Midwifery: knowledge, skills and practices

Midwives are companions and supporters of pregnant women and their families before, during and after birth. Throughout the course of a pregnancy, midwives make home visits, provide guidance and care, and facilitate birth preparation and capacity-building classes. They contribute to the protection of fundamental human rights by transmitting their knowledge to mothers and families. Midwifery is based on evidence-based practices and traditional knowledge, skills and techniques. It varies according to the social, cultural and natural contexts of different communities and countries, and sometimes includes knowledge of traditional medicine and of medicinal plants and herbs. Midwifery also entails specific cultural practices, vocabulary, celebrations and rituals. The related skills and knowledge have been safeguarded, developed and passed on by practising communities for generations, especially within networks of women. Traditional knowledge of midwifery is accumulated through direct experience, observation and interaction with the human body. It is transmitted through oral instruction, observation, participation and peer exchange. In many countries, the practice of midwifery also requires certification, and the related knowledge and skills are transmitted through formal education such as academic learning based on curricula, some of which align with the standards established by the International Confederation of Midwives.

Title EN: Male midwife provides care and attention to pregnant woman with traditional methods, Colombia © Jaime Acuña Lezama/Ministry of Culture of Colombia, 2016

Media

  Cyprus

Midwifery: knowledge, skills and practices

multinational application of ColombiaCyprusGermanyKyrgyzstanLuxembourgNigeria

Slovenia and Togo

Date of Inscription:

Inscribed in 2023 (18.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Tocatì, a shared programme for the safeguarding of traditional games and sports

As part of coordinated efforts to safeguard traditional games and sports in Italy, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus and France, the Associazione Giochi Antichi launched Tocatì (‘it’s your turn’), a festival and platform uniting communities, groups and individuals that practice traditional games. Tocatì links traditional games and sports to the values of intangible cultural heritage, mobilizing thousands of players, volunteers, admirers and media actors. By taking place in the streets and rendering highly urbanized and touristic areas spaces of inclusion and equality, it also raises awareness of the existence of intangible cultural heritage and the related risks. The five main objectives of the Tocatì programme are to: (a) enhance a common ground of exchange between practitioners and institutions; (b) establish a process for the participatory identification, documentation and monitoring of traditional games and sports; (c) improve the transmission of traditional games and sports in formal and non-formal education; (d) empower and protect communities and increase their ability to secure access to and manage public spaces; and (e) involve communities, groups, individuals, institutions and other stakeholders in innovative capacity-building initiatives. These objectives were identified through community consultations and meetings at the local, national and international levels and have dynamically shaped Tocatì, contributing to the programme’s growing participation and reach.

© Alain Meessen, Handmade in Brugge, 2020

Media

  Cyprus

Tocatì, a shared programme for the safeguarding of traditional games and sports

multinational application of

CroatiaCyprus, Belgium,  Italy and France

Date of Inscription:

Selected in 2022 on the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices

Byzantine chant

As a living art that has existed for more than 2000 years, the Byzantine chant is a significant cultural tradition and comprehensive music system forming part of the common musical traditions that developed in the Byzantine Empire. Highlighting and musically enhancing the liturgical texts of the Greek Orthodox Church, it is inextricably linked with spiritual life and religious worship. This vocal art is mainly focused on rendering the ecclesiastical text; arguably, the chant exists because of the word (‘logos’), since every aspect of the tradition serves to spread the sacred message. Passed on aurally across the generations, its main characteristics have remained over the centuries: it is exclusively vocal music; it is essentially monophonic; the chants are codified into an eight-mode or eight-tone system; and the chant employs different styles of rhythm to accentuate the desired syllables of specific words. Though the Psaltic Art has always been linked to the male voice, women chanters are common in nunneries and participate in parishes to some extent. In addition to its transmission in church, the Byzantine chant is flourishing due to the dedication of experts and non-experts alike – including musicians, choir members, composers, musicologists and scholars – who contribute to its study, performance and dissemination.

