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Baguette – UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List


Recently, Baguette — the staple French bread — was inscribed into the UN’s list of intangible cultural heritage (ICH).


GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is a baguette?
  2. About UNESCO
  3. Tangible and Intangible Heritage
  4. What are India’s intangible cultural symbols on the UNESCO list?
  5. Who manages nominations to the UNESCO list in India?

What is a baguette?

  • The baguette is a long and thin loaf made of flour, water, salt and yeast, and is consumed as a staple in France.
  • Some believe that it was invented by August Zang, a baker and an entrepreneur from Vienna in 1839, who introduced the world to the taste of crusty bread with softer insides, using a steam oven.
  • It gained its official name in 1920.


  • It was founded in 1945 to develop the “intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind” as a means of building lasting peace. It is located in Paris, France.
  • Major Initiatives of UNESCO:
    • Man and Biosphere Programme
    • World Heritage Programme
    • Global Geopark Network
    • Network of Creative Cities
    • Atlas of World Languages in Danger

Tangible and Intangible Heritage

  • Cultural heritage in general consists of the products and processes of a culture that are preserved and passed on through the generations.
  • Some of that heritage takes the form of cultural property, formed by tangible artefacts such as buildings or works of art.
  • Many parts of culture, however are intangible, including song, music, dance, drama, skills, cuisine, crafts and festivals.
    • Hence, buildings, historic places, monuments, and artifacts are physical intellectual wealth – hence they are “Tangible”.
    • “Intangible” heritage consists of nonphysical intellectual wealth, such as folklore, customs, beliefs, traditions, knowledge, and language.
  • An intangible cultural heritage (ICH) is a practice, representation, expression, knowledge, or skill considered by UNESCO to be part of a place’s cultural heritage.

Definition of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)

  • As the practices, representations, expressions, as well as the knowledge and skills (including instruments, objects, artifacts, cultural spaces), that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage. It is sometimes called living cultural heritage.
  • Intangible Cultural Heritage is manifested in the following domains:
    • Oral traditions and expressions, including language;
    • Performing arts;
    • Social practices, rituals and festive events;
    • Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe;
    • Traditional craftsmanship

Criteria for the selection

There are three criteria for an intangible cultural heritage to be inscribed in the United Nations list.

The entity must,

  • be recognized by communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals as part of their cultural heritage,
  • be transmitted from generation to generation and be constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history
  • provide them with a sense of identity and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.

What are India’s intangible cultural symbols on the UNESCO list?

This year, India nominated Garba, a traditional dance form that originated in the state of Gujarat, for inscription on UNESCO’s ICH list.

1Koodiyattam: a Sanskrit theatre of Kerala
2Mudiyett: a ritual theatre and dance drama of Kerala
3Vedic chantings: recitation of sacred Hindu texts
4Ramlila: the traditional performance of the Ramayana
5Ramman: a religious festival and ritual theatre of Garhwal, Uttarakhand
6Kalbelia: folk songs and dances of Rajasthan
7Chhau dance: a classical dance form of Odisha and West Bengal
8Ladakh Buddhist chantings: recitation of sacred Buddhist texts in Ladakh
9Manipuri Sankirtana: a ritual singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur
10Thatheras Utensil Making: Traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab   
11Yoga: ancient Indian physical, mental and spiritual practices originating in ancient India
12Kumbh Mela: mass Hindu pilgrimage held at Haridwar of Uttarakhand, Nashik of Maharashtra, Prayagraj of Uttar Pradesh and Ujjain of Madhya Pradesh
13Nowruz: In India, Navroz (New Year) is celebrated by the Parsi community who are followers of the Zoroastrian religion. It is also celebrated by the ‘Bahai’ community and the Kashmiris who call it ‘ Navreh’.
14Durga Puja, also known as Durgotsava or Sharodotsava, is an annual Hindu festival that reveres and pays homage to the goddess Durga. It is an important festival in the Shaktism tradition of Hinduism.

Who manages nominations to the UNESCO list in India?

  • Several autonomous bodies within the Ministry of Culture actively function towards promoting and preserving intangible cultural heritage within the country.
  • Sangeet Natak Akademi is the nodal organisation which looks after this function, and files nominations of intangible cultural entities from India, for evaluation by the international body.
  • The Ministry of Culture also launches regular schemes, in an attempt to preserve, protect and promote intangible cultural heritage in the country.
    • Among them, the “Scheme for Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage and Diverse Cultural Traditions of India” aims to “professionally” enhance “awareness and interest” in the safeguarding, promotion and propagation of ICH.

-Source: Indian Express

May 2024