Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 9.COM 10.19

The Committee

  1. Takes note that India has nominated Traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab, India (No. 00845) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The craft of the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru constitutes the traditional technique of manufacturing brass and copper utensils in Punjab. The metals used – copper, brass and certain alloys – are believed to be beneficial for health. The process begins with procuring cooled cakes of metal that are flattened into thin plates and then hammered into curved shapes, creating the required small bowls, rimmed plates, to larger pots for water and milk, huge cooking vessels and other artefacts. Heating the plates while hammering and curving them into different shapes requires careful temperature control, which is achieved by using tiny wood-fired stoves (aided by hand-held bellows) buried in the earth. Utensils are manually finished by polishing with traditional materials such as sand and tamarind juice. Designs are made by skilfully hammering a series of tiny dents into the heated metal. Utensils may be manufactured for ritual or utilitarian purposes, both for individual and community use on special occasions such as weddings or at temples. The process of manufacturing is transmitted orally from father to son. Metalwork is not simply a form of livelihood for Thatheras, but it defines their family and kinship structure, work ethic and status within the social hierarchy of the town.

  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 from father to son, the traditional brass and copper craft is more than a means of subsistence; it is also a social and cultural identity symbol linked with the way of life of the Thatheras community;

R.2:   Its inscription on the Representative List could contribute to encouraging dialogue with other communities worldwide that practise traditional metal craftsmanship while testifying to human creativity to manufacture handcrafted products that are both useful and beautiful;

R.3:   The proposed safeguarding measures reflect an integrated vision of the safeguarding process and a well-budgeted and programmed plan; they include the development of capacity-building programmes, the provision of municipal water supply and the restoration of vernacular workshop-residential buildings; they also reflect the commitment of the submitting State in terms of funding and training;

R.4:   Thatheras craftspeople and their families together with the Jandiala Guru Utensils Manufacturers Association, members of civil society from Punjab and other nearby areas, local and national authorities and non-governmental organizations working in the field of rural tourism participated in the research conducted within the nomination process; their free, prior and informed consent is demonstrated;

R.5:   The element is included in the inventories of two bodies of the Ministry of Culture: the Sangeet Natak Akademi and the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts; both institutions carry out their documentation work and research with local communities, in conformity with Articles 11 and 12 of the Convention.

  1. Inscribes Traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab, India on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Recalls the importance of using vocabulary appropriate to the spirit of the Convention and avoiding expressions such as ‘unique’.