Kunming hosts Asia Cultural Forum

By Guo Anfei, Li Yingqing and Hu Yongqi ( chinadaily.com.cn )

Updated: 2013-11-29

The second Asia Cultural Forum was held in Kunming, capital city of Yunnan province, on Nov 18-22. Thirty foreign experts from 11 countries in Asia and 34 domestic experts attended the forum.

As an important event of the 13th Asia Arts Festival, the second Asia Cultural Forum was sponsored by the Chinese National Academy of Arts and the Department of Culture of Yunnan province. It was co-organized by the Yunnan Provincial Academy of National Arts.

The forum's theme was "Asia Culture and Arts: Harmonious Development against a Diverse Background." The forum contained three sub-themes, namely "Development of Contemporary Asian Culture and Arts," "Protection of Intangible Culture Heritage in Asia and the World's Cultural and Artistic Diversity," and "Institutional Building of Cultural and Artistic Cooperation among Asian Countries."

Samraing Kamsam, vice-minister of the Cambodian Ministry of Culture, said that with its long history of cultural development and invaluable legacy, the Kingdom of Cambodia is rich in cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible. Currently, Cambodia has many different forms of intangible cultural heritages, such as crafts, traditional songs, music and dance, customs, traditional lifestyles and ritual practices.

"Because of their outstanding value, UNESCO has registered two Cambodian performing arts (a classical dance and large shadow puppetry) into the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanities in 2003 and 2005," said Samraing Kamsam.

Samraing Kamsam added that in order to curb the negative effects of globalization, the Kingdom of Cambodia has been working hard on various urgent tasks to safeguard its priceless intangible cultural heritage, including promoting traditional customs and art forms to all levels of Cambodian society as well as collaborative research and human resource development in culture and arts.

Park Kwang Moo, president of the Korea Culture and Tourism Institute, said that Korea's cultural exchange policy has been focusing primarily on promoting its own culture and better understanding other cultures to form a mutually beneficial relationship.

"The Park Geun-hye administration emphasizes spreading Korean culture as a way to vitalize it and understand cultural diversity. Furthermore, Korea is planning to support cultural development and deliver its own experiences through ODA programs," said Park Kwang Moo.

Kittiporn Chaiboon, cultural official of the Cultural Promotion Department of the Thailand Ministry of Culture, said that the process of safeguarding intangible culture heritage in Thailand started in 2005. Before 2005, the cultural promotion department utilized a project called "The National Artists" to name and award valuable human resources in three main fields: literature, visual arts and performing arts.

"The cultural promotion department has already awarded 237 national artists in order to support and encourage them in the creation of their works. This will transmit cultural heritage from one generation of artists to another generation," said Kittiporn Chaiboon.

Kittiporn Chaiboon added that the cultural promotion department's present work focuses on drafting the Intangible Cultural Heritage Act, raising awareness among local people and the community about their own heritage, and raising pride in Thai culture in order to protect and conserve the nation and the world's valuable treasures.

Rabin Kumar Koirala, an academician from Nepal, said that contemporary art in Asia has grown exponentially due to the mushrooming of regional biennials and triennials; the building of new contemporary art galleries, museums and open-art workshops; and the international recognition and success of Asian artists, such as Nepal artist Ashmina Ranjit, Bangladesh artist Lipi and Chinese-born Cai Guoqiang.

Fang Lili, doctorial tutor of the Art Anthropology Research Institute of the China Art Academy, said that China is the only ancient country in the world with an uninterrupted cultural history. Thanks to over 3,000 years of history recorded on bone inscriptions or tortoise shells, China has accumulated large quantities of classical and bibliographical material.

Arliyatena Kalualakige, dean of the Dance Drama College of Sri Lanka Visual and Performance Arts University, talked about Kolam, a kind of dramatic and colorful performance that was a very popular traditional dance drama in the southern and southwestern parts of Sri Lanka about three to four decades ago.

According to Arliyatena Kalualakige, Kolam has existed since the 5th century AD. According to some legends, this genre of drama has a history spanning more than 2,500 years.

Arliyatena Kalualakige said that in the past, Kolam was performed in Sri Lanka at least once a year by troupes who lived in cities such as Mirissa, Ambalangoda and Maha Ambalangoda. Today such performances are conducted by one or two groups and are quite rare. As a result, it is considered a dying art form in the country.

Qiao Xiaoguang is a doctorial tutor of the Intangible Culture Heritage Study Center of the China Central Academy of Fine Arts. Papermaking technology was invented in the Han Dynasty (206 BC – AD 220) of China 2,000 years ago and first spread in South Asia.

Chinese paper-cut has a history of more than 1,000 years. It is a universal and multi-ethnic cultural product related to paper-cuts throughout Asia and the world.

Chinese paper-cut has influenced Asia. The paper-cut traditions of different countries in Asia are closely related to the faiths and lives of their own nationalities, featuring unique cultural characteristics. Zhu Legeng, director of the Art Creation Center and Ceramics Arts Center of the Chinese Art Academy, said that China was the first country in the world to invent porcelain. Korea was the first to learn porcelain-making techniques from China since as early as the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907). Later, porcelain techniques spread to Japan.

Zhu added that East Asian countries have the most developed porcelain-making techniques in the world. What's more, Korea and Japan both belong to a circle of Confucian culture. They used Chinese characters throughout their history and have very developed tea cultures. The three countries not only have similar cultures and values, but also have similar lifestyles and aesthetic standards.

The Asia Culture Forum -- 10+3 Themed Conference was held in Chongqing on October 10, 2011. Over 70 experts and scholars from arts research institutes in Asian countries like China, Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan and South Korea attended the Forum. They discussed the inheritance, development, exchange and cooperation of Asian culture and art.

The 13th Asia Arts Festival (AAF) was held from November 18 to 22 in Kunming. Since its inception in Beijing in 1998, 12 sessions have been held in cities such as Hangzhou, Changchun and Chongqing. The festival has attracted nearly 300 art groups from 26 Asian countries and about 10 million visitors.

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