Intangible cultural heritage


    Macao, a city known for its cultural coexistence, is home to a variety of folk customs. Chinese and Western cultures have taken root and have been developing in this place for more than four centuries, nurturing the unique cultural landscape of Macao and its own precious intangible cultural heritage.

    ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ means the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and skills – as well as the associated instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces – that are considered component parts of cultural heritage by communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals. This intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation to generation, is constantly recreated by communities, groups and individuals in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history, and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity. Intangible cultural heritage, which includes oral traditions, performing arts, social and religious practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe, as well as traditional craftsmanship.

    To better safeguard the intangible cultural heritage, the Macao SAR Government, while drafting the Cultural Heritage Protection Law No. 11/2013, regarding the protection of Macao’s cultural heritage, included intangible cultural heritage in the range of legal protection, making this a milestone in this branch of the legal system. The Law dedicates an independent chapter for the mechanisms to the safeguarding of Macao's unique intangible cultural heritage, to establish the scope of the heritage as well as the standards and procedures of inventory taking, urgent safeguarding and the obligations of the transmitters of intangible cultural heritage, among others, thereby having a considerable significance.

    In accordance with the Cultural Heritage Protection Law, the taking of inventory is the basis of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. For this purpose, the Cultural Affairs Bureau has established the inventory in order to identify, recognize and safeguard the heritage. Currently, fifteen elements are included in the inventory, namely Yueju Opera (Cantonese Opera), Herbal Tea Brewing, Woodwork – Religious Figure Carving, Taoist Ritual Music, Cantonese Naamyam (Narrative Songs), Festival of the Drunken Dragon, Belief and Customs of A-Ma, Belief and Customs of Na Tcha, Macanese Gastronomy, Patuá Theatre, Belief and Customs of Tou Tei, Belief and Customs of Chu Tai Sin, the Craft of Bamboo Scaffolding, Procession of the Passion of Our Lord the God Jesus and the Procession of Our Lady of Fatima.

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