Asia

Kyrgyzstan's male headgear gets on Unesco's cultural heritage list

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Media captionWatch Kyrgyz citizens celebrate the kalpak in Bishkek

Kyrgyzstan has said it hopes to attract more tourists after its distinctive national hat, the kalpak, won Unesco intangible heritage status.

"This gives the international community a chance to get to know our mountainous country," Kyrgyzstan's Deputy Tourism Minister Maksat Uulu Damir told AFP.

The bell-shaped felt headgear worn by men is white with black motifs on its four panels and an upturned black rim.

Unesco is the United Nations' agency for education, culture, and science.

In 2017, about 1.3 million tourists visited Kyrgyzstan, according to the US commerce department-affiliated export.gov website.

The kalpak - which many Kyrgyz believe symbolises the country's snow-capped mountains - already has its own national day in the Central Asian nation.

The parliament in the capital, Bishkek, is currently debating a bill that would criminalise disrespecting the headgear.

It was prompted by a scandal in 2017 that saw the kalpak put on a dog.

The kalpak was one of 40 cultural artefacts added to Unesco's intangible heritage status at the agency's annual meeting.

According to Unesco, the intangible culture heritage list seeks to recognise things that are "important to preserve for future generations... [like] songs sung and stories told".

It adds that these things "form part of a heritage and this requires active effort to safeguard it".

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