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UNESCO Designates Indonesian Pantun As An Intangible Cultural Heritage

December 19, 2020, 03.28 AM – Indonesian art forms continue to make inroads in the wider world, as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO] has jointly designated Pantun poetry as an Intangible Cultural Heritage from both Indonesia and Malaysia

The UN organization gave Pantun this designation during its annual convention in Paris, France on Thursday, December 17.

“Pantun, a rhyming form of Malay verse recited in song and writing, has just been inscribed on the #intangibleheritage list. Congratulations #Indonesia and Malaysia!” UNESCO said on its Twitter account @UNESCO.

As verse form in the Malay language, Pantun is used “to express intricate ideas and emotions. It is the most widespread oral form in maritime Southeast Asia and has been used in many parts of the region for at least 500 years,” UNESCO said in its website

Also read: How Indonesian Batik Became a UNESCO Intangible World Heritage

The organization highlighted Pantuns’ versatility and place in the Malay culture of present-day Indonesia and Malaysia.

“Pantuns may be transmitted in music, song and writing. 70 per cent of verses are devoted to expressing love of a romantic partner, family, the community, and the natural world,” it noted.

Whether formally taught or passed down for generations, UNESCO cited that Pantun are versatile staples of Malay culture, as they can be “recited at weddings, customary rituals and official ceremonies," the organization noted.

Yet Pantun is as much about human relations as they are about pomp and circumstance.

“[Pantun] often contain religious and cultural values such as restraint, respect, kindness and humility. Pantun has also been used [for]…conflict resolution as it offers a way to gently evoke important issues.”

The Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture hailed UNESCO’s decision.

“The designation of Pantun as an UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage are due to [Pantun] practitioners, communities, and other stakeholders,” said the Ministry’s Director General for Culture Hilmar Farid in a press release on Friday, December 18.

An example of Pantun as an Prameswari An example of Pantun as an advice

Also read: Indonesia's Toba Caldera Recognized as UNESCO Global Geopark

Indonesia’s Permanent Representative to UNESCO Surya Rosa Putra reiterated Hilmar.

“[Pantun] is the first [art form] that Indonesia jointly proposed with another country. The designation of Pantun [as an Intangible Cultural Heritage] shows its meaning to both Indonesia and Malaysia,” he said.


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