Ministry of Culture organizes the Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage workshop

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 27, 2019 21:11

Ministry of Culture organizes the Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage workshop

Story Highlights

  • A workshop to train employees how to register national intangible heritage is being currently held at the Ministry of Culture. Two main points discussed are the Albanian lahuta, and whether the traditional outfits xhubleta should be registered as an intangible heritage.

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TIRANA, June 27- The Ministry of Culture has organized and conducting the “Protecting Intangible Cultural Heritage and its community-based inventory” workshop which lasts for a few days and ends tomorrow. This workshop is financially supported by the Sofia Regional Center, which works under UNESCO. UNESCO expert from Albania Meri Kumbe said that one of the obligations under the convention is to make an inventory of the intangible cultural heritage, thus the first step the Ministry of Culture is undertaking, is to train its employees how to do it. 

“People should begin to have a voice, decide for themselves what it belongs to them, and be a part of the sharing and making public their identity according to their wish, as is the intangible cultural heritage. After this workshop we expect to have a 90-element national inventory, which will be extended to some areas of Albania,” said Kumbe. 

Two important points of discussion in this workshop is whether traditional outfit Xhubleta should be registered to UNESCO as an intangible heritage, and the much-talked debate of the lahuta. We remind that on December 2018, Serbia managed to successfully file the documentation for “Singing to the accompaniment of the Gusle” as an intangible heritage to UNESCO. Gusle is an instrument belonging to the family of lutes, similar to the Albanian lahuta. Some media in Albania panicked over this news and rushed to write that UNESCO has already declared the lute or gusle as a Serbian instrument, meaning that the lute is not Albanian after all. However, Serbia has merely nominated in safeguarding the practice of singing using the gusle. 

International UNESCO expert from Serbia Sasa Sreckovic, said that when it comes to intangible heritage there is no ownership, and regarding this specific matter there are a lot of areas in the Balkans that practice it. He further added that as a first step the communities and its members who apply and keep alive this tradition must be identified, and the second step is ethics, morality and the legal aspect of the whole process. Sreckovic added that international collaborations amongst the respective institutions on similar intangible heritage must be stimulated. This is also an essential point demanded from UNESCO. 

“There are many states interested in the lute, not only Albania, but Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina as well, but some of these countries have not registered it [the lute] in their national register of national intangible heritage,” said Sreckovic. 

Kumbe said the Ministry of Culture has already started a collaborative campaign with many actors in the field for registering the lute. “For the sake of truth, singing with lahuta is in a critical, emergent moment, because we risk losing it, although I’m not part of the Ministry, I know there is a very high sensitivity and there are many institutions that have now increased their work,” she concluded.

As for xhubleta, collector and poet Luljeta Dano said that this tradition is being lost. She said the traditional xhubleta with all its parameters stopped being produced around 1950-60, as its construction is very sophisticated. Xhubletas are now mostly found in family and other private collections, the state archive also owns 33 pieces. This tradition is loosely preserved in the mountainous families, where the xhubletas in the shape of bells, corrugated in the back, preserved well in times of war the identity of the Albanian nation, through motives and symbols, which show the faith in God the beauty of mountainous women. But whether this tradition is still alive or not, and whether it will be registered at UNESCO as intangible heritage, it will be decided when this workshop is concluded tomorrow. Dano has been working all her active professional years in preserving the xhubleta.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 27, 2019 21:11