The UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003) presents another aspect of cultural heritage, the focus of attention is now on cultural expressions that have no tangible, material dimension. Behind this new term “intangible cultural heritage” is the culture of ordinary people, the culture of everyday life: rituals, knowledge, practices, traditions that are often deeply rooted in time, and to this day still define our collective memory and identity, our individual and collective self-knowledge.
The main objective of the Directorate of Modern Cultural Heritage (General Directorate of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage – Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports), that is the competent body for the implementation of the Convention in Greece, is to systematically inform the general public about the Convention and the opportunities it provides.
Our goal is to work with the bearers (communities) of elements of intangible cultural heritage towards documenting, safeguarding and highlighting the overwhelming wealth of living traditions of our country: from the tsakonian dance (traditional dance from Peloponese) to the craft of wooden shipbuilding, from the immediacy of the Polyphonic Singing in Epirus to the unruly character of Karagiozis (figure of shadow theater), from the human labour that has shaped the rural landscape to the primitive rituals for the new year and the fertility of the land.
The National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which you can visit on this site, aspires to become a public forum for the intangible cultural heritage bearers themselves and their communities. This site offers everyone the opportunity to reflect on their collective memory and identity, but also to share their cultural experience with the Greek and international public.
Most importantly, however, the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage is an international framework text that enables all of us – bearers (communities), administration and scientists – to design plans and actions, in which people can participate, in order to safeguard and highlight the importance of intangible cultural heritage.
Taking advantage of these opportunities, the focus of our Directorate’s activities is the creation and implementation of policies to raise awareness among young people about the safeguarding of cultural heritage. Our high priority, therefore, is to work with the educational community to design and implement programs in and out of the classrooms in order to make schoolchildren acquainted with intangible cultural goods and to become aware of their safeguarding as an important element of their collective memory and identity.
With these thoughts, we welcome you to the site for the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Greece.
Director of Modern Cultural Assets and Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports