World, Americas

Latin America traditions enters UN heritage list

5 Latin American traditions chosen for UNESCO Intangible List

Sergio Felipe Garcia Hernandez   | 12.12.2019
Latin America traditions enters UN heritage list

BOGOTA, Colombia

Latin America has about 70 traditions that are part of the intangible cultural heritage of mankind, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). 

The region is home to 15% of the traditions that are included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists. There two lists include reference to cultural practices and the other includes representative traditions.

Within the framework of the 14 Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage held this week in Bogota, five Latin America cultural expressions were selected Thursday in the list which already include 490 traditions.

A total of 45 traditions was nominated for the list worldwide.

Bolivia nominated its festival of the Santisima Trinidad del Senor Jesus del Gran Poder. The holiday takes place during the Catholic date known as Trinity Sunday. The central event of the festival is a procession with 40,000 devotees dancing and singing in traditional costumes.

The celebration was born as a tribute to an image of a Christ with three faces that spread in Bolivia during the time of the Spanish colony and to which the local inhabitants, since centuries ago, attributed miracles. The first edition of the celebration was recorded in 1923.

“It has encouraged citizens of all classes to use music and dance as a means to express faith and devotion,” said the Bolivian government in an application statement.

Another nomination is the Bumba-meu-boi theater from Brazil. The show recreates the death and resurrection of an ox owned by a rural family. The main characters are Papa Francisco and Mama Catirina.

The ox is made out of cardboard. People dressed in traditional costumes gather to recreate history and pay homage to Catholic saints.

Talavera ceramics, a technique for decorating crockery from the pre-Hispanic period in Mexico and in Spain, also seeks a spot on the list.

The origins of talavera pottery date back to an Islamic tradition, first introduced in Egypt and Persia by the Arabs, who later took it to Morocco from where it passed to Spain.

For the production of talavera ceramics, natural clays are selected and molded and fired at high temperatures. Next, the piece is painted by hand.

The Hatajo de Negritos and Hatajo de Palliates dances from Peru have also been nominated.

They are practiced by the Afro-descendant communities on the Peruvian coast.

The Peruvian government explained that these dances represent the visit of the Three Wise Men and a group of shepherds to newborn Jesus Christ.

The Hatajo de Negritos dance is performed mainly by men to the rhythm of a solo violin. It includes a zapateo that is a vital part of the performance. On the other hand, the Hatajo Pallitas is performed by women to the sound of a guitar.

The last tradition included is Bachata, a genre of Latin American music that originated in the Dominican Republic.

*Maria Paula Trivino from Colombia and Beyza Binnur Donmez from Ankara contributed to the story

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