What is an Intangible Cultural Heritage?

The intangible cultural heritage is the expression, representation, ability and practices that individuals, groups and communities recognize as cultural heritage. These include all the processes and products of a specific custom that are preserved and handed down from one generation to another. Some of these assets are intangible including festivals, crafts, cuisine, skills, music and even songs, while others are tangible artifacts. These cultures cannot be stored in the museum, but we can only experience them through the cultural vehicles (defined as human treasures by the United Nations) that express them.

Groups and communities recreate the intangible heritage in response to their surroundings. Their interaction with their history and nature gives them a sense of stability and uniqueness, therefore, favoring the admiration of cultural diversity and creativity. Living heritage is the cultural diversity of humanity and preserving it ensures the guaranteed continuity of creativity.

What are the different types of intangible cultural heritage?

1) Food heritage

With the impetus of sustainable development, various food-related appointments have been presented to the list of intangible cultural heritage conventions that must be preserved. Some of these diets include the Japanese Washoku dietary culture, traditional Mexican cuisine and Mediterranean cuisine.

2) Oral history

The living legacy is completely different from the discipline of verbal history, especially when it comes to the interpretation, preservation and recording of historical information based on the speaker’s personal opinions and experience. The intangible cultural heritage seeks to preserve living heritage simply by protecting the processes that make it possible for shared knowledge and traditions to pass on to subsequent generations, while oral history collects all historical details and therefore preserves them.

3) Dance Heritage

The list also included a variety of dance genres associated with celebrations, songs and music from all over the world. It contains various rituals and celebratory dances such as the Kalbelia folk dances and the songs of Rajasthan , Ugandan Ma’di lira bowl dance and music and some social dances like Rumba. Some of the localized dances practiced in the country of origin include sankirtana from India. Other dance moves recognized as inherited by some nations but practiced worldwide include tango and flamenco. These routines are sophisticated heritages that involve numerous artifacts, traditions, culture and music that translate into intangible and tangible elements that make it a unique type of heritage to be preserved.

Which countries have preserved their intangible heritage before the UNESCO convention?

Before the UNESCO intervention, some countries had established laws for the preservation of their living culture. The first state to introduce legislation for the preservation of intangible culture was Japan with their 1950s cultural property protection law. The law identified important cultural properties that were called living national treasures. Since then, other nations, including the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Poland and the Philippines have created their own programs.

UNESCO introduced its convention on the conservation of living cultures in 2003, which came into force on April 20, 2006. It recommended that all members create an inventory of intangible cultural heritage within their territories and collaborate with the people who maintain these cultures to ensure they are preserved. He also provided some funds that can be collected by one of their members and used to support the maintenance of these living cultures.

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