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UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage

Topics Covered:Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage

What to study?

For Prelims: About UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Indian entries in the list, about Reggae.

For Mains: Significance of the list and the need for conservation.


Context: UNESCO has recognised the “Nuad” Thai massage as part of its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

  • The form of massage is one among over 20 elements that have been chosen for inclusion in the list this year. The other elements include Irish harping, Portugal’s Carnival of Podence, traditional Turkish archery and Slovakia’s wire craft and art.


For Prelims and Mains:

About UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage:

The list is made up of those intangible heritage elements that help demonstrate diversity of cultural heritage and raise awareness about its importance.

The list was established in 2008 when Convention for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage came into effect.

UNESCO maintains three lists under its “Intangible Cultural Heritage” banner: the list of intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding, the list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity and the register of good safeguarding practices.

Some of the criteria for inclusion in the representative list are if the inscription of the element will ensure visibility and awareness of it and if the element has been nominated after having “the widest possible participation” of the community, group or individuals concerned and with their free, prior and informed consent.

From India the Intangible Cultural Heritages added into this list include:

  1. Tradition of Vedic chanting.
  2. Ramlila, the traditional performance of the Ramayana.
  3. Kutiyattam, Sanskrit theatre.
  4. Ramman, religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal Himalayas.
  5. Mudiyettu, ritual theatre and dance drama of Kerala.
  6. Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan.
  7. Chhau dance.
  8. Buddhist chanting of Ladakh: recitation of sacred Buddhist texts in the trans-Himalayan Ladakh region, Jammu and Kashmir.
  9. Sankirtana, ritual singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur.
  10. Traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab.
  11. Kumbh Mela.

Need for and significance:

The intangible cultural heritage of humanity list is maintained in order to ensure better visibility of the intangible cultural heritage and awareness of its significance, and to encourage dialogue which respects cultural diversity.

Sources: the Hindu.