Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 12.COM 11.B.32

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Tajikistan has nominated Falak (No. 01193) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Falak is a musical genre of traditional music in the mountain Tajiks. Performances of Falak can assume both vocal and instrumental forms: the vocal kind is performed solo with or without the accompaniment of musical instruments, while the instrumental form includes both solo and ensemble performances. The bearers of the practice are the singers and instrumentalists who perform the music; they can be either men or women, young or old, but a certain amount of preparation is required. Falak is performed during family ceremonies and rites including weddings and funeral processions, and in the Kulob region musical parties are popular among the local population. Falak is a central form of traditional music that has survived up to now primarily thanks to the ustod-shogird method of transferring related experience and knowledge to the next generations; this is the traditional method that has ensured the vitality and viability of the falak genre for many centuries. Falak is developed through formal and non-formal education. Local residents organize competitions and the element is collected, recorded and inventoried by its bearers. State programmes, symposiums, conferences and workshops on the history, theory and method of falak are also conducted on a biannual basis.

  1. Decides 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.1:   The file indicates that Falak is a central and leading phenomenon of traditional music of the mountain Tajiks. Moreover, Falak also has an economic function, since it is how performers earn their living. Traditional family schools are listed in the file and, in addition to informal methods of transmission, Falak is also included in the syllabuses of colleges and higher educational institutions in Tajikistan. However, while the transmission of the practice is said to be achieved partly through the ustod-shogird method as well as within families, these methods of transmission are not clearly explained in the file. In addition, there is an undue focus on professional performances and formal occasions for the practice of Falak, which may not adequately describe the element in its complexity.

R.2:   The inscription of Falak would represent a sign of pride in the element and a recognition of it as an example of traditional creativity at the international level. It would also lead to a wider involvement of people of all ages in the network of traditional artistic schools, speed up the development of traditional teaching methods and introduce the element into music schools. However, the file focuses instead on how the inscription would enhance the understanding of ‘Tajik culture’ at the international level and the State Party has not explained how it would contribute to the visibility of intangible cultural heritage in general or raise awareness about its importance at the local, national and international levels. The file also fails to show how the inscription would encourage dialogue among communities, groups and individuals and at the same time promote respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.

R.3:   The file lists a number of past and ongoing efforts to safeguard Falak, including competitions and annual festive events for Falak Day and documentation, inventorying, research and publication activities. However, it is not clear how the communities and individuals concerned are concretely involved in these safeguarding measures, whereas the efforts made by the institutions to this end appear to be clear. Moreover, the nomination does not present any safeguarding measures for the future. There is also a concern that the safeguarding measures could lead to the decontextualization of the element outside of its proper functions, and that its apparent institutionalization could result in its folklorization.

R.4:   The file does not demonstrate how the communities, groups and individuals concerned have actively participated in all stages of the preparation of the nomination. Furthermore, the file does not mention the stages undertaken during the preparation process, nor does it indicate the names of the various persons and institutions involved. In addition, there is no description of how the communities concerned provided their free, prior and informed consent to the nomination.

R.5:   The element was included in the National Inventory in 2014. The Ministry of Culture and the Research Institute of Culture and Informatics are responsible for maintaining this inventory. However, the nomination does not indicate clearly how the inventory was drawn up with the participation of the communities, groups and non-governmental organizations concerned, nor how it is regularly updated. Moreover, the extract presented in the nomination form is only in the form of a list and there are no important details regarding the description and explanation of the element.

  1. Decides to refer the nomination of Falak to the submitting State Party and invites it to resubmit the nomination to the Committee for examination during a following cycle;
  2. Reminds the State Party of the need to involve the communities concerned in all stages of the drafting of the nomination file;
  3. Encourages the State Party, should it wish to resubmit the nomination during a following cycle, to ensure that detailed information on the sociological and geographical aspects of the element is provided and that it is consistent throughout the file.