The pottery art of Vietnam's Cham ethnic group has been included in the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding.
This is one of the main items on the agenda of the 17th Conference of the Intergovernmental Committee of the 2003 Convention in the Moroccan capital of Rabat last week.
This year, four traditions were added to the list.
As for Vietnam, this is the first Vietnamese traditional craft to be honored on the UNESCO list.
However, the Cham people's pottery is the 15th intangible cultural heritage of Vietnam to be included in such a list, according to the Vietnam News Agency.
|The Vietnamese delegation attends the 17th Conference of the Intergovernmental Committee of the 2003 Convention in the Moroccan capital of Rabat last week. Photo: Dinh Van Hanh / Tuoi Tre|
Vietnam attended the conference as a state member of the committee, which was elected by state parties gathered in the general assembly according to the principles of equitable geographical representation and rotation.
This is the second time in the last ten years that Vietnam has become a member of the Intergovernmental Committee of the 2003 Convention. The Southeast Asian country's term lasts from 2022 to 2027.
According to the resolution adopted at the conference, the UNESCO committee classified the pottery art of the Cham people in Vietnam as intangible world cultural heritage that needs urgent protection.
In addition, three other traditions have been honored, including the black pottery art of Chile's Quinchamali and Santa Cruz de Cuca, the traditional stonework of the Ahlat in Turkey, and the Xhubleta, or skills, crafts, and forms of use from Albania that relate to an Albanian traditional costume.
According to the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Vietnamese documents on the pottery art of the Cham ethnic group show that the tradition meets the standards set by the committee for intangible cultural heritage that needs urgent protection.
Cham pottery art is cultivated by women who make pottery without a potter's wheel and decorate it with enamel.
|The ritual to honor the ancestors of the pottery art at Po Klaong Can Shrine in Ninh Phuoc District, Ninh Thuan Province, Vietnam is shown in this photo, provided the panel preparing the documents on the Cham pottery art.|
Practicing and passing on the art of pottery helps Cham women play a more important role in modern society.
In addition, the tradition helps to preserve the art of traditional folklore performance and communication, including the special ritual in honor of the first founder of the craft Po Klaong Can.
Currently, there are only a few craftsmen, potters, and apprentices left in two Cham villages.
Although many efforts have been made to preserve and maintain the pottery craft, the Cham tradition is threatened with extinction for various reasons.
One of the challenges is urbanization, which has a tremendous impact on the space and landscape of traditional craft villages.
There is still no planning strategy for an area where pottery is produced, and the cost of raw materials is still high.
What is more, the oldest craftsmen are gradually dying out and there are few young people who want to continue the traditional crafts of their ancestors.
|Children learn to make pottery in the village of Bau Truc in a photo provided by the panel preparing the documents on the Cham pottery art.|
UNESCO's decision to include Vietnamese pottery in the list of intangible cultural heritage in urgent need of protection shows that the United Nations recognizes the diversity of cultural characteristics of 54 Vietnamese ethnic groups.
The listing also promotes the role of women in modern society and respect for the diversity of cultural expressions, which is in line with the goals and principles that UNESCO has always upheld.
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