Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 9.COM 10.12

The Committee

  1. Takes note that China has nominated Torch festival of the Yi people (No. 00654) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The Torch Festival is celebrated each year, on the ninth day of the Pig Month of the Yi calendar, among the Yi people of southwest China. This traditional three-day festival dedicates offerings to the ancestors and prayers for a bountiful harvest amid a host of traditional and ritual practices, games and competitions. The festival has become a living symbol of Yi culture and derives its name from the torches that villagers ignite to illuminate their fields and drive away pests. This tradition is accompanied by wrestling matches, horse-racing, animal fights, beauty contests and other forms of competition, as well as folk songs, dances and music. The traditional practices, skills and knowledge are passed on through communal participation thereby educating and nurturing community spirit and cohesion. The Torch Festival functions as an important bridge for social interaction and cultural reconciliation between villages, community members, generations and subgroups of the Yi, as well as a harmonious channel for interethnic dialogue and cultural exchange therefore contributing to mutual understanding and respect among communities.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List:

R.3:   The safeguarding measures proposed aim at preserving and transmitting the continuity of the Torch festival and vary from research on its components to the creation of special spaces for conservation of associated resources, from promotion through webpages to formal education, with a positive interaction between local communities, tradition bearers, local governments and the State;

R.4:   The nomination was elaborated with the participation of community members, research institutions and academic scholars, and community members provided their free, prior and informed consent through both visual and written statements;

R.5:   The element was included in 2005 in both the Yunnan and the Sichuan Provincial Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage; in 2006 it was also included in the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage maintained by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture.

  1. Further 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 are satisfied:

R.1:   Although the Torch festival includes different cultural expressions and practices transmitted from generation to generation, additional information would be needed on those of its components that involve animal fights to explain whether these are compatible with the requirement of respect for the sensitivities of diverse communities, groups and individuals, and respect for sustainable development;

R.2:   Although its inscription on the Representative List could contribute to the visibility of the intangible cultural heritage, additional information would be needed to explain how some components of the festival that involve the use of living animals for entertainment could encourage dialogue among communities that have a different sensitivity.

  1. Decides to refer the nomination of Torch festival of the Yi people to the submitting State Party and invites it to resubmit the nomination to the Committee for examination during a following cycle.