Decisión del Comité intergubernamental: 14.COM 10.b.22

The Committee,

  1. Takes note that Malaysia has nominated Silat (No. 01504) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Silat is a combative art of self-defence and survival rooted in the Malay Archipelago. Traced back to the early days of the Langkasuka Kingdom, Silat has evolved into a fine practice of physical and spiritual training also encompassing traditional Malay attire, Silat musical instruments and customs. There are many styles of Silat, inspired by the movements of human anatomy, nature and animals. For example, Silat Harimau involves an aesthetic rhythmic motion imitating the art of self-defence and attack of the tiger. In Malaysia alone, there are more than 150 known Silat styles whose names derive from natural elements such as animals and plants. Originally, Malay Silat was practised by warriors – as noble enforcers of justice – but nowadays practitioners consist of masters, gurus, teachers and students, who are responsible for maintaining the practice. Training sessions usually take place in the evening or at night in an open space such as a courtyard, led by the Master and ‘Jurukaka’. A large number of practitioners have been trained and nurtured, and an increasing number of training centres have been established in various regions. With this accelerated dissemination, the practice has increasingly transcended its status as a martial art to become a performing art; consequently, it is now a popular sport for health and leisure.

  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:   Silat portrays Malay identity and is a medium of exhibiting social interaction among communities. It is performed during the traditional Malay wedding ceremony, official opening ceremonies and as a welcoming performance during official functions of the Malaysian government such as the King’s coronation. As a martial art, it includes a philosophical context based on mutual respect and knowledge of nature and the universe. Learning the practice fosters agility, skill and a thoughtful, strategic, bold, confident, diligent, creative and courteous attitude.

R.2:   The inscription of the element contributes to the visibility and awareness of intangible cultural heritage in general by raising awareness of associated intangible cultural heritage such as traditional music, dance and other performing arts and crafts. Silat encourages dialogue among communities, groups and individuals, and promotes cultural diversity by being a medium exhibiting social interactions among communities and a vehicle for international cultural exchange.

R.3:   The proposed safeguarding measures include the active participation of the Silat communities in the planning and the implementation stages. These measures include research and documentation and training centers to promote transmission of Silat supported by relevant agencies of the State Party. To counter possible negative impacts, a management plan and monitoring shall be established.

R.4:   The nomination of Silat was carried out with the participation of the practitioners and communities and associations concerned: Persatuan Dunia Seni Silat Melayu Malaysia and Persekutuan Silat Kebangsaan Malaysia. The nomination form was completed after conducting interviews with the Masters of Silat, practitioners and related communities and associations and after ensuring their consent to the nomination.

R.5:   Silat was included in an inventory of intangible heritage in 2008 and declared as national heritage in 2009. The Intangible Cultural Heritage Division of the Department of National Heritage, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia are the divisions responsible for maintaining and updating the inventory.

  1. Decides to inscribe Silat on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Encourages the State Party, when submitting nomination files in the future, to endeavour to answer specific questions in a clear and succinct manner;
  3. Further encourages the submitting State to pay attention to the possible unintended results of the inscription of the element, invites it to reflect upon this when implementing the proposed safeguarding measures, and also encourages the submitting State Party to ensure that the safeguarding measures include the active participation of the communities in the planning and implementation stages and to develop clear guidelines to prevent the possible negative impacts of the inscription of the element.

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