The 14th session of the Intergovernmental Committee currently underway in Bogotá (Colombia) announced additions, like the Celestinian Forgiveness, an annual Catholic religious tradition in Abruzzo that goes back 725 years. Islam is also included with the festival of Arba'in in Iraq.
Bogota (AsiaNews/Agencies) – UNESCO, the United Nations Agency for Education, Culture, and Science, has added 42 cultural practices to its Intangible Cultural Heritage list, 15 of them from Asia. The latter include Thai massage, date palm cultivation, Indonesian and Malaysia martial arts, rituals, dances and handicrafts.
The 14th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage opened on Monday and will end tomorrow.
In 2003, UNESCO adopted the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which provides for the identification, documentation, preservation, protection, promotion and enhancement of intangible cultural assets.
The Convention set up two registers: a Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, and the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.
The first list includes Kyrgyzstan’s Ak-Kalpak crafts and men’s headwear (video 1), Armenian letter art and cultural expressions (video 2), date palm practices (video 3), and Uzbek dances like Lazgi (video 4).
Thailand’s ancient Nuad massage has also been included (video 5). Originally brought from India by doctors and monks 2,500 years ago, it came with secrets passed from master to disciple in temples and later in families. In the 19th century under Thai king Rama III, scholars cast knowledge about the practice in stone in the Wat Pho royal temple, Bangkok. It became popular in the 1960s with more than 200,000 masseurs trained over the decades to work in 145 countries.
This year’s list also includes the practices and craftsmanship associated with the Damascene rose in Al-Mrah, Syria (video 6), Then practices by Vietnam’s Tày, Nùng and Thái ethnic groups (video 7), and services and hospitality provided during Iraq’s Arba’in visitation (video 8).
Malaysia’s Silat, an ancient martial art that combines physical and spiritual training (video 9), is also on the list. Inspired by the movements of the human body, nature and animals, Silat comes in various forms. In Malaysia alone, there are more than 150 known Silat styles, named after animals and plants.
Another listed martial art is Indonesia’s Pencak Silat (video 10). For Surya Rosa Putra, Indonesia’s permanent representative at UNESCO, it “teaches us to be able to establish a good relationship with God, humans, and the environment.” Although “it introduces attacking techniques, most importantly, it teaches us to have self-control and maintain harmony.”
Created on the islands of Sumatra and Java, the typically Indonesian martial developed over time and spread to other parts of the archipelago with unique movements and music.
Its addition means now that Indonesia has 11 UNESCO intangible cultural assets, nine cultural and natural heritage sites, and 15 biosphere reserves, the highest number in Southeast Asia.
The Celestinian Forgiveness (video 11) has also been listed by UNESCO. The name comes from Pope Celestine V who issued a Bull of Forgiveness in L'Aquila (today’s Italy) in late September 1294, granting plenary indulgence to anyone, who after confession and communion, enters the basilica of Santa Maria in Collemaggio during vespers on 28 and 29 August.
This year marked the 725th edition of the event, which was accompanied by civic and commemorative activities in L’Aquila, capital of Italy’s Abruzzo region, during the last week of August.