Moutya sculpture marks first anniversary of Seychelles’ dance added to UNESCO list
To commemorate the first anniversary of the Seychelles’ Moutya dance being added to UNESCO’s list of intangible heritage, a new monument depicting a person singing and beating a Moutya drum was unveiled at the National Museum in Victoria on Thursday.
The Moutya, a traditional dance of Seychelles, was added to UNESCO’s list of intangible heritage on December 15 last year – the first cultural tradition of the island nation to receive such recognition.
The monument made by local sculptor Steve Marie was unveiled by Vice-President Ahmed Afif and the Seychelles National Institute for Culture, Heritage and the Arts (SNICHA) Secretary General, David Andre.
“In the past, we had many people, mainly men who were drummers and some of them have passed away, as today Moutya is recognised by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage, so it is important to pay tribute to those who practiced the art in the past,” Andre told reporters at the unveiling ceremony.
He said that the sculpture “represents one of the Mouya veterans and there are three drums there, each with their specific role in Moutya. There is one representing the highest pitched drum, the middle pitch and the last one that provides the bass, all showing the Creole pulse.”
Steve Marie took about a year to complete the structure after he was commissioned as he had to take into account the various opinions of the cultural representatives and provide them with what they were looking for.
The base of the sculpture bears the names of various people who have played an active role in keeping the traditional dance alive – with a place to add more as time goes on.
Steve Marie took about a year to complete the structure after he was commissioned. (Rita Joubert Lawen,Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
“We are hoping the art remains alive and that more people will practice it in the future, who knows maybe in the ten coming years the youth who were here today will be the ones with their names on the sculpture,” said Andre.
This is not the first activity SNICHA has held to further promote the traditional dance. Earlier in June, it was showcased in a tour in various cities in France culminating with a performance at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.
“There should be continuity and there should be a sense of belonging and every Seychellois must feel that this is something that we need to keep alive in our culture,” said Andre.
On his side, Marie – although reluctant to reveal the materials used to make the sculpture – assured the media that “it was one that would resist the elements and will last for the next 50 years.”
When asked about the striking resemblance between the new Moutya sculpture and the one honouring Ton Pa, a legendary Seychellois musician, he explained that this was done following the culture’s vision.
As Moutya is part of the cultural heritage of Seychelles and for it to exist there must be people who practice it, SNICHA has an evening planned for people to live the culture on Friday.
Leko Tanbour an activity scheduled to take place at the Stad Popiler stadium car park in Victoria was postponed due to bad weather. The event was to be an extension of one held in August.
Updated: 4.25 pm 16/12/2022