Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 9.COM 10.35

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Portugal has nominated Cante Alentejano, polyphonic singing from Alentejo, southern Portugal (No. 01007) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Cante Alentejano is a genre of traditional two-part singing performed by amateur choral groups in southern Portugal, characterized by distinctive melodies, lyrics and vocal styles, and performed without instrumentation. Groups consist of up to thirty singers divided into groups. The ponto, in the lower range, starts the singing, followed by the alto, in the higher range, which duplicates the melody a third or a tenth above, often adding ornaments. The entire choral group then takes over, singing the remaining stanzas in parallel thirds. The alto is the guiding voice heard above the group throughout the song. A vast repertoire of traditional poetry is set to existing or newly created melodies. Lyrics explore both traditional themes such as rural life, nature, love, motherhood and religion, and changes in the cultural and social context. Cante is a fundamental aspect of social life throughout Alentejano communities, permeating social gatherings in both public and private spaces. Transmission occurs principally at choral group rehearsals between older and younger members. For its practitioners and aficionados, cante embodies a strong sense of identity and belonging. It also reinforces dialogue between different generations, genders and individuals from different backgrounds, thereby contributing to social cohesion.

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

R.1:   Performed on various festive occasions and recreated according to changing times, the Cante Alentejano reaffirms a sense of belonging and an emotional link with place, keeping alive the local dialect and traditional way of transmission;

R.2:   Its inscription on the Representative List could enhance the visibility of the intangible cultural heritage more broadly and awareness of its significance, particularly in places where similar polyphonic traditions are practised, thereby contributing to promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity;

R.3:   Proposed safeguarding measures focus on broadening promotion through exhibitions and performances, formal and non-formal educational programmes and the networking of bearers to share knowledge on polyphonic singing; the commitments of concerned communities and choral groups to implement these measures and of the State to fund them are described;

R.4:   Members of the communities and groups concerned with the element were actively involved in the preparation of the nomination through meetings, discussions and other consultations, and they provided their free, prior and informed consent;

R.5:   The element is registered in the database of Casa do Cante as well as in the Memoriamedia database of Portuguese intangible cultural heritage of the e-Museu do Património Cultural Imaterial; its inclusion in the National Inventory of Portuguese Intangible Cultural Heritage is currently in process.

  1. Inscribes Cante Alentejano, polyphonic singing from Alentejo, southern Portugal on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.