Shadow puppetry enters intangible heritage list

Updated: 2011-11-27 19:49


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PARIS - Chinese shadow puppetry has been added to the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity along with Belgian Leuven age set ritual repertoire, the UN cultural agency said in a statement released on Sunday.

The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage meeting in Bali (Indonesia) until November 29 inscribed on Saturday two elements from Belgium and China on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, according the UNESCO statement.

Chinese shadow puppetry is a form of theatre whereby colourful silhouette figures perform traditional plays against a back-lit cloth screen, accompanied by music and singing.

Puppeteers make the figures from leather or paper and manipulate them by means of rods to create the illusion of moving images.

The puppeteers' skills of simultaneously manipulating several puppets, improvisational singing, and playing various musical instruments are handed down in families and troupes, passing from master to pupil.

The safeguarding committee made the decision to recognize that the puppetry art spreads knowledge, promotes cultural values and entertains the community, especially the youth.

On the same day, the age sets of Leuven, Belgium, a decade-long rite of passage for men who share the same year of birth was also inscribed on the list.

According the ritual, Men form their group at age forty and participate in social and cultural activities that culminate ten years later with a celebration around the city's statue of the prophet Abraham. Each age set chooses its own medal, flag and uniform, and has a 'godfather' a decade older. The age set rituals provide participants and the entire city with a strong sense of identity.

The Committee is expected to evaluate 35 more nominations for their eventual inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity as the session continues in Bali.