Copper and brass crafts of Punjab’s ‘Thatheras’ on UNESCO heritage list
The traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab is being inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, 2014.
It was announced at UNESCO’s 9th Session of the Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage in Paris, France.
Key facts about Thatheras
- The craft of the Thatheras constitutes the traditional techniques of manufacturing brass, copper and kansa (an alloy of copper, zinc and tin) utensils.
- They have a unique ethnic and historical identity with an oral tradition that underpins their skill.
- The name of the community – ‘Thatheras’ is identical with the name of the element.
- These craft utensils of Thatheras have both utilitarian and ritualistic value.
- The tradition of using the metals is recommended by the ancient Indian school of medicine, Ayurveda.
- Skills of the Thatheras have been orally transmitted from one generation to other generations.
- During the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1883) – the great 19th Century Sikh Monarch, the Thatheras crafts colony was established in Jandiala Guru, Punjab. Thus, Jandiala Guru became an area of repute due to the skill of the Thatheras.
Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity: The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity is made up of those intangible heritage elements that help demonstrate the diversity of this heritage and raise awareness about its importance.
It encourages dialogues between communities worldwide that practice traditional metal craftsmanship to manufacture handcrafted products that are both useful and beautiful.