Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 15.COM 8.B.21

The Committee

  1. Takes note that China has nominated Taijiquan (no. 00424) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Taijiquan is a traditional physical practice characterized by relaxed, circular movements that works in concert with breath regulation and the cultivation of a righteous and neutral mind. Originating during the mid-seventeenth century in Wenxian County in the Henan Province of central China, the element is now practised throughout the country by people of all ages and by different ethnic groups. Taijiquan’s basic movements center upon wubu (five steps) and bafa (eight techniques) with a series of routines, exercises and tuishou (hand-pushing skills performed with a counterpart). Influenced by Daoist and Confucian thought and theories of traditional Chinese medicine, the element has developed into several schools (or styles) named after a clan or a master’s personal name. The element is passed down through clan-based transmission or the master-apprentice model. The latter relationship is established through the traditional ceremony of baishi. Taijiquan has also been incorporated into the formal education system. The element builds upon the yin and yang cycle and the cultural understanding of the unity of heaven and humanity. It has been disseminated through legends, proverbs and rituals, among other vehicles of expression. Safeguarding the element would increase its visibility and dialogue about the diverse ways Taijiquan is practised by different communities.

  1. 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:   Taijiquan is a physical practice that promotes physical and mental health as well as a harmonious community life. Through its transmission and practice, the social functions and cultural meanings of Taijiquan have been continuously enriched, providing the communities, groups and individuals concerned with a sense of identity and continuity and enhancing social cohesion. The practice helps preserve harmonious families, peaceful communities and interaction among individuals on an equal basis.

R.2:   The file successfully describes how the inscription of the element would contribute to ensuring the visibility of intangible cultural heritage at the three levels. At the local level, it would promote the recognition of knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe. At the national level, it would lead to the inclusion of Taijiquan in planning programmes, serving as an important example for other elements of living heritage. Furthermore, thanks to the benefits of the element for well-being, the inscription would highlight the importance of intangible cultural heritage in society. At the international level, it could draw attention to the importance and pertinence of traditional health knowledge and practices. The inscription would also promote exchanges between different schools, associations, research societies and communities, and the diverse ways of practising Taijiquan would promote human creativity.

R.3:   The file describes a wide range of relevant past and current safeguarding measures, from upkeeping venues to academic activities, training and recruiting apprentices and bearers, promotion through websites, and collaborating with seniors, women and students. The Co-ordination Committee for the Safeguarding of Taijiquan was established to implement the Five-Year Plan for the Safeguarding of Taijiquan (2021-2025). This plan includes transmission, identification, documentation and research, promotion and monitoring. In the process of developing the safeguarding measures, representatives from the communities concerned, bearers and practitioners, as well as the bodies responsible for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage and relevant educational and research institutions expressed their own suggestions and expectations based on the concrete situation.

R.4:  Since 2017, the communities, groups and individuals concerned have played an essential role throughout the preparation of the nomination file. The nomination states that the Co-ordination Committee for the Safeguarding of Taijiquan, which is responsible for implementing the safeguarding measures, has fully adopted the materials and information provided by each community. The nomination process was carried out through consultations and discussions with the different clan and community leaders, researchers and governmental institutions.

  1. Further considers that, on the basis of the information included in the file and the information provided by the submitting State through the dialogue process, the following criterion for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity is satisfied:

R.5:   The element was included in the National List of Representative Elements of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2006, 2008 and 2014, which is maintained by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China. Since its first inclusion, information on the element has been updated in 2008, 2011 and 2014. Female bearers and practitioners from Taijiquan clans played an extensive role in the inventorying process.

  1. Decides to inscribe Taijiquan on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;

  2. Reminds the State Party that updating is an important part of the inventorying process and invites it to include detailed information in its 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, in accordance with Article 12.1 of the Convention.