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Nepal National Workshop on UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage
Implementation of the Convention at the National Level
The Cultural Ministry and UNESCO, with support by Japanese Funds in Trust to UNESCO, organized a five-day workshop on capacity building to safe guard Nepal’s intangible cultural heritages. Over 40 participants from various communities and agencies participated in this workshop, held in Kathmandu from 16th to 20th April 2012. The participants discussed the implementation of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which Nepal ratified in 2010.
The workshop is the first among a series of training events slated for over the next 18 months. The other workshops to follow are on community-based inventory of intangible cultural heritage and discussing nominations to the Intangible Cultural Heritage List of UNESCO.
International experts Ms. Suzanne Ogge-Milou and Ms. Shubha Chaudhuri made presentations on preparing the inventory on intangible cultural heritage.
Photo and report by Bijaya Pradhan, Board Member, Nepal Heritage Society - Kathmandu
UNESCO: What is Intangible Cultural Heritage?
The term 'cultural heritage' has changed content considerably in recent decades, partially owing to the instruments developed by UNESCO. Cultural heritage does not end at monuments and collections of objects. It also includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.
Intangible cultural heritage is:
- Traditional, contemporary and living at the same time: intangible cultural heritage does not only represent inherited traditions from the past but also contemporary rural and urban practices in which diverse cultural groups take part;
- Inclusive: we may share expressions of intangible cultural heritage that are similar to those practised by others. Whether they are from the neighbouring village, from a city on the opposite side of the world, or have been adapted by peoples who have migrated and settled in a different region, they all are intangible cultural heritage: they have been passed from one generation to another, have evolved in response to their environments and they contribute to giving us a sense of identity and continuity, providing a link from our past, through the present, and into our future. Intangible cultural heritage does not give rise to questions of whether or not certain practices are specific to a culture. It contributes to social cohesion, encouraging a sense of identity and responsibility which helps individuals to feel part of one or different communities and to feel part of society at large;
- Representative: intangible cultural heritage is not merely valued as a cultural good, on a comparative basis, for its exclusivity or its exceptional value. It thrives on its basis in communities and depends on those whose knowledge of traditions, skills and customs are passed on to the rest of the community, from generation to generation, or to other communities;
- Community-based: intangible cultural heritage can only be heritage when it is recognized as such by the communities, groups or individuals that create, maintain and transmit it – without their recognition, nobody else can decide for them that a given expression or practice is their heritage.