Moscow Times, Russia
Nov 27 2014

The Moscow Times
Nov. 27 2014 18:32

The UNESCO cultural and scientific organization has decided to
include Armenian flatbread on its intangible cultural heritage
list, recognizing the importance of the foodstuff to the country's

Lavash, a staple of Armenian cuisine, is a type of soft and very
thin flatbread that can be consumed as a wrap for cheese, meat or
vegetables. It is also popular throughout the South Caucasus, and in
Iran and Turkey.

According to a note on the UNESCO website, preparation of lavash
"requires great effort, coordination, experience and special skills"
and "strengthens family, community and social ties."

Lavash was accepted onto the list on Wednesday, with the UNESCO
organization saying on its site that it acknowledged "the preparation,
meaning and appearance of [the] traditional bread as an expression
of culture in Armenia."

The Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists, a daring attempt to recognize
and preserve immaterial culture, have been compiled since 2008,
and entries from 103 countries are currently recognized by UNESCO.

Examples include Argentinian tango, Mongolian calligraphy, Middle
Eastern falconry, Vanuatu sand paintings and even the Mediterranean

The lavash puts Armenia, a small, ancient South Caucasus nation of
3 million, ahead of much of the pack with a total of four entries on
the Intangible Cultural Heritage List.

Other Armenian entries recognized by UNESCO include the reed wind
instrument duduk, the performance of the medieval epic "David of
Sassoon," and the art of stone cross making.

Russia has only two items on the list: The culture of the Semeiskiye
Old Believer sect, and the Yakut heroic epic "Olonkho," which sees
songs comprising up to 36,000 verses performed by singers over the
course of several nights.

China is the runaway leader with 38 entries, followed by Japan (22)
and Croatia (14). Neither the U.S. nor Britain have a single item of
intangible heritage to contribute so far, according to UNESCO.