Volume 1 No.5

Place of Interest

Phrase Of The Month

Overheard

Leisure Special





Intangible Heritage
By : Suon Bun Rith, Kong Kongkea and Fred Frumberg (UNESCO), Picture by : John Seow ( October, 2001 Volume 1 No.5 )

Angkor Wat stands indomitable and undeniable as part of Cambodia's heritage. Khmer classical dancers perform the intricate movements handed down through the centuries.
These are both tangible parts of the heritage of Cambodia.
The Pocket Oxford Dictionary defines tangible as perceptible by touch or definite.
That leaves another aspect of culture to be defined. Intangible Culture is "non-physical cultural heritage".
Intangible means something unable to be touched.
This means the relevance of spirituality and “mentorship” as it applies to the culture. Intangible culture can be experienced through the senses and is both strong and fragile as it relies on a community to pass it on.
The spirit of Angkor Wat and the symbolic relevance it has to all Khmers is therefore intangible heritage, as is the symbolism inlaid into each of the classical Khmer dancer's movements.
The weave of a traditional silk skirt is tangible heritage. The meaning of the pattern is intangible heritage, but no less vital to understand to fully appreciate the rich history of the weavers and their country.
Intangible culture is the element least often written down.
This means it is also the aspect of a culture most easily lost in a turbulent recent past like Cambodia's.
It is also the one that gives a vital extra dimension to the objects we can see and preserve as monuments or in museums.
Intangible culture is living culture.