Decisión del Comité intergubernamental: 18.COM 8.B.11

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Turkmenistan has nominated Art of Akhal-Teke horse breeding and traditions of horses’ decoration (No. 01978) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The Akhal-Teke is a breed of horses created in the territory of modern Turkmenistan. Characterized by their large size, intelligence, agility, strength and shiny coat, Akhal-Teke are hardy and can manage without food and water for long stretches of time. There are many customs and traditions around Akhal-Teke horses, including naming rituals, horse beauty contests, and racing and riding games. They are also closely linked to wedding ceremonies, during which the groom takes the bride away on a decorated Akhal-Teke horse. The jewellery and lace used to decorate the horses are primarily created and passed on by women. Knowledge and skills related to the breeding and care of Akhal-Teke horses are transmitted through formal and informal learning, during which young horse breeders learn how to establish contact, groom and feed the horses. They then master the knowledge and skills of riding and training the horses. Higher educational institutions and equestrian training centres also contribute to the formal transfer of Akhal-Teke knowledge and skills. The horses are an important part of the historical and cultural identity of Turkmenistan, and the related traditions contribute to social cohesion and to increased awareness of the importance of living heritage in general.

  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 main bearers and practitioners of the element are legal entities and individuals involved in related industries, including horse breeders, trainers, stable workers, riders, craftspeople, and artists. The related knowledge and skills are transferred through formal and informal learning. In informal trainings, experienced practitioners teach successors the knowledge and skills of breeding horses. Formal transmission is carried out in three higher educational institutions and equestrian training centres. There are numerous equestrian traditions and customs associated with the element, including ceremonies related to the birth of a foal, weddings and horse decorating with gold and silver jewels and carpets. These customs contribute to social cohesion and increase interest in the element among youth. They also help raise awareness about the element and about intangible cultural heritage in general.

R.2:   At the local level, inscription would contribute to increased awareness of the importance of intangible cultural heritage and safeguarding. At the national level, it will lead to an increased awareness of the 2003 Convention among bearers while attracting the attention of the general public. At the international level, inscription will enhance ties between cultural and social spheres and support international exchange programmes within the framework of national projects in the field of horse breeding.

R.3:   Past and current safeguarding measures include training horse breeders (in private workshops or public training centres), education and research activities, promoting the element through publications and audiovisual materials, establishing grants for horse breeding, and organizing exhibitions and contests. State support includes legislative action and policy development related to horse breeding, equestrian sports and intangible cultural heritage. It also includes: (a) funding related arts and handicrafts, as well as the establishment of equestrian complexes; (b) ensuring security measures in relation to horse breeding projects; (c) facilitating university courses on horse breeding and living heritage; (d) conducting scientific research on horse genetics; and (e) supporting entrepreneurial activity. The proposed safeguarding measures entail national capacity building, research and documentation, and education, transmission and promotion. The file was prepared with the participation of the communities, groups and individuals concerned, with organizational and financial support by the Ministry of Culture and local administrations. A coordination group was established to prepare the nomination.

R.4:   Members of the equestrian community and representatives also took an active part in preparing the nomination. The process was also welcomed by painters, sculptors, jewellers, carpet makers, cinematographers and local media representatives, as evidenced by the large number of letters expressing support for the nomination.

R.5:   The element has been included in the National Inventory of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Turkmenistan since 2014. The inventory is maintained by the Department of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Ministry of Culture of Turkmenistan, and is updated every two years. At all stages of collecting materials, the bearers and practitioners of the element, private horse breeders, artists and entrepreneurs associated with the element actively participated. Collected information was provided in the form of photographic materials, audio and video recordings for inclusion in the inventory list of the intangible cultural heritage of Turkmenistan.

  1. Decides to inscribe Art of Akhal-Teke horse breeding and traditions of horses’ decoration on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Encourages the State Party, when submitting nomination files in the future, to provide more detailed explanations on the social functions and cultural meanings concerning the element;
  3. Reminds the State Party of the importance of ensuring the widest possible participation of the communities concerned in planning and implementing safeguarding measures;
  4. Recalls the importance of using vocabulary that aligns with the spirit of the Convention and of avoiding terms such as ‘unique’ and avoid duplication of information.