National heritage

Chile recognizes six new UNESCO living human treasures

The three individuals and three community organizations highlighted by the initiative all play an important role in promoting and preserving national culture.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 Category: Culture
Renowned potter Dominga Neculmán has been recognized as a Living Human Treasure. Renowned potter Dominga Neculmán has been recognized as a Living Human Treasure.

Chile's Culture Council and the Minister of Art and Culture have announced six national Living Human Treasures in the Andean nation.

Established by UNESCO, the Living Human Treasures initiative highlights three individuals and three communities which are broadly recognized as playing a pivotal role in preserving Chile's culture and traditions.

The three individuals selected as Living Human Treasures were musician and handcraft specialist, Alejandro González, from Toconao, Easter Island musician Frederico Paté, and renowned potter Dominga Neculmán from Padre Las Casas.

The three community organizations chosen as treasures were the Julia Corvacho African Descent Club of Arica, the rural cooperative known as Salineros de Cahuil, Barrancas y La Villa from the O'Higgins Region, and the Baile de Los Negros dance group from the Maule Region.

In just its third year, the Living Human Treasures initiative received close to 150 nominations in Chile.

The individual winners will receive a cash prize of CP$3 million (US$6,300), while the communities will be given CP$7 million (nearly US$15,000).

“We are proud that Chile is the only Latin American country that has taken up this initiative and we have done it very successfully,” Minister Cruz-Coke said after he made the announcement.

“In just three years of running this official recognition system, we already have achieved some concrete results, like the first Yaghan dictionary that came about as a result of the recognition of that language's last speaker, Cristina Calderón, who was recognized [as a Living Human Treasure] in 2009,” said Minister Cruz-Coke. “Another example is the handcraft artisans from Rari in Chile’s Maule Region who began selling their products in UNESCO's boutique store in Paris earlier this year.”

“It's not just about highlighting these people or communities that cultivate the traditions and cultural expressions that help shape our national identity - it's also about safeguarding and passing on their legacy. Having these reminders in our history is fundamental if new generations of Chileans are to truly recognize our national identity,” he said.

The six new Human Living Treasures will be officially recognized at a ceremony on September 14.

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