Georgian Traditional Supra to Be Put Forward for UNESCO List

The Georgian Supra/traditional feast is being prepared for presentation for placement on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The Intergovernmental Committee of Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection of UNESCO considers applications submitted by the member states on an annual basis. If accepted, the Georgian Supra will enjoy guarantees of future protection, which implies preservation, protection and development of the tradition. The National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia has been working on a short documentary, which will fully reflect the Georgian Supra as valuable heritage of the Georgian culture.

Four elements of Georgian intangible cultural heritage are already on the Representative List of UNESCO: Georgian polyphony, the ancient Georgian traditional method of Qvevri wine fermentation, the living culture of three types of Georgian alphabet, and Georgian wrestling.

Georgia has been a UNESCO member country since 1992, and a signatory of the Convention on Preservation of Intangible Cultural Heritage since 2008. This year, two nominations will be submitted by Georgia to UNESCO for two lists: one the ‘Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’ and for the ‘List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Protection’.

“We are completing work on the dossier of Georgian Supra, which will be submitted to UNESCO in the near future and which will, in our opinion, be as successful as the other four objects, which were recognized by UNESCO as elements of universal importance. The nomination ‘Georgian Wheat Culture (endemic species),’ initiated by the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia, has already been submitted to UNESCO for the ‘List of Urgent Protection’. This dossier was submitted to prevent the loss of valuable experience related to the endemic species of Georgian wheat. UNESCO also created a third list, the ‘List of Best Practices,’ which provides countries with the opportunity to share their experience with others. We are planning to prepare the nomination for this List next year,” says Head of UNESCO and International Relations Service, Manana Vardzelashvil.

The person responsible for preparation of the nomination, Marina Taktakishvili, agreed with her, saying, “The Supra nomination to UNESCO will probably be sent in March this year and, in the case of absence of remarks, the Intergovernmental Committee will consider it and make the relevant decision”.

However, before nomination to UNESCO, first it is necessary to recognize the object as a cultural heritage monument and as such an element of national importance in Georgia. The Georgian Supra was already granted the Status of Monument on March 13, 2017, based on the Order of the General Director of the National Agency of Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia, Nikoloz Antidze. “The Supra, in an open or hidden way, can be seen in almost all stages of our lives, from the joy of birth, to the ritual of death. Study of this showed that not only is it intangible heritage of national importance, but that it goes beyond the borders in its values, and it deserves proper safeguarding and recognition. The Georgian Supra is a method of personal development and conveying knowledge, the democratic foundation of which lies in Supra members enjoying equal rights, and the Tamada, the person, directing the Supra, being elected. It is an important nomination, related to the oldest valuable Georgian tradition, which will be sent to UNESCO from Georgia,” Antidze said.

The recommendation for the Georgian Supra to be defined in the category of national importance has already been elaborated in the Section of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Council of Cultural Heritage Preservation, which is the deliberative body of the General Director of the Agency. According to the recommendation, the industry experts, members of the Section, positively assess its inclusion in the category of national importance, as well as its intangibility, seeing it as bearing nationwide value, and in need of preservation- the protection and promotion of which is important. “The majority of the population of Georgia recognizes the culture of the Georgian Supra as an integral part of its own cultural identity and cultural heritage,” says Salome Khmiadashvili, member of the Cultural Heritage Preservation Council.

With consideration of the existing recommendation, according to Law Of Georgia on Cultural Heritage, the Georgian Government defined the category of national importance to The Georgian Supra/Traditional Feast (Georgian Supra) on February 18.

It is difficult to date the origin of the Georgian Supra as a cultural, creative tradition, because its roots go back centuries. This is confirmed by a bronze statue (dating back to the 7th century BC ) discovered in 2006 in Vani, western Georgia, during archeological excavations. The now renowned statue is a figure of a man with a horn in his hands, called “Tamada.” A larger copy of the artifact sits in the old district of Tbilisi (Bambis Rigi Street) and tourists love him.

Written sources of early, middle and later periods provide important information about the Georgian Supra: ‘Martyrdom of Shushanik,’ ‘The Knight in the Panther’s Skin,’ ‘The Life of Kartli,’ ‘Regulations of the Georgian Royal Court,’ ‘Dasturlamal,’ Iese Baratashvili’s life, ‘Life – Will,’ and ‘Kalmasoba,’ and the records of travelers of the 15th to 19th cc: Ambrogio Contarini, Dionigi Carli, Jean Chardin and others.

From ancient times to nowadays, the Georgian Supra is the gathering of people, unifying the intangible elements of Georgian polyphony, recognized as a heritage of universal importance, and wine, made in traditional Georgian Qvevri. By entering the culture of the Georgian Supra on the UNESCO List, it will be recognized as intangible cultural heritage of humanity. This way, the promotion of the traditions of the Georgian Supra and relevant protection at national and international levels, envisaged by the Convention, will be ensured.

20 February 2020 18:45