Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 6.COM 8.20

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Peru has nominated Eshuva, Harákmbut sung prayers of Peru’s Huachipaire people for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, described as follows:

The Huachipaire are an indigenous ethnic group speaking the Harákmbut language and living in Peru’s southern Amazon tropical forest. The Eshuva or sung prayer is an expression of Huachipaire religious myths, performed for healing or as part of traditional ceremonies such as the drinking of masato, a traditional beverage made of fermented manioc, and the initiation of new Eshuva singers. According to oral tradition, the Eshuva songs were learned directly from the forest’s animals, and are sung to summon nature spirits to help to alleviate illness or discomfort or promote well-being. Eshuva songs are performed without musical instruments and sung only in the Harákmbut language. As such they play a key role in safeguarding the language and preserving the group’s values and worldview. Transmission takes place orally, with the singer teaching apprentices the specific function of each song according to the ailment it is meant to heal. Eshuva songs are at the risk of being lost, however, since transmission has been interrupted due to lack of interest on the part of Huachipaire youth, recent internal migration and the influence and assimilation of external cultural elements. At present, there are only twelve known singers among the Huachipaire.

  1. Decides that, from the information provided in nomination file 00531, Eshuva, Harákmbut sung prayers of Peru’s Huachipaire people satisfy the criteria for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, as follows:

U.1:   The Eshuva prayers, sung in the Harákmbut language, are a fundamental expression of the Huachipaire community’s worldview and have been handed down from generation to generation, serving to maintain their mother tongue;

U.2:   Changes in the socio-economic structure of the community, emigration of young people, and an interruption in the chain of transmission of the knowledge associated with these sung prayers combine to threaten its continuity;

U.3:   The actual efforts of safeguarding the element will be strengthened by the process of the transmission by the elders through the performances of their myths and songs in the malocas or houses of memory and of the knowledge about other expressions to the youth. This will be completed by the research and registration. The contribution of the community will be also secured by the validation of the information through the communities’ assembly and participatory workshops;

U.4:   The Huachipaire communities have adopted the Huachipaire ethno-development plan with the Regional Bureau of Culture of Cusco. This means that the Huachiparies themselves are involved in the process of safeguarding as main actors and managers; the community of Santa Rosa de Huacaria sent tangible evidence of its free, prior and informed consent in the form of a traditional arrow adorned with feathers of local birds and symbolizing the will and commitment of the people;

U.5:   The element was declared in March 2010 to be Cultural Heritage of the Nation by the Ministry of Culture’s Directorate of Registration and Studies of Culture in Contemporary Peru.

  1. Inscribes Eshuva, Harákmbut sung prayers of Peru’s Huachipaire people on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding;
  2. Encourages the State Party to further develop a better conceived safeguarding plan with the full involvement of the communities concerned and with explicit focus on the specific threats that they face, emphasizing transmission of the element to children and its practice by them;
  3. Further encourages the State Party to revise and structure a budget that reflects the activities and actions that may be identified in the safeguarding plan.