Five new elements inscribed on the List in Need of Urgent Safeguarding

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The way to the field with the ritual bread 'Karahod'
© Belausau, 2012

The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage meeting in the Colombian capital inscribed five elements on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.
The new inscribed elements are:

The Seperu folkdance and associated practices involves singing, dancing and sacred rituals performed by Veekuhane community members. During its performance, female dancers align in a horseshoe formation with male dancers at the end. A female dancer wearing a multi-layered dress (‘mushishi’), is selected to demonstrate her dancing skills. She uses her dress to imitate the tail of a peacock while the others mimic dove sounds. Although it is a key identity symbol for the Veehukane, the practice is threatened by the great decline in the number of its practitioners, the result of modernization, lack of recognition in school curricula and other factors.

The rituals and practices associated with Kit Mikayi shrine concern the Luos of western Kenya. People visit the shrine for many reasons, including prayer oath-taking and other rituals. In times of disaster, Luo elders would conduct ceremonies there such as slaughtering animals, dancing and singing which were believed to produce rain and bountiful harvests. For generations, the community has relied on the Shrine as a sacred site. However, the element is now threatened by several factors including encroachment on surrounding areas, ageing practitioners and decreased frequency.

Sega tambour Chagos is one of the genres of Sega music of Mauritius, originating in the Chagos Archipelago. Like other Segas, it was born of slavery and is sung in Chagossian Creole. The element involves the rhythmic performance of music, song and dance based on the ‘tambour’, with lyrics concerning everyday experiences. While Chagossians have striven to safeguard the element, there are numerous threats to its viability, including the passing away of elders, young people turning to other music genres, and displacement leading to a loss of memory.

Buklog is an elaborate thanksgiving ritual system of the Subanen, which includes several components. Dances are performed on an elevated wooden structure called the ‘Buklog’, which resonates with a sound believed to please the spirits. It is followed by a community dance to mark the renewal of social ties. Its rituals also express gratitude to the spirits and are meant to secure harmony within the community, and in relations to the human, natural and spiritual worlds. Though the Subanen have developed highly adaptive mechanisms to safeguard Buklog, which faces severe interrelated threats and constraints that compromise its viability.

The spring rite of Juraǔski Karahod is performed by residents of Pahost village on St George’s Day, and includes various ceremonial activities. Traditionally, the ritual involves two cycles: the first takes place in the courtyard, where animals are led out of the barn after winter. The second involves a number of ceremonies, including the baking and distribution of a ceremonial bread (Karahod) and the sacrificial burying of ‘black’ bread. Despite the community’s concerted efforts, the element is threatened by numerous factors, including an ageing population of practitioners, unemployment, general socio-economic conditions in the region and globalization.

The List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding features elements of living heritage whose viability is under threat. It mobilizes international cooperation and assistance to strengthen the transmission of these cultural practices, in agreement with the concerned communities.

Meeting:

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