Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 18.COM 8.B.27

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Côte d’Ivoire has nominated Traditional skills of loincloth weaving in Côte d’Ivoire (No. 01949) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

In Côte d’Ivoire, the traditional skills of loincloth weaving are characterised by the specific weaving techniques and raw materials used. The fabrics woven by the Gouro, Baoule, Malinke, Senufo, Koulango, Nafana and Abron communities are made from dyed cotton threads of various colours. They are woven in narrow strips on a hand loom designed by the weaver. The strips are then joined together to form a fabric with different patterns. The traditional skills are specific to each ethno-linguistic group and reflect the social and cultural contexts of each community. For instance, among the Dida communities, the textiles are made from raffia fibres attached to a wooden stake and woven crossways using a spoon. The resulting fabric is usually beige in colour but can be dyed other colours, such as black, indigo, red and yellow. Among the Senufo communities, women weave the unbleached cotton by hand, and men decorate the fabric with wooden spatulas and natural paints. The patterns are inspired by rituals and religious ceremonies representing elements of Senufo cosmology and symbolic animals, including the hornbill, panther and turtle. These woven fabrics are cultural symbols that are generally used for traditional ceremonies such as weddings, celebrations and funerals.

  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 bearers are loom makers, carders, spinners, dyers, weavers, embroiderers and seamsters of all genders. They are all highly dependent on one another, and practitioners often form family-based handicraft enterprises. The practice is transmitted informally within families and communities, as well as through the National Costume Museum of Grand-Bassam and higher and vocational education institutions. University research institutes and the Ministry of Culture are involved in transmission via scientific activities and cultural festivals. The fabrics reflect the social and cultural realities and identities of the bearer communities. The element is compatible with the principles of sustainable development, as it supports the use of natural materials and serves as an important form of income for its practitioners.

R.2:   Locally, inscription would draw the attention of the general public to the existence and importance of this traditional craft. It would also enhance the perception of the bearers and practitioners within the community. It would raise awareness among the communities concerned and the general public about the importance of Côte d’Ivoire’s intangible cultural heritage. At the international level, it would build cultural bridges across geographical and linguistic borders, while strengthening international cultural cooperation. Inscription would increase dialogue and sharing of expertise between the different communities, heritage professionals and scholars for in-depth studies and safeguarding and transmission efforts. It would foster creativity within bearer communities and inspire designers, stylists and pattern makers.

R.3:   Communities’ past and current safeguarding measures include showcasing the element at regional, national and international festivals and events, establishing dedicated craft centres, exchanging experiences and skills and planting cotton fields. The State Party contributes through regulatory, institutional and development actions. Proposed safeguarding measures include transmission, research and documentation, education, publicizing, promoting, protecting and follow-up in relation to inscription of the element. The State Party will coordinate and largely finance the safeguarding measures and carry them out in collaboration with all stakeholders. The community actively participated in establishing the measures and their recommendations are included therein. The communities and groups concerned will also be involved in implementing the measures through the chiefdoms, community and village organizations and craft cooperatives.

R.4:   Information and awareness-raising missions were conducted in 2019 and 2020 by the Ivorian Cultural Heritage Office, together with Regional Directorates of Culture. Data was collected from practitioners in order to prepare the nomination dossier, and included information on modes of practice and transmission, meanings, functions, threats and proposed safeguarding measures. A two-day national workshop was held, bringing together relevant stakeholders to approve the final nomination file. Attached to the nomination are the signed consents of community members. No customary practices inhibit access to the element, but some garments made from the weaved textile are reserved for people from specific classes.

R.5:   The Directorate of Cultural Heritage and the Ivorian Cultural Heritage Office are in charge of the Inventory of the national cultural heritage inventory list, in which ‘Traditional skills of loincloth weaving in Côte d’Ivoire’ has been included since 2022. Practitioners, bearers and communities have been involved in the inventory process since 2016, which was led by a National Coordination Committee. The inventory is updated annually. New elements are added and data is updated at the request of the communities made to the Regional Directorates of Culture.

  1. Decides to inscribe Traditional skills of loincloth weaving in Côte d’Ivoire on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Encourages the State Party, when submitting nomination files in the future, to avoid standardized letters of consent, and to ensure that consent is provided not just for safeguarding measures but for the entire nomination;
  3. Commends the State Party for a file that can serve as a good example of a widely-practiced traditional activity that is compatible with the principles of sustainable development.