Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 16.COM 8.B.17

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Iraq has nominated Traditional craft skills and arts of Al-Naoor (no. 01694) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Al-Naoor is a wooden wheel that rotates on its axis. It is used on the streams of the Euphrates River in Iraq, where water levels are lower than the adjacent fields. In order to raise the river water to the fields, the communities devised the Al-Naoor wheel. The wheel is made of twenty-four columns of wooden sticks and twenty-four clay jugs attached to the outer circumference with palm leaf ropes. Ranging between eight and twelve metres in diameter, the wheel is installed vertically between two stone pedestals on the streams of the river. As the current causes the wheel to rotate, the jugs collect the water from the river, carry the water to the top of the wheel, and pour it into the waterways leading to the fields. The day of the Al-Naoor mounting is marked by celebrations, including traditional poetry performances, singing and dancing. More recently, the energy produced by the Al-Naoor wheel has also been used to generate electricity and to operate the water mills used to grind grain for flour. Al-Naoor is a source of livelihood for many, including the artisan carpenters, pottery makers and builders involved in its construction.

  1. Considers that, from the information included in the file, and provided by the submitting State through the dialogue process, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1: The practice of the element is made possible thanks to the involvement of stakeholders notably carpenters, pottery makers, builders, local farmers, orchard owners, youth and even children. The knowledge and skills related to the element are transmitted mainly informally from parents to children. Books, poems, meetings and formal education are also used as a means of transmission. The element has a social and economic function among the communities and reinforces the principles of mutual respect, cooperation and understanding. The element is compatible with existing international human rights instruments.

R.2:  The file demonstrates how inscription would promote visibility of intangible cultural heritage and its significance through increased awareness within the communities themselves. It would also increase interest among younger generations and encourage the identification of other elements that may require urgent safeguarding. On the national and international levels, inscription would attract the attention of the national media and may encourage laws to support intangible cultural heritage safeguarding in general as well as international cooperation through field exchanges, research, studies and conferences. Respect for cultural diversity would be enhanced among the various cultural groups in the upper Euphrates region.

R.3: Current and past initiatives include the creation of several Naoors by civil society and private individuals; photo exhibits and the creation of prototypes; and cultivation of mulberry and palm trees, which are the primary materials used to construct Al-Naoor. The State Party itself has organized a special symposium on Naoors. The proposed safeguarding measures include the establishment of a national working team comprised of the communities, civil society, government agencies and individuals concerned for the implementation of safeguarding measures. A notable feature of the safeguarding plan is the establishment of specialized centres to train young people in other traditional craft skills and arts related to the element. The State Party will also provide technical and financial support in the areas of agriculture associated with the element and the publication of various text and audio-visual materials.

R.4:  The members of the National Committee conducted many field trips in the Upper Euphrates region and held several extensive meetings and seminars with the communities, groups and individuals concerned of both sexes, as well as with researchers, heritage and cultural experts, representatives of governmental authorities and non-governmental organizations and other concerned bodies. The free, prior and informed consent of the relevant communities, groups and individuals is established. The nomination file further shows that there are no customary practices governing access to any aspects related to the element.

R.5:  The element was included in the National List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Iraq in 2018. The process of identification, definition and inventorying involving communities, groups and individuals is sufficiently described. Updating will be conducted every one to two years with the cooperation and participation of the community members concerned.

  1. Decides to inscribe Traditional craft skills and arts of Al-Naoor on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Reminds the submitting State of the importance of ensuring the most active possible participation of the communities concerned in every aspect of the safeguarding measures.