Kumiodori, traditional Okinawan musical theatre
Inscribed in 2010 (5.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
- Kumiodori, traditional Okinawan musical theatre
Kumiodori is a Japanese performing art found on the Okinawa islands. It is based upon traditional Okinawan music and dance, but also incorporates elements from mainland Japan, such as Nogaku or Kabuki, as well as from China. Kumiodori dramas recount local historical events or legends, accompanied by a traditional three-stringed instrument. The phrases have a particular rhythm, based upon traditional poetry and the distinctive intonation of the Ryukyu scale, and are performed in the ancient language of Okinawa. The physical movements of the performers evoke those of a pythoness at traditional rituals of ancient Okinawa. All parts are performed by male actors, and techniques unique to Okinawa can be seen in the methods of hair-dressing, costumes and decorations used on stage. The need to strengthen transmission motivated Kumiodori performers to establish the Traditional Kumiodori Preservation Society, which trains performers, revives discontinued dramas, and carries out performances on a regular basis. In addition to classical works that emphasize themes of loyalty and filial duty, new dramas have been produced with modern themes and choreography, but retaining the traditional Kumiodori style. Kumiodori plays a central role in preserving ancient Okinawan vocabulary as well as transmitting literature, performing arts, history and ethics.
Decision 5.COM 6.24
The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:
- R.1: Kumiodori is deeply rooted, continuously recreated and highly valued by its performers and the people of Okinawa who recognize it as their intangible cultural heritage;
- R.2: Its inscription on the Representative List could contribute to the visibility of traditional performing arts, while encouraging mutual respect and promotion of cultural diversity as well as regional cultural exchange;
- R.3: Current and recent safeguarding measures are based on the cooperation of the community concerned with the prefecture and State, while future measures include such important components as transmission to young performers and training costume makers;
- R.4: Several consultation meetings were held with the community and it participated in the nomination process as a partner of the Government, giving its free, prior and informed consent and providing bibliographical and audiovisual materials;
- R.5: The Kumiodori was inscribed in 1972 as an Important Intangible Cultural Property on the national inventory maintained by the Agency for Cultural Affairs.
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