society, capacity-building sessions and the organization of dolma festivals. The government provides active financial and logistical support to vocational schools that teach the dolma tradition. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has developed a series of measures to improve the State policy on the safeguarding of intangible heritage. The programme of social and economic development contains a chapter on supporting agricultural practices and living heritage, promoting the use of land for vine crops for the production of dolma. The active commitment of the practitioners is also well demonstrated. A special commission comprising ministry officials, practitioners of the Azerbaijan Culinary Association and representatives of local municipalities will be established to monitor the effects of the increased visibility of the dolma tradition and the sustainability of the safeguarding measures proposed.

R.4:   Initiated by Azerbaijan Culinary Association, the communities concerned, the non-governmental organization Simurg, local municipality representatives and a number of individual dolma bearers and practitioners actively participated in all stages of the preparation of the nomination and signed letters of consent. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism facilitated the preparation process through the creation of a coordination group in support of the nomination, with three meetings being held in 2015 and 2016. Women bearers participated in a large number of these efforts.

R.5:   Based on the data provided by the local communities, practitioners and non-governmental organizations, the element was included in Azerbaijan’s Register of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2010 (under the section ‘Culinary practices – knowledge of traditional foodways’). The Register was established by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan, which entrusted its supervision to the Documentation and Inventory Board. The Register is updated every three years. The extract provides information on the element, along with its main features.

  1. Inscribes Dolma making and sharing tradition, a marker of cultural identity on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Invites the State Party to ensure access to the knowledge, practice and transmission of the element for all, regardless of their gender and social affiliations, and encourages it to ensure the broad participation of the communities concerned in the safeguarding measures carried out to promote and reinforce the viability of the element;
  3. Encourages the State Party to share safeguarding experiences with other States Parties with similar elements.