- Takes note that Georgia has nominated Wheat culture in Georgia, culture of wheat endemic species and landraces cultivation and utilization in Georgia (no. 01595) for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:
‘Wheat culture, culture of wheat endemic species and landraces cultivation and utilization in Georgia’ encompasses numerous traditions related to wheat cultivation and use. Wheat plays a major role in the life of Georgians, both as a daily food and as a component of rituals, medical treatments and other social practices. There are also a variety of traditional tools and facilities related to wheat culture and each region in Georgia has diverse baking and pastry traditions. Though twentieth-century technologies have greatly impacted the Georgian wheat culture, traditional breads such as Shoti, Dedas puri, baked in artisanal bakeries, are still very popular. Many traditions continue to be practised in communities and households, such as blessing the furrow and sharing seeds and starter bread, and wheat grains are still widely used in rituals related to birth, marriage and death. Despite concerted efforts to safeguard this tradition, however, it has been threatened by several factors such as agricultural reforms, industrialization, high-wheat yield imported from neighbouring areas, and the post-Soviet socio-economic crisis. As a result, the related traditions, beliefs, knowledge, folklore and vocabulary have faded out and few wheat breeders continue working on endemic species and landrace conservation, with only one out of five endemic species still cultivated, in small quantities.
- Considers that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:
U.4: The participation of the bearers, associations, groups and farmers concerned with wheat culture was ensured in the preparation process of the nomination by their initiative and interest. The initial discussions on safeguarding the element started in 2016 at the initiative of the Agriculture Logistics and Services Agency and the Georgian Wheat Growers Association. The joint working group was formed to prepare the necessary documentation for the nomination of the element, and to ensure coordination and communication among all interested individuals and groups. The bearers of the element specified the main risks and problems related to wheat cultivation and utilization. The consent letters were collected, from farmers, bread bakers, associations, researchers, and non-governmental and private organizations from various regions, thanks to the coordinated efforts of the Georgian Wheat Growers Association and the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia.
U.5: In March 2018, the element ‘Wheat culture’ was registered in the State Inventory (Registry) of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Georgia by the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia. The Georgian Wheat Growers Association and Agriculture Logistics and Services Agency consulted with the bearers of the element, wheat growers, communities, researchers and non-governmental organizations.
- Further considers that the information included in the file is not sufficient to allow the Committee to determine whether the following criteria for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding are satisfied:
U.1: The nomination file traces the origins of wheat endemic species in Georgia, from the past until the present day. It also recalls the role wheat has played in Georgian society, from its production to its consumption. The community of bearers is identified. However, the description provided does not make it possible to clearly identify ‘The cultivation of wheat in Georgia, cultivation and use of endemic species and local varieties of wheat in Georgia’ as an element of intangible cultural heritage. The description focuses mostly on history and agronomy, while according a minor role to the cultural aspects of the practices of contemporary bearers. The information provided is not sufficient to fully explain the relationship of the diversity of cereal species and the expressions of knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe.
U.2: The culture of the endemic species of wheat clearly fell into a long period of obsolescence during the twentieth century as a result of different political and economic processes experienced by the inhabitants of Georgia. However, since the 1990s various institutions, both public and private, have begun to promote the collection, research and cultivation of the wheat species in question. While this is certainly a recent movement, it seems to be set out mainly in economic terms. The file explicitly proposes that the revitalization of these seeds should focus on the formulation of agricultural policies on the part of the national authorities. Nevertheless, it presents the knowledge of bearers related to wheat growing and the associated cultural practices (traditions, beliefs, knowledge, folklore and vocabulary) as a supplementary phenomenon, establishing this as an aspect that is not central to the urgent safeguarding in the nomination file.
U.3: The State Party has clearly demonstrated the actions carried out since the 1990s to ensure the revitalization of the cultivation of endogenous species of Georgian wheat. Similarly, the safeguarding plan proposed primarily concerns the preservation and restoration of endemic wheat as a crop, emphasizing biological and economic aspects, rather than safeguarding ‘Georgian wheat culture’ as an element of intangible cultural heritage. The file does not provide sufficient information on concrete measures aimed at safeguarding the element.
Decides to refer the nomination of Wheat culture in Georgia, culture of wheat endemic species and landraces cultivation and utilization in Georgia to the submitting State Party and invites it to resubmit the revised nomination to the Committee for examination during a following cycle;
Further invites the State Party to seek greater involvement of local organizations representing different rural areas besides those located in Tbilisi;
Reminds the State Party that updating is an important part of the inventorying process and also invites it, should it wish to resubmit the nomination during a following cycle, to provide detailed information on the implementation of the Convention at the national level concerning the periodicity of updating of the State Inventory (Registry) of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Georgia in accordance with Article 12.1 of the Convention.