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Calligraphy en route to becoming Intangible Heritage
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Applications and films in support of China's proposal to have Chinese Calligraphy classified as intangible cultural heritage have been submitted to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Culture Organization (UNESCO). In due course the public will hear the result of the application, the director of the Calligraphy College of China from China's Art Research Institute told Beijing Morning News.

A visitor from Ireland studying Chinese Calligraphy with the help of staff at the Chinese Service Center at Olympic Village on July 29. 

Along with Chinese calligraphy, 34 other elements from around the world are applying for the status of intangible cultural heritage, according to the Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection Center.

Chinese calligraphy, with its unique symbols, shapes and writing rhythm, developed along with the creation and evolution of Chinese characters. The earliest Chinese characters discovered to date are carapace-bone script and inscriptions on bronze from the ancient Shang Dynasty.

Through more than 3,000 years of development, Chinese calligraphy has become a symbol of China's culture, according to Li Shenghong, vice president of the Calligraphy College. As time passes, calligraphy's utilitarian function is decreasing, and its existence as an art style is endangered. "On this basis, calligraphy must be considered as intangible cultural heritage which needs to be protected and passed on."

The key issue is whether foreign judges can relate to this viewpoint or not.

As the institutions directly responsible for heritage and protection, the Calligraphy College, together with the Chinese Calligraphers Association, submitted the application to UNESCO. Since last year, the two organizations have been working on the application, said Li Shenghong.

"We have confidence in our application, but the critical question is whether foreign judges can relate to China's culture and its spirit. After all, every nation has its own character; to succeed in establishing Chinese calligraphy as an art form will require the understanding of the foreign judges."

Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in China

Kunqu Opera was one of 19 items listed by UNESCO in "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" on May 18, 2001 in Paris.

Kunqu is known as the "living fossil" of traditional Chinese Opera. It was chosen because it is a classical performance art form.

Chinese Guqin art was enlisted on November 7, 2003. It is the oldest known string instrument and is also a treasure of traditional Chinese culture. The future of this art form is under threat, as fewer and fewer people know Guqin and it is rarely performed, resulting in a loss of public awareness.

Xinjiang Uygur Muqam Art was enlisted on November 25, 2005. It is a general term for a variety of arts native to the Xinjiang Uygur areas. It records and confirms the history, propagation, and integration of the musical and dance culture of different groups.

The Mongolian long-tune folk song was also enlisted on November 25, 2005. It is the unique singing style of a distinct nomadic and regional culture, presenting the Mongolian's perception of their historical culture, customs, ethics, philosophy and art.

(China.org.cn by Jessica Zhang, October 9, 2008)

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