Thinking and Talking about Arts and Culture in Southeast Asia

Eleven New Elements from the Asia-Pacific Region Inscribed on the List of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage

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Meeting in Mauritius until 1 December, the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage inscribed eleven elements from the Asia-Pacific region on the Lists of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. Among them, two elements have been added to the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding while nine elements from the region were inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding

The List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding features vulnerable living heritage elements under threat. The intent is to mobilize international cooperation and assistance to strengthen the transmission of these cultural practices, in agreement with the concerned communities. Two elements from the Asia-Pacific region were inscribed.

Cambodia—Lkhon Khol Wat Svay Andet

Lkhon Khol Wat Svay Andet is a community-based performance by masked men accompanied by music and melodic recitation in a Buddhist monastery of Wat Svay Andet that aims to ensure the community’s protection and prosperity by winning the favors of Neak Ta, a guardian spirit of the place and its people. After generations of transmission, the element’s viability has been weakened by environmental factors, economic migration, insufficient resources, and the effects of war and the Khmer Rouge regime.

Pakistan—Suri Jagek

Suri jagek, a traditional Kalasha meteorological and astronomical knowledge system based on the observation of the sun, moon, stars, and shadows with respect to local topography, is a meteorological and astronomical practice based on the observation of the sun, moon, and stars in reference to the local topography

The system is used to gauge the appropriate time for sowing seeds and predicting natural calamities as well as in animal husbandry. Suri jagek is also the basis of the Kalasha calendar. The practice persists as an oral tradition but is declining due to the advent of digital instruments and lack of awareness of its cultural significance and benefits.

Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

The Representative List seeks to enhance visibility for the traditions and know-how of communities without recognizing standards of excellence or exclusivity. Nine inscribed elements from the region were inscribed.

Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkey—Heritage of Dede Qorqud/Korkyt Ata/Dede Korkut, Epic Culture, Folk Tales, and Music

The epic culture, folk tales, and music of Dede Qorqud/Korkyt Ata/Dede Korkut (Grandfather Qorud) are based on twelve heroic legends, stories, and tales and thirteen traditional musical compositions transmitted orally through performances with specific cultural codes and musical compositions. The legendary character of Dede Qorqud appears in each story as an old man whose words, music, and expressions of wisdom relate to traditions associated with birth, marriage, and death. The practice contains knowledge about the history and culture of Turkic-speaking communities and is practiced and sustained on a variety of occasions.

 

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