View Full Version : Report on the examination of nomination Meshrep UNESCO

19-11-10, 17:01
UNESCO Open Source

Report on the examination of nomination files no. 00304
for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage
in Need of Urgent Safeguarding in 2010

Original: English
Name of the examiner: Rachel Harris
Name of the expert (if different):
Date of the examination: (revised on) 10 August 2010
Nomination file No. 00304
State Party: China
Name of element: Meshrep

The practice of meshrep is widespread amongst the nine million strong Turkic Muslim Uyghurs of Xinjiang (Chinese Central Asia) and their diaspora. It is arguably the Uyghurs’ most distinctive set of cultural practices and strongest marker of identity. It is loosely glossed as ‘festivities, gatherings’, but it subsumes a range of specific practices tied to different localities or sub-groups (the Dolan meshrep), life-cycle and calendric events (the Kok meshrep of Qumul). Meshrep typically incorporate ritual practices, performing arts especially music (including the Uyghur Muqam repertoire) and dance, religious instruction, and foodways. They are rooted in community networks of hospitality and reciprocity. They enforce community bonds and uphold local notions of morality.

‘Traditional’ practices in the core sense of the word, meshrep may also be re-invented and reinvested with contemporary relevance and meanings. Meshrep are maintained in rural and in urban settings. Key participants and transmitters include the organisers (yigit beshi) who
maintain the rules and spirit of the gatherings, and the folk artists (musicians and dancers) who infuse them with life. Some local traditions of meshrep are exclusive and gendered male (the Ghulja meshrep), while others may include the whole community, and women may play more significant roles.

I consider the meshrep appropriate for designation as Intangible Cultural Heritage. The state
party has provided a reasonable overview of meshrep practices and demonstrated adequately that it adheres to the Convention’s definition of Intangible Cultural Heritage. It is most relevant to the Article 2.2(c) definition of ‘social practices, rituals and festive events’ of the convention. As a set of defined social practices centering on community celebrations, the meshrep includes ritual practices, religious instruction, food, music and dance, games and jokes. The practice of meshrep is widespread amongst the Uyghur people. As a rooted, community–based practice, the meshrep is variously manifested in different localities, but all local variations share the core characteristics listed above.

Local manifestations of meshrep are living traditions, transmitted from generation to generation, and they have the potential to be updated and recreated in response to the changing environment and social realities. These complexes of practices are forums for Uyghur communities or sub-groups to come together in times of celebration. The meshrep also provides a forum to re-assert community values and uphold moral standards. Meshrep are also important venues for the performance of locally maintained artistic traditions, primarily music (including folk songs and Muqam traditions) and dance. Participation in meshrep demands a wide range of locally acquired knowledge, including ritual and religious, linguistic, custom and etiquette, norms of hierarchy and reciprocity, and play. As such they are key occasions which provide local communities with a sense of communal identity and continuity.

Meshrep are community-based practices widespread amongst the Uyghur people in both urban and rural areas across the Xinjiang region and in diaspora communities in the Central Asian states and beyond. As an umbrella term, meshrep covers a wide range of more or less formalised gatherings. Extensive ethnographic fieldwork and documentation carried out by Xinjiang scholars over the last two decades bears testament to the variety and cultural richness of meshrep practices currently maintained around the region. At the least formalised end of the scale, meshrep are popular and frequent, and in no danger of dying out, but the submission rightly identifies the tendency within urban areas to practise simplified, small-scale forms of meshrep with less well-defined rules. With its active links with local cultural organs, reaching deep into rural areas across the region, the submitting body is well-placed to give an overview of the current state of practice in rural areas, and their suggestion that the number of competent transmitters of traditional meshrep in rural areas is sharply diminishing should be taken seriously.

The risks detailed by the submission are recognisable and valid, and the drive for modernity in Xinjiang is certainly impacting on meshrep practices, although it is perhaps over simplistic to ascribe this to young people following fashion and losing interest in traditions. The report also cites as a risk the problem of rural young people migrating to Chinese cities for jobs, and this is currently a serious concern. Another major concern for the long-term viability of meshrep – linked to modernization but not mentioned by the submission - is the shift to Chinese language as a medium of teaching in schools. A more immediate risk is posed in some areas by the movementof Uyghur communities in order to make room for new development. Other immediate risks not covered in the submission include local restrictions on a range of community-based religious activities and on large public gatherings; these may be reasonably assumed to have a direct impact on the viability of meshrep gatherings.

It is still a concern that the only mention of the word ‘Muslim’ in the entire document comes under this section regarding respect for the custom of ritual washing. Will similar respect be offered to other Muslim practices which may take place at meshrep: for example communal prayers and sermons?

The submission details three local traditions of meshrep which have been included in China’s formidable national intangible cultural heritage lists.

The state party responded to my earlier comments concerning the use of Chinese pinyin
transliterations by changing ‘maxirap’ to ‘meshrep’ in the August resubmission, but the April
revised submission reverts to ‘maxirap’. No other terms have been amended in either document.


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19-11-10, 17:31
dear rachel harris around world only have central asia ,not (chinese central asia)Central Asia have EastTurkistan and West Turkistan including Kazakistan,Uzbekistan,Turkmenistan,kyrgysitan,Taji kistan and East Turkistan.

19-11-10, 18:34
Answer is simple brother. Use your brain a bit deeper.

Where is East Turkistan's geographical location? In Central Asia.

Is East Turkistan now part of China? Yes, since 1949.

So historically the region of East Turkistan of Central Asia now became "Chinese Turkistan" .
Which neme do you like more - Chinese Turkistan or "Xinjiang" ?

Alright, so what are you arguing about?

In diplomatic relations and politics between states, there is no such a country named East Turkistan. Wither you accept or not, this harsh reality and we Uyghur must stund up and able to face the reality. Learn the reality and current fact but don't belive in your nationalistic emotion. "Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears"- Moskiwa koz yeshigha ishenmeydu.

Bugunki dunya Uyghurning koz yeshigha ishenmeydu.