Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 8.COM 8.2

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Algeria, Mali and Niger have nominated Practices and knowledge linked to the Imzad of the Tuareg communities of Algeria, Mali and Niger (No. 00891) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Imzad music is a characteristic feature of Tuareg communities and is performed by women on a single-stringed bowed instrument known as the Imzad. The musician sits with the instrument on her knees and plays it with a wooden, arched bow. Imzad combines music and poetry and is frequently performed on ceremonial occasions in Tuareg camps. The instrument provides melodic accompaniment to poetic or popular songs glorifying the adventures and feats of past heroes: the songs are composed, recited or sung by men, with both men and women participating by producing modulated or high-pitched cries. The music also has a therapeutic function, being played to drive away evil spirits and alleviate the pain of the sick. The sound of the Imzad reflects the player’s feelings and moods, and an inability to master a performance is considered a misfortune. Women craft the instrument from half a dried, hollowed-out gourd: a skin is stretched across the open side and pierced with sound holes in the shape of rosettes, and a wooden bridge in the shape of a V is then added. Imzad musical knowledge is transmitted orally according to traditional methods of observation and assimilation.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List:

R.1:   Transmitted orally through generations, the music of the Imzad plays an important role in strengthening spiritual and cultural values among the Tuareg communities; the importance of women in its practice and transmission is particularly noteworthy;

R.2:   Inscription of the element on the Representative List could contribute to raising awareness of the intangible cultural heritage and particularly the role of women in its transmission, while encouraging cultural dialogue and respect for human creativity among Tuareg communities of the Sahel and others;

R.3:   Safeguarding measures proposed include the development of inventories, research, promotion of practices and the strengthening of transmission, as well as the establishment of management mechanisms;

R.4:   Practitioners of Imzad in all three countries contributed information during the nomination process and provided their free, prior and informed consent;

R.5:   The element was included in 2010 in the National Database of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture in Algeria; in Mali it was included in 2012 in the Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory maintained by the Ministry of Culture; Niger included the element in its General Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2011.

  1. Inscribes Practices and knowledge linked to the Imzad of the Tuareg communities of Algeria, Mali and Niger on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Calls the attention of the submitting States to the need to monitor the implementation of safeguarding measures and to report on them through their periodic reports.