Cultural Disappearing Acts
UNESCO has added 'intangible' cultural traditions to the list of the world's endangered phenomena.
In case we didn't have enough endangered phenomena to worry about, what with the encroaching extinction of the Black Rhino, the disappearance of the Barrier Reef, and the centralisation of indie culture, the United Nations has thoughtfully added a new category to the list. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has this week released a fresh batch of the world's endangered 'intangible cultural traditions'.
French-style horse back riding, Chinese shadow puppetry, and poetic dueling in Cyprus were amongst the newly endangered traditions added to the 250-strong list compiled last year. The new additions encompass rituals and art forms passed down orally from generation to generation, lacking any formal documentation system. Recipes and food preparation methods can also be found amongst the UNESCO's list of disappearing acts, including the Japanese ritual of transplanting rice, and the ceremonial Turkish meat dish, Keskek. Those recipe books brimming with scrawled post-it notes and hand-written recipes born of the mind of your Great Great Grandmother just got even more precious.
These 'intangible' traditions provide the cultural glue for some of the world's smallest communities, encouraging unity in a world of increasing globalization and cultural dilution. Hopefully awareness generated by the UNESCO list will stop these traditions from pulling a Houdini any time soon.
Published on December 19, 2011 by Melissa Werry