It Was Decided Not To Submit Vordan Karmir for Registration at UNESCO

It Was Decided Not To Submit

In the near future, it is not planned to submit applications for the registration of the Armenian cultural element Vordan Karmir in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List. This was stated by the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture, and Sport of the Republic of Armenia in response to a request from the website on the plans of Armenia to submit an application to UNESCO regarding the paint Vordan Karmir.

It is also reported that the No. 130 decree “On Making Addenda to the RA Government Decision No. 36-N from January 20, 2011” of the government of Armenia dated February 21, 2019, implies the supplementation of the list of intangible cultural heritage of the RA in need of urgent protection with a new element – “Vordan karmir: traditional knowledge, skills, and experience related to the Armenian cochineal.”

Regarding the submission of new applications to the UNESCO World Heritage List, the Ministry informs that priority is given to monuments included in Armenia’s preliminary list, and in this context, work is underway on the possible inclusion of these monuments in the UNESCO registry.

There is a different and more important issue here than the representation of the paint “Vordan Karmir” in the UNESCO. The thing is that you cannot call something a reserve if it is not fenced and allows herds to pass, trampling the only plant on the rhizomes of which cochineal lives. Anyone can enter the territory. And if it were not for reverence and self-control, the cochineal would be collected with no consequences. And the fact that a guarded reserve used to be here is suggested only by dilapidated buildings and signs from the Soviet years.

The Ararat cochineal, or the Armenian cochineal (Porphyrophora hamelii) is a species of insects of the half-winged suborder coccidaceae which belongs to the genus Porphyrophora of the family Margarodidae. This cochineal is registered in the Red Book of the Republic of Armenia.

Red dye – carmine, which was widely used in Armenia for dyeing yarn, dyes, and inks – is extracted from Ararat cochineal females. This paint, which has retained a rich purple color to our times, painted Armenian miniatures in medieval manuscripts. It also dyed yarn from which Armenian carpets were woven.

For many centuries, this paint was the pride of Armenia. It had worldwide fame. The production of this paint was the monopoly of the Armenian kings. For about two thousand years, the Armenian Vordan Karmir was the most expensive and high-quality paint in the world.

This paint was used not only to dye the khan’s robes but also to decorate precious parchments. In ancient times and the Middle Ages, the kings and Catholicoi of the East and Europe put their signatures only in red ink of this color.

Armenia’s intangible cultural heritage registered at UNESCO includes “Duduk and its music” (2008), “Armenian cross-stones art. Symbolism and craftsmanship of Khachkars” (2010), Armenian epic David of Sasun (2012), “Lavash, the preparation, meaning and appearance of traditional bread as an expression of culture in Armenia” (2014), and “Kochari – traditional dance” (2017).

Source: Photos by Vahe Martirosyan

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