Intangible Heritage



This brings us to another category, the ‘non-material’ intangible cultural heritage (ICH), which recognises the importance of living heritage, cultural diversity and its maintenance for the future as ‘a guarantee for continuing creativity’. It came about because of criticism from countries with significant oral, folklore and other cultural traditions where indigenous people thought the list dominated by built or material heritage. According to the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, it is seen in what UNESCO describes as the following ‘domains’:

oral traditions and expressions including language as a vehicle of the intangible cultural heritage

performing arts (such as traditional music, dance and theatre)

social practices, rituals and festive events

knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe

traditional craftsmanship.

(UNESCO, 2008b)

All of this raises significant issues as to what ICH actually is and how representative examples can be, but nevertheless several significant initiatives have been undertaken including listings, identifying ICH requiring ‘urgent safeguarding’ and a number of projects mainly focused on developing countries. Beyond these, steps to identify Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity got underway following a proclamation at the UNESCO General Conference in 1997 (see Harrison and Rose, 2010). Between 2001 and 2005, ninety outstanding examples of ICH were identified, including a wide range of phenomena similar to those described above.

One domain that has attracted particular attention is the safeguarding of endangered languages.

Above text sourced from OpenLearn under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Licence