Unesco has released its list of dying Intangible Cultural Heritage rituals "in need of urgent safeguarding" for 2015. The list features age-old practices followed in Mongolia, Portugal, Colombia, Uganda and Dolni Polog, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Inscription of the dying rituals is an effort to help the new generation keep in touch with their traditional ties and cultural heritage. The list features a range of strange practices ranging from singing of folklore to making cowbells.
Mongolia's coaxing ritual for camels is the first to be inscribed on the list. The ritual is performed by herders who sing and chant to female camels to encourage them to accept a new-born calf or to adopt an orphan. "The coaxer changes the melody depending on the mother's behaviour, which may be initially aggressive, and slowly coaxes her into accepting the calf," says Unesco describing the ritual.
Glasoechko, a traditional form of vocal music followed in Dolni Polog, is yet another to make it to the Unesco list. It is usually performed in a group of not more than three male singers. Songs are sung in a polyphonic manner accompanied by a shepherd's flute and bagpipe. The music that sounds delightful to the ears at weddings and other social gatherings is on the decline due to migration of its bearers following the civil war conflict in 2001.
"Younger generations have extremely limited exposure to Glasoechko performances and older generations consider there is insufficient interest to warrant continued transmission. There are no recordings of Glasoechko songs and in its present state the tradition seems to verge on extinction."
Uganda's Koogere storytelling folk expression that celebrates female heroism and highlights the importance of wisdom, education and knowledge is on the decline in the wake of formal education. The ethnic cultural practice of the indigenous people of Uganda has been inscribed on the list as it "facilitates shared actions, recreation, wisdom, learning and inter-generational transfer of information, values and skills."
The handmade cowbell of Portugal is another heritage item that needs to be encouraged, according to Unesco. Made from iron, the making of these cowbells is increasingly becoming unsustainable due to recent socioeconomic changes, it says. "New grazing methods have largely obviated the need for shepherds and cowbells are increasingly made using cheaper industrial techniques. At present, there are only 11 surviving workshops and 13 cowbell makers, 9 of whom are over 70 years old."
The fifth and last ritual to make it to Unesco's intangible heritage list is Colombia's Vallenato music. The traditional music consists of lyrics that "interpret the world through stories that mix realism and fantasy, expressed through songs that are nostalgic, joyful, sarcastic and humorous."