Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 17.COM 7.A.3

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Viet Nam has nominated Art of pottery-making of Chăm people (No. 01574) for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:

Chăm pottery products are mainly household utensils, religious objects and fine art works, including jars, pots, trays and vases. They are made by women and viewed as an expression of individual creativity based on the knowledge transmitted within the community. Instead of using a turntable, the women revolve around the piece to shape it. The pottery is not glazed but fired outdoors with firewood and straw for seven to eight hours, at a temperature of about 800 degrees Celsius. Raw materials (clay, sand, water, firewood and straw) are collected locally, and the knowledge and skills are passed on to younger generations within families through hands-on practice. The practice gives women the opportunity to exchange and interact with each other in productive labour and social activities as well as in vocational education for their children, further enhancing their role in society. It can also help bolster family income and safeguard the habits, customs and cultural identities of Chăm people in Viet Nam. However, despite many safeguarding efforts, the viability of the craft is still at risk for several reasons, including the impact of urbanization on access to raw materials, insufficient adaptation to the market economy and lack of interest among younger generations.

  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 traditional crafts of preparing and making the Chăm pottery products by hand and using simple tools. The bearers and practitioners are mainly women from the Chăm people. The knowledge and skills of the element are transmitted within families, family lines and communities. The transmission is conducted through storytelling and daily practice. The element involves exchange and interaction between practitioners in labour and social activities and enhances the role of Chăm women in modern society. The element is connected with the art of folk performance, customs, practices, beliefs and festivals, including ceremonies related to the Chăm pottery craft ancestor. It contributes to the upkeeping of Chăm cultural identities in Southeast Asia.

U.2:   The file explains that there is currently a small number of artisans, practitioners and apprentices in the pottery villages. Despite many safeguarding efforts, the viability of the element is still at risk because of various threats. These threats include urbanisation, which has affected the spaces of the traditional handicraft villages and impacted the availability of raw materials, the high cost of raw materials, the advanced age of skilled artisans, the reluctance of younger generations to learn the craft, the lack of product diversification and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.3:   The file details the safeguarding plan for the element, which will be implemented over four years (2023–2026). The objectives of each year, and the specific activities and intended results, are clearly articulated in the file. The proposed safeguarding activities aim to address the challenges explained in U.2. and include training, documentation, addressing the issues concerning the raw materials and creating sustainable livelihoods for the practitioners. A detailed timetable and budget are provided in the file.

U.4:   The community, groups and individuals concerned participated in the nomination process by providing information and contributing to the inventorying process. Various members of the community participated in filming and taking photos of the process of pottery making and the craft ancestor's worship. Furthermore, 354 artisans gave their free, prior and informed consent for the nomination of the element in the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. The file indicates that certain customary rules need to be observed if visitors wish to participate in the worshipping ceremony related to the element to honour ancestors.

U.5:   The element is included on the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage and the National Inventory Report of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The inventories are maintained by the departments and institutions at the national, provincial and city levels. The file explains that the inventorying of the element involved the communities in Bàu Trúc and Bình Đức villages, which cooperated with the Departments of Culture, Sports and Tourism in Ninh Thuận and Bình Thuận provinces and with the Centre for Research and Exhibition of Chăm Culture (Ninh Thuận province) in surveys, inventory, filming and taking photos. The inventory is updated every year before 31 October.

  1. Decides to inscribe Art of pottery-making of Chăm people 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 resulting from firing the pottery and its impact on the health and well-being of the communities;
  3. Reminds the State Party of the importance of ensuring the broad participation of the communities concerned in the implementation of the safeguarding plan.