- Takes note that the Syrian Arab Republic has nominated Al-Qudoud al-Halabiya (no. 01578) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:
Al-Qudoud al-Halabiya is a form of traditional music from Aleppo with a fixed melody. Sung for religious and entertainment purposes, the lyrics vary according to the type of event. Well-versed singers can improvise lyrics according to what is happening around them. They are known to use deep vocals and to reach a peak while holding a long note or repeating a phrase, sending their audiences into what is referred to as tarab, or exultation. Communities describe the emotional state they experience when performers reach this peak as ‘being drunk without drinking’. The audience plays a key role in inspiring the performer’s creativity. They traditionally dance to the music by holding their arms out and moving the upper body. Qudoud music is accompanied by a musical ensemble. Aleppans continue to perform the music in the alleyways and souks of the old city. Influenced by social changes while retaining its traditional elements, qudoud has also spread to other parts of the city. Lyrics of a non-religious nature have been added, telling stories of life, love, tradition and honour, sometimes taken from popular poetry. Qudoud is a vital part of Aleppan culture and is viewed as a source of resilience, particularly during war. Knowledge is transmitted informally between mentors and youth, and formally through school curricula, media broadcasts and programmes.
- 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: The element is a form of traditional music with a fixed melody sung for religious or entertainment purposes, with lyrics changing to serve the type of event. Its bearers and practitioners are singers – including an increasing number of women – as well as musical groups, writers, poets, audiences, Sufi scholars and children. Knowledge is transmitted orally in informal contexts between mentors and young people, as well as formally through curricula (such as that at the Sabah Fakhri Institute), media broadcasts and programmes. The element is a symbol of collective identity, hope, continuity and belonging, particularly during war. It is performed at most social celebrations and religious events and is aligned with human rights objectives in that it promotes gender equality, unity and respect among different religions.
R.2: Inscription will allow Aleppo’s diverse local communities to enhance their awareness of intangible cultural heritage and the objectives of the 2003 Convention. It will also promote other Syrian musical expressions and encourage their recognition by communities and national policy makers, not only for their social and entertainment uses, but as expressions with historical significance and as a source of collective national cultural identity. At the international level, inscription would highlight the role of intangible cultural heritage as a tool for promoting community resilience and recovery, bridging differences and supporting social harmony. Inscription would also highlight the process of human creativity as a product of the diversity and cohesion of communities.
R.3: Safeguarding measures have been largely undertaken by bearers and practitioners through international performances, documentaries, regional festivals, digital archives and research. The State has provided logistical and administrative support, produced several publications and organized many cultural festivals involving the element, all despite the limitations caused by armed conflict. Various safeguarding measures are proposed, including facilitating workshops at the national level for children, providing musical equipment to music institutes and clubs, documenting and archiving, integrating the element into important cultural events in Aleppo, and developing legislation to engage communities in the management of their intangible cultural heritage and the protection of intellectual property. The communities concerned proposed various measures during consultations, which included a high percentage of women participants.
R.4: The nomination was proposed by practitioners in 2016 who worked with the Syria Trust for Development in preparing the nomination. The file explains a bottom-up process in terms of how the nomination began and gained the support of government departments. A Committee was formed involving different stakeholders, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and researchers to work on the nomination. The supporting letters of consent establish free, prior and informed consent from a cross-section of unions, associations and practitioners. Both the file and the video demonstrate the involvement of female practitioners.
R.5: The element has been included in the National Inventory for Syrian Intangible Cultural Heritage Elements since 2017 and is administered by the Ministry of Culture and the Syria Trust for Development. The element was identified during the launch of the National Inventory, with concerned bearers providing a description for its inclusion in the National Inventory. The inventory is updated every two years with the full participation and consent of the bearers and with the Ministry of Culture and the Syria Trust for Development acting as the lead.
- Decides to inscribe Al-Qudoud al-Halabiya on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
- Invites the State Party to consider a broader range of safeguarding measures to ensure the element’s viability, in addition to the promotion of the element;
- Commends the State Party for presenting a file that may serve as a good example of how safeguarding intangible cultural heritage can provide communities with a source of resilience in conflict and post-conflict situations and foster peacebuilding and dialogue among communities;
- Further commends the State Party for a file that can serve as a good example of how the inscription of an element on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity can contribute to ensuring the visibility and awareness of the significance of intangible cultural heritage in general.