Decisión del Comité intergubernamental: 16.COM 8.B.3

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Bahrain has nominated Fjiri (no. 01747) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Fjiri is a musical performance that commemorates the history of pearl diving in Bahrain. Dating back to the late nineteenth century, it was traditionally performed by pearl divers and pearling crews to express the hardships faced at sea. The performers sit in a circle, singing and playing different types of drums, finger chimes and a jahl, a clay pot used as an instrument. The centre of the circle is occupied by the dancers and the lead singer, who is in charge of conducting the performance. Fjiri originated on the Island of Muharraq, where, up until the mid-twentieth century, most of the population formed part of the pearling community. However, today the practice has reached a wider audience through performances in festivals across all regions of Bahrain. It is now well-known across the country and is viewed as a means of expressing the connection between the Bahraini people and the sea. Fjiri is usually performed in cultural spaces called durs by descendants of pearl divers and pearling crews and by other individuals. The transmission process usually entails consistently practicing in durs and performing for audiences. Although it is performed by all-male groups, Fjiri is enjoyed by all members of the community. The words, rhythms and instruments are used to convey the values of perseverance, strength and resourcefulness.

  1. 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 practitioners of the element are mainly descendants of pearl divers and performers. They are usually men, although women are part of the audience who accompany the practice of the element. The social functions and meanings of the element within the community have changed from a practice related to the life and profession of pearl diving to one that recalls the history of pearl diving and the related values and emotions with which Bahrainis identify.

R.2: The inscription will contribute to visibility at the local level thanks to collaboration between practitioners and the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities. Visibility will be enhanced through information-sharing at the national level and will allow for wider participation of the communities concerned with the element. At the international level, continued participation in regional and international festivals will allow for sustained visibility. The element is a shared tradition among practitioners and its inscription may enhance dialogue among the concerned communities, groups and individuals. Human creativity and respect for cultural diversity will be promoted through the element’s performing arts component.

R.3:  The viability of the element is ensured by music groups who gather in durs for practice. Practitioners have also produced research on performing arts. The State Party, through the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, has provided allowances to music groups and built spaces for performance of the element. Music groups also perform the element during cultural festivals. The file proposes a series of safeguarding measures that involve the communities and practitioners in the documentation, research and safeguarding. A focal point has been appointed at the National Heritage Directorate to handle coordination between relevant communities and local authorities.

R.4:  Following discussions with the relevant communities, the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities prepared a roadmap for the nomination of the element. The nomination team ensured full transparency and coordination with the relevant communities. Free, prior and informed consent was established through the nomination process and by the letters provided by a few persons.

R.5:  The element was included in 2017 on the Intangible Cultural Heritage National Inventory managed by the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities. The element was identified through a series of interviews with local practitioners and researchers. The inventorying process is headed by the Directorate of National Heritage through regular consultation with all concerned stakeholders. The process of updating the inventory or including an element will involve all stakeholders who claim ownership or who have given their consent regarding the practices to be registered.

  1. Decides to inscribe Fjiri on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Invites the State Party to avoid top-down approaches in all stages of the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage by ensuring that the communities concerned are at the centre of all safeguarding efforts and that their free, prior and informed consent is central to the preparation of the nomination file;
  3. Encourages the State Party, when submitting nomination files in the future, to ensure that information is included in its proper place;
  4. Commends the State Party for its first inscription.