The UNESCO (2003) Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage has been ratified by the Parliament of Turkmenistan in 2011. New version of the Law of Turkmenistan “On Culture” (2013) is constituted the legal basis of safeguarding of the ICH.
A National Inventory of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Turkmenistan and a Registration Card of the Element in the National Inventory have been developed and approved by the National Institute of Manuscripts in 2012. Pursunant to Art.13(b) of the Convention a National Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage at the Ministry of Culture of Turkmenistan responsible for the creation and administration of a National Inventory of the national ICH and their safeguarding has been established in 2014 (Decree of the President of Turkmenistan #13733 from 04 July 2014). A National Committee for the identification, documentation and study of the ICH involving leading experts in this field has been established in 2015.
The Parliament of Turkmenistan has elaborated and approved the “Law of Turkmenistan on the Safeguarding of the National Intangible Cultural Heritage” in 2015 (approved by the President of Turkmenistan on 28.02.2015). A State Programme and its Action Plan for the identification and safeguarding of the ICH have been adopted by the Government of Turkmenistan in 2015.
The Law of Turkmenistan on the Safeguarding of the National ICH considers an inventory making, documentation and safeguarding of national ICH as main priority to facilitate preserving and strengthening of national identity and ensuring cultural rights. The Law consists of the regulatory and legal measures to gather, process, storage, protect, update and disseminate the information related to the national intangible cultural heritage creating a national catalogue of the ICH by contribution of bearers, practitioners, communities, researchers and scholars.
In the Law the ICH are being considered in the following 5 domains:
- Oral Expressions;
- Traditions, customs and folk beliefs;
- Traditional performing arts;
- Traditional craftsmanship;
- Traditional knowledge.
Local bearers, practitioners, community members, researches and scholars related to the different domains of ICH have taken part at a “National Training Workshop on Community-Based Inventorying of ICH Elements in Turkmenistan” (15-20 June 2015, Ashgabat) supported by UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office. A number of training workshops in the field of inventory making of the intangible cultural heritage including related data gathering, researching, documenting and video recordings of elements have been organized in 5 velayats (regions) of Turkmenistan.
The identification and documentation as well as safeguarding of the national ICH are being undertaken with the support and active participation of related local communities enabling to transmission to the next generation of the different types of intangible cultural heritage identified during the inventory making process.
Two elements of the ICH of Turkmenistan including Epic art of Gorogly (2015) and Nowruz (multinational) (2016) have been inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. A nomination file of third element of ICH of Turkmenistan entitled as “Kushtdepdi rite of singing and dancing” has been submitted for its inscription on the List in 2017 cycle.
Moreover the 2016 has been declared as “A Year of honouring of the cultural heritage” in Turkmenistan. It has included activities for stimulating of bearers, practitioners from all domains of the national ICH to strengthen of cooperation with researchers, scholars and local entities for their identification, documentation, promotion and safeguarding.
Organized local and International Folk Festivals and International Scientific Conferences annually devoted to the different aspects of the ICH were important tools for awareness-raising, promotion of their values and contribution to the transmission to future generation and safeguarding.