Nomination of 17 Masters of Living Human Treasures
On 9 January 2013, UNESCO, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, organized a press conference to introduce and honor the first 17 masters of Living Human Treasures. So what exactly is a Living Human Treasure?
Living Human Treasure (LHT) is a person who possesses to a high degree the knowledge and skills required for performing or re‐creating specific elements of intangible cultural heritage. This system of recognition of the bearers of knowledge has its origin in Japan and has been recognized as one of the most efficient way to implement the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Convention.
Many countries have already adopted this system around the world: South Korea, France, Thailand, Algeria, Tunisia, and Morrocco were the pioneers in this field. Among the systems in existence, there are a variety of titles:
- Holder of an Important Intangible Cultural Property (Japan) adopted in 1950
- National Living Treasure (Republic of Korea) adopted in 1964
- Master of Art (France) adopted in 1994
- Bearer of Popular Craft Tradition (Czech Republic) adopted in 2003
Seventeen masters of Living Human Treasures of Cambodia were nominated by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, and were introduced to the press on the day. The selected LHT will play a crucial role in the transmission of priceless knowledge, experience and skills of Khmer cultural heritage to the Cambodian younger generations.
A famous Khmer proverb says: “Tum Paing Snâng Reus Sey” (A bamboo shoot grows up to be bamboo). The LVT masters’ knowledge and skills are urgently needed to be transferred to the younger generations of Cambodia. UNESCO and the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts have worked over the years to effectively pass and implement the Royal Decree on Living Human Treasures which was signed in February 2010. Excellent progress has been made in terms of preserving Cambodia’s Intangible Cultural Heritage, and the nomination of LHTs will play a big role towards this effort from 2013. The skills of Cambodian LHTs covers many fields of expertise such as music, dance, silversmith, traditional craftsmanship and drawing among many others.