Decisión del Comité intergubernamental: 15.COM 8.a.1

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Colombia has nominated Traditional knowledge and techniques associated with Pasto Varnish mopa-mopa of Putumayo and Nariño (no. 01599) for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:

The traditional knowledge and techniques associated with Pasto Varnish mopa-mopa of Putumayo and Nariño encompass three traditional trades: harvesting, woodwork and decorative varnishing. The practice involves harvesting the buds of the mopa-mopa tree in the jungles of Putumayo, the wood processing carried out by carpenters, lathe operators and carvers in the Department of Nariño, and decorating objects with varnish made from the resin obtained from the mopa-mopa. Harvesting the mopa-mopa requires knowledge of the forest trails, climbing trees, the timing and exact size of the buds to be harvested, delicately harvesting without damaging the plants, finding water and preserving food, and so on. Practitioners and bearers transmit the related knowledge through orality, observation and experimentation, mainly within the family circle. The techniques associated with mopa-mopa harvesting, wood processing and varnish decoration are a source of identity for the communities concerned and Pasto Varnish has allowed practitioners to be self-employed, linked by guilds and family-owned trade structures. Currently, however, there are only ten harvesters, nine wood masters and thirty-six varnish masters. The practice is threatened by various factors, notably development and globalization processes creating more profitable alternatives for youngsters, the scarcity of mopa-mopa and woods due to deforestation and climate change, the difficulty of accessing the harvesting sites, and the conditions of the home workshops in which practitioners work.

  1. Considers that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:

U.1:   The element reflects comprehension about the nature surrounding the communities located in the Colombian Andes and Amazon regions, and the bond between these communities and the rural and urban worlds of southwestern Colombia. The social function of the element centers on the collective construction of sustainable forms for the conservation of forests through the cultural practices related to the harvesting of the mopa-mopa. The techniques associated strengthen family ties that cut across generational and territorial differences.

U.2:   The file offers a well-documented overview of the current situation relating to the processes of Pasto Varnish mopa-mopa, based on a participatory analysis conducted together with the three main stakeholders in the production chain (harvesters, woodworkers and varnish masters) as well as other stakeholders. The nomination provides a detailed list of factors necessitating the urgent safeguarding of the element. These include, among others: limited transmission of the associated knowledge; the scarcity of the mopa-mopa and woods; difficult access to the harvesting sites; and the precarious conditions of the home workshops. The nomination also notes that the entire production chain is not sufficiently valued and that there is therefore a lack of transmission of the know-how related to the Pasto Varnish production.

U.5:   The element was included in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Department of Nariño in 2014 and in the National Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (LRPCI) in 2019. The information was collected from the practitioners through interviews, surveys and life stories to understand the characteristics of the element. A process of open dialogue was also undertaken with the active involvement of the practitioners and bearers, who organized exhibitions and demonstration workshops at the local and national levels. Information is provided on how the inventories are regularly updated, including on the periodicity and modality of updating.

  1. Further considers that, on the basis of the information included in the file and the information provided by the submitting State through the dialogue process, the following criteria for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding are satisfied:

U.3:   The safeguarding plan includes concrete measures and activities that adequately respond to the specific threats to the element (such as research into sustainability, ensuring greater efficacy in the trade process and in the transmission of the related knowledge, greater organization, participation, assessment and dissemination of the practice, and improved cultural entrepreneurship and marketing). For the implementation of the safeguarding measures, the participation of various public and private institutions is considered. The programmes, projects and safeguarding plan include a detailed budget and a clear timetable.

U.4:   The nomination provides detailed information on how the relevant communities have participated in the process that led to this nomination since 2011. According to the file, the methodology used for preparing the nomination and the Special Safeguarding Plan was participatory in nature and involved meetings, surveys, interviews, life stories, visits to the mopa-mopa jungles and the workshop-houses of the wood masters and varnish masters, as well as presented the results through meetings attended by the relevant entities and community concerned.

  1. Decides to inscribe Traditional knowledge and techniques associated with Pasto Varnish mopa-mopa of Putumayo and Nariño on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

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