Iran makes bids for UNESCO intangible cultural heritage registration

May 20, 2019

TEHRAN – Iran has submitted five separate dossiers to the UNESCO for possible inscription on the Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

The proposals present celebration of Yalda night; the oud, which is a short-neck lute-type, pear-shaped stringed instrument; Mehregan celebration; miniature painting; and annual pilgrimage to St. Thaddeus and its associated rituals, a senior cultural heritage official said on Monday, Mehr reported.

We are waiting to correct the dossiers if there is a problem. And Four out of five proposals would jointly be inscribed by other nations, Mohammad-Hassan Talebian, a deputy for the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, addressing a press conference.

“The oud is planned to be inscribed jointly with Syria, Mehregan with Tajikistan, miniature with [some] Turk-Speaking countries, St. Thaddeus rituals with Armenia,” he explained.

Last December, CHHTO Director Ali-Asghar Mounesan said that Yalda is amongst rich rituals Iran and its neighbors have in common, adding “This joint heritage shows that Persian-speaking countries have always been together.”

In 2015, the Islamic Republic solely submitted an initial proposal on the event to the UN cultural body. However, it later issued calls for other nations, including the ones sharing a UNESCO-tag for Noruz celebrations, to join in.

Yalda Night (the birth of a new sun) and Noruz or Persian New Year (the birth of a new day) are amongst the most popular ancient Persian festivals, which are also celebrated by some countries in western and central Asia.

According to UNESCO, Yadla ceremonies, in a best way, point to cultural diversity and human creativity, especially when one considers the wide range of the communities that celebrate it.

On that graceful night, which falls on the last day of Azar (the last month of autumn in the Iranian calendar year), the winter chill is vanquished and the warmth of love embraces the entire family. Hearts move closer to one another in the company of loved ones on Yalda.

To observe St. Thaddeus rituals, Hundreds of Christian worshippers from Iran, Armenia and other countries head for St. Thaddeus to observe the annual ritual and pilgrimage in the northwestern church in the late June.

Qareh Klise (“the Black Church”), is one of the oldest surviving Christian monuments in Iran and is located in West Azarbaijan province, some 20 kilometers form Maku, adjacent to the borders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Mehregan celebration, which falls on the 196th day of the Iranian calendar year that usually equals to October 2 in the Gregorian calendar, brings together clusters of Iranian Zoroastrians to hold reunions in celebration of Mithra, an ancient goddess of friendship, affection and love.

A key feature for the event is large spreads in purple laden with various ingredients, dishes and elements each on behalf of a particular belief.  Fruits, vegetables, dried nuts, sweets, rosewater, grilled lamb meat, lotus seeds and silver coins and a scale are typically placed, the latter symbolizes autumnal equinox.

Oud is a pear-shaped stringed instrument frequently used in Persian and Middle Eastern music whose construction is similar to that of the lute.

Amongst the Iranian entries to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list are Radif of Iranian music, traditional skills of carpet weaving in Kashan, ritual dramatic art of Ta’ziye, music of the Bakhshis of Khorasan and Qalishuyan rituals of Mashhad-e Ardehal near Kashan.   

“Chogan, a horse-riding game accompanied by music and storytelling” won Iran the same UNESCO status in the 12th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2017.

AFM/MG

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