23.11.2011 - UNESCOPRESS

Hezhen Yimakan storytelling from China inscribed on List of Intangible Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding

The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage, meeting in Bali (Indonesia) from 22 to 29 November, today inscribed Hezhen Yimakan storytelling from China on the List of Intangible Heritage in need of urgent safeguarding.

Narrated in the language of the Hezhen people of north-east China, and taking both verse and prose forms, Yimakan storytelling consists of many independent episodes depicting tribal alliances and battles, including the defeat of monsters and invaders by Hezhen heroes.

Yimakan performers improvise stories without instrumental accompaniment, alternating between singing and speaking, and make use of different melodies to represent different characters and plots. Yimakan plays a key role in preserving the Hezhen mother tongue, religion, beliefs, folklore and customs.
          
This inheritance is in danger of disappearing. According to statistics, there were more than 20 outstanding Yimakan masters in the 1980s.  At present, however, there are only five Yimakanqi mafa (storytellers) who are capable of performing some cantos of Yimakan.
           
Yimakan storytelling is one of 18 dossiers proposed for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in need of Urgent Safeguarding. During the Bali session, the Committee will also consider 39 items the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity; 12 proposals of programmes for the Register of Best Safeguarding Practices; four for financial assistance; and six periodic reports on the implementation of the Convention.
           
The Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage was adopted by UNESCO’s General Conference in 2003 and now includes 139 States Parties. Only those countries that have ratified the Convention are eligible to present items for inscription on the Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.

The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage has 24 representatives of UNESCO Member States, elected for a term of four years. Half the Committee is renewed every two years.

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The entire session of the Committee is webcast here.

Information regarding all the nominations and experts’ recommendations can also be found on that website.

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TV broadcasters can download footage here.

Media Contacts:

In Bali : Rasul Samadov; +62 (0)81 246 578 947
r.samadov(at)unesco.org

Pierre Beaulne: pr.beaulne(at)unesco.org

In Paris : Isabelle Le Fournis
i.le-fournis(at)unesco.org; +33 (0) 1 45 68 17 48

Broadcast media: Carole Darmouni
c.darmouni(at)unesco.org; +33 (0) 1 45 68 17 38




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