Egypt registers Aragoz traditional puppet shows on UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage

MENA , Wednesday 28 Nov 2018

Aragoz is the most popular and one of the oldest characters in the Egyptian art of puppetry

Aragoz traditional puppet (Al-Ahram)
Aragoz traditional puppet (Al-Ahram)

The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage at UNESCO has endorsed Egypt's proposal to register the popular puppet – and one of the oldest theatrical forms in the country – Aragoz shows on the organisation's List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The decision was taken unanimously during the 13th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which kicked off on 26 November and is set to run until 1 December.

The committee meetings are tackling files connected with safeguarding intangible cultural heritage and registering cultural elements on its various lists.

Egyptian ambassador to France and permanent representative to UNESCO Ehab Badawy told MENA on Tuesday that the move comes within the framework of the joint efforts of the Egyptian ministries of foreign affairs and culture.

Badawy highlighted the importance of the Convention for Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage, confirming the great importance that Egypt attaches to this convention given the country’s rich intangible heritage.

Egypt has previously managed to register its El-Sirah El-Hilaliyyah epic and Tahteeb (stick dancing) on the UNESCO intangible lists, Badawy noted.

During the discussions, Egypt pointed out that Aragoz is an old form of Egyptian theatre using traditional hand puppets. Performances are highly popular events where puppeteers remain hidden inside a small portable stage while an assistant interacts with the puppets and crowd.

Aragoz takes its name from the main puppet, whose distinctive voice is created with a voice modifier. The art used to be performed by troupes who moved from one folk celebration to another across Egypt. 

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