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Cultural traditions immortalized on inventory
By Xin Dingding (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-02-08 06:20

Examples of intangible cultural heritage such as craftsmanship, festival rituals and languages are to be showcased together for the first time, it was announced yesterday.

A month-long exhibition is to open on Sunday at the National Museum to celebrate efforts to protect the country's cultural legacy.

Cultural Heritage Day, on the second Saturday of June, will be marked from this year. The law on the protection of intangible cultural heritage is being drafted.

The Ministry of Culture started to draw up a list of cultural traditions to be protected in July last year.

Local cultural departments sent in 1,315 applications. After an assessment of each by a group of experts the ministry chose 501 examples of intangible heritage to be included on its first list, Vice-Minister Zhou Heping said at a press conference yesterday.

The list includes oral traditions, expressions and language; performing arts; social practices, rituals and festive events; knowledge and practices relating to nature and the universe, and traditional craftsmanship.

Six traditional festivals, such as Spring Festival and the Dragon Boat Festival, have also been included, said Zhou Xiaopu, a ministry official.

In addition to the State-level list, the ministry has asked local cultural protection departments to make their intangible heritage lists at the provincial, city and county levels.

Special funds will be granted to named successors to masters of certain traditions to encourage the passing on of unique skills, according to a notice issued by the State Council at the end of last year.

At least 40 intangible cultural traditions have already benefited from a pilot project sponsored by the ministry since 2003 for protecting minority and folk culture.

As the State Council's notice requires, local cultural departments should detail the challenges they face as they strive to protect their locality's cultural heritage.

The general survey is due to be completed in three years, according to the notice.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization defines intangible cultural heritage as "the practices, representations, expressions, as well as the knowledge and skills, that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage."

China's Kunqu Opera and the art of Guqin music were designated as Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2001 and 2003 respectively.

(China Daily 02/08/2006 page2)

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