Intangible Heritage

Rúben Humberto España Arismendi, organillero, Santiago de Chile. Foto: Consejo Nacional de la Cultura y las Artes

The cultural heritage of a nation or region is not solely composed of monuments and museum collections, but also of living intangible expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants. According to the definition provided by UNESCO, intangible cultural heritage (ICH) is made up of oral traditionsperforming artssocial practices, rituals and festive eventsknowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe, and traditional craftsmanship knowledge and techniques.

Some characteristics of ICH are that it is simultaneously traditional and contemporary; it is integrative and contributes to cultural identity; it is representative and transmitted from generation to generation; and it is based on communities. Its importance lies not in the cultural manifestation itself, but in the heritage of the knowledge and techniques that are passed on, revealing social and economic value for both human groups and entire States.

Within the context of globalisation, ICH has capital importance as it allows cultural diversity to be maintained through dialogue between cultures and the promotion of respect towards other ways of life. For this reason, in 2003 UNESCO passed the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which determines a set of measures aimed at guaranteeing the identification, documentation, investigation, preservation, protection, promotion, evaluation, transmission through formal and informal education, and revitalisation.

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