UNESCO Recognizes Indonesia’s Angklung As Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Angklung, a traditional Indonesian musical instrument made of bamboo, has been included in the UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization) list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

The decision was announced at the Fifth UNESCO Inter-Governmental Committee meeting on Intangible Cultural Heritage in Nairobi, Kenya.

Angklung, a traditional Indonesian musical instrument made of bamboo

Angklung, a traditional Indonesian musical instrument made of bamboo

Angklung now joins wayang kulit (shadow puppet theater), keris (traditional dagger) and batik among the Indonesian representatives in the list. In addition, Indonesia also has seven sites on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites. Three of them: the Borobudur temple, the Prambanan temple and the Sangiran early man site, all in Central Java, are on the list of world cultural heritage. The other four: the Komodo Island, Lorentz National Park in Papua and Ujung Kulon National Park in Banten, as well as the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra, are listed as world natural heritage.

Some facts about angklung are listed below (source: UNESCO website).

  • Angklung consists of two to four bamboo tubes suspended in a bamboo frame, bound with rattan cords. The tubes will produce certain notes when the frame is shaken or tapped.
  • Each angklung produces a single note or chord, so several players must collaborate in order to play melodies.
  • Traditional Angklungs use the pentatonic scale, but in 1938 musician Daeng Soetigna introduced Angklungs using the diatonic scale, known as angklung padaeng.
  • Angklung is closely related to traditional customs, arts and cultural identity in Indonesia, played during ceremonies such as rice planting, harvest and circumcision.
  • Angklung education is passed down orally from generation to generation, and increasingly in educational institutions.

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