Charaideo MOIDAMS: India's Nomination for UNESCO World Heritage Tag
Charaideo MOIDAMS

Charaideo MOIDAMS: India's Nomination for UNESCO World Heritage Tag

Relevant to: GS 1 - Art and Culture, Architecture

Context : The Ahom dynasty's mound-burial system in Assam, known as Moidams, has been nominated by India for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List for 2023-24.

History of Moidams

  • Time Period: These represent the mound-burial tradition of the Tai Ahoms from the 13th to 19th century CE.

  • Royal Burials: Out of 386 explored Moidams, 90 at Charaideo are the most preserved and complete, laying claim to World Heritage status.

  • Evolution: Initially involved burying the deceased with their belongings, but later adopted Hindu cremation methods in the 18th century, entombing the cremated remains.

Tradition and Cultural Significance

  • Beliefs: The Ahoms believe a part of the deceased's spirit resides in the Moidam, ensuring the state's well-being.

  • Representation: Symbolizes unique cultural ethos and technical genius, transforming the natural landscape into "Ahom Heaven" and "Ancestral Spirit Forest".

  • Heritage Site: The Charaideo site adds a new burial typology to the World Heritage Sites list.

  • Sacred Geography: Physical transformation of the landscape achieved by clustering ceremonial burial mounds.

Description of Moidams

  • Structure: Mounds cover a hollow vault made of bricks, stone, or earth.

  • Interior: The 'Garvha' or burial pit inside the vault holds the embalmed or cremated remains of Kings and Royals.

  • Buffer Zone: Spanning 754.511 hectares, including ritual ponds, ceremonial pathways, other Moidams, and archaeological remains, showcasing the 'Ahom-way of life'.

World Heritage Sites: Overview

  • Definition: Recognized as landmarks of 'Outstanding Universal Value', these sites are inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO.

  • Importance: Have special significance beyond the host country's borders.

  • Convention and Duties: The UNESCO World Heritage Convention, in effect since 1975, outlines the responsibilities of State Parties in protecting and preserving these sites.

  • Nomination Process: Countries nominate heritage sites to UNESCO's World Heritage Committee for evaluation.

  • Criteria: Cultural heritage sites must meet one or more of six criteria, while natural sites must meet one of four criteria.

  • Annual Nominations: According to the latest guidelines (July 2021), one country can send only one nomination per year.

  • Evaluation Bodies: The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) evaluate cultural and natural heritage sites, respectively.

Advait IAS