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UNESCO May Add Calligraphy As Egyptian Intangible Heritage

The first element was added in 2008.


Arabic calligraphy may be added as one of Egypt’s intangible cultural heritage elements on UNESCO’s official list. The Egyptian Society for Folk traditions and the Arabic Calligraphy Association will be presenting a complete research file to UNESCO in March in hopes of adding the heritage art to Egypt's current list of intangible cultural heritage elements.

Amazing, what does that even mean? An intangible cultural heritage, or ICH, is a “practice, representation, expression, knowledge, or skill considered by UNESCO to be part of a place's cultural heritage; it comprises nonphysical intellectual property, like folklore, customs, beliefs, traditions, knowledge, and language.” It's a category for those heritages that can be lost by simply being forgotten; the it'll take a lot to wipe out something tangible like the Great Pyramids of Giza, but something intangible like an art form? 

Called khatt in Arabic, calligraphy has been a strong part of our Arab heritage since the 14th century. So much so that Alexandria inaugurated The Museum of Arabic Calligraphy in 2015.

Egypt has previously added hand puppetry, 3arayes, on the list back in 2018, and tahteeb, the Upper Egyptian stick game done at weddings and occasions, to the list in 2016. Hand puppetry was also added under the list of elements in need of urgent safeguarding, pointing to the dwindling number of people who still practice the art form. What other cultural heritage element in Egypt do you think should be considered? Let us know in the comments below.

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