Intangible cultural heritage (ICH) includes traditions and living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.
The Secretariat of State for Arts and Culture (SSAC), UNESCO, Timor-Leste National Commission for UNESCO, Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and community members have been working closely together to safeguard the rich ICH of Timor-Leste through capacity-building training and workshops, community based inventorying and awareness raising activities. ‘The Living Heritage of Communities in Timor-Leste’ is a direct result of this collaboration with all of these stakeholders contributing to these safeguarding efforts. The book was published by National Geographic Traveler in cooperation with the Secretariat of State for Arts and Culture of the Ministry of Tourism and UNESCO.
A key focus of this publication has been placing communities at the heart of the ICH safeguarding process. To this end, the publication includes quotes from practitioners of ICH in Timor-Leste who explain the significance of their ICH in their own words. These interviews were collected alongside SSAC staff and in accordance with the principles of community-based inventorying. The images for the publication are from National Geographic along with contributions from a number of prominent photographers from Timor-Leste.
As part of the awareness raising activities, an exhibition titled ‘The Living Heritage of Communities in Timor-Leste’ will also be held from 04 February at Largo Lecidere in Dili, Timor-Leste. The exhibition is being organized by the Secretariat of State for Arts and Culture of the Ministry of Tourism with support from UNESCO and National Geographic Traveler.
H.E Mr. Taur Matan Ruak, President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
“Cultural traditions are the nation’s living heritage and they are the main identity reference of the life of our people. Safeguarding them is, to begin with, to strengthen the identity feelings that are transmitted from generation to generation, shaping and giving life to the communities to which each individual belongs. I welcome this worthwhile initiative of UNESCO and the Secretariat of State for Arts and Culture of the Ministry of Tourism, V Constitutional Government of Timor-Leste, to publish the book The Living Heritage of Communities in Timor-Leste, aiming at reaching a wider audience to reflect on Timorese culture and cultural heritage. The accession of Timor-Leste to the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003) will not only be a contribution in the context of protecting and safeguarding our cultural heritage, but will also contribute to sustainable development. Therefore, our Government shall submit the proposal to National Parliament to ratify it, in accordance with the Constitution.”
Mrs. Maria Isabel de Jesus Ximenes (Secretary of State for Arts and Culture, Ministry of Tourism of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste)
“The Secretariat of State for Arts and Culture has, since 2011, been working closely with UNESCO to identify, preserve and promote the rich diversity of expressions of intangible cultural heritage that make up our country. By conducting training courses, study visits and the production and translation of resources materials, UNESCO has played an important role in strengthening the capacity of the stakeholders (government, civil servants, non-government organizations and community members) and raising awareness on the importance of intangible cultural heritage for the sustainable development of Timor-Leste. This publication is a true milestone in the process of asserting the importance of Timor-Leste’s intangible cultural heritage.”
Mr. Hubert Gijzen (Director and Representative of the UNESCO Office Jakarta)
“As this beautiful publication demonstrates, Timor-Leste is home to a rich and diversified intangible cultural heritage. This heritage is the precious possession of communities, groups and individuals -– only they can safeguard and pass it on to future generations. This is the key message of The Living Heritage of Communities in Timor-Leste, a publication that gives voice to the people of Timor-Leste and provides them with a platform to share with the world their rich and diverse living heritage traditions. It is hoped that this publication will give communities in Timor-Leste, especially women and youth, the opportunity to express knowledge of their living heritage, thus raising awareness about intangible cultural heritage and its safeguarding locally, nationally and internationally.
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