Our new Intangible Cultural Heritage Collection will include publications, art editions, printed apparel, and accessories dedicated to the stories people tell, the objects they build, and the things they do, passed down through the generations. It will be a constant work in progress made — in a spirit of cooperation and mutual assistance — working side by side with small communities, local organizations and talented individuals in Africa, South America and Europe.

This collection poses three main challenges

Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH or Living Heritage) helps to define who we are, and where we come from. Thus, ICH is not the heritage of old and rare objects or places, but of social practices, stories, skills and knowledge (here, on the Unesco’s website, you can learn more about Intangible Cultural Heritage).

The first challenge is to develop ways of helping to safeguard ICH that maintain its living vibrancy. The second main challenge is to develop legal and ethical frameworks in which we can help communities to safeguard their ICH without taking ownership of it away from the people. The third one is to design living, vibrant and inspiring products avoiding to fall into the usual ethnic cliches.

ICH is living heritage

ICH should always be perpetuaded as “living” heritage because it involves people and because it stays current: each generation changes and adapts it to their circumstances, urban and rural. Baskets once made of reeds can be made in the same patterns out of coloured wire.

ICH is also living heritage because in practising it people usually play with multiple cultural references and they don’t have to be trapped in a single religious, gender or ethnic “box”. And ICH is a living practice also because it is easily affected by factors such as the migration of young people into cities, social change or conflict, and by repression of or contempt for a specific group’s cultural practices in society.

This collection accepts these challenges and recognizes that — as stated in the Unesco’s Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage — small communities, in particular indigenous communities, groups, and individuals, play an important role in the production, safeguarding, maintenance and re-creation of the intangible cultural heritage, thus helping to enrich cultural diversity and human creativity. And this is a most important factor in bringing human beings closer together and ensuring exchange and understanding among them.

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