The Hot Zone
China's newly announced air defense identification zone over the East China Sea aims to shore up national security
Current Issue
· Table of Contents
· Editor's Desk
· Previous Issues
· Subscribe to Mag
Subscribe Now >>
Expert's View
Market Watch
North American Report
Government Documents
Expat's Eye
Photo Gallery
Reader's Service
Learning with
'Beijing Review'
E-mail us
RSS Feeds
PDF Edition
Reader's Letters
Make Beijing Review your homepage
Hot Links

cheap eyeglasses
Market Avenue

Learning with BeijingReview
Learning with BeijingReview
UPDATED: September 30, 2007 NO.41 OCT.11, 2007
Cultural Resurrection
One of the ways we preserve memories of the past is through our cultural heritage that has been passed on from generation to generation

"我们是谁?我们从哪里来?"这是人类自诞生那天起就开始思考的一个问题。而能够让我们不丧失对自己的记忆的就是人类世代流传下来的文化遗产。 这当中非物质文化遗产与物质文化遗产共同承载起人类社会的文明。





正如联合国教科文组织2003年颁布的《保护非物质文化遗产公约》(Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage)说的,"这种非物质文化遗产世代相传,在各社区和群体适应周围环境以及与自然和历史的互动中,被不断地再创造,为这些社区和群体提供持续的认同感,从而增强对文化多样性和人类创造力的尊重。"



"Who are we? Where are we from?" Humans have been pondering these questions since the day they first came into being. One of the ways we preserve memories of the past is through our cultural heritage that has been passed on from generation to generation. Intangible cultural heritage, as well as tangible cultural heritage, is essential to the continuity of human civilization.

Since the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) unveiled the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2001, China has had Kunqu opera, Guqin and its music, the art of Uygur Muqam of Xinjiang and the traditional Mongolian folk song Long Song added to UNESCO's protection list. It is now one of the countries with the largest number of such inclusions in the world.

Those listed by UNESCO represent only a small fraction of China's numerous forms of folk art. An ancient civilization with a history of over 5,000 years enjoying cultural diversity created by its 56 ethnic groups, China boasts a wide variety of intangible cultural heritage. It released its first national intangible cultural heritage list in May 2006, incorporating 518 entries. To date, 3,832 kinds of intangible cultural heritage have been included on lists compiled by its provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government. The second national list is being formulated.

Intangible cultural heritage mainly refers to broadly representative historical folk cultural heritage that is passed down by word of mouth or by demonstration. Known as the "living fossil of historical culture" and the "representation of the national memory," it includes folklores, customs, languages, music, dance, etiquette, rituals, cuisine and traditional medicine.

China's intangible cultural heritage exemplifies the values, thinking patterns, imagination and cultural awareness of the Chinese nation. Deemed as the crystallization of the wisdom of all ethnic groups in China, it is crucial to the country's cultural identity and cultural sovereignty.

China faces a daunting task to protect its intangible cultural heritage at a time when globalization is gathering momentum with rapid economic and social transition. Fewer people today choose to take part in traditional entertainment activities given the flourishing options with modern appeal. Many traditional crafts are on the verge of extinction. Some master craftsmen are getting old with few successors, resulting in the loss of some cultural heritage passed on by example. Many old residential complexes disappeared under the wheels of roaring bulldozers, along with traditional customs and lifestyles. It is believed that China suffers the loss of a senior craftsman, a craft or a folk song every minute and an old residence every second.

Thanks to the concerted efforts of the government and civil society, "intangible cultural heritage," a once strange concept, has gained increasing currency in China in recent years. However, we have to seize the moment to prevent its extinction. We also need to balance its protection against the growing trends of urbanization and globalization.

Top Story
-Protecting Ocean Rights
-Partners in Defense
-Fighting HIV+'s Stigma
-HIV: Privacy VS. Protection
-Setting the Tone
Most Popular
About BEIJINGREVIEW | About beijingreview.com | Rss Feeds | Contact us | Advertising | Subscribe & Service | Make Beijing Review your homepage
Copyright Beijing Review All right reserved