RIYADH, December 8 (CIC) – UNESCO has announced that it included Al-Qatt Al-Asiri, a traditional art form considered to be a key element of the identity of the region of Asir in the southwest of the Kingdom, on the representative list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
‘’Al-Qatt Al-Asiri is a spontaneous art technique carried out largely by women today in the community that involves decorating the interior walls of their houses, specifically rooms for visiting guests,’’ the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization said in a statement.
Women invite their female relatives – of various age groups – to help them decorate their homes, thereby passing on their knowledge and skills from one generation to another.
The announcement came during the meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage that took place last week on Jeju Island in South Korea.
“This is so important because it keeps this traditional art that’s existed for ages from being buried,” Rihaf Qasas, project manager with the Saudi Heritage Preservation Society (SHPS), told Arab News, adding Al-Qatt Al-Asiri was filed with UNESCO back in 2016.
“It ensures this culture is documented for generations to come, and it acquaints the world with the magnitude of the Kingdom’s heritage,” Qasas added.
According to UNESCO, observation and practice are the two elements that helped the ancient art form to survive. “Societies, NGOs and individuals all play a key role in safeguarding, promoting and transmitting the related knowledge and skills,’’ UNESCO said.
Al-Qatt Al-Asiri is a form of decoration where the base is usually created with white gypsum, on which geometrical patterns and symbols are painted. Although only women practised this tradition in the past, these days it is also practised by male artists, who also experiment with different surfaces.
‘’The art enhances social bonding and solidarity among the community and has a therapeutic effect on its practitioners … the application of the art in most households ensures its viability within the community, and local individuals have created galleries within their houses in order to safeguard it,‘’ according to UNESCO’s statement.