Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 18.COM 8.B.33

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Indonesia has nominated Jamu wellness culture (No. 01972) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Jamu is a form of herbal medicine and treatment that has been practised in Indonesia since the eighth century. It is based on the belief of curing hot diseases with medicines of a cold nature, and cold diseases with medicines of a hot nature, with a healthy condition being a balance between hot and cold elements in the body. The colours and shapes of plants are also associated with the colours and shapes of the organs whose health they promote. Jamu aims to increase immunity and maintain health. Bearers and practitioners include Jamu makers and the people who make, distribute, cultivate and consume the ingredients. People of all ages take Jamu medicine, and though anyone can make Jamu, most Jamu makers are adult women. The medicine is prepared using herbs and spices often planted by Jamu makers themselves, who then concoct recipes tailored to each customer’s age, lifestyle, and health concerns. The practice is transmitted informally, typically within families and among neighbours, although some practitioners are self-taught. Jamu is also taught in universities. It is associated with respect for confidentiality and trust, and its practice is viewed as a means of strengthening social ties.

  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:   Jamu bearers and practitioners include housewives, Jamu makers, Jamu distributors, farmers who cultivate Jamu ingredients, experts, researchers and the people who use Jamu. Jamu is made from herbs and spices, grown by its makers or bought in markets. It is tailored to each person, according to their health and lifestyle. The knowledge and skills related to Jamu are transmitted informally within families. Jamu is also taught in universities, particularly in pharmacy schools. The element encourages daily interactions between practitioners and their customers, and provides them with a sense of continuity while promoting harmony within the community. The nature of the element contributes to the diversity of cultural expression and dialogue among the communities concerned.

R.2:   Inscription of Jamu wellness culture would promote visibility and awareness of intangible cultural heritage in general and of Jamu specifically, thanks to increased social media attention. It would also increase awareness about the connection between intangible cultural heritage and health, particularly following the COVID-19 pandemic. Bearers would be more enthusiastic about safeguarding and developing Jamu wellness culture, which would be discussed more on social media and the internet. Inscription would also enthuse people who use Jamu overseas. Dialogue between practitioners would increase after inscription, both on an individual level as well as between associations and cooperatives.

R.3:   Past and current safeguarding measures include establishing associations, creating a ‘Jamupedia’ website, organizing Jamu events, and promoting publications and academic research. The State Party and a range of governmental organizations have provided training and guidance to craftspeople and distributors of Jamu, offered meeting rooms to communities, facilitated the construction of gardens for Jamu ingredients, organized events, constructed markets and erected statues with a view towards safeguarding. Proposed safeguarding measures include the preparation of teaching materials, including for school curricula, conducting basic trainings on Jamu making, revitalizing the social function of Jamu in society, local government promotion, and supporting Jamu competitions and safeguarding efforts from a scientific point of view. The proposed safeguarding measures were identified by the communities through a questionnaire. The approach used by the State for the nomination process ensured the involvement of the communities and other stakeholders in the planning process.

R.4:   The nomination form and its instructions were first translated into Indonesian to ensure the Jamu community understood the contents and were able to provide input. The form was analyzed in relation to Jamu wellness culture, and a questionnaire of forty-two questions was drafted for the community. In January 2022, an online public hearing was held to present the nomination file based upon input from the community and ask questions. There were 162 participants, 141 of whom supported the nomination. After completing the nomination form, the element was photographed and filmed, and a verification session was held before community representatives and experts. The letters of consent and the annexed video provide ample proof of free, prior and informed consent to the nomination and clarity on the role of communities.

R.5:   Jamu has been included in the ‘Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage’ since 2019, for which the Directorate of Safeguarding in Culture, Directorate General of Culture, Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology of the Republic of Indonesia is responsible. Communities prepare a form, which is verified by the National Committee for Intangible Cultural Heritage and subsequently inscribed by decree of the Minister of Education, Culture, Research and Technology. Jamu has also been inventoried in the ‘Jamupedia’ website since 2018, which includes articles, videos and pictures provided by community members. Updating the Jamupedia website can take place any time when community members or someone from the general public sends information, and occurs almost every other day.

  1. Decides to inscribe Jamu wellness culture on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Commends the State Party for promoting strong community engagement in the nomination process.