Decisión del Comité intergubernamental: 14.COM 10.B.9

The Committee,

  1. Takes note that Cyprus and Greece have nominated Byzantine chant (No. 01508) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

As a living art that has existed for more than 2000 years, the Byzantine chant is a significant cultural tradition and comprehensive music system forming part of the common musical traditions that developed in the Byzantine Empire. Highlighting and musically enhancing the liturgical texts of the Greek Orthodox Church, it is inextricably linked with spiritual life and religious worship. This vocal art is mainly focused on rendering the ecclesiastical text; arguably, the chant exists because of the word (‘logos’), since every aspect of the tradition serves to spread the sacred message. Passed on aurally across the generations, its main characteristics have remained over the centuries: it is exclusively vocal music; it is essentially monophonic; the chants are codified into an eight-mode or eight-tone system; and the chant employs different styles of rhythm to accentuate the desired syllables of specific words. Though the Psaltic Art has always been linked to the male voice, women chanters are common in nunneries and participate in parishes to some extent. In addition to its transmission in church, the Byzantine chant is flourishing due to the dedication of experts and non-experts alike – including musicians, choir members, composers, musicologists and scholars – who contribute to its study, performance and dissemination.

  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:   The Byzantine chant is a powerful sociocultural expression and an essential trait of the collective and personal identity of its bearers. It contributes to community-bonding and cohesiveness as it occupies a central role in the religious and social life of the community of Orthodox Christians. It is interwoven with the most important events in a person’s life, such as baptisms, weddings and funerals, as well as with the observance and celebration of religious festivals, such as Christmas, Easter and Lent.

R.2:   Connected to the musical heritage of the wider Mediterranean and Middle Eastern area, the inscription of the Byzantine chant would raise awareness of the importance of safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage of this multicultural region, increasing tolerance and understanding between people of different religions and cultures. It would also highlight the importance of musical traditions in rural areas and small parishes, upholding their importance within society.

R.3:   The past and current efforts and proposed measures by the core bearer communities to safeguard the element in both Cyprus and Greece include transmission through formal and non-formal education, identification, documentation, research, preservation and protection initiatives. These measures are fully supported by the competent State agencies in both countries, who will provide all the necessary funding for their full implementation.

R.4:   The nomination process was led by key institutions representing communities of practitioners of the element, with the support of relevant state institutions. Thanks to the participatory process employed, different segments of the large community of practitioners were able to express their views, participate in the nomination process and provide their consent. Organized meetings were held and the States Parties have actively supported the inscription through an exemplary joint process.

R.5:   The element was included in the National Inventory of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Cyprus in 2017 and in the National Inventory of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Greece in 2015. In both States, the inventories are to be revised every five years and include the wide participation of the communities and institutions concerned.

  1. Decides to inscribe Byzantine chant on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Commends the States Parties for an exemplary joint nomination process, demonstrating the effectiveness of communities from different countries working together to safeguard intangible cultural heritage;
  3. Further commends the States Parties for a well-prepared file that can serve as a good example of how the inscription of an element on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity can contribute to ensuring the visibility and awareness of the significance of intangible cultural heritage;
  4. Reminds the States Parties that updating is an important part of the inventorying process and invites them to include detailed information in their next periodic report on the implementation of the Convention at the national level concerning the periodicity and mode of updating of their inventories, in accordance with Article 12.1 of the Convention.