UNESCO Adds Georgian Alphabet to List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has added the Georgian alphabet to the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The decision came after the 11th session of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, held in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Wednesday.

The nomination was submitted to UNESCO for consideration in 2015. The main goal was to underline the harmonic co-existence of three alphabets.

The Georgian delegation included Georgia’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to France and Permanent Representative to UNESCO Ekaterine Siradze-Delone, Director of the International Cultural and Humanitarian Relations Department Ketevan Kandelaki, Director General of the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation Nikoloz Antidze and respective experts.

The UNESCO official webpage reads that the evolution of Georgia’s written language has produced three alphabets – Mrgvlovani, Nuskhuri and Mkhedruli – which all remain in use today. Mrgvlovani was the first alphabet from which Nuskhuri was derived, followed by Mkhedruli.

The organization underlines that the alphabets coexist thanks to their different cultural and social functions, reflecting an aspect of Georgia’s diversity and identity, their ongoing use in a cultural sense, also gives communities a feeling of continuity.

Mrgvlovani and Nuskhuri are practised and taught informally predominately by the community of the Georgian Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church while Georgia’s educational system, however, is based on the Mkhedruli alphabet.

The Mkhedruli alphabet is taught in primary and high school and also transmitted informally at home from older to younger generations. The Mrgvlovani and Nuskhuri alphabets are taught in schools in Georgia but at a basic level.

Georgia’s Foreign Ministry says that since the day of nomination, the living culture of the three writing systems for the Georgian alphabet for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Georgia’s diplomatic representations abroad have been actively continuing to engage in efforts to promote the issue and obtain support, including by organizing specifically designed thematic exhibitions.

“The living culture of three writing systems of the Georgian alphabet is the third nomination inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity,” the Foreign Ministry said.

By Thea Morrison

Photo: Georgia has three alphabets: Mrgvlovani, Nuskhuri and Mkhedruli.

01 December 2016 12:59