Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 14.COM 10.B.36

The Committee,

  1. Takes note that Tajikistan has nominated Falak (No. 01455) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Falak is a musical genre associated with the musical culture of mountain-dwelling Tajiks and includes vocal and instrumental varieties in both one-part and cyclic forms. Falak may be performed as a vocal a cappella song or solo with a single instrumental accompaniment or instrumental ensemble. The bearers and practitioners of Falak, known as ‘falakkhons’, are master singers and instrumentalists who perform at a range of festivities, ceremonies and ritual events. Sometimes two falakkhons are invited, creating a sense of competition as listeners express support for one or the other performer. Falak is considered as an integral part of traditional cultural life in Kulob and Badakhshan and is closely connected to the spirituality of the communities concerned. It includes three major sub-genres: ‘Falaki Dashti’ (‘earthly falak’), performed solo with instrumental accompaniment; ‘Falaki motami’, performed during funeral processions by female family members of the deceased; and ‘Beparvofalak’, a vocal style in which the singer performs the melody in a high tessitura. Many other varieties of Falak are also known among the local population. Falakkhons and the community-based ensembles of shogirds (disciples) that form around them are not only tradition-bearers but tradition-innovators. Transmitting falak means transmitting the ability not only to perform falak, but also to create new falaks, an ability that is developed notably through the master-disciple training system.

  1. Considers 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:   Falak is an integral part of traditional cultural life in the regions of Kulob and Badakhshan. It is connected with people’s religious and personal lives, which endows the element with social roles and cultural importance. It also serves as a source of livelihood for performers, who enjoy great social prestige among the population because knowledge of Falak is considered as integral to the continuity of the family itself.

R.4:   About fifty communities from Badakhshan, Kulob, Dushanbe and other cities and places were involved in the preparation of the nomination of Falak. They include traditional schools, family ensembles of Falak, the non-governmental organization Odam va Olam, individuals from well-known falakkhons and local bearers. These communities expressed their opinions about the nomination, attended the concerts and provided their consent.

  1. Further considers that the information included in the file is not sufficient to allow the Committee to determine whether the following criterion for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity is satisfied:

R.3:   Though many safeguarding measures have been undertaken to ensure the viability of Falak, the proposed safeguarding measures are not concrete. The file provides a list of what should be done but without proposing any specific activities or demonstrating how the communities, groups and individuals concerned were involved in planning the proposed safeguarding measures. Furthermore, the file suggests that the nomination was prepared without a sufficient understanding of the Convention. In particular, the importance of the evolving and dynamic nature of intangible cultural heritage does not appear to be recognized.

  1. Also considers that, on the basis of the subsequent information provided by the submitting State, at its present session concerning how the inscription of Falak could serve to raise the visibility of cultural heritage in general, and how it would encourage dialogue and promote cultural diversity, the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, are satisfied:

R.2:   The inscription of Falak would encourage the visibility of intangible cultural heritage in general and encourage dialogue by reconnecting the Badakhshan and Kulob mountainous regions, promoting a traditional mode of transmission from master to apprentice (Ustod - Shogird), fostering national legislation on intangible cultural heritage and music, supporting communities of craftsmen and traditional musicians, bringing generations, genders, urban and rural populations together. The inscription of the element on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity would promote respect for cultural diversity, increasing its recognition as a world music phenomenon. The file focuses on the element, showing how the inscription would have a positive effect on the viability and promotion of Falak, its practitioners and Tajik people more widely, representing a sign of pride and recognition for the community.

R.5:   Falak was inscribed on the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Tajikistan in 2016 and each element is updated every three or five years after its inscription. The inventory was drawn up with the participation of the communities, groups and non-governmental organizations concerned during the inventorying process in 2001-2012. The Research Institute of Culture and Information (RICI) is in charge of the inventory.

  1. Decides to refer the nomination of Falak to the submitting State Party and invites it to resubmit the nomination to the Committee for examination during a following cycle;
  2. Encourages the State Party to ensure community participation throughout the process of revising the file.