Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Thatheras | UNESCO

Why in news?

Punjab's handcrafted metal utensils find place on UNESCO 2014 Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

  • first element from India under the domain of ‘traditional craftsmanship’ (11th overall from India) on the Representative List of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
About Thathera:


  • This utensil making among the thathera of Jandiala Guru community
  • This craft constitutes the traditional techniques of manufacturing brass and copper utensils in Punjab.
  • The craft utensils are of both utilitarian and ritualistic value made of copper, brass and 'kansa', an alloy of copper, zinc and tin.
  • This crafting process is carried out by a specific group of craftspeople, the Thatheras, who have a unique ethnic and historical identity with an oral tradition that underpin their skill.
  • The crafts colony was established during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the 19th century Sikh monarch, who encouraged skilled metal crafters from Kashmir to settle in the heart of his kingdom in the Punjab.
  • Jandiala Guru about 15 km from the holy town of Amritsar, on the Grand Trunk Road in the state of Punjab, India. 
  • Both male and female members participate in the processing and creation of the artefacts. 
  • Using basic tools that are handmade, the craftspeople create ritualistic, ceremonial and utilitarian vessels for both individual and community use. 
  • A threatened craft due to lack of adequate patronage and marketing. 
Impact of inclusion in the UNESCO list:

  • It 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.
  • Awareness + recognition of tradition + how tradition is reflected in the community’s cultural diversity. 
About the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee:


  • The Intergovernmental Committee consists of 24 representatives from the State Parties elected by the General Assembly.
  • In India Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi is the appointed nodal agency for the implementation of the 2003 UNESCO Convention on the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH). 

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