Unesco inscribes Traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making from Punjab on the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

The traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru Punjab has got the distinction of being inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, UNESCO, 2014. UNESCO, in its 9th Session of the Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage in Paris,took a decision to this effect. This is the 11th element which has been so inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List.

The craft of the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru constitutes the traditional techniques of manufacturing brass and copper utensils in Punjab. The Thatheras craft utensils are of both Utilitarian and ritualistic value made of copper, brass and kansa (an alloy of copper, zinc and tin). The metals used are recommended by the ancient Indian school of medicine, Ayurveda. The crafting process carried out by a specific group of craftspeople, known as Thatheras, has a unique ethnic and historical identity with an oral tradition that underpin their skill. The very name of the community – ‘Thatheras’ is identical with the name of the element.

The crafts colony was established during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1883) the great 19th Century Sikh Monarch, who encouraged skilled metal crafters from Kashmir to settle in the heart of his kingdom in the Punjab. Jandiala Guru became an area of repute due to the skill of the Thatheras.

The inscription of the element on the Representative List will tangibly contribute to the visibility of the intangible cultural heritage in general by lending recognition to the skill of the Thatheras that have been orally transmitted for generations upon generations so far. Its Inscription could contribute to encourage dialogues with other communities worldwide that practice traditional metal craftsmanship to manufacture handcrafted products that are both useful and beautiful.

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