The national program for preservation of traditional art of Iranian calligraphy is registered globally
The National Program for the Preservation of the Traditional Art of “Iranian Calligraphy “was registered as Iran’s 17th intangible cultural element in the 16th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in the UNESCO world heritage list. In this meeting the case for calligraphy jointly presented by 16 Arabian countries, was also registered, plus another case for the same subject, presented by Turkey. The fact that calligraphy originated from Iran cannot be ignored, which brings to our memory the global registration of “horse polo, together with music and narration” in previous years. It is a question why the art of calligraphy and horse polo is registered in the name of other countries, and part of it is registered as a program or a method in the name of their origin. But, anyhow, it seems that this title is a gain that we should be happy with.
According to Aria Heritage, the National Program for the Preservation of the Traditional Art of Iranian calligraphy is the first case of Iran for endangered art in the world heritage list, to be included in the list of good protection program.
According to this news agency, the file of the National Program for the Protection of Traditional Art of Iranian Calligraphy refers to a series of measures that have been taken and continued in the past few decades to protect this Iranian-Islamic art in Iran. By confirming the cultural achievements of the institutions in charge of Iranian calligraphy, this national file, which is a confirmation of the cultural achievements of the institution’s research of Iranian calligraphy, including government and especially non-governmental institutions, resulted in the registration of Iranian calligraphy in the world heritage list.
In this regard, in a report from ISNA entitled “Why was the calligraphy registered in the names of Arab countries and Turkey?” We read: Iranian calligraphy with the main title of “National Program for the Protection of Traditional Art of Calligraphy in Iran” was registered in UNESCO. In contrast, sixteen Arab countries and Turkey have simultaneously registered calligraphy in their names. The actions of those countries and the title of Iran’s case have raised ambiguities, including whether Iran has only been able to register a national program to protect calligraphy with UNESCO. And why was the origin of calligraphy in Iran not considered when registering the files of those countries?
Mustafa Pourali, Director General of Registration and Privacy of Works and Preservation and Restoration of Spiritual and Natural Heritage, in an interview with ISNA about the Iranian calligraphy case entitled “National Program for the Preservation of Traditional Calligraphy in Iran” at the 16th meeting of the International Committee for the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage It was registered in the “Good Protection Programs” section, and in explaining the difference between the registration of this case and the calligraphy cases of Turkey and Arab countries, which are registered in the list of intangible heritage, he said: “The 2003 UNESCO Convention, under which countries register their intangible cultural elements globally, has three lists; The first is the list of “intangible heritage” in which cultural elements are introduced and registered by the criteria of that convention. Most of the global registrations take place in the Introductory List, and 14 intangible cultural features have been registered from Iran so far.”
He added: “The second category is” intangible heritage at risk,” which is easier to register works in this list than the known heritage. Usually, the works that do not have good protection conditions or are being destroyed and are in danger of extinction are registered in this list, in which Iran has two items: “knowledge of making a boat and sailing with a boat in the Persian Gulf” and “Narration; “Theatrical storytelling” is on this list, and unfortunately it is not possible to change it. Of course, with the cooperation of member countries, UNESCO is looking for a logical and appropriate solution for works whose status has improved and should be removed from the list of intangible heritage at risk.
Pour-Ali continued: “The third list of this convention, in which the registration of works is more difficult than the other two lists, is” UNESCO Good Protection Programs.” The works included in this list, while being introduced, must also have good protection, which is in stark contrast to the list of intangible heritage, that is, countries have protected the work so well that it can be promoted while being inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. . This list is essential for countries and UNESCO.”
The Director General of Registration and Privacy of Works and Preservation and Restoration of Spiritual and Natural Heritage said: In this year’s meeting, about 48 cases were submitted for registration in the “Introductory List” of Intangible Heritage, which is not difficult to register in this category, and usually countries are more interested for registering their works in this list. While only 5 countries, including Iran, have submitted applications for good protection programs, the inclusion of the “National Program for the Protection of Traditional Calligraphy in Iran” in this list is an outstanding and essential achievement for the Islamic Republic of Iran, especially for the people of the country. This year, six cases have been filed by countries for inclusion in the Intangible Heritage List.
He added: “The national program for the protection of an intangible cultural element is like two simultaneous registrations of a case, that is, both the intangible cultural element has been registered globally and has been approved by UNESCO, which can be protected well. Preparing such a case is far more complex than including in the introduction list or the endangered heritage list and therefore this is a significant achievement for Iran.
Pourali also said: “Another positive and important point about being included in this list is that the protection program of countries has a promotional aspect, and their program is published and given to countries that have similar works and heritage.”
He added that Iran had sent the case of the “Razavi pilgrimage” to UNESCO to be included in the list of good programs for the protection of intangible heritage in the 2023 summit. In addition, there are six other cases, including “Yalda Celebration” jointly with Afghanistan, “Sericulture and Silk spinning” jointly with Turkey, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, “Turkmen embroidery” jointly with Turkmenistan, “Mehregan Celebration” jointly with Tajikistan and the joint file with Syria for making and play the oud in the process of being considered at the next meeting, which is presented in the “intangible heritage for introduction” category.
Explaining why the Arab countries, Turkey and Iran, have each registered calligraphy in separate files in their names, Pour-Ali said: “We, like Turkey and the Arab countries, could have registered our calligraphy in the list of intangible heritage for introduction. This was very convenient, but we wanted to take a bigger step and presented calligraphy in the good protection program as well as in the introduction list. We even want to record Nowrooz, jointly with several countries, in the good protection program, which has already been registered in the introduction list
In response to the vagueness of the fact that UNESCO has only accepted Iranian calligraphy in the protection program ,while this type of calligraphy is of Iranian origin but registered in the names of Arab countries and Turkey, the Director General of registration and privacy of works and preservation and restoration of spiritual and natural heritage, stated: “Arab countries have Arab calligraphy while our script is Persian, and it was not logical to have a joint file with Arab countries. On the other hand, each country’s priority is to use its national quota unless restrictions or issues. Turkey submitted a national file, and we also wanted to use our national quota. Of course, we objected to the Turkish action because previously, their title was “Islamic calligraphy.” But, after Iran’s protest and follow-up, the title of this case was changed to “Traditional calligraphy in Islamic art in Turkey.” Turkey has registered the traditional calligraphy of its country. Turkey had friendly cooperation in correcting the case title, and Iran’s protest was technical.
He pointed out: “The 2003 convention has repeatedly stated that there is no objection to registering cultural elements by different countries. It is natural for calligraphy to exist in different countries and cultures, just as China has registered its calligraphy globally.”
About whether, considering that Iranian calligraphy file has been listed in the good protection program list of the intangible heritage committee of UNESCO, this program is accepted as Iran’s intangible heritage in UNESCO and is the 17th worldwide intangible heritage of Iran, Pourali said: Currently, 14 intangible heritages are registered in the Introductory List. Two works are listed in the Intangible Heritage List. One work is registered in the UNESCO Right Protection Program in the name of Iran (ISNA, December 26, 1400).