UNESCO: Brazilian Samba de Roda, Japan's Kabuki on list of heritage masterpieces

Brazil's Samba de Roda, blending dance, music and poetry, and a "cultural space" in a walled Colombian village founded in the 17th century as a haven for escaped slaves were selected Friday in the U.N. cultural body's list of intangible heritage treasures.

The traditions, also including Japan's Kabuki theater and whirling dervish ceremonies from Turkey, were among 43 arts, rituals, festivals and other ceremonies added to the world list by UNESCO.

UNESCO head Koichiro Matsuura, who announced the list, said he was glad to see traditions from developing countries on the list, including many from Africa.

"Despite the vitality and the strength of these cultural expressions," he said at UNESCO's Paris headquarters, "they are many that need urgent and immediate safeguarding."

Cultural traditions are chosen based upon their risk of disappearing, as well as their cultural value and importance to their communities.

The list was the third issued by the U.N. organization, and "will probably be the last," a UNESCO statement said. Countries submitted 64 applications this year, which were whittled down to 43.

Samba de Roda, from Brazil's Reconcavo de Bahia, originated from slave traditions in the area and mixes music, dance and poetry into a genre that influenced the development of the urban samba that is today a major part of the South American country's identity.

Colombia's Cultural Space of Palenque de San Basilio grew into a haven of musical and oral traditions, religious festivities and medical practices in a small village southeast of Cartagena that was founded as a refuge for escaped slaves in the 17th century.

Kabuki is a highly stylized form of traditional Japanese theater, where men play all female roles. In whirling dervish ceremonies by an ascetic Sufi religious order, dancers in skirts carry out gentle turns that build toward dynamic spins.

Other honorees included a form of ethnic Berbers' poetry from Algeria, a type of Khmer shadow theater from Cambodia and oxherding traditions once used by coffee-growers in Costa Rica. Guatemalan drama based on myths about wars between Mayan group, and orchestral music of Mozambique's Chopi people involving xylophone-like timbala instruments were also listed.

The list was created in 2001 to protect popular and traditional culture and now totals a cumulated 90 entries. It complements UNESCO's World Heritage List of the world's most precious natural and cultural sites, reported AP. P.T.

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