After years of campaigning, the Egyptian Stick Game of Tahtib has finally been inscribed as Intangible Cultural Heritage at risk at UNESCO’s General Assembly Meeting in Addis Ababa on 30 November 2016.
Behind the campaign to inscribe Tahtib has largely been Adel-Boulad who is a writer, physicist and tahtib trainer, and who tirelessly advocated the cause to protect the art of Tahtib along with other enthusiasts.
Tahtib is an ancient Egyptian stick martial art that has evolved as both festive and martial all along its 5000 years of history.
A rural tradition at heart, Tahtib is currently at risk with the fast urbanisation Egypt is going through. This makes its inscription as Universal Intangible Heritage at Risk great news for everyone.
Some of the symbolism and values associated with tahtib remain alive to this day. Performed in front of an audience, it involves a brief, non-violent interchange between two adversaries, each wielding a long stick while folk music plays in the background. Complete control must be exercised as no striking is allowed. Practitioners are male both young and old, mostly from southern populations of Upper Egypt where the tahtib stick is used in daily life and is considered a sign of manhood. The rules of the game reflect values such as mutual respect, friendship, courage, strength, chivalry and pride.
4 December 2016