Father Nikolaos Lympouridis with his students, during their weekly Byzantine chant lesson at the School of Byzantine and Traditional Music of the Holy Metropolis of Lemesos, in Limassol, Cyprus Photograph: Mediazone/A.Polyniki © Cyprus National Commission for UNESCO, 2018

Media

  Cyprus

Byzantine chant

multinational application of

Cyprus и Greece

Date of Inscription:

Inscribed in 2019 (14.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Art of dry stone walling, knowledge and techniques

The art of dry stone walling concerns the knowhow related to making stone constructions by stacking stones upon each other, without using any other materials except sometimes dry soil. Dry stone structures are spread across most rural areas – mainly in steep terrains – both inside and outside inhabited spaces, though they are not unknown in urban areas. The stability of the structures is ensured through the careful selection and placement of the stones, and dry-stone structures have shaped numerous, diverse landscapes, forming various modes of dwelling, farming and husbandry. Such structures testify to the methods and practices used by people from prehistory to today to organize their living and working space by optimizing local natural and human resources. They play a vital role in preventing landslides, floods and avalanches, and in combating erosion and desertification of the land, enhancing biodiversity and creating adequate microclimatic conditions for agriculture. The bearers and practitioners include the rural communities where the element is deeply rooted, as well as professionals in the construction business. Dry stone structures are always made in perfect harmony with the environment and the technique exemplifies a harmonious relationship between human beings and nature. The practice is passed down primarily through practical application adapted to the particular conditions of each place.

© Branko Orbanić, 2011
© Branko Orbanić, 2011

Media

  Cyprus

Art of dry stone walling, knowledge and techniques

multinational application of

CroatiaCyprusGreeceFranceItalySloveniaSpainSwitzerland

Date of Inscription:

Inscribed in 2018 (13.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet involves a set of skills, knowledge, rituals, symbols and traditions concerning crops, harvesting, fishing, animal husbandry, conservation, processing, cooking, and particularly the sharing and consumption of food. Eating together is the foundation of the cultural identity and continuity of communities throughout the Mediterranean basin. It is a moment of social exchange and communication, an affirmation and renewal of family, group or community identity. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes values of hospitality, neighbourliness, intercultural dialogue and creativity, and a way of life guided by respect for diversity. It plays a vital role in cultural spaces, festivals and celebrations, bringing together people of all ages, conditions and social classes. It includes the craftsmanship and production of traditional receptacles for the transport, preservation and consumption of food, including ceramic plates and glasses. Women play an important role in transmitting knowledge of the Mediterranean diet: they safeguard its techniques, respect seasonal rhythms and festive events, and transmit the values of the element to new generations. Markets also play a key role as spaces for cultivating and transmitting the Mediterranean diet during the daily practice of exchange, agreement and mutual respect.

Media

  Cyprus

Mediterranean diet

multinational application of

CyprusCroatiaSpainGreeceItalyMoroccoPortugal

Date of Inscription:

Inscribed in 2013 (8.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Tsiattista poetic duelling

The lively, impromptu oral poetry known as Tsiattista is often performed to the accompaniment of violin or lute in ‘jousts’ in which one poet-singer attempts to outdo another with clever verses made up of rhyming couplets. It has long been a popular component of wedding feasts, fairs and other public celebrations, where eager crowds encourage poets to perform. The most common metrical form is the iambic fifteen-syllable verse in a rhyming couplet, although a poet may use eight-syllable, six-syllable or even nine-syllable verses. Successful ”tsiattistaes” (poet-singers) exhibit ready wit, deep familiarity with poetic and musical traditions, a rich vocabulary and an active imagination. They have often been men of modest means and limited education who transmit their works only orally; these days, the poets are mostly old men but talented female poets have recently started performing. Poets must be well-versed in the Greek Cypriot dialect, possess adequate knowledge of the popular poetry of Cyprus and the ability to retrieve existing, well-known Tsiattista and, above all, must be able to improvise a new couplet on a specific theme within very strict time constraints and be able to respond to his or her opponent.

Media

  Cyprus

Tsiattista poetic duelling

Date of Inscription:

Inscribed in 2011 (6.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural

Lefkara laces or Lefkaritika

The tradition of lace-making in the village of Lefkara in southeastern Cyprus dates back to at least the fourteenth century. Influenced by indigenous craft, the embroidery of Venetian courtiers who ruled the country beginning in 1489, and ancient Greek and Byzantine geometric patterns, Lefkara lace is made by hand in designs combining four basic elements: the hemstitch, cut work, satin stitch fillings and needlepoint edgings. This combined art and social practice is still the primary occupation of women in the village who create distinctive tablecloths, napkins and show pieces while sitting together and talking in the narrow streets or on covered patios. Unique mastery of the craft is passed to young girls through years of informal exposure and then formal instruction by their mother or grandmother in applying cotton thread to linen. When she has learned her art thoroughly, the lace-maker uses her imagination to design work that embodies both tradition and her own personality. Testament to the ability to appreciate multiple influences and incorporate them into one’s own culture, lace-making is at the centre of daily life for women of Lefkara and a proud symbol of their identity.

Media

  Cyprus

Lefkara laces or Lefkaritika

Date of Inscription:

Inscribed in 2009 (4.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity