Introduction to Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)

Under the framework of the UNESCO Convention 2003 for the safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH), an ICH inventory has been prepared with safeguarding ICH as the primary objective. The inventory has been considered integral to raise awareness about ICH through documentation. The process of inventorying intangible cultural heritage and making inventories accessible to the public at large through online platforms is a vital part of encouraging the formation of creative safeguarding plans for intangible cultural heritage.

Definition of ICH as per the UNESCO Convention 2003 Article 2:-

“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. For the purposes of this Convention, consideration will be given solely to 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.”

National Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Inventory of Pakistan

Being a society rich in ethnic, linguistic, and cultural diversity, Pakistan has a living legacy of socio-cultural knowledge expressed through multiple mediums. Recognising the need acknowledge and be proud custodians of heritage spanning over millennia, Pakistan ratified to the Convention 2003 on the 7th of October 2005.

Numerous steps have been taken for the safeguarding of ICH since ratification, and the goal towards the preparation of an ICH inventory through Community Based Inventorying was initiated in Nov 2015 through an collaborative endeavour untaken by THAAP in collaboration with UNESCO Islamabad funded by the Canada Fund For Local Initiatives and the Embassy of Switzerland. The inventory currently includes forty five elements, all from the Kalasha community dwelling in the Mumuret, Biriu, and Rukmu valleys of Khyberpukhtunkhwa Pakistan.

The inventory shall be periodically updated every four years keeping in mind the inherent evolution within ICH as a lived heritage.

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