Thanks Steve for giving our attention to this cause that Chinese officials registered "Khoomei" or Mongolian throat singing in their Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. As we know Khoomii is a unique Mongolian art of singing that has been practiced in Mongolia, Tuva and Inner Mongolia.
But China, representing its autonomous region Inner Mongolia, has registered it as their sole intellectual property. Yes, it is enough to look at this : link - horrible is this UNESCO TV movie and that they don't accept any comments to this video.
Hmmm... I've now had time to read the site and view the video. Certain things strike me as inaccurate, and I find it mildly amusing that the authors (translators?) have used a spelling usually reserved for Tuvan varieties.
I've studied throat-singing for many years and have heard many theories and claims as to it's origin, and believe that it will not be settled. And I've heard it claimed that there is a tradition of throat-singing in Inner Mongolia (now China) but have seen little documentation of such being traditional. Also, there are believed to have been throat-singing among various ethnic groups in the Chinese Altai region, though I'm told such tradition may barely remain (if that).
That being so, where does it say that this is ONLY Chinese? And does this UNESCO situation somehow take away from other traditional throat-singing regions, or prevent them from doing likewise? And if there is the tradition that China claims, is there a negative to it's taking steps to protect it?
While I am quite often opposed to China's handling of ethnic minorities and related positions, I do note that the video and text mentioned the nation of Mongolia and Tuva as being important bases of "khoomei."
difficult to discuss these things in a language which is not my own mother tongue. But I am reading this (and try to understand):
Criteria for inscription on the Representative List
In nomination files, the submitting States Parties will be requested to demonstrate that an element proposed for inscription on the Representative List satisfies all of the following criteria:
* R.1 The element constitutes intangible cultural heritage as defined in Article 2 of the Convention.
* R.2 Inscription of the element will contribute to ensuring visibility and awareness of the significance of the intangible cultural heritage and to encouraging dialogue, thus reflecting cultural diversity worldwide and testifying to human creativity.
* R.3 Safeguarding measures are elaborated that may protect and promote the element.
* R.4 The element has been nominated following the widest possible participation of the community, group or, if applicable, individuals concerned and with their free, prior and informed consent.
* R.5 The element is included in an inventory of the intangible cultural heritage present in the territory(ies) of the submitting State(s) Party(ies), as defined in Article 11 and Article 12.
and reading this:
The Mongolian art of singing: Khoomei, or Hooliin Chor (‘throat harmony’), is a style of singing in which a single performer produces a diversified harmony of multiple voice parts, including a continued bass element produced in the throat. These singers may perform alone or in groups. Khoomei is practised today among Mongolian communities in several countries, especially in Inner Mongolia in northern China, western Mongolia and the Tuva Republic of Russia. Traditionally performed on the occasion of ritual ceremonies, songs express respect and praise for the natural world, for the ancestors of the Mongolian people and for great heroes. The form is reserved for special events and group activities such as horse races, archery and wrestling tournaments, large banquets and sacrificial rituals. The timing and order of songs is often strictly regulated. Khoomei has long been regarded as a central element representing Mongolian culture and remains a strong symbol of national or ethnic identity. As a window into the philosophy and aesthetic values of the Mongol people, it has served as a kind of cultural emissary promoting understanding and friendship among China, Mongolia and Russia, and has attracted attention around the world as a unique form of musical expression.
I am surprised that the "Mongolian art of singing: Khoomei" is inscribed in 2009 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by following Country(ies): China
.... so I am missing Mongolia and Russia as countries. I think it would be better to inscribe »Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity« not as a country (nation) - such as a region. So can you say that Throatsinging is an »Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity« of the Altai region? ??
Yes, the text and video note and mentioned Mongolia and Tuva as being important bases of "khoomei" - but why it is inscribed as »Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity« by China only yet? I am missing - once again - other countries.
It's a tough issue because there are certainly Mongolian xoomi singers in Inner Mongolia. However, the Chinese government is probably trying to project a favorable image of itself by acting to "protect" its minorities and their endangered arts--like "khoomei" (which is not even the Mongolian term of "xoomii" but the Tuvan term, like Steve said).
But it is also trying to assimilate its minorities. This is actual policy which translates into cultural projects to modify local cultures to include government favored narratives of history. For example, the government has been trying to remake Chinggis Khaan into a Han Chinese ancestor who first united present day China. This parallels laws favoring interracial marriage with Han Chinese.
Any cultural project supported by the government--like this intangible heritage bid--is suspicious. Notice how "khoomei" is always being linked to China as well in the UNESCO video--the Qing emperors listening to "khoomei." Here is the common official narrative of China's ethnic groups expressing themselves "harmoniously" within China's borders.
