In response to efforts by Egypt and a number of Arab countries, UNESCO has added the Egyptian arts, skills and practices associated with engraving on metal (gold, silver and copper) to its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The announcement was made during the 18th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage which was held last week in Kasane, Botswana.
Egyptian Culture Minister Neveen Elkilany expressed her gratitude for the joint effort of 10 Arab countries: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Morocco, Iraq, Palestine, Sudan, Tunisia, Yemen and Mauritania. “These countries,” she said, “worked together over the course of two years, in coordination with the Arab Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO), to prepare the nomination file.” During that preparation phase, she said, special care was given to highlighting the cultural diversity of the intangible cultural heritage in our Arab region, which generations upon generations have been keen to transmit and preserve through thousands of years.
The UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage website posted:
“Engraving on metals such as gold, silver and copper is a centuries-old practice that entails manually cutting words, symbols or patterns into the surfaces of decorative, utilitarian, religious or ceremonial objects. The craftsperson uses different tools to manually cut symbols, names, Quran verses, prayers and geometric patterns into the objects. Engravings can be concave (recessed) or convex (elevated), or the result of a combination of different types of metals, such as gold and silver. Their social and symbolic meanings and functions vary according to the communities concerned. Engraved objects, such as jewelry or household objects, are often presented as traditional gifts for weddings or used in religious rituals and alternative medicine. For instance, certain types of metals are believed to have healing properties. Engraving on metals is transmitted within families, through observation and hands-on practice. It is also transmitted through workshops organised by training centres, organizations and universities, among others. Publications, cultural events and social media further contribute to the transmission of the related knowledge and skills. Practised by people of all ages and genders, metal engraving and the use of engraved objects are means of expressing the cultural, religious and geographical identity and the socioeconomic status of the communities concerned.”
This is the eighth Egyptian intangible heritage item to be listed on UNESCO Intangible Heritage List. The previous listings began with Al-Sirah Al-Hilaliyyah epic in 2008; the stick martial game/dance Tahteeb in 2016; traditional hand puppetry (Aragoz) in 2018; handmade Upper Egyptian (Sa’eed) Talli weaving in 2020; Arabic calligraphy: knowledge, skills and practices in 2021; Festivals related to the [Biblical] Journey of the Holy family in Egypt in 2022; and Date palm: knowledge, skills, traditions and practices also in 2022.
13 December 2023