Pizza and organ music up for UNESCO Intangible Heritage recognition

Nominees for additions to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2017 include the baking tradition surrounding Napoli pizza and Germany's organ music.

Everybody loves a pizza pie. At least that's what Italy believes as they submit their country's nominee for recognition by UNESCO as an intangible heritage good in the latest round of applications. It's not just the pizza itself but the Neapolitan baking tradition that goes along with it — including songs and stories that are handed down over generations — that Italians believe are in need of protection.

Pizza is just one of 23 traditions that are currently up for debate during the annual meeting of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage organization. Meeting on the South Korean island of Jeju, delegates from 24 countries will decide which cultural traditions should be added to a list already 360 entries long.

The unique organ sound

Among them is Germany's entry: the organ, both the instrument itself and the music composed for it. "With around 50,000 organs across the country, Germany has the largest concentration of organs in the world," said the German UNESCO Commission.

St Marienkirche Stralsund

The impressive Baroque organ (1659) designed by Friedrich Stellwagen at St. Mary's Church in Stralsund

"Every organ is unique because it has been constructed individually to adapt to the architectural room in which its sounds will be heard," said Christoph Wulf, vice president of the commission.

The organ construction industry includes over 400 firms with nearly 2,800 employees. German composers have also long written pieces to be played specifically on the organ.

Germany joined the organization comprised of 170 member nations in 2013. Its entry this year was taken from Germany's national list of 68 cultural goods, which also includes midwifery and bread baking. If selected, organ craftsmanship would join just two other traditions from Germany on the international list: the concept of cooperatives and falconry (part of a multi-national entry).

Whether pizza or organs will be included on the official UNESCO Intangible Heritage list will be decided by December 9, 2017.


Indian yoga

In the western world, yoga is often mainly seen as physical exercise, but it's an entire philosophy in India. Practiced in different forms, yoga combines a series of poses, meditation, controlled breathing and other techniques aiming to improve spiritual well-being. It joined UNESCO's list of Intangible World Heritage in 2016.


Falconry, 'a living human heritage'

It's a practice in Germany (picture: a falconry in Munich) and in many other countries of the world, too. Falconers train, fly and breed birds of prey (including, besides falcons, other birds such as eagles and hawks) and create a bond with them.


Germany's concept of cooperatives

Germany's concept and practice of organizing shared interests in cooperatives was also included on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2016. A cooperative is an association of volunteers that provides services of a social, cultural or economic nature to members of the community to help improve living standards, overcome shared challenges and promote positive change.


Peking opera as aesthetic ideal

Widely practiced throughout China, Peking opera combines singing and recitations with acting and martial arts. Its librettos, primarily in the Beijing dialect, follow a strict rhyme and form as they tell stories of politics, society and history. Players adorned in flamboyant costumes follow established choreography for the movements of their hands, eyes and feet. Sets are kept to a bare minimum.


Korean kimchi spices things up

Made with cabbage or edible greens, kimchi is a fermented vegetable condiment served with most dishes in Korea. While it can be quite spicy, each family has its own recipe that is passed down through generations. Communities gather during the harvest months to prepare large quantities of kimchi for the winter, an activity known as ''kimjang,'' which is said to contribute to social cohesion.


Portugal's fado runs in families

Lisbon's multicultural heritage weaved its way into fado songs, a genre of music that draws on the song patterns of the early 19th century. A soloist is often accompanied by a guitarra - a pear-shaped 12-stringed instrument unique to Portugal. While small fado houses are located throughout Lisbon, emigration has brought the music - and along with it, a symbol of Portuguese identity - abroad.


Capoeira kicked its way onto the list in 2014

An Afro-Brazilian cultural practice that pays tribute to the resistance to the group's historical oppression, capoeira is a mixture of sport, tradition and art. Players form a circle around two players who simultaneously fight and dance. When not in the center of the ring themselves, participants sing, chant, clap and drum, taking their lead from a master.


Schemenlaufen, a carnival celebration unique to Imst, Austria

While Germany has unsuccessfully applied to have their Carnival celebrations added to the UNESCO list, the Schemenlaufen native to Imst, Austria, was recognized in 2012. The festivity takes place every four years on the Sunday before Lent. Working in pairs, 55 masked and costumed couples perform a special dance of jumps and bows that creates music due to the bells worn on the costumes.


Respect for local heritage through mariachi

With a sound unlike any other, mariachi music is a fundamental part of Mexican culture. It transmits the natural heritage of the country's regions using both Spanish and various native Indian languages as musicians perform polkas, jarabes and "corridos," Mexican ballads narrating stories of battles and love affairs. Players wear regional costumes, including the inconspicuous sombrero.


A fire-breathing festival celebrating dragon boats

Festivals frequently appear on the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage, including China's Dragon Boat Festival. A sporting event with dragon boat races, this memorial ceremony is combined with meals of rice dumplings and ruby sulphur wine, as well as operas and unicorn dances. Participants bathe in flower-scented water and wear silk to ward off evil during the festival.


It's not all gone to the birds

The tradition of falconry is widespread; communities practicing it have their own associated dress, food, songs, music, poetry and dance. In 2012, UNESCO recognized the traditional activity in several countries, including Belgium, Austria, Syria, Qatar, Iran and the UAE. Falconry often takes place in the desert, where children are trained in bird handling as a way of establishing mutual trust.

ct/eg (AFP, dpa)


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