But perhaps this is simply a good reason for Tuva or Mongolia to finally make their own requests to UNESCO detailing their khoomei and xoomi. I am actually surprised that this hasn't happened yet. Tsuur flute, bilgee dance, urtiin duu or long song and tuul epic singing already have been registered. They need to step up to the plate. If this happened, the Chinese UNESCO video would lose its gravity because there would be an alternative perspective.
Well, at least we're possibly getting ON censored by the Chinese government. I was told years ago that my site was blocked in parts of China, supposedly for mentioning Tibet, and having videos of Tibetan monks. Really.
This issue is really interesting. I will try to contact the Mongolian Embassy here in Berlin because I know someone in the office personally soon as possible. I will ask Hosoo what he thinks about that. He tells often that his khoomei style is unique - an orginal style from his village in Mongolia. If khoomei is not a Multinational Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity we have to say "brewing beer" is a German intangible cultural heritage of humanity - but it isn't German, if it is a national heritage than it's Czech today and not German! And our language scripture: is it Italian because the Romans lived in Italy ?
ON probably already is censored due to all the Tibetan references. The other thing is that beer is German AND Belgian AND Czech, so if all these countries say it is their heritage, that's understandable. It doesn't mean it's only from one country. With khoomii maybe it's a similar thing. If there were a multinational UNESCO registration, that would be PC, but if Mongolia and Tuva both made their own individual UNESCO bids, that would make sense too.
So I meant with my example "beer" that khoomei can be registered as a multinational heritage in my opionion. That's why I signed this petition and up to now more than 3000 other people signed it. I agree it makes sense if Mongolia and Tuva made their own individual UNESCO bids - but only if Mongolia makes one for Mongolian khoomei (throatsinging) and Tuva for Tuvian khoomei (throatsinging) - khoomei can't be a national heritage by Chinese only.
As far as I know there were only a limited number of traditional Hoomei practitioners in Inner Mongolia, predominantly in the central and western parts of the province, until a few years ago. However, since early 2000s there is rapid rise in Hoomei singers, with many youngsters learning the art at various music schools, institutes, and universities. China has certainly pumped a lot of resources to promote items that have been listed as national intangible heritage, and if it happens to resonate with 'nationalities harmony' so much the better. This is why the musical tradition of Mukam from Xinjiang came top of the national list 2 years ago.
Over the last decade there is also a rise in the interest of traditional Mongolian music in China, with several orchestras formed to revive and promote Mongolian court music from the Qing period.
As far as I am concerned, Mongolian court music - as well as much of its culture - developed and evolved as a result of prolonged cultural contact and exchange with neighbouring peoples and states including China. It is testimony to the importance of cultural exchange in the making of societies and world history.
Hoomei is a very important heritage of Inner Mongolia but at the same time it certainly does not lay exclusive claim to it.
I've heard/read similar things about the number of xoomi singers in China's Xinjiang region and Inner Mongolia, that there were a fair number before Communism, but they were discouraged until there were only a few left. It's interesting: if you listen to the new generation of Inner Mongolian singers, you can hear the influence of Odsuren, who is the most prolific teacher in Ulaanbaatar. He travels to Inner Mongoia frequently and is one the singers standing up at a formal ceremony in the Chinese UNESCO video.
As for Qing music, I don't know enough about it, but would love to learn more. I do know that the Qing dynasty was created by the Manchu, a Tungusic group, not a Mongol group. But because of Kubilai Khan, the Mongol empoeror who sinicized his leadership to appeal to his Chinese subjects, Mongolian cultural elements were embedded into many aspects of Chinese culture. And the Qing inherited this when they descended from the Northwest and took over. I can't think of any but a few slight references of xoomi thorugh out this time, nothing tangible.
Andrew, you are totally spot on. From what I know this is precisely what they have done in Inner Mongolia - hiring teachers from the Republic to teach students the art of Hoomei.
The Manchus are a curiously hybridized ethno-political group, not unlike the Mongols or Jurchen that preceded them. They consisted of a large number of loosely related groups, mostly Tungusic, but also many Han Chinese, Mongols, and Daghurs living in the Khingan Mountains and in the Amur Region. Their script and language was hugely influenced by the Mongols, and there was active military alliance between the Manchus and the Mongols, particularly in the early period with princes from the Eastern plains.
Regarding the music, more specifically, there are two groups focusing on the study and revival of Qing Court music - one is based in Holhot called Jihanggar, the other is an official orchestra (meaning endorsed and run by the local official body) in Hulun Buir City.