UNESCO Adds 39 Traditions to Its Intangible Cultural Heritage List

The list now includes truffle hunting, Islamic calligraphy, and Haitian soup

Malaysia, weaving songket, making colorful clothes.
BartCo / Getty Images

UNESCO, which recognizes global traditions as well as World Heritage Sites like Yellowstone National Park and the Great Wall of China, just made a major update to its Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

On Friday, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) added 39 traditions to its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, a collection of practices and expressions that make a significant impact on the world. Likewise, the organization placed four items on its List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, which focuses specifically on practices that require urgent measures to keep alive.

UNESCO also added four programs to the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices, a list that shares success stories from communities and governments that have overcome obstacles to achieve cultural preservation. The idea is for these examples to be used as models for developing countries to look to when faced with similar challenges.

Although UNESCO’s cultural heritage list has long contained traditions like tango in Argentina and Neapolitan pizza in Italy, the new inscriptions draw attention to several countries that have never appeared on the index before Friday: Montenegro, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo, Denmark, Seychelles, the Federated States of Micronesia, Timor-Leste, Iceland, and Haiti. 
The intangible cultural heritage lists now feature a total of 630 elements corresponding to 140 countries.

This latest update follows the organization's inscription of 34 new World Heritage Sites—including Padua's 14th-century fresco cycles and the French city of Nice—in July.

Check out all of the new additions, along with their corresponding countries, below.

Additions to the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding

  1. Federated States of Micronesia: Carolinian wayfinding and canoe making
  2. Timor-Leste: Tais, traditional textile
  3. Estonia: Building and use of expanded dugout boats in the Soomaa region
  4. Mali: Cultural practices and expressions linked to the “M’Bolon,” a traditional musical percussion instrument

Additions to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

  1. United Arab Emirates, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czechia, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Spain, Syrian Arab Republic: Falconry, a living human heritage 
  2. Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen: Arabic calligraphy, knowledge, skills, and practices
  3. Denmark; Finland; Iceland; Norway; Sweden: Nordic clinker boat traditions
  4. Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo: Congolese rumba
  5. Plurinational State of Bolivia: Grand Festival of Tarija
  6. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela: Festive cycle around the devotion and worship towards Saint John the Baptist
  7. Ecuador: Pasillo, song, and poetry
  8. Panama: Dances and expressions associated with the Corpus Christi Festivity
  9. Peru: Pottery-related values, knowledge, lore, and practices of the Awajún people
  10. Malaysia: Songket
  11. Indonesia: Gamelan
  12. Thailand: Nora, dance drama in southern Thailand
  13. Viet Nam: Art of Xòe dance of the Tai people in Viet Nam
  14. India: Durga Puja in Kolkata
  15. Sri Lanka: Traditional craftsmanship of making Dumbara Ratā Kalāla
  16. Turkmenistan: Dutar-making craftsmanship and traditional music performing art combined with singing
  17. Seychelles: Moutya
  18. Madagascar: Malagasy Kabary, the Malagasy oratorical art
  19. Senegal: Ceebu Jën, a culinary art of Senegal
  20. Bahrain: Fjiri
  21. Iraq: Traditional craft skills and arts of Al-Naoor
  22. Palestine: The art of embroidery in Palestine, practices, skills, knowledge, and rituals
  23. Syrian Arab Republic: Al-Qudoud al-Halabiya
  24. Morocco: Tbourida
  25. Turkey: Hüsn-i Hat, traditional calligraphy in Islamic art in Turkey
  26. Finland: Kaustinen fiddle playing and related practices and expressions
  27. Denmark: Inuit drum dancing and singing
  28. Malta: L-Għana, a Maltese folksong tradition
  29. Portugal: Community festivities in Campo Maior
  30. Tajikistan: Falak
  31. Bulgaria: Visoko multipart singing from Dolen and Satovcha, South-western Bulgaria
  32. Ukraine: Ornek, a Crimean Tatar ornament, and knowledge about it
  33. Belgium: Namur stilt jousting
  34. Italy: Truffle hunting and extraction in Italy, traditional knowledge and practice
  35. Netherlands: Corso culture, flower, and fruit parades in the Netherlands
  36. Uzbekistan: Bakhshi art
  37. Montenegro: Cultural Heritage of Boka Navy Kotor: a festive representation of a memory and cultural identity
  38. Poland: Flower carpets tradition for Corpus Christi processions
  39. Haiti: Joumou soup

Additions to the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices

  1. Philippines: The School of Living Traditions (SLT)
  2. Kyrgyzstan: Nomad games, rediscovering heritage, celebrating diversity
  3. Islamic Republic of Iran: National program to safeguard the traditional art of calligraphy in Iran
  4. Kenya: Success story of promoting traditional foods and safeguarding traditional foodways in Kenya
Article Sources
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  1. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. "43 Elements Inscribed on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists." December 16, 2021.