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UNESCO Processing Listing of Chogan, Kamancheh

Two files from Iran have been approved to be discussed for inscription in UNESCO's list of Intangible Cultural Heritage
Chogan is an Iranian polo game and Kamancheh is a stringed musical instrument. Chogan is an Iranian polo game and Kamancheh is a stringed musical instrument.

The Intergovernmental Committee for Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO is to consider adding Iran’s chogan (Persian for polo), a horse-riding game accompanied by music and storytelling, and kamancheh, a bowed string musical instrument, to its list during the 12th session in Jeju Island, South Korea, from December 4-9, 2017.

Iran submitted a proposal for the inclusion of chogan in the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage to UNESCO on 30 March 2016, ISNA reported.

In 2013, Chovgan in the Republic of Azerbaijan was included in the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in need of urgent safeguarding. Iran has submitted a dossier of the game that is distinguished by its accompaniment of music and storytelling.

The case of kamancheh, however, has been jointly filed with Azerbaijan. According to Mohammad Hassan Talebian, deputy head of Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, the reason is that each country is allowed to send one dossier every two or three years while joint files are exceptions.

"Besides, drawing up a joint dossier is more important to UNESCO than one single state filing a case for official registration, because it strengthens ties and promotes peace between countries,” he said.

Talebian noted that the inclusion of two files from Iran is good tidings for the country, as 13 files from other countries were not treated for the 2017 cycle in the committee.

Iran also intends to file "Oud", a stringed musical instrument, jointly with other countries to UNESCO. Iran’s two cases are being processed in the Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee, along with other files from 22 countries including India, Azerbaijan, Italy, Germany, Peru, and Armenia.  

Chogan is a team sport played on horseback in which the objective is to score goals against an opposing team by driving a small white plastic or wooden ball into the opposite team’s goal using a long-handled mallet. Chogan was first played in Iran in the 4th century during the rule of Persian Emperor Shapur II of Sassanid dynasty. It is accompanied by traditional music and storytelling.

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