Asia Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU)
Asia-Pacific Database on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)

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Whats ICH

What's Intangible Cultural Heritage(ICH)?

According to the "Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage", ICH is manifested in the domains of: "oral traditions and expressions; performing arts; social practices, rituals and festive events; knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe; and traditional craftsmanship." It includes folklore and legend, traditional music, theatre and dance, life-cycle ceremonies and festivals, traditional healing arts such as herbal therapy, and traditional handicrafts such as wood carving, pottery, dyeing and weaving.

ICH is a valuable gift passed down from generation to generation for many years, and often the foundation of people's cultural identity and a source of creativity. Unlike tangible cultural heritage, which comes in such forms as historical monuments and archaeological ruins, it is human bodies and souls which are the medium for transmitting intangible heritage. That is why such heritage is vulnerable and susceptible to changes in lifestyles and social values which are caused by globalisation and other factors.

ACCU's Approach towards Intangible Cultural Heritage(ICH)

In Asia and the Pacific Region, there are multifarious forms of intangible cultural heritage. Due to the rapid social changes taking place in many parts of this region, a significant part of this rich heritage is on the verge of disappearance. Since its inception in 1971, ACCU has been actively involved in the safeguarding of ICH jointly with the Asia-Pacific UNESCO Member States.

Recently, the international cooperative framework for the promotion of safeguarding ICH has been gaining momentum with two UNESCO Proclamations, in 2001 and 2003, of "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity", and adoption of the "Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage" in 2003. Through this period, ACCU has been working closely with UNESCO and its Member States for education and awareness-raising, recording and documentation, and transmission of ICH through various activities of human resource development, heritage management, and information sharing. Now, we are ready to better serve your needs by responding accurately to the priorities.

Note 1:

UNESCO proclaimed 19 cultural expressions in 2001 and 28 in 2003 as Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Six of the 19 masterpieces in 2001 and 12 of the 28 in 2003 are from Asia and the Pacific Region.

Note 2:

Adopted at the 32nd session of UNESCO's general conference to safeguard intangible cultural heritage and provide for international cooperation and assistance, among others. In order to enter into force the Convention needs ratification by 30 countries.

Update on status of ratification (