Isfahan to Hold Intangible Heritage Festival

Isfahan to Hold Intangible Heritage FestivalIsfahan to Hold Intangible Heritage Festival

The International Intangible Cultural Heritage Festival and Conference will be held in Isfahan, from October 9 to 12. The first festival of its kind was held in 2012 in the city of Gangneung, South Korea.

Five hundred cultural activists and directors from all over the world will attend the festival.

The event is hosted by Isfahan municipality in close collaboration with various organizations in the province and country wide.

The festival aims to establish and maintain peace and common understanding through a cultural dialogue between different nations and cultures.

Acknowledging intangible cultural heritage plays an important role in the intercultural dialogue among nations.  It brings about a mutual respect for cultural diversity and different lifestyles. It also opens the door for presenting authentic cultural traditions on a global scale and resists the notion of cultural unification and globalization.

There are currently 37 countries and 58 cities that are members of this international organization.

Masoud Hossein Mirzaee, conference and festival secretary, speaking with Iran newspaper stated “all eyes are on Isfahan now to witness the most important cultural event of the year. This is a good chance for Iran to show the world the peaceful nature of Persian culture and civilization opposing the trends to taint the Iranian cultural identity.”

To make the most out of such an historical opportunity, it is vital to involve Iranian citizens positively and actively in the process of the festival.


The festival is divided in three parts: General Assembly, Women Conference, and auxiliary festivals and exhibitions.

Mirzaee, asserted that the festival highlights the significant role of intangible cultural heritage in the sustainable development of local communities as outlined in the ‘Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage’.  “Traditional and local folkloric music, handicrafts, traditional arts, visual and performing arts, architecture, rituals, customs, local sports and games are areas that will be featured in this year’s festival as part of 19 different programs.”

An exhibition on traditional herbal medicine, traditional food festival, Naqqali and Shahname-khani (telling stories from Shahnameh), and exhibitions of nomadic arts and rituals are among the programs of the festival.

Also, considering the vital role of women in the revival, safeguarding, and transfer of intangible cultural heritage among nations, the Women Conference will be held for the first time along-side the main event.

 Iran on the List

Iran already has 10 elements inscribed as in ‘Need of Urgent Safeguarding’ on the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list. They are: Radif (meaning Order in Persian) in Iranian Traditional Music, Nowruz Celebration (in common with Azerbaijan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Turkey, and Uzbakistan), dramatic ritualistic art of Ta’ziyeh (similar to passion plays in the other religious traditions), traditional music of the Bakhshis of Khorasan, Pahlevani and Zoorkhaneh (ancient martial arts), traditional carpet weaving skills of Kashan, traditional carpet weaving skills of  Fars, Naqqali (dramatic art of narration and story-telling), traditional skills of building and sailing Iranian Lenj boats in the Persian Gulf, and the Qalishuyan (carpet washing) ritual of Mashhad-e Ardehal of Kashan Province.

The secretary of the festival also added that for further details and information on the international event, a special website is launched on the following address:  

 What is Intangible cultural heritage?

Intangible cultural heritage (ICH) is promoted by UNESCO as a counterpart to World Heritage, focusing mainly on intangible aspects of culture. In 2001, UNESCO made a survey among states and NGOs to try to agree on a definition, and the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage was drafted in 2003 for its protection and promotion.

Intangible culture is the aspect of culture that is intangible or untouchable, and includes song, music, drama, skills, cuisine, annual festivals, crafts, and the other parts of culture that can be recorded but cannot be touched and interacted with, without a vehicle for the culture. These cultural vehicles are called “Human Treasures” by the UN.

According to the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, the intangible cultural heritage (ICH) – or living heritage – is the mainspring of humanity’s cultural diversity and its maintenance a guarantee for continuing creativity.