- Takes note that Timor-Leste has nominated Tais, traditional textile (01688) for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding: Tais, the handwoven traditional textile in Timor-Leste, plays an important role in the life of Timorese people. The textile is used for decoration and to create traditional clothing with specific styles for men and women. People use Tais to welcome new-borns as well as for traditional ceremonies and festivals. Tais is also a means of expressing cultural identity and social class, as the colours and motifs used vary from one group to the next. Finally, the textile is used as an object of value, such as for dowries or to strengthen ties between families. Made from cotton dyed with natural plants, Tais is traditionally handwoven using simple equipment. The production process, however, is quite complex and time-consuming and entails preparing and dyeing the cotton and weaving the material. Although men may participate in the process by gathering plants to dye the cotton and making the equipment, the production of Tais is a role reserved for women, who are also responsible for passing the knowledge and skills on to the next generation. The practice is threatened by several factors, including a preference for modern clothing among younger generations, the replacement of local, handmade materials with industrial alternatives, inadequate income generation and an ever-decreasing number of weavers.
- 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: This traditional textile is made from cotton and plant-based dyes. Its production is time-intensive and entails the use of simple equipment. Its primary practitioners are women, while men help with gathering plants for dyes and making the equipment. Knowledge and skills are primarily transmitted from mother to daughter, with children imitating their mothers. Transmission also occurs among groups of weavers. The element has important sociocultural functions at traditional wedding ceremonies and burials, and is used in dowries and to pay penance for not complying with rules within the community. It is also used to distinguish different social classes and ethnic groups in communities. The element is compatible with sustainable development and does not contravene international human rights instruments.
U.2: The file sufficiently explains that the element is in need of urgent safeguarding for the following reasons: (a) a reduction in the number of weavers; (b) a preference for modern clothing among young generations; (c) relatively low source of income for weavers; (d) the replacement of local cotton with industrial cotton and of natural dyes with chemical dyes; (e) no formal system for recognizing the motifs of particular groups or families; and (f) a lack of collective communication among women practitioners of the element.
U.3: The safeguarding plan elaborated addresses the threats to the element and will help ensure its continued practice and transmission. Six safeguarding objectives are identified and include promotion, awareness raising, research, marketing, training and documentation. The proposed objectives and activities are aligned and will be implemented by the National Committee for Intangible Cultural Heritage, along with other government institutions, national non-governmental organizations and international agencies.
U.4: The communities collaborated with the State and other entities for the consultations and preparation of the file. They will also be involved in the implementation of the safeguarding plan, in particular relating to awareness raising and capacity building. Free, prior and informed consent is established in the file. Few Tais have customary practices limiting access to them. Those with limited access are the ones that are considered sacred. They are kept in sacred houses and used for rituals and ceremonies. These customary practices will be respected throughout the inscription and implementation of the safeguarding plan.
U.5: The element has been included in the inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage since 2013. The inventory is administered by the Secretariat of State for Art and Culture. The Tais was identified and included in the inventory of the municipalities with the participation of weavers, community leaders and municipal focal points. The inventory is updated annually via a survey.
- Decides to inscribe Tais, traditional textile on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding;
- Commends the State Party for its first inscription;
- Reminds the State Party to monitor and mitigate any unintended consequences arising from over-tourism and over-commercialization;
- Further takes note that Timor-Leste has requested International Assistance from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund in the amount of US$265,895 for the implementation of the safeguarding plan for Tais, traditional textile: This three-year project will be implemented by the Timor-Leste National Commission for UNESCO. Activities include promoting this handwoven traditional textile in fairs, creating a television programme and adding Timor-Leste’s cultural elements, including Tais, to school curricula. In terms of research, the project entails recruiting an expert to conduct field research and to document and photograph the raw materials used and the Tais products in the communities and local markets. The results of this research will be published in three languages and used to develop a permanent exhibition, which will also include live demonstrations by weavers. Schoolteachers will then receive training on the content of the exhibition and be encouraged to bring their students to the exhibition, as part of their schools’ extracurricular activities. Other project activities include creating a Tais weaving competition for youth, providing training on cotton creation and natural dyeing, and supporting weavers’ management skills and livelihoods through capacity building and a formal certification system. The project is thus expected to raise awareness about Tais among the general public, motivate youth to take an interest in Tais and learn the weaving techniques, increase income opportunities for weavers, attract tourists’ interest in Tais as part of Timor-Leste’s culture, and strengthen weavers’ networks.
- Further considers that, from the information included in the file, the request responds as follows to the criteria for granting International Assistance given in paragraphs 10 and 12 of the Operational Directives:
A.1: The nomination file shows how community leaders and weavers participated in the preparation of the request and how the communities, groups and individuals concerned will be involved in implementing the proposed activities. Weavers will also participate in the implementation of the proposed activities such as awareness raising, transmission, marketing and networking. The communities will monitor the implementation by attending meetings to provide updates and suggestions on the activities and their effects.
A.2: The sum being requested is also appropriate for the proposed activities, as the project has a duration of implementation of thirty-six months. The activities and corresponding budget allocations are clearly stated and include the sum requested per activity. The proposed activities are complementary to each other.
A.3: The proposed activities are comprehensive and include awareness raising, educational programmes, research, transmission, weaving competitions for youth, and trainings for weavers on business and the diversification of related products. The activities are feasible and clearly form part of an integrated plan. There are also activities that target the tourism sector, such as the display of Tais at the airport and the development of brochures.
A.4: The long-lasting results of the project include providing capacity building for the network of weavers, training weavers on how to make diverse products using the element, and integrating Tais into school curricula. Among the activities proposed, the Tais certification system may also have a lasting impact and will be a sustainable system to ensure production quality and fair income for weavers.
A.5: The State has satisfactorily allocated funds from its own resources and has collaborated with other entities to procure funding for some components of the proposed project. The State will contribute US$139,790, nearly one-third of the entire project budget. A notable feature is the State’s proposed funding of a Tais Fair for a total cost of US$68,190. Other donors will contribute US$46,896, or approximately ten percent of the overall project budget.
A.6: The project will enhance the capacity of the weaver networks and of those benefitting from the training to make diverse products using the element. Some of the activities will also contribute to improving business skills to sustain livelihoods and increase understanding of chemical products. The diversification component may help strengthen production of the element itself, while the exhibit may contribute to overall awareness raising. The project management skills of members of the National Committee for Intangible Cultural Heritage will be raised, including their skills in project planning, implementation and monitoring.
A.7: Timor-Leste has not previously benefitted from any financial assistance from UNESCO under the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund of the Convention to implement similar or related activities in the field of intangible cultural heritage.
Paragraph 10(a): The proposed project is national in scope and involves the National Committee for Intangible Cultural Heritage along with other governmental agencies, national non-governmental organizations and international agencies. In this case, the non-governmental organizations will provide financial and in-kind support for the project. The file also references the recruitment of an international researcher to collect data and conduct surveys during the research phase.
Paragraph 10(b): The State proposes to invest in the implementation of this plan and seems to involve several government agencies, including the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, as well as funding from another unnamed source. The weavers and potential retailers of the element may also benefit financially. Their capacities will be strengthened by the project, which is expected to provide further opportunities during implementation. International recognition of Tais may also lead to further technical and financial support.
- Decides to approve the International Assistance request from Timor-Leste for the implementation of the safeguarding plan for Tais, traditional textile and grants the amount of US$265,895 to the State Party to this end;
- Encourages the State Party to take measures to reduce any risk of over-commercialization;
- Invites the State Party to use Form ICH-04-Report to report on the use of the assistance granted.