Iran has 2,000 items listed as intangible cultural heritage: minister

TEHRAN — Some 2,000 items have been inscribed on Iran’s national list of intangible cultural heritage, Tourism Minister Ezzatollah Zarghami said on Friday.

“So far, about two thousand intangible cultural elements have been registered in the country.”

“Intangible cultural heritage such as culture, religion and rituals are of very great importance as they shape the identity of any nation,” Zarghami said.

In addition, 17 Iranian elements have been inscribed on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity List.

Iranian nominees for the prestigious list include Radif of Iranian Music; the traditional skills of carpet weaving in Kashan; Music of the Bakhshis of Khorasan; Naqqali, Iranian dramatic storytelling; the traditional skills of building and sailing Iranian Lenj boats in the Persian Gulf; and the traditional crafting and playing skills of Dotar.

In addition, the former country is seeking to inscribe five intangible elements on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity List in the near future. These are ancient festivities of Mehregan and Yalda, making and playing [the stringed instrument of] the Oud, the traditional craft of spinning silk, and the Turkmen Duzi (a kind of traditional textile practiced by the Iranian Turkmen tribes).

Yalda (the birth of a new sun), also called Yalda Night, is celebrated on the eve of the winter solstice, which falls on the last day of Azar (the last autumn month of the Iranian calendar year). On this graceful night, the winter cold is overcome, and the warmth of love embraces the whole family. It’s a time for pleasant family gatherings that involve laughter, cheerfulness, and good humor. According to UNESCO, Yalda ceremonies, in the best way, highlight cultural diversity and human creativity, especially considering the wide range of communities that celebrate it.

The celebration of Mehregan, which falls on the 196th day of the Iranian calendar year which generally corresponds to October 2 in the Gregorian calendar, brings together groups of Iranian Zoroastrians to hold meetings in honor of Mithra, an ancient goddess of the friendship, affection and love. A key feature of the event are large purple spreads loaded with various ingredients, dishes and items each in the name of a particular belief. Fruits, vegetables, dried nuts, sweets, rose water, grilled lamb meat, lotus seeds, silver coins and a scale are usually placed, the latter symbolizing the autumnal equinox.

The oud is a pear-shaped string instrument frequently used in Persian and Middle Eastern music that is similar in construction to the lute. This musical instrument was thought to have been invented by nomadic tribes because it was light and mobile. Some believe it originated in the Caucasus region, other sources point to more western regions as its point of origin. Some finds show an early elliptical Oud design found in the ruins of Shush, Iran. Some experts speculate that a priest plays him in this depiction.

The Islamic Republic expects to benefit from its many tourist sites such as bazaars, museums, mosques, bridges, public baths, madrasas, mausoleums, churches, towers and mansions, of which 26 are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


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