Inventorying activities along the Silk Roads

23 July 2019

Series of activities on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) promotion and safeguarding are planned for 2019-2021 in the framework of the UNESCO and European Union partnership project Silk Roads Heritage Corridors in Afghanistan, Central Asia and Iran International Dimension of the European Year of Cultural Heritage:

  • Needs Assessment for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Republic of Tajikistan
  • ICH training on inventorying in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan
  • Inventorying and field works near the World Heritage-listed properties along the Chang'an-Tianshan Silk Roads corridor.

Needs Assessment Survey for ICH Safeguarding in the Republic of Tajikistan took place in May-June 2019 and aimed at:
  • outlining the main needs in terms of professional and institutional capacity building for the safeguarding of the ICH in Tajikistan;
  • developing a multi-year action plan for implementation of the surveys recommendations;
  • analyzing what efforts have been made to translate the principles of the 2003 Convention into national law and policy documents.
The survey combined a desk research and on-site consultations in order to assess the adequacy of the institutional and professional environments, availability of expertise and the national capacity to set up or revise legislative and policy frameworks, draw up inventories and carry out other safeguarding measures in accordance with the 2003 Convention in Tajikistan.

During the field mission in Tajikistan 42 people were interviewed and four focus groups with five to fourteen participants were organized.

As the pie chart shows, 17% of the interviewed persons were working at state and governmental representatives, 32% work at international development and donor organizations, 14% were NGO representatives, 17% belonged to education system and institutions and 20% to the private sector including the tourism sector.

Soon we will publish the final version of the Needs Assessment Report, which will include the most important challenges in Safeguarding the ICH in Tajikistan.

Based on the results of the Assessment, it was decided to hold the Intangible cultural heritage of the Silk Roads: Identification and Inventorying in Tajikistan training-workshop in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on 18-21 June 2019.

The main goal of the training was to familiarize the participants with the 2003 Convention with a focus on the principles and approaches to documentation and inventory of the ICH.

Representatives of the European Union Zulfia Davlatbekova, Programme Manager of the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Tajikistan and Johannes Stenbaek Madsen, Head of the Cooperation Section of the European Union Delegation to the Republic of Kazakhstan welcomed the participants on the first day.
In total 19 participants, including researchers, students, community members, teachers and cultural officers responsible for tangible and intangible heritage, from Tajikistan participated in the training. All participants to some extent were involved or introduced with identification of intangible cultural heritage in the past. Four of them participated in trainings related to ICH, organized by the UNESCO Almaty Cluster Office. Five participated in the local trainings organized by the Tajikistan Research Institute of Culture and Information (RICI) this year.

The training went well and was very beneficial to all participants, who took active part in discussions and group works and identified the following issues related to ICH safeguarding in Tajikistan:
  1. Identification of elements, which are practiced in regions, local and rural areas;
  2. Methodology of identification, possible challenges;
  3. Problem of finding the places for fieldworks and identification purpose;
  4. National inventory and process of elements inscription on national level;
  5. Preparation of local inventories and the problem of hierarchy etc.
The same training-workshop Intangible cultural heritage of the Silk Roads: Identification and Inventorying in Kyrgyzstan was held one month earlier in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on 14-17 May 2019.

Training participants had extensive experience in the field of ICH and included artisans, researchers, Ministry representatives, public organizations, whose work is directly related to the Conservation of ICH. This membership ensured a useful exchange of experience and knowledge.
All participants were very active during discussions and raised number of questions, such as:
  • elements of ICH, which are endangered under pressure of external factors, in particular, marked the emerging struggle between traditional practices and radical religious groups, as well as the existing generation gap, when many of the holders of traditional knowledge are in old age and a young generation does not always recognize the value of this heritage
  • issues related to the use of low-quality synthetic raw materials for the manufacture of certain products, such as the impact of the growing market and the risk of commercialization of ICH elements
  • the need for joint efforts of all stakeholders for the identification and inventorying of ICH, the creation of a public platform for raising awareness of ICH issues, and the improvement of legislation.
  • the importance of involving young people in the issue of safeguarding ICH and sustainable development etc.
During both training, it was agreed that all training participants would split in groups to undertake potential ICH inventorying field visits in the coming months.
Today the groups have been formed and UNESCO Almaty started receiving and considering proposals on inventorying to start conducting pilot inventories.

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