Washi, craftsmanship of traditional Japanese hand-made paper
The traditional craft of hand-making paper, or Washi, is practised in three communities in Japan: Misumi-cho in Hamada City, Shimane Prefecture, Mino City in Gifu Prefecture and Ogawa Town/Higashi-chichibu Village in Saitama Prefecture. The paper is made from the fibres of the paper mulberry plant, which are soaked in clear river water, thickened, and then filtered through a bamboo screen. Washi paper is used not only for letter writing and books, but also in home interiors to make paper screens, room dividers and sliding doors. Most of the inhabitants of the three communities play roles in keeping this craftsmanship viable, ranging from the cultivation of mulberry, training in the techniques, and the creation of new products to promote Washi domestically and abroad. Washi papermaking is transmitted on three levels: among families of Washi craftspeople, through preservation associations and by local municipalities. Families and their employees work and learn under Washi masters, who have inherited the techniques from their parents. All the people living in the communities take pride in their tradition of Washi-making and regard it as the symbol of their cultural identity. Washi also fosters social cohesion, as the communities comprise people directly engaged in or closely related to the practice.
Washoku, traditional dietary cultures of the Japanese, notably for the celebration of New Year
Washoku is a social practice based on a set of skills, knowledge, practice and traditions related to the production, processing, preparation and consumption of food. It is associated with an essential spirit of respect for nature that is closely related to the sustainable use of natural resources. The basic knowledge and the social and cultural characteristics associated with Washoku are typically seen during New Year celebrations. The Japanese make various preparations to welcome the deities of the incoming year, pounding rice cakes and preparing special meals and beautifully decorated dishes using fresh ingredients, each of which has a symbolic meaning. These dishes are served on special tableware and shared by family members or collectively among communities. The practice favours the consumption of various natural, locally sourced ingredients such as rice, fish, vegetables and edible wild plants. The basic knowledge and skills related to Washoku, such as the proper seasoning of home cooking, are passed down in the home at shared mealtimes. Grassroots groups, schoolteachers and cooking instructors also play a role in transmitting the knowledge and skills by means of formal and non-formal education or through practice.
Sankirtana, ritual singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur
Sankirtana encompasses an array of arts performed to mark religious occasions and various stages in the life of the Vaishnava people of the Manipur plains. Sankirtana practices centre on the temple, where performers narrate the lives and deeds of Krishna through song and dance. In a typical performance, two drummers and about ten singer-dancers perform in a hall or domestic courtyard encircled by seated devotees. The dignity and flow of aesthetic and religious energy is unparalleled, moving audience members to tears and frequently to prostrate themselves before the performers. Sankirtana has two main social functions: it brings people together on festive occasions throughout the year, acting as a cohesive force within Manipur’s Vaishnava community; and it establishes and reinforces relationships between the individual and the community through life-cycle ceremonies. It is thus regarded as the visible manifestation of God. The Sankirtana of Manipur is a vibrant practice promoting an organic relationship with people: the whole society is involved in its safeguarding, with the specific knowledge and skills traditionally transmitted from mentor to disciple. Sankirtana works in harmony with the natural world, whose presence is acknowledged through its many rituals.
Kyrgyz epic trilogy: Manas, Semetey, Seytek
The Kyrgyz epic trilogy of Manas, Semetey and Seytek describes the unification of scattered tribes into one nation. The trilogy expresses the historical memory of the Kyrgyz people and survives thanks to a community of epic tellers, both women and men, of all ages. Narrators accept their calling after experiencing a prophetic dream, understood to be a sign from the heroes of the epic. During recitals they enter into a near-trance state and use special forms of narration, rhythm, tone and gestures to recreate the epic’s historical atmosphere. Continuous narration of the trilogy may last up to thirteen hours. Performances are held on various public occasions, from village events to national celebrations and holidays. Epic storytellers also provide moral and spiritual support to local communities and individuals during social events, conflicts or disasters. They consider the trilogy a cultural heritage for which they take personal responsibility. The trilogy helps young people to understand their own history and culture, the natural environment and the peoples of the world; it also provides them with a sense of identity. As a component of formal education, it promotes ideas of tolerance and multiculturalism. Transmission occurs orally from master to apprentice through non-formal education.
Namhansanseong was designed as an emergency capital for the Joson dynasty (1392–1910), in a mountainous site 25 km south-east of Seoul. Built and defended by Buddhist monk-soldiers, it could accommodate 4,000 people and fulfilled important administrative and military functions. Its earliest remains date from the 7th century, but it was rebuilt several times, notably in the early 17th century in anticipation of an attack from the Sino-Manchu Qing dynasty. The city embodies a synthesis of the defensive military engineering concepts of the period, based on Chinese and Japanese influences, and changes in the art of fortification following the introduction from the West of weapons using gunpowder. A city that has always been inhabited, and which was the provincial capital over a long period, it contains evidence of a variety of military, civil and religious buildings and has become a symbol of Korean sovereignty.
More at: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1439/