Laos Seeks UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Listing for Baci Ceremony

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Laos Plans to Propose Baci Ceremony for UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Listing
A foreigne visitor takes part in the Baci ceremony in Luang Prabang (photo: klook.com)

Laos is planning to nominate the Baci Ceremony for recognition as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural World Heritage listing. 

On Thursday, the Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism organized a meeting to discuss the establishment of a committee responsible for researching and preparing a proposal to nominate the Baci ceremony for inclusion in UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural world heritage.

The Baci ceremony, also known as “sou khuan” which means “calling of the soul” is a traditional ritual that Lao people have been practicing for thousands of years. The ceremony entails tying white cotton strings around a person’s wrists and praying for their well-being. This ritual is usually held to celebrate important life events and is usually held during weddings, the birth of a child, or to pray for the swift recovery of a sick family member, among other reasons.

According to UNESCO, “intangible cultural heritage is an important factor in maintaining cultural diversity in the face of growing globalization. An understanding of the intangible cultural heritage of different communities helps with intercultural dialogue and encourages mutual respect for other ways of life.”

The organization says that the importance of intangible cultural heritage is not the cultural manifestation itself but rather the wealth of knowledge and skills that is transmitted through it from one generation to the next.

Laos is also preparing to submit its traditional dance “Lam Vong Lao” for UNESCO World Heritage classification, which was first proposed in 2018.

According to Mr. Hansana Sisane, President of the Lao Handicrafts Association, Laos intends to nominate food and items related to cultural knowledge for Intangible Cultural World Heritage listings in the future as well.

In 2017, UNESCO recognized the Khaen, Laos’ famed traditional mouth organ, as an Intangible Cultural Heritage in need of urgent safeguarding by UNESCO.