Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 11.COM 10.b.6

The Committee

  1. Takes note that China has nominated the Twenty-Four Solar Terms, knowledge in China of time and practices developed through observation of the sun’s annual motion (No. 00647) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The ancient Chinese divided the sun’s annual circular motion into 24 segments. Each segment was called a specific ‘Solar Term’. The element of Twenty-Four Solar Terms originated in the Yellow River reaches of China. The criteria for its formulation were developed through the observation of changes of seasons, astronomy and other natural phenomena in this region and has been progressively applied nationwide. It starts from the Beginning of Spring and ends with the Greater Cold, moving in cycles. The element has been transmitted from generation to generation and used traditionally as a timeframe to direct production and daily routines. It remains of particular importance to farmers for guiding their practices. Having been integrated into the Gregorian calendar, it is used widely by communities and shared by many ethnic groups in China. Some rituals and festivities in China are closely associated with the Solar Terms for example, the First Frost Festival of the Zhuang People and the Ritual for the Beginning of Spring in Jiuhua. The terms may also be referenced in nursery rhymes, ballads and proverbs. These various functions of the element have enhanced its viability as a form of intangible cultural heritage and sustain its contribution to the community’s cultural identity. Knowledge of the element is transmitted through formal and informal means of education.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria:

R.1:   The element is part of the traditional Chinese calendar which has profoundly influenced the people’s way of thinking and code of conduct and is an important carrier of Chinese cultural identity and cohesion. It continues to play an indispensable role in the social and cultural life of the Chinese people, since it provides the timeframe for their everyday life and communal festive events, ensuring the harmonious and overall growth of Chinese society and sustainable agricultural development. The bearers and practitioners are the Chinese people through integration in calendars used by farmers and others. Knowledge and skills about the element are orally handed down through the generations and formally through school education and the efforts of various organizations and institutions;

R.2:   Inscription of the element would promote awareness among Chinese people of the importance of transmitting and safeguarding intangible cultural heritage at the national level, as well as an enhanced understanding of regional variations of the element. It would also encourage international cultural exchanges, advance cooperation in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage and dialogue between traditional systems of knowledge about time, and promote appreciation and respect for cultural diversity and human creativity;

R.3:   The viability of the element has mostly been ensured by the people who continue to use it to manage their farming activities and other rituals and ceremonies. The submitting State has also been active in safeguarding the element through its introduction into the education system, and the establishment of a research centre. The file presents a coherent five-year safeguarding plan to ensure the viability of the element while coordinating a monitoring system and reducing possible negative risks. The plan includes improvements to transmission mechanisms, promotion of documentation and research, and others. The submitting State will support the implementation of the plan, working closely with communities concerned. All the stakeholders reached a consensus and jointly formulated the plan;

R.4:   Through the coordination of the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China, the China National Centre for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage and the China Agricultural Museum, the communities, groups and individuals concerned have participated actively in preparing and elaborating the nomination at all stages and gave their free, prior and informed consent to the nomination. Adequate supportive evidence is provided;

R.5:   The file indicates that the element was included on the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2006. The inventory was updated in 2011 and 2014. The Department of Intangible Culture Heritage, Ministry of Culture is responsible for maintaining this inventory. The communities concerned were involved throughout the inventorying process, and documentary evidence has been provided to this effect.

  1. Inscribes the Twenty-Four Solar Terms, knowledge in China of time and practices developed through observation of the sun’s annual motion on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.