The importance of intangible cultural heritage is not thecultural manifestation itself but rather the wealth of knowledge and skillsthat is transmitted through it from one generation to the next. The social andeconomic value of this transmission of knowledge is relevant for minoritygroups and for mainstream social groups within a State, and is as important fordeveloping States as for developed ones.
Intangiblecultural heritage is:
Traditional, contemporary and living at the same time: intangiblecultural heritage does not only represent inherited traditions from the pastbut also contemporary rural and urban practices in which diverse culturalgroups take part;
Inclusive: we may share expressions of intangible culturalheritage that are similar to those practised by others. Whether they are fromthe neighbouring village, from a city on the opposite side of the world, orhave been adapted by peoples who have migrated and settled in a differentregion, they all are intangible cultural heritage: they have been passed fromone generation to another, have evolved in response to their environments andthey contribute to giving us a sense of identity and continuity, providing alink from our past, through the present, and into our future. Intangiblecultural heritage does not give rise to questions of whether or not certainpractices are specific to a culture. It contributes to social cohesion,encouraging a sense of identity and responsibility which helps individuals tofeel part of one or different communities and to feel part of society at large;
Representative: intangible cultural heritage is notmerely valued as a cultural good, on a comparative basis, for its exclusivityor its exceptional value. It thrives on its basis in communities and depends onthose whose knowledge of traditions, skills and customs are passed on to therest of the community, from generation to generation, or to other communities;
Community-based: intangible cultural heritage can onlybe heritage when it is recognized as such by the communities, groups orindividuals that create, maintain and transmit it – without their recognition,nobody else can decide for them that a given expression or practice is theirheritage.
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