- Takes note that Uzbekistan has nominated Bakhshi art (no. 01706) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:
Epic poetry plays a crucial role in the musical and poetic heritage of the Uzbek and Karakalpak people of Uzbekistan. Called dostons, the traditional centuries-old poems are based on myths, legends, folk tales and legendary chants, and address varied themes such as patriotism, commitment, love, friendship and solidarity. Bakhshi refers to the performance of these epic stories and original pieces with the accompaniment of musical instruments including the dombra (a stringed instrument) and the kobuz (a bowed instrument). The storytellers, also called bakhshis, perform the stories from memory, incorporating cultural traditions and practices. Successful bakhshis must have the ability to captivate listeners with their melodies and to narrate stories in an interesting and original way, making creative use of language, word games, proverbs and phrases. They must also be able to recite the long epic poems from memory. Although bakhshis were traditionally men, a group of women bakhshis emerged in the nineteenth century and continues to contribute to the tradition. The practice is passed on within families and through formal bakhshi schools. The art of bakhshi is a vital part of the Uzbek lifestyle, and the storytellers are always welcoming guests in family ceremonies, rituals, public holidays and local festivities.
- Considers that, from the information included in the file, and the information provided by the submitting State through the dialogue process, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:
R.1: The element is the performance of epic stories with the accompaniment of musical instruments. Performers known as bakhshis, which were traditionally men and now include women, perform at family ceremonies and festivals and use various forms of native language, word games, proverbs and phrases. Knowledge and skills are transmitted informally from master to apprentice and the element is also included in the curriculum and taught in art schools. Performances are also broadcast on radio and television. Bakhshi narratives and legends reflect the lifestyle, beliefs, history and identities of ethnic groups and nations. It fosters solidarity and social cohesion.
R.2: At the local and national level, inscription would increase pride about the element among practitioners, spread awareness in the wider society and generate interest among younger generations. There will also be greater media attention. At the international level, there will be sustained visibility through the continued hosting of the International Bakhshi Festival. Participation in music and folk festivals will also contribute to dialogue among the practitioners of the element. The creative nature of the element ensures respect for creativity, and because many ethnicities share the element, it also ensures respect for cultural diversity.
R.3: The viability of the element is ensured by bearers and practitioners, through awareness-raising activities and transfer of knowledge and skills to younger generations. Existing and future efforts by the State Party to safeguard the element include the establishment of schools and the financing of research programmes on the element. Proposed safeguarding measures include training efforts, grants, educational programmes at primary and secondary schools, and the creation of a Museum of Bakhshi Art. Communities, groups and individuals concerned with the element put forward ideas for safeguarding measures during meetings, discussions and participation in surveys.
R.4: The file demonstrates full community participation in the development of the nomination file in collaboration with State entities. Free, prior and informed consent is also established as being integral to the process. There are no restrictions with regard to the transmission of the element, nor is there any secrecy regarding access to any knowledge or practice related to the element.
R.5: Since 2008, the element has been included in the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Uzbekistan and in the local intangible cultural heritage lists of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, the City of Samarkand and the Sirdaryo, Surkhandaryo and Khorazm regions. The national inventory is administered by the Republican Scientific-Methodological Center for Organization of Cultural Institutions Activities under the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Regional departments of the Ministry of Culture and local communities (makhallas) play a vital role in identifying, defining and collecting data on all elements of intangible cultural heritage in Uzbekistan. The inventories are updated at least once a year.
- Decides to inscribe Bakhshi art on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
- Encourages the State Party to avoid standardized letters of consent when submitting nomination files in the future, while ensuring that the diverse circumstances in which consent is given are accommodated;
- Reminds the State Party to pay specific attention to the linguistic quality of the file and recalls the importance of using vocabulary appropriate to the spirit of the Convention and of avoiding expressions such as ‘uniqueness’, which may seem to introduce a hierarchy among expressions of living heritage.