What is Intangible Heritage?

The UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage defines intangible heritage as 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 “intangible cultural heritage” (…) is manifested inter alia in the following domains:

  • Oral traditions and expressions including language as a vehicle of the intangible cultural heritage;
  • Performing arts (such as traditional music, dance and theatre);
  • Social practices, rituals and festive events;
  • Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe;
  • Traditional craftsmanship.

(Article 2 of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage)

The Bhutan Cultural Atlas has tailored this UNESCO definition in the context of Bhutan and decided to use the following classification:

  • religious festivals, ceremonies and rituals
  • performing arts
  • arts and crafts
  • daily life
  • traditionnal healing and practices