Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Indonesia Seeks More Unesco Honors for Cultural Treasures

Having successful campaigned for three items to be recognized as world cultural heritage, Indonesia is now ramping up efforts to have more of its traditions listed.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has already recognized batik, the kris (Javanese ceremonial dagger) and the angklung musical instrument as world cultural heritage items.

Education Minister Muhammad Nuh said on Wednesday that the government would recommend more of the country’s unique culture to Unesco.

“We have several proposals, including Babad Diponegoro [the Chronicle of Prince Diponegoro], Aceh’s Saman dance and Balinese dance,” he said.

“They should be recognized by the world because of their historical and philosophical context.”

Arief Rachman, the head of the Indonesian National Commission for Unesco, said that the ancient I La Galigo epics of the Buginese ethnic group in South Sulawesi and the Mak Yong theater of the Malays had also been proposed.

Babad Diponegoro is the biography of a 19th-century Javanese prince was written during his nine-month exile in North Sulawesi. Written originally in Javanese, the manuscript consisted of 1,151 pages and was officially rewritten in 1860.

I La Galigo is a 10th-century literary piece written by Ratna Kencana, or Colli Pudjie, and consists of 10,000 pages and 350,000 verses, Arief said.

The Buginese community believes that the final part of I La Galigo was considered for the 31st verse of the Quran.

The Mak Yong document is the only recorded manuscript detailing Mak Yong performance.

“The document is a tale of Malay kings and includes several Malay dancing techniques,” Arief said. “It has made a huge contribution to dance and music in three countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.”

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