From Chinese opera to Bolivian carnival:
International Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention
At the 32 nd meeting of the Unesco General Conference (29 September-17
October) the member states adopted the Intangible Cultural Heritage
Treaty. In this context intangible legacy means oral traditions
including the language, as employed in arts such as (music) theatre,
rituals, celebrations and traditional craftmanship. The General
Conference meets every two years in Paris to draw up the program
and budget for the coming two years.
Under the terms of the treaty the member states promise to map
out their own country's intangible legacy, to facilitate access
to documentation about this legacy, and to inform the populace about
this legacy. The member states also want to draw attention to preserving
this legacy as a part of technical, artistic and scientific education.
The Chinese Academy of Arts (CAA) immediately set up about fifteen
groups of domestic and foreign experts and put them to work inventorying
the oral and intangible Chinese culture. A comprehensive database
is to be created within five years.
At the international level Unesco has drawn up a list containing
the world's most important intangible legacy: The Representative
List of Humanity's Intangible Heritage. The purpose of this list
is to increase the visibility of the somewhat intangible items of
cultural significance, and to serve as a stimulus for organisations
who work to preserve this cultural heritage. The list contains such
items as the Sicilian puppet theatre, the Korean ritual for royal
ancestors, Gregorian polyphonic singing, the Chinese kunqu opera,
and the Bolivian Oruro carnival. A list of intangible culture that
is in jeopardy of quickly disappearing has also been compiled: The
List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.
The convention is a supplement to the existing treaty that protects
material cultural heritage in the country, such as monuments and
natural areas, and under water, for example shipwrecks.