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Intangible Heritage

Intangible Heritage in Colombia: it is of the utmost importance for Colombia to keep alive the traditions that define the culture of our country. Therefore, we consider that keeping these elements in the collective imagination and under protection is an effort that demands a commitment from the government entities of the Colombian state.

Intangible Cultural Heritage List

The following cultural expressions are currently included on the Intangible Cultural Heritage List of Colombia:

Barranquilla Carnival (proclaimed in 2003 and inscribed in 2008): this traditional celebration takes place every year. It combines the historic legacy from the indigenous population, from the African slaves as well as the influence from 16th-century Spain. This festival is one of the most important and creative events of the country. It is also considered a very important element of the oral traditional in the capital city of the department of Atlántico. The proclamation of the Carnival as a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage was issued in October 2003. It is understood as the ratification of the multicultural existence of the Colombian Caribbean region.

Cultural Space of the Palenque de San Basilio (proclaimed in 2005 and inscribed in 2008): it was 1599 when Benkos Biohó, an African slave brought from Guinea-Bissau to the Province of Cartagena, accompanied by thirteen slaves, started his way to freedom through the mangrove swamps, creeks and the rainforest to get to the ‘Matuna,’ to the south of the Province of Cartagena.

This is the origin of the Palenque de San Basilio that currently has 3,500 inhabitants and that still keeps the African traditions established in the territory that, in time, became their permanent habitat. One of the most important traits of this African past is the “palenquero” language which has the same characterizations of the Batu language which is still spoken in some areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Blacks’ and Whites’ Carnival (2009): the Blacks’ and Whites’ Carnival takes place in the department of Nariño in the southern area of Colombia. It is celebrated every year during the months of December and January and it is understood as a native Andean and pre-Hispanic custom. During the last days of the carnival the inhabitants of the area paint their faces black and white to exemplify equality and tolerance thus celebrating the ethnic and cultural difference of the region.

Holy Week Processions in Popayán: the processions in Popayán have taken place since the Colonial period and they are one of the most important traditions in the religious life of the country. The processions are carried out from Tuesday to Thursday, between 7:00 and 11:00 p.m., and they recreate meaningful moments of Christ’s death. This celebration is very important to the inhabitants of Popayán, since it is an element of social cohesion and one of the most attractive events for international tourism.

During the fifth session of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, held in Kenya in November 2010, two new Colombian expressions were included on the list: The Wayuu Normative System , applied by the Pütchipü’üi (palabrero) and The Marimba Music and Traditional Chants from Colombia’s South Pacific Region.

New nominations: the nomination of the Traditional Knowledge of the Jaguar Shamans of Yuruparí was submitted in December 2010. The file on the Saint Francis of Assissi Feasts at Quibdó, Colombia” was submitted in March 2011.

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