- Takes note that China and Malaysia have nominated Ong Chun/Wangchuan/Wangkang ceremony, rituals and related practices for maintaining the sustainable connection between man and the ocean (no. 01608) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:
The Ong Chun ceremony and related practices are rooted in folk customs of worshipping Ong Yah, a deity believed to protect people and their lands from disasters. Developed in China’s Minnan region between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, the element is now centered in the coastal areas of Xiamen Bay and Quanzhou Bay, as well as in the Chinese communities in Melaka, Malaysia. Those who died at sea are considered as ‘good brothers’ who become lonely, wandering souls. The ceremony begins by people gathering at the seaside to welcome Ong Yah to temples or clan halls, while lamp poles are erected to summon ‘good brothers’ and deliver them from torment. In this way, the element has been celebrated as ‘doing good deeds’. Performances head the procession and clear a path for Ong Yah’s barge (wooden or paper-made models). These performances include gaojia and gezai opera, different dances, comprising dragon and lion dances, and puppet shows, among many others. The element evokes the historical memory of ancestors’ ocean-going, reshapes social connections when confronted with emergencies such as shipwrecks, and honours the harmony between man and the ocean. It also bears witness to the intercultural dialogue among communities.
- Considers that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:
R.1: The element contributes to community resilience in the face of disasters related to the sea and fosters intercultural dialogue. It encompasses knowledge about nature and the universe which is relevant to people’s everyday lives. The knowledge and skills associated with the element have been transmitted across the generations through rituals and practices carried out among council members in temples and clan halls, and orally from elders to youth. The element contributes to ecological conservation and environmental sustainability. It also supports the values of diversity and volunteerism and strengthens social cohesion, peace-building and international cooperation.
R.2: The element has been constantly practised and recreated, coming to constitute a vivid reflection of the interactive and harmonious co-existence between Chinese and Malaysian culture. The practice bears witness to the mutual influence and satisfactory co-existence among civilizations, religions and cultures in different regions, both past and present. The inscription of the element would serve as an example of intangible cultural heritage shared by people from different countries and their common concerns and responsibilities in the area of cross-border safeguarding efforts.
R.3: In both States Parties, the communities, groups and individuals concerned have made unremitting efforts to ensure the viability of the element. Interaction and joint efforts at community level to ensure the viability of the element has been effective since 2015, when the Xiamen Minnan Culture Research Association, (China) and the Baba Nyonya Association (Malaysia) established friendly ties. The two States Parties have also established the China-Malaysia Working Group for Collaborative Safeguarding of Ong Chun Ceremony, with support from the intangible cultural heritage authorities. This Working Group is leading the development of the Action Plan on Joint Safeguarding of Ong Chun Ceremony (2021–2026). The plan is coherent and operates on different levels to raise awareness about the element and strengthen current measures to safeguard it.
R.4: The preparation of the nomination file was an inclusive process, involving women and children, and based on cooperation among both States Parties. Since the initiation of the process in 2015, various consultations have been held among the communities, non-governmental organizations, the academic sphere and governmental institutions. Meanwhile, capacity-building programmes and structural cooperation at the community and governmental levels have been established in both States Parties.
- Further considers that, on the basis of the information included in the file and the information provided by the submitting States through the dialogue process, the following criterion for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity is satisfied:
R.5: In China, the element was included in the National List of Representative Elements of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2011, which is maintained by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China. Since its inauguration in 2006, the List has been updated in 2008, 2011 and 2014. In Malaysia, the element was included in the National Heritage Register in 2017, which is maintained by the Department of National Heritage, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.
Decides to inscribe Ong Chun/Wangchuan/Wangkang ceremony, rituals and related practices for maintaining the sustainable connection between man and the ocean on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
Reminds the States Parties that updating is an important part of the inventorying process and invites them to include detailed information in their next periodic report on the implementation of the Convention at the national level concerning the periodicity of updating of the National List of Representative Elements of Intangible Cultural Heritage and National Heritage Register, in accordance with Article 12.1 of the Convention.