Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 18.COM 8.B.31

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Grenada has nominated Traditional wooden boatbuilding in Carriacou and Petite Martinique (No. 01893) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Traditional wooden boatbuilding is a centuries-old tradition practised in Carriacou and Petite Martinique in Grenada. The men, women and children in the boat-building communities each have specific roles and functions during each stage of the process. Established shipwrights build the boats, felling trees that have been hand-selected for the natural bends and contours of the wood. This must take place during the right phase of the moon, based on guidance provided by elders. The work cannot start in earnest until rum and water have been sprinkled on the keel and stem for the ancestors. Once the boat is completed, it is given a traditional blessing and designated godparents. The godparents, traditionally children under the age of eight, are tasked with revealing the boat’s name, which is embroidered on a red flag to be flown from the deck. Women and girls prepare the traditional smoked food and cake for the launching celebration. While traditionally enacted by men, the practice increasingly involves women who provide technical assistance in the process. The knowledge and skills are transmitted informally, through oral instruction and hands-on learning. The practice promotes camaraderie and social ties, as people gather around the construction site to observe and participate in the process and celebrate milestones.

  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:   Traditional wooden boatbuilding in Carriacou and Petite Martinique includes the building of the boats as well as the surrounding traditions and rituals, such as the festivities around launching a new boat. Bearers and practitioners are men, women and children within the boatbuilding communities. Master shipwrights hand down their skills to young men in informal settings, via oral instruction in an apprenticeship process, where learning by doing is central. The traditions related to the launching customs are also passed down orally. Boatbuilding is a social activity that unites the community at different stages of the construction. It shapes strong work relationships and social connections, which are also strengthened during the launch of the boats. Boats are a means of transportation and communication, and intrinsically connected to the maritime cultural identity. They are used in fishing, trading and for recreation.

R.2:   Inscription would promote boatbuilding in Carriacou and Petite Martinique. It would raise awareness of other traditional practices and encourage communities and practitioners across Grenada to share and promote them. It would also help promote and enhance the cultural and economic roles of creative industries, especially for the communities concerned. Nationally, inscription would encourage other communities to inventory, safeguard and potentially nominate their living heritage as well. At the international level, inscription of the element, and increased attention to other intangible cultural heritage, would contribute to sustainable tourism. It would enhance dialogue with authorities on strengthening the safeguarding of living heritage, and initiate dialogue with other boatbuilding communities. The element encourages sustainable development, as wind-powered sails provide a carbon-neutral transportation option, and the wood used does not have negative effects on the marine ecosystem.

R.3:   Past and current safeguarding measures include promoting boatbuilding among youth, holding community fundraisers, and creating a small fleet of sailing boats and safety equipment for educational purposes. Local corporate partners provide sponsorship for the regattas in which the boats are used and the State Party allocates budget to promote the regattas and ensure the inclusion of the boats. Proposed safeguarding measures include raising awareness and documenting the element. State support will include documenting and updating the inventory, which serves as a planning tool. The State will also coordinate and facilitate the planning and execution of the educational efforts, promote collaboration and provide sponsorship. The communities concerned will be in charge of intergenerational transmission via an educational programme.

R.4:   This inscription was initiated by members of the communities concerned and other stakeholders through informal engagements over the years. Community participation in the nomination process is adequately demonstrated and includes active participation of concerned practitioners and island-wide announcements to the general public. The nomination form is accompanied by a collection of relevant and diverse consent letters, providing information and indicating appreciation for the nomination process.

R.5:   The element was included in the Grenada National Trust ‘Proud of My Heritage’ Project and ICH Inventory in 2022, and in the ‘Sloops and Schooners built in Carriacou and Petite Martinique’ in 2021. The inventory is administered by the Grenada National Trust and the documentation for the element is administered by the Grenada National Museum, the Grenada Cultural Foundation, and the Carriacou and Petit Martinique Festivals Board. The element was identified and defined by the bearers, practitioners and custodians of the element in a process led by two young women, each representing the two islands named in the file. The inventories were created in parallel with the preparation of the nomination and will be updated annually through the canvassing of practitioners and individuals to verify and revise existing information.

  1. Decides to inscribe Traditional wooden boatbuilding in Carriacou and Petite Martinique on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Commends the State Party on its first inscription;
  3. Recalls the importance of using vocabulary appropriate to the spirit of the Convention and of avoiding expressions such as ‘unique’ and ‘authentic’;
  4. Encourages the State Party to pay attention to the potential risk of over-commercialization of the element, and to ensure that any unintended consequences from tourism are monitored and well-managed following the inscription of the element.