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Intangible Cultural Heritage in Hong Kong


According to the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (the Convention) adopted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), each State Party has to identify and define the various elements of ICH present in its territory, with the participation of communities, groups and relevant non-governmental organisations to draw up ICH inventories as the basis for the safeguarding of ICH.



After the Convention came into effect in 2006, the Government planned to conduct a territory-wide survey on ICH in Hong Kong to collect research data for drawing up the first inventory of Hong Kong's ICH. In 2008, the Government set up the Intangible Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee (ICHAC) to steer the conduct of the territory-wide survey on Hong Kong's ICH. In August 2009, the Government commissioned the South China Research Center (SCRC) of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to conduct a territory-wide survey of ICH in Hong Kong. After more than three years of studies, the survey was completed in mid-2013.

SCRC conducted extensive research and field work on nearly 800 survey cases. Taking into account the survey findings and after thorough discussion, the ICHAC recommended a draft inventory of 477 major items and sub-items.

To gauge public views on the draft inventory, the Government launched a four-month public consultation from 10 July to 9 November 2013. During that period, apart from the views of the 18 District Councils and Heung Yee Kuk, the Government also received a number of written submissions from individual members of the public and organisations. After considering all views received, the ICHAC finally recommended the first Hong Kong ICH inventory with the number of items increased from 477 to 480, which was accepted by the Government and promulgated in June 2014.

The distribution of the 480 items included in the The First Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory of Hong Kong under the five domains of the Convention is as below:

Domain  Major Items   Sub-Items   Sub-total* 
Oral traditions and expressions 10 14 21
Performing arts 21 18 34
Social practices, rituals and festive events 74 248 292
Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe                4 3 6
Traditional craftsmanship 101 36 127
Total 210 319 480

(The sub-total and total figures are the numbers excluding the double-counted major items which carry sub-items.)

Based on the findings of the territory-wide survey and the first inventory of ICH, the Government will consult the ICHAC to devise a host of enhanced safeguarding measures as well as to set up a mechanism for updating the inventory regularly.