OBJECTIVES of FIAT-IFTA: ARTICLE II; Section B and F:
B. To research and jointly study legal, moral, social and scientific issues relating to funeral services and thanatology activities, especially with regard to services rendered in the memorialization and disposition of deceased individuals;
F. To safeguard the Global Funeral Heritage in joint effort with other organizations and to create awareness in governments and international bodies;
Based on Section Band F, FIAT-IFTA as an umbrella organization cooperates, finances activities of partner organizations (ex.ASCE, ALPAR, China Funeral Ass.,Funeral museums) to safeguard traditions like dances and chants related to mourning and death; and encourages studies, research and publications on these subjects. In line with the Convention FIAT-IFTA members promotes awareness and knowledge of these practices among young persons.
EXEMPLE I of the concept: 'global funeral heritage' as meant by FIAT-IFTA in conformity with the spirit of the Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage is the report on 'social pratices, rituals and festive events' made by one of our Members Mrs. Teresa Saavedra, ALPAR- Latinamerican Funeral Association:
Las Ñatitas: The Ritual Beyond Death in Bolivia
It is understood that our sense of belonging, as a human characteristic, is the total sum of all those symbols, beliefs, values, traditions and rituals - which fused together result in our cultural identity.
To this effect, it has been put forth, that the definition of "Funeral Heritage", consists of "the expressions, customs, rituals, sites, buildings, constructions and instruments related to death, loss and grief'.
The challenge of working in this area, has led us to generate a series of meetings with authorities and institutions such as the Ethnographic and Folklore Museum, MUSEF in Bolivia, which depends on the Cultural Foundation of the Bolivian Central Bank. MUSEF is one of the most representative organizations in this country, where its archive, one of the very few of its kind, guards very rich informative, historical and cultural data. This material in turn, reflects the socio-cultural processes that have been lived throughout Bolivian history - by its "living cultures" in rural as well as in urban areas. It also serves as the initiation for current and future studies in Anthropology, Ethnology, Ethno History, History, Sociology, Cultural Studies, Ethnomusicology and other research areas. During conversation with MUSEF's Director, Ramiro Molina, we coincided on our shared interest of studying the possibility of generating a referential framework, which would allow us to find common ground for future collaboration.
Inside MUSEF's department of Cultural Outreach and Communication, its head, Mr. Milton Eyzaguirre, shares with us some of the very particular hues of the perspective of certain festivities through the eyes of Andean and Bolivian culture:
"Since Pre Hispanic times, the physical and spiritual care of the deceased was of vital importance. Mummification was a common practice; the body was treated with abundant care and devotion. Life in the other world was transcendental; there were two dimensions of life: life at the physical level and life in the space of the dead. Therefore, in the country's local context, the Catholic dates for remembering All Saints and the Faithfully Deceased on November 1st and 2nd, are celebrated together as the return of the souls of all those deceased. In this context, the celebration is not only on those specific dates but it involves the whole month of November, with dedication to the "sullca" god - a minor or small god.
Furthermore, Mr. Eyzaguirre's investigations show specifically those customs related to the Day of the Dead - "the ritual of sharing food with giving the dead and their souls a meal, a feast. Today, almost all traditions of eating and drinking with the dead have been maintained to this day, as it is observed in Fiesta de Todos los Santos y de Las Ñatitas, where every November 8th, a traditional takes place, where human skulls are adorned with flowers and are taken to cemeteries and churches to be blessed. There is no precise data for the origin of the "riatitas", other than that they originated during pre-Columbian times. The La Paz native "amauta", Sabino López, confirms this fact in his account that before the Spanish conquistadors set foot on the American continent, the "Chullpas", mummified remains of "curacas"(chiefs) were worshiped. To this effect, the skulls deeply related with the soul or "ajayu" in Aymara according to Andean concepts - the body's death is not necessarily related to the death of the spirit of the deceased. It is in this context that the "ñatitas" represent Andean deities, to whom favors are solicited, some are named according to their origin and others are given pseudonyms".
The Bolivian Ambassador to UNESCO, Pablo Groux, mentioned "for a long time the festival of the "ñatitas" has been a celebration beneath the surface, underground, but in the last years it became very well known, due to in large measure to more massive means of public information. There is a great need to preserve it, in spite of some resistance by the church, which has been already dealt with. At this moment it is vital to dig in and study the ritual and its anthropological implications".
The material for a anthropological and historic research is extensive, in the quest to fully understand these traditions and rituals. But the importance of preservation remains the paramount endeavor, in the desire that all efforts are conducive to the collective protection and preservation of this patrimony.
We are certain that access and sharing this research material, is a positive way to raise awareness in the subject of cultural heritage safeguarding.
Our deepest appreciation to MUSEF and its Director, Mr. Ramiro Molina, for allowing us the possibility to look for common platforms for us to work in the future - looking to build new synergies with a multitude of actors and places, in lieu of proposing positive and pragmatic conservation strategies and solutions.
