Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 17.COM 7.b.9

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Georgia has nominated Traditional equestrian games in Georgia (Tskhenburti, Isindi, Kabakhi, Marula) (No. 01862) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Georgia's traditional equestrian games take place in outdoors, on grass-covered fields. Two teams of six players compete in a series of tasks while dressed in traditional clothes called Akhalukhi. There are four variations: in Tskhenburti, riders compete with a wooden racket to propel a rubber or felt ball through the opponent's goal post. In Isindi, the first rider, called the challenger, must try to break through the other team's line and defeat the opposing rider or horse with a wooden spear covered with a protection at the end. In Kabakhi, riders take turns trying to hit a cup placed on a six-metre column erected on the square. In Marula, an unlimited number of riders race across a twenty-five to thirty- kilometre distance. A team of referees and medics monitors each competition. Traditional equestrian games are widespread in Georgia and typically take place during secular and religious holidays. Knowledge and skills are transmitted formally, such as through equestrian clubs and veterinary studies, and informally, by observing and participating in the competitions and trainings. The games strengthen intergenerational relationships, support healthy lifestyles and promote youth integration and socialization. They also deepen relations between villages and different ethnic and religious communities.

  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 element involves equestrian games that consist of four variations: Tskhenburti, Isindi, Kabakhi and Marula. The bearers and practitioners include the rider, the team leader, the referee, medics, veterinarians, fans and masters. The knowledge and skills of the element are passed on to younger generations formally and informally. Informal transmission includes learning by participating in and watching the games and trainings, learning from experienced riders, and learning by assisting the masters. Formal transmission takes place in equestrian clubs and schools. The element's social and cultural functions include strengthening relations between generations and communities, promoting healthy lifestyles and uniting the communities' cultural expressions.

R.4:   The nomination file was prepared by the bearers and the National Federation of Georgian Equestrian Folk Games Development, in collaboration with the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia (NACHPG). The NACHPG set up and coordinated a group comprised of bearers, community representatives, experts and federations to work on the nomination file. The nomination process took place in the midst of restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to difficulties in communication. As such, the main forms of communication were online and through mass media and telephone communication. The file included consent forms from associations, universities, municipalities and families. There are no customary practices limiting access to the knowledge and skills related to the element, and the element is open to people of all ages, genders and backgrounds.

R.5:   The element was included in the State Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Georgia in 2018 and categorized as an element of national importance in 2019. The inventory is updated once a month, when the need arises. The element was identified and defined by bearers, NGOs and experts. It was submitted for consideration for inclusion in the inventory to the NACHPG's Intangible Cultural Heritage Council.

  1. Further considers that the information included in the file is not sufficient to allow the Committee to determine whether the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity are satisfied:

R.2:   The nomination file explains that inscription will enhance the visibility of the element at the local and national levels. At the international level, inscription will contribute to the further popularization of Georgian folk sports games, both within the country and abroad. However, the information focuses on enhancing the visibility and awareness of the element rather than of intangible cultural heritage in general.

R.3:   The file provided information about the history of the element over the centuries, but did not elaborate on past and current efforts to safeguard the element. Furthermore, while the file briefly mentions that bearers, members of cultural, scientific and educational organizations and community groups, as well as the non-governmental sector and individual activists initiated and were involved in determining the safeguarding measures, there was a lack of detail explaining how these communities were involved in planning the proposed measures and what their role will be in the implementation. Finally, the file includes safeguarding measures related to tourism. While it is recognized that tourism may support the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage, the file did not provide information on how the State Party and the communities concerned will monitor any unintended consequences of inscription and mitigate the impact of over-commercialization.

  1. Decides to refer the nomination of Traditional equestrian games in Georgia (Tskhenburti, Isindi, Kabakhi, Marula) to the submitting State Party and invites it to resubmit the nomination to the Committee for examination during a following cycle.