Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 18.COM 8.B.18

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Azerbaijan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Tajikistan, Türkiye and Uzbekistan have nominated Art of illumination: Təzhib/Tazhib/Zarhalkori/Tezhip/Naqqoshlik (No. 01981) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Illumination is a centuries-old decorative art practised on the pages of manuscripts, calligraphic texts and miniatures. The main component is gold leaf or gold paint, both of which entail specific knowledge and techniques. Natural pigments are also used, and synthetic paints such as watercolour or gouache have become widespread in recent years. Today, traditional and contemporary interpretations of the element can be seen in manuscripts, miniatures and calligraphy as well as in stand-alone pieces of art. The practice is transmitted through apprenticeships as well as through formal and non-formal education, including in many universities, academies, research centres, and public and private workshops. The colours, patterns, and motifs used have symbolic meanings, and it is common to embellish religious texts, literary and historical manuscripts, marriage deeds and even commercial treaties with illuminations. The practice is therefore closely tied to the beliefs and cultural practices of communities. Illumination strengthens the sense of cultural continuity for communities at national, regional and international levels. And as the traditional knowledge and methods of illumination are also used in the restoration of ancient manuscripts and folios, the practice also contributes to the preservation of historical and cultural objects and to their safeguarding for future generations.

  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:   The art of illumination is a traditional decorative art that uses traditional forms and motifs, applying gold paint or gold leaf. It includes the gold-making process and the illumination itself. Illumination is applied to manuscripts and used as art. It has also influenced architecture and household decorations. Bearers and practitioners include experts and apprentices in the different submitting States, as well as NGOs, guilds, academics and universities. It is also commonly practiced by disadvantaged groups or people with disabilities, because of its positive social, physical and mental effects. It is a means of social engagement and integration. Since many practitioners of the element are women, it also contributes to their empowerment and provides opportunities for artistic expression.

R.2:   Inscription would contribute to the development of documentation, research, and inventorying in the submitting States. Local governments and authorities in the submitting States are expected to organize more safeguarding activities for the element, thereby increasing the visibility of the 2003 Convention. Inscription would promote the development of policies for decorative arts and crafts at the national level, enhancing understanding of the spirit of the 2003 Convention. Inscription would also promote new forms of collaboration around the element and other elements of traditional decorative arts at the international level, thus raising awareness globally of the importance of the 2003 Convention and of UNESCO’s efforts within the framework of the Convention. Inscription would situate the multinational nomination in a context of exchange and collaborative safeguarding measures. It would encourage other States to join the nomination. Inscription would lead to increased respect for diversity in the submitting States and beyond.

R.4:   Türkiye initiated the multinational nomination file following a request from illuminators and NGOs. The participation of communities, practitioners, bearers, States Parties and other stakeholders in the nomination process included preparing the files, nominating the element and inventorying and providing data or information via several online and in-person meetings. On both the national and international levels, several meetings were held to prepare the multinational nomination. Free, prior and informed consent of the stakeholders was obtained, and the consent forms are included in the nomination file.

R.5:   The element was included in the Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2021, the Iranian National Representative Inventory for Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2010, the National Inventory List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Tajikistan in 2022, the Intangible Cultural Heritage National Inventory of Türkiye (ICH National Inventory) in 2014, and the National ICH Inventory of the Republic of Uzbekistan in 2021. Each State provided information on the role of communities in the inventorying process and the frequency with which the inventories are updated.

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

R.3:   The element’s viability has been maintained by the continued practice and transmission by its bearers and practitioners, often also in collaboration with NGOs, foundations and research institutions. Past and ongoing measures include apprenticeships, schooling and research in educational institutions, contests, and promotional and networking activities. The States Parties took policy or legislative measures, established educational initiatives, published books and organized competitions, fairs and exhibitions. The proposed safeguarding measures will be implemented and monitored by the submitting States. They focus on transmitting the element, raising awareness and visibility, developing international cooperation and fostering common efforts. They also include documentation, research and preservation measures. Information on community participation in planning and implementing the measures in the submitting States is provided.

  1. Decides to inscribe Art of illumination: Təzhib/Tazhib/Zarhalkori/Tezhip/Naqqoshlik on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Reminds the States Parties of the importance of ensuring the widest possible participation of the communities concerned in planning and implementing safeguarding measures;
  3. Further reminds the States Parties that listing numbers and organizations is insufficient to illustrate the participation of communities in planning and implementing safeguarding measures.