What is Intangible Heritage?

Intangible Cultural Heritage

"Cultural Heritage does not end in historical monuments or objects. It, also, includes living manifestations and traditions that we have inherited from our ancestors, and that we transmit to our offsprings." These other manifestations are known as intangible cultural heritage (ICH). UNESCO texts define ICH as follows:

"The Intangible Cultural Heritage means the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills –as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated therewith- that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage. This intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation to generation, is constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history, and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity." (The 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Article 2)

UNESCO considers as effective, solely such intangible cultural heritage as is compatible with existing international human rights instruments, as well as with the requirements of mutual respect among communities, groups and individuals, and of sustainable development. 

The Intangible Cultural Heritage encompasses the following domains): 

a) Oral traditions and expressions, including language as a vehicle of ICH (e.g. songs, lullabies, story-telling, communal labor songs, …);

b) Performing arts (e.g. music, dance, traditional theatre, puppet-plays, painting, calligraphy, …);

c) Social practices, rituals, and festive events (e.g. festivals, processions, games, mourning ceremonies, weddings, …);

d) Knowledge and practices concerning nature and universe (e.g. traditional medicine, traditional architecture, traditional navigation systems, traditional methods of utilizing clean energy, traditional management systems, …);

e) Traditional craftsmanship (e.g. traditional knowledge and skills of pottery-making, felt-making, textile-making, wood-work, metal-work, jewelry-making, musical instrument making, …).


 The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity can also be considered as the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding and the Best Safeguarding Practices.