Iraqi Intangible Heritage

© UNESCO Iraq / Restoration workshop in Iraq

© UNESCO Iraq / Restoration workshop in Iraq

In addition to the preservation and rehabilitation of major Iraqi cultural sites, UNESCO also focuses on the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage – such as languages, oral traditions, values, performing arts, as well as traditional knowledge relating to ethical, economic, socio-political and ecological life.

UNESCO Iraq inscribed the maqam on the list of “150 New Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.” As a technique of improvisation that is unique to Arabic music, the maqam is a set of notes with traditions that define relationships between them, habitual patterns, and their melodic development. Although best defined and understood within the context of the rich Arabic music traditions, the nearest equivalent in Western classical music would be a mode (eg. Major, Minor). The Iraqi genre is often considered a perfect form of the maqam.

UNESCO assisted the Iraqi Ministry of Culture to ratify the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2010 and is helping develop a national registry of Iraqi living heritage.

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