EXEMPLE II ( performing arts):
MUSICA AND MEMORIA: Study and Collection Mourning Music of the FIAT-IFTA Member:
Bunderverband Deutscher Bestatter:
Mourning music plays a central role through the centuries in all culture areas. It was composed not only for famous personalities. Frequently it is also expression of a personal processing of the mourning.
The CD collection "Musica et memoria "is far more than a pure documentation of the development of the mourning music from the Middle Ages to today. For the first time the broad spectrum of the mourning music is comprehensively opened. The selected music pieces show that mourning music does not have to sound inevitably quietly, reserved or sad. Thus the spectrum of the CD of gentle and beautiful death reaches over defendant and marching death up to uncompromising and clarified death. In one handbook worth reading the music pieces are opened so that mourning music in completely new light appears.
The project singular on the music market, which was initiated by the board of trustees of the German funeral cultural association, member of FIAT-IFTA, could close a research gap in the music science in co-operation with the Robert Schumann university in Duesseldorf also. "Musica et Memoria "offers just as affecting as surprising listener life nit for all, which are interested vocationally or privately in mourning music - in music lovers just like for all those, which are responsible for the organization of funeral services.
Musica et memoria Mourning music by the centuries Funeral Music through the centuries
Düsseldorf 2005, 6 CD, running time: 360 minutes.
MANY OF OUR NATIONAL AND ASSOCIATE MEMBERS PUBLISH AND WORK IN THIS FIELD FOR MANY YEARS.
EXEMPLE III (awareness and consistency with the definition of safeguarding):
One of FIAT-IFTA's partners is ASCE: Association of Significant Cemeteries in Europe. Actual President of ASCE: Mrs. Luiza Izaguirre Member of the FIAT-IFTA Funeral Heritage Advisory Committee ( see section 6c) promotes the awareness to safeguard the traditional craftmanship to preserve and maintain the European tradition of graveyards and gravestones in cooperation with many city councils and local authorities in Europe.
This is done for exemple by the publication of the book: Cemeteries of Europe - A Historical Heritage to Appreciate and Restore. A SCENE project by Mauro Felicori & Annalisa ZanottLPublished 2004
Creating awareness by publications and organizing meetings is one of the tasks of the FIAT-IFTA Funeral Heritage Advisory Committee.
FIAT-IFTA acts as an umbrella organization for financing and promoting the safeguarding and preservation of the Global Funeral Heritage:
FIAT-IFTA Charter of Funeral Heritage - Barcelona 2006
ALPAR Declaration of Funeral Heritage - Bogota 2010
Foundation by FIAT-IFTA of IAFM - International Association of Funeral Museums
FIAT-IFTA Conference on the Safeguarding and Preservation of Global Funeral Heritage, Düsseldorf, Germany 2010, Bogota, Colombia 2011 and Dublin, Ireland 2012
Publication of the biannual Funeral heritage Report
Annual meeting FIAT-IFTA Funeral heritage Steering Committee since 2006 in Chantilly, France
International Funeral heritage Expert Advisory Committee.
FIAT-IFTA as umbrella organization: Collaboration with and support of specialised organizations such as:
- Association 'De Terebinth Funeral Culture, The Netherlands ,Excursions, Newsletters, lobby activities with the government
- ASCE - Creation in 2001 of the European Cemeteries Route as a tourist itinerary. The significance of the European Cemeteries Route resides in its multicultural diversity and respectful approach of the dead. Cemeteries are part of our tangible heritage, for their works, sculptures and engravings. Likewise, cemeteries are part of our intangible heritage, of our anthropological reality, giving support to the environment surrounding the habits and practices related to death.
Lectures on: "Significant Cemeteries in front of new social habits" (Cremation, new kinds of graves, different cultures "by Javier Rodriguez Barberan (President of the Scientific Committee of the Cemeteries Route).
- National Funeral History Museum in Beckton, UK
- Exhibition 2010, Germany: "Schwermut und Schonheit, Trauerkleider"
- Permanent Exhibition and preservation by World Funeral museum in Novosibirsk of the Collection of Russian Funeral Costumes
- Exhibition of "Medaillons and Poems for the Deaths", Funeral Museum, Houston, USA
- Exhibition in Museum Tot Zover, Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Ancient Prints of the Last Journey of Napoleon; Preservation of the Collection Jol
Many publications in the FIAT-IFTA magazine: THANOS Magazine. Some exemples: Illustrations on Cinerary Urns in Japan, June 2007. Mortality and Rituals in Burma, October 2003. Traditional Burials in Sumba, Indonesian Island 2001
Publication by FIAT-IFTA member: Radbout Studies: 'Mortuary Rituals in the Netherlands', March 2009
FIAT-IFTA inventarises all these activities and aims to advise UNESCO on this specific field of Funeral Heritage.