Singapore identifies 50 intangible cultural heritage elements in step towards UNESCO listing

Singapore identifies 50 intangible cultural heritage elements in step towards UNESCO listing

The first batch of Singapore's intangible cultural heritage elements has been unveiled, and the list of 50 items includes Malay weddings, Indian classical dance, xinyao and the hawker culture.

SINGAPORE: The first batch of Singapore's intangible cultural heritage elements has been unveiled, and the list of 50 items includes Malay weddings, Indian classical dance, xinyao and the hawker culture.

The list is “an important step” towards the possible listing of a Singapore element on UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list, said Minister of Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu at the opening of the Singapore Heritage Festival in Jurong Town Hall on Saturday (Apr 7).

UNESCO requires submitting countries to create an inventory of intangible cultural heritage elements, and to ensure that the submission is a popular one that all stakeholders agree on.

indian dance
Indian dance is one of the intangible cultural heritage elements included in the list. (Photo: Gwyneth Teo)

The 50 elements are grouped into six categories, five of which are largely based on UNESCO's categories of intangible heritage. These are oral traditions and expressions; the performing arts; social practices, rituals and festive events; knowledge and practices about nature and the universe; and traditional craftsmanship. The sixth category on food heritage is dedicated to Singapore’s food culture.

While some of the elements may also be found in other countries, the inventory will highlight how they are practised or expressed in Singapore to show how they have evolved to suit the local context. 

chinese dance
(Photo: Gwyneth Teo)

The list of elements can be found at www.roots.sg with a description of each, and more will be added progressively. Singaporeans can contribute photographs and information of the elements, or suggest additional elements, at the website.

OUR SG HERITAGE PLAN LAUNCHED

A master plan for the heritage and museum sector was also launched on Saturday. The five-year, S$66 million Our SG Heritage Plan was announced by Ms Fu during her ministry’s Committee of Supply debate last month.

Channel NewsAsia understands that the plan includes an inventory for tangible building site structures that will be created and launched by end-2019. Apart from national monuments, the inventory will also consider other sites of heritage interest such as the Kreta Ayer People's Theatre and Paya Lebar Airbase (formerly Singapore International Airport).

And for intangible cultural heritage, a recognition scheme is in the works for practitioners who are masters of their craft and are committed to transmitting their skills and knowledge to the next generation.

cultural heritage (1)
Young hawker Aericurl Chng (right) of Kismet Desserts serves up traditional ice balls at the Heritage Festival. (Photo: Gwyneth Teo)

The Our SG Heritage Plan was developed after 30 focus group sessions involving more than 730 participants including heritage experts, non-governmental organisations, practitioners, museum-goers and academics.

Views from the wider public were also sought through the oursgheritage.sg website and an exhibition in January and February. About 34,000 people visited the website and exhibition, and 7,300 provided their views and feedback.

The Singapore Heritage Festival will run until Apr 22 at different cultural districts. It is taking place in Jurong this weekend, will head to Chinatown and Jalan Besar next weekend, then Bras Basah, Bugis and Toa Payoh for the final weekend.

Events at Jurong include a recreation of the old Yuan Ching Road drive-in cinema. The recreation will be at Jurong Town Hall and will screen local films Cleopatra Wong and Chicken Rice Wars.

grace fu at Singapore heritage festival
Culture, Community and Youth Minister Grace Fu looking at a 3-metre watercolour painting of the Jurong Industrial Estate skyline by Tia Boon Sim. (Photo: Gwyneth Teo)

"Heritage is more than our history. It is what every one of us, within our families, in our communities, experiences in our daily lives and on special occasions," said Ms Fu.

"Our heritage is diverse and complex, reflecting our multiculturalism, and enriched by the interactions between different ethnicities and religions. It is borne out of everyone's life, and each and every one of us has a part in shaping it."

Source: CNA/cy

Bookmark