Decisión del Comité intergubernamental: 15.COM 8.B.39

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Malta has nominated Il-Ftira, culinary art and culture of flattened sourdough bread in Malta (no. 01580) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Il-Ftira, culinary art and culture of flattened sourdough bread in Malta, is a key part of the cultural heritage of the inhabitants of the Maltese archipelago. Ftira has a thick crust and light internal texture, characterized by large, irregular holes (an open crumb). It is flatter than other Maltese breads and has a hotter baking temperature. The halved loaf is filled with Mediterranean-type ingredients such as olive oil and tomato, tuna, capers and olives. Seasonal variants and inventive twists can also be added. With a name derived from Arabic (fatir, meaning unleavened bread), ftira culture reflects the continuity of intercultural exchange in Malta’s history. Although other kinds of Maltese bread can be made with a mechanized process, skilled bakers are still needed to shape ftira by hand. In the bakery, apprentices learn by watching and doing, and various training programmes also exist. The skills of choosing compatible ingredients and filling ftira are passed down informally in homes, as well as through other channels such as social media and cooking blogs. Eating ftira as a filled snack or appetiser fosters a shared identity in Malta, bringing people together. A wide variety of people, including marginalized groups, can enter the baking profession as apprentices, and Ftira Days in schools help inform students about healthy eating.

  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 nomination states that the making and eating of ftira as a filled snack or appetizer fosters a shared identity in Malta, bringing people together in homes and workplaces. Prepared as a simple snack for family meals or cut into small pieces for social gatherings, the consumption of ftira enables easy social contact in various community contexts. The culture surrounding Ftira promotes shared identity, mutual respect, brings people together regardless of origin, gender or age and fosters inclusiveness. The cultural significance of bread, including ftira, is also linked to the story of Maltese independence.

R.2:   The State Party has provided a useful explanation of the contribution of this culinary practice to the promotion and enhancement of the visibility of intangible cultural heritage in general. At the national and local levels, the inscription of the element is expected to help people recognize culinary arts as expressions of living heritage, as well as to encourage the recognition of other everyday practices as intangible cultural heritage. The inscription of the element could create a broader sense of common identity related to diet and culinary practices in the Mediterranean region in particular. It may also foster greater understanding of the role of intercultural exchange in creating culturally diverse food practices globally. Moreover, thanks to its adaptive nature in the face of environmental challenges, it may foster dialogue related to sustainability in heritage practices.

R.3:   The element is safeguarded, first of all, through spontaneous actions, adaptations and interventions by the practitioners and stakeholders concerned (for example, bakers adapting the production and consumption chain according to developments in society and changing demands). It is also safeguarded through a set of well thought-out, carefully developed measures to address problems such as the shortage of apprentices and increased competition. Such measures include governmental support with teaching in schools, apprenticeship programmes for prisoners, support with festivals and promotional initiatives, and linguistic and other research. The safeguarding measures aimed at strengthening the viability of the practice were proposed in cooperation with the community members.

R.4:   The nomination provides information related to different kinds of community participation at various stages of the nomination process, including concrete references to specific meetings, dates, locations and the (types and number of) participants involved. In addition to the relevant communities, the nomination also includes evidence of the support of the general public. This broad and enthusiastic support is demonstrated by the letters of consent attached.

R.5:   The element was inscribed in the Intangible Cultural Heritage National Inventory in 2018. The management of the National Inventory, overseen by the Culture Directorate of the Ministry for Justice, Culture and Local Government with the assistance of the National ICH Board, is based on a dynamic process of communication with the communities, groups and individuals concerned. The inventory entries are updated at least every four years through a periodic report at the national level.

  1. Decides to inscribe Il-Ftira, culinary art and culture of flattened sourdough bread in Malta on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;

  2. Commends the State Party for its first inscription;

  3. Invites the State Party to ensure that the safeguarding measures adequately address the potential negative impacts of over-commercialization of the element, keeping in mind that all safeguarding measures should be aimed at enhancing the viability of the element.