Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 17.COM 7.A.1

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Chile has nominated Quinchamalí and Santa Cruz de Cuca pottery (No. 01847) for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:

Chili's Quinchamalí and Santa Cruz de Cuca pottery is embedded in the mestizo cultural tradition of central Chile and is characterized by black functional and decorative objects with white accents, created using techniques dating back centuries. Functional items include pots, fountains and tableware. Decorative items include figurines related to the peasant landscape and local characters (such as the guitarrera, a peasant woman carrying a guitar). Potters sell their creations in their homes, at local stalls, at the Chillán Market and at craft fairs, as well as through intermediaries. Women hold the knowledge and practices of pottery, forming female lineages with distinctive styles. A source of social and economic autonomy, the practice highlights women's non-subordinate role in gender relations. However, the viability of the element is threatened by demographic and environmental factors and precarious social contexts. With young people moving to urban areas, the possibility for transmission is diminished. Access to raw materials is also becoming increasingly difficult due to a loss of biodiversity and soil degradation. Furthermore, the absence of regulation favours the appropriation of the intellectual property around pottery knowledge and its use by designers and artists for profit, without sharing the benefits with the practitioners.

  1. Considers that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:

U.1:   The element involves the craft skills related to the creation of black pottery objects with white accents. The production encompasses various stages, from the gathering of raw clay materials to the production and finishing of the products. Women are the bearers of the knowledge and practices of the element. They pass on the knowledge and skills to their daughters and other women in the family and the neighbourhood, who learn by observing and doing the tasks. The transmission of the element also takes place in the workshop of the Quinchamalí School, in which some potters collaborate and contribute to the dissemination of pottery techniques and know-how to the children who study there. The production process promotes social cohesion in the town and nurtures social relations while highlighting the importance of women in popular culture.

U.2:   The file explains the various threats to the element, describing in particular three risk factors which highlight the need for urgent safeguarding of the element: demographic, environmental and social. In the two villages where the element is practiced, the average age of the potters is fifty-nine. In ten years' time, there will only be twelve active potters under sixty years old. Young people are migrating to the city, which in turn affects transmission of the element to the next generation. The migration from the countryside to the city has also negatively impacted pottery making as a viable employment option for young women. Regarding the environmental threats, the proliferation of pine and eucalyptus for timber export has affected agriculture and access to raw materials for the pottery making. For example, the supply of polishing stones that the potters need to create their pieces have been adversely affected. Finally, regarding the social threat, the absence of regulation of the intellectual property around pottery making has led designers and artists to use the element for profit, without sharing the benefits with practitioners.

U.3:   The proposed safeguarding plan is based on two main goals: (a) to safeguard the element through measures pertinent to the community's cultural trajectory, focused on reducing the risk factors that threaten its continuity and validity and on guaranteeing its viability and its promotion at the local and national levels; and (b) to coordinate the State's efforts with the pottery making community and other local actors. The plan articulates seven primary objectives, which ensuring include access to raw materials and monitoring the safeguarding of the ecosystem, among others. The key activities, as well as details of the implementation timeline and budget, were described in the file. The safeguarding plan was developed with the involvement of the communities which incorporated specific commitments from the communities and the institutions involved in the safeguarding measures.

U.4:   The file explains the various stages of the preparation of the nomination file, including the meetings and workshops involving the communities concerned. Following the agreement by the assembly of artisans to nominate the element, community meetings were held in December 2017 and August 2018 to create the safeguarding plan and video. In March 2019, fifty-four members of the communities met at a knowledge transfer workshop on the nomination procedures and agreed to create a monitoring team for the nomination, with the participation of the community and the Quinchamalí School, as well as local and national government officials. Various other meetings were held to discuss the safeguarding plan and validate the nomination file. Fifty-nine artisans expressly stated their consent and approval for the nomination.

U.5:   The element is included on the Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory in Chile, which is managed and updated by the Ministry of Cultures, Arts and Heritage. The element was included in the inventory on 21 December 2017. The inventory is updated every three years. The procedure for updating the Inventory consists of a collaborative assessment and diagnosis, which is carried out by an interdisciplinary research team, working in coordination with the monitoring team, members of the national and regional intangible cultural heritage teams, and representatives of the community itself.

  1. Decides to inscribe Quinchamalí and Santa Cruz de Cuca pottery on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding;
  2. Encourages the State Party to take into account the environmental impact arising from the practice of the element, and to introduce safeguarding measures to mitigate the effects of pollution and its impact on the health and well-being of the communities.