June 03, 2006:

[achtung! kunst] *heritage* : Listing China's intangible heritage

shanghai daily, 2006-06-03
Listing China's intangible heritage

THE Chinese State Council has included the Spring Festival, Peking
Opera, acupuncture, The Legend of Madame White Snake and Shaolin Kungfu
in the country's first intangible cultural heritage list.

The list contains 518 items in 10 categories, including folk literature,
folk music and dance, traditional opera, ballad singing, cross-talk,
acrobatics, folk fine arts, traditional handicraft, traditional medicine
and folk customs, the State Council said yesterday.

The items were selected by a jury organized by the Ministry of Culture
and the Academy of Arts of China from more than 1,300 traditions across
the country.

But experts say heritage protection in China is a race against time.

"Intangible cultural heritage in China is facing a rigorous challenge in
its battle against urbanization and globalization," said Tian Qing, a
member of the jury and director of the Intangible Culture Heritage
Research Center under the AAC.

An old artwork, handicraft or folk song is likely to disappear and an
old house is likely to be demolished every second in China.

Few Chinese media covered UNESCO's listing of Kunqu opera as a
"masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity" in 2001,
while Japanese media acclaimed the listing of the Nogaku theater, said Tian.

"The Chinese government's attention to intangible heritage was fueled by
the public," he said.

Scholars have been studying and recording the folk culture of ethnic
groups since the 1950s, said Song Zhaolin, a folklorist and a researcher
with the National Museum of China.

Their research was encouraged and funded by the Project for the
Preservation of the Chinese Folklore, established by the Ministries of
Culture and Finance in 2003.

"The notice on protection of the cultural heritage issued by the State
Council at the end of last year triggered so much public attention that
the public flocked to the exhibition on intangible heritage in Beijing
earlier this year," he said.

The condition of the intangible cultural heritage is widely linked to
social and economic developments, Tian said, and some people in scenic
spots were turning intangible heritage into stunts to entertain tourists.

"It mainly depends on the heritage holders to protect, pass down,
develop and invigorate intangible cultural heritage," he said.

The government has established an annual national "Cultural Heritage
Day" on the second Saturday of June, with a series of performances and
exhibitions to celebrate.

"Their heritage will become a memory unless the public increases
protection awareness," he said.

http://www.shanghaidaily.com/art/2006/06/03/281881/Listing_China__039_s_intangible_ heritage.htm



with kind regards,

Matthias Arnold (Art-Eastasia list)



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