China Intangible Cultural Heritage By UNESCO

UNESCO established its Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage with the aim of ensuring better protection of important intangible cultural heritages worldwide and the awareness of their significance. This list is published by the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, the members of which are elected by State Parties meeting in a General Assembly, which UNESCO has identified as an essential component and as a repository of cultural diversity and of creative expression. 

China Intangible Cultural Heritage By UNESCO

By the end of 2018, China has 41 elements included in the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list (including “Urgent Safeguarding List” and “Register of Good Safeguarding Practices”), which is also the country with the largest number of intangible cultural heritage in the world. The declaration of this element must have three basic conditions: artistic value, endangered condition and a complete protection plan.

Representative List

 2001 Kunqu Opera
 2002 Guqin music
 2005 Uyghur Muqam of XinjiangUrtiin Duu traditional folk songs
 2009 Sericulture and silk craftmanship of ChinaNanyinCraftsmanship of Nanjing Yunjin brocadeTraditional handicrafts of making Xuan paperGrand song of the Dong ethnic groupYueju operaMongolian Epic JangarGesar epic traditionTraditional firing technology of Longquan celadonRegong artsTibetan operaManasMongolian Khoomei throat singingHua’erXi’an Drum MusicFarmers’ dance of China’s Korean ethnic groupChinese CalligraphyArt of Chinese seal engravingChinese Paper-cutChina engraved block printing techniqueChinese traditional architectural craftmanship for timber-framed structuresDragon boat festivalMazu belief and customs 
 2010 Peking operaacupuncture and moxibustion of traditional Chinese medicine
 2011 Chinese shadow puppetry
 2013 Chinese Zhusuan
 2016 China’s Twenty-Four Solar Terms
 2018 Lum medicinal bathing of Sowa Rigpa

Urgent Safeguarding List

 2009 Qiang New Year’s festivalChinese traditional wooden arch bridgesLi textile techniques including spinning, dyeing, weaving and embroidery
 2010 MeshrepChinese junks and their watertight-bulkhead technologyChinese wooden movable-type printing
 2011 Hezhen Yimakan storytelling

Register of Good Safeguarding Practices

 2012 Fujian puppetry

Proclaimed Masterpieces

The Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage were established in 2008, when the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage took effect. Prior to this, a project known as the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity has already been active in recognizing the value of intangibles such as tradition, custom and cultural spaces and the local actors who sustain these forms of cultural expressions through a Proclamation. Identification of the Masterpieces also entails the commitment of states to promote and safeguard these treasures, while UNESCO finances plans for their conservation. Started in 2001 and held biennially until 2005, a total of three Proclamations occurred, encompassing 90 forms of intangible heritage around the world.

The 90 previously proclaimed Masterpieces have been incorporated into the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity as its first entries, to be known as elements. Subsequent elements will be added following the assessment of nominations submitted by national governments acceding to the UNESCO Convention, termed as member states, who are each allowed to submit a single candidature file, in addition to multi-national candidatures. A panel of experts in intangible heritage and an appointed body, known as the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, then examine each of the nominations before officially inscribing the candidates as elements on the List.