Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 12.COM 11.B.2

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Armenia has nominated Kochari, traditional group dance (No. 01295) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Kochari is a traditional dance that is widely performed throughout Armenia during holidays, festive celebrations, family ceremonies and other social events. It is open to all participants, irrespective of age, gender or social status. Kochari provides a sense of shared identity and solidarity, contributes to the continuity of historical, cultural and ethnic memory, and fosters mutual respect among community members of all ages. It is transmitted through both non-formal and formal means, and is one of the rare traditional dances whose chain of transmission has never been interrupted. Formal means of transmission include the inclusion of a ‘folk song and dance’ course in the curricula of comprehensive schools in Armenia since 2004, educational programmes in youth arts centres, increased visibility of the element through the internet and other media outlets, and institutional initiatives. Folk dance groups have also been active in various communities since the 1960s, and non-governmental organizations regularly hold dance classes. Non-formal transmission occurs within families and through spontaneously formed dance groups. Communities, groups and individuals are actively involved in ensuring the viability of the element, notably through the ‘Our dances and we’ initiative, which has been carried out since 2008, with experienced practitioners playing a key role in safeguarding efforts.

  1. Decides 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:   Kochari possesses a symbolic meaning (the perpetuation of fertility and of a harmonious relationship between humans and nature), a social meaning (as a collective practice and connecting force of the Armenian diaspora) and a creative meaning (through music and dance). It is actively transmitted using both informal and formal methods, for example through its inclusion in festivals and higher education curricula, and programmes by youth art centres. Kochari contributes greatly to intergenerational relationships and the socialization of youth, and conveys messages about historical memory and ancestral traditions.

R.2:   The element evokes a sense of solidarity among numerous practitioners, thereby widening the platform of cultural dialogue. Apart from Armenians themselves, various ethnic communities and minorities practise the element, which thereby ensures respect for cultural diversity.

R.3:   The State Party has developed safeguarding measures undertaken by the communities, groups and individuals concerned to protect and promote the element. These measures have been proposed by the bearer communities themselves, traditional song and dance ensembles and individual practitioners, and include identification, research and documentation activities, public awareness campaigns and activities geared at the transmission of knowledge related to the element. Such activities comprise, for example: classes for the public organized by various non-governmental organizations; State support for the production of the costumes and instruments associated with the dance and national and international festivals. A gender balance has been clearly maintained throughout these efforts. State bodies regularly allocate funds to educational and targeted projects and the legal basis for the safeguarding of Kochari is also ensured since it benefits from the protection offered by Armenia’s 2009 law on intangible cultural heritage. The file demonstrates that the inscription of the element would not result in any unintended consequences such as the over-commercialization of the dance or its prioritization over other elements.

R.4:   The State Party has demonstrated the participation of various stakeholders in the nomination process, such as individual bearers, practitioners, non-governmental organizations and authorities. During the preparation of the nomination, working groups travelled around the country to raise awareness. The State Party has confirmed that there are no customary practices restricting access to the element.

R.5:   The element has been included in Armenia’s list of intangible cultural heritage since 2010. The main body responsible for this process is the Ministry of Culture. The above-mentioned inventory has been updated with a number of addenda, with the most recent amendment being made in 2016. There is a comprehensive explanation of the preparatory process for establishing the inventory, with the full participation of the local communities. An extract of the national list and its English translation are enclosed, including information about the description, location, communities and viability of the element.

  1. Inscribes Kochari, traditional group dance on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Commends the State Party for the improved file following the referral of the nomination in 2015.