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UNESCO lists 50 Iconic Indian Textiles


UNESCO published a list of 50 exclusive and iconic heritage textile crafts of India. 


GS II: Important International institutions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Details
  2. Some of the Important Textiles Crafts Listed
  3. About UNESCO
  4. Tangible and Intangible Heritage
  5. Representative list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity


  • UNESCO’s “Handmade for the 21st Century: Safeguarding Traditional Indian Textile” mentions the history and legends behind the textiles, description of the complicated and secret processes in their making, causes for reducing popularity and also recommends various strategies for their preservation.
  • As per UNESCO, the key challenge to protecting the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the South Asian region is the lack of proper inventory and documentation.
  • The publication of UNESCO aims to bridge this gap and lists 50 textiles as exclusive and iconic heritage textile crafts of India by undertaking extensive research.

Some of the Important Textiles Crafts Listed

  • Toda embroidery and Sungadi of Tamil Nadu
  • Himroo weaves of Hyderabad in Telangana
  • Bandha tie and dye weaving of Sambalpur in Odisha
  • Khes from Panipat in Haryana
  • Chamba rumals of Himachal Pradesh
  • Thigma or wool tie and dye of Ladakh
  • Awadh Jamdani from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh
  • Ilkal and Lambadi or Banjara embroidery from Karnataka
  • Sikalnayakanpet Kalamkari from Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu
  • Kunbi weaves from Goa
  • Mashru weaves and Patola from Gujarat
  • Himroo from Maharashtra
  • Garad-Koirial of West Bengal


  • 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
Representative list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
  • The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity contains intangible cultural heritage elements that “help demonstrate the diversity of cultural heritage and raise awareness about its importance”.
  • Elements in India which are included in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:
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.

-Source: The Hindu

March 2024