Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 4.COM 13.06

The Committee,

  1. Takes note that China has nominated the art of Chinese seal engraving for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, described as follows:

The art of seal engraving is a cornerstone of Chinese fine arts. The seal was originally used as a signature or sign of authority, but it came to be used by all social classes and in much of Asia. The Seal Engravers’ Society of Xiling in Zhejiang Province, central China, which was founded a century ago, preserves the art of seal engraving along with approximately a hundred other specialized institutions. The design is first sketched on paper, and then engraved on stone, in reverse, with a knife. In addition to mastery of traditional calligraphy, the art of engraving requires a high degree of virtuosity, since the artist works on a tiny surface area where every curve, every thickness of line counts. The very diverse motifs are the fruit of the artist’s imagination and culture. As an instrument of calligraphy and painting, the seal is a work of art in itself. It expresses an entire culture’s ideas about humankind and nature. Today, seals continue to be used in official documents and private correspondence. Even though those understanding the complex characters are ever fewer, the art of seal engraving is still practised by both professionals and amateurs.

  1. Decides that, from the information provided in Nomination File 00217, the art of Chinese seal engraving satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List, as follows:

R.1:   The art of Chinese seal engraving gives its practitioners a sense of identity and is transmitted from generation to generation, through both formal education and apprenticeship;

R.2:   Inscription of the element on the Representative List would contribute to the worldwide visibility of intangible cultural heritage and promote respect for cultural diversity and creativity;

R.3:   Numerous and diverse present and future measures are elaborated to safeguard the element, including education, documentation and research activities;

R.4:   The involvement of the communities in the nomination process is demonstrated through letters of consent, participation in preparatory meetings and editing of the nomination file;

R.5:   The element is inscribed on the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage administered by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture.

  1. Inscribes the art of Chinese seal engraving on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.