Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania - The Baltic Song and Dance

"Both a repository and a showcase for the region’s tradition of performing folk art, this cultural expression culminates in large-scale festivals every fifth year in Estonia and Latvia and every fourth year in Lithuania.These grand events, held over several days, assemble as many as 40,000 singers and dancers. For the most part, the participants belong to amateur choirs and dance groups.Their repertories reflect the wide range of musical traditions in the Baltic States, from the most ancient folk songs to contemporary compositions. Directed by professional choir conductors, bandleaders and dance instructors, many singers and dancers practise throughout the year in community centres and local cultural institutions..." 

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Postcard 1 - Lithuania
Lithuanian National Song and Dance Festival. Thanks to Lina of Lithuania.

Postcard 2A - Estonia
Song Festival Grounds at Tallinn, Estonia. Nice Year of Rabbit stamp used. Thanks to Heidi of Estonia.

Postcard 2B - Estonia
Lauluvatjak - National Song Festival Grounds. Thanks to Marco of Austria for mailing from Tallin, Estonia.

Postcard 3A - Latvia
Latvian National Song and Dance Festival. It is a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. Thanks to Marco of Austria for mailing from Riga, Latvia.

Postcard 3B - Latvia
Latvian Dance and Song Festival is held every 5 years in Riga. It is a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage amongst the Baltic countries. Thanks to Jean-Pierre of France. Postmarked July 31, 2020 and arrived in Penang island on August 25, 2020.

Germany - Idea and practice of organizing shared interests in cooperatives

A cooperative is an association of volunteers that provides services of a social, cultural or economic nature to members of the community to help improve living standards, overcome shared challenges and promote positive change. Based on the subsidiarity principle that puts personal responsibility above state action, cooperatives allow for community building through shared interests and values creating innovative solutions to societal problems, from generating employment and assisting seniors to urban revitalization and renewable energy projects. Anyone can participate, with members also able to acquire shares in the association and have a say in its future direction. The system makes available low-interest loans to farmers, craftspeople and entrepreneurs. Today, about a quarter of Germany’s population are members of a cooperative, which besides farmers and craftspeople, includes 90 per cent of its bakers and butchers and 75 per cent of its retailers. Some cooperatives have also been set up specifically for students to gain experience. Associated knowledge and skills are transmitted by cooperatives, universities, the German Cooperative and Raiffeisen Confederation, The Akademie Deutscher Genossenschaften, the German Hermann-Schulze-Delitzsch Society and the German Friedrich-Wilhelm-Raiffeisen Society.

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Deustsches Gennossenschaftsmuseum Delitzch - a dedicated museum in Delitzch near Liepzig, German that showcase the pioneer cooperative societies in Germany. It is a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. Thanks to Marcel of Germany. Postmarked July 13, 2020 with special Covid-19 cancellation "GEMEINSAM GEGEN CORONA" (Together Against Corona) and received in Penang island on July 28, 2020.

China - The Twenty-Four Solar Terms

The Twenty-Four Solar Terms, knowledge in China of time and practices developed through observation of the sun’s annual motion:

"The ancient Chinese divided the sun’s annual circular motion into 24 segments. Each segment was called a specific ‘Solar Term’. The element of Twenty-Four Solar Terms originated in the Yellow River reaches of China. The criteria for its formulation were developed through the observation of changes of seasons, astronomy and other natural phenomena in this region and has been progressively applied nationwide. It starts from the Beginning of Spring and ends with the Greater Cold, moving in cycles. The element has been transmitted from generation to generation and used traditionally as a timeframe to direct production and daily routines. It remains of particular importance to farmers for guiding their practices. Having been integrated into the Gregorian calendar, it is used widely by communities and shared by many ethnic groups in China. Some rituals and festivities in China are closely associated with the Solar Terms for example, the First Frost Festival of the Zhuang People and the Ritual for the Beginning of Spring in Jiuhua. The terms may also be referenced in nursery rhymes, ballads and proverbs. These various functions of the element have enhanced its viability as a form of intangible cultural heritage and sustain its contribution to the community’s cultural identity. Knowledge of the element is transmitted through formal and informal means of education."

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Postcard 1
Nice postcard of 小雪 Little Snow one of the 24 solar terms.  Thanks to Wulifei of China.

Postcard 2
Autumn center (Equinox) 秋分 is one of the 24 solar terms is mailed from Taiwan. Thanks to Maicy of Taiwan.

Postcard 3
Summer Solstice 夏至"Xia Zhi" is the tenth of the 24 lunar terms in China and part of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. It marks the longest day and shortest night of the year - lotus bloom in Forbidden City, Beijing. Thanks to Edwin of China. Mailed on April 10, 2020 and arrived in Penang on June 10, 2020.

Germany - Organ craftsmanship and music

"Organ craftsmanship and music has shaped Germany’s musical landscape and instrument-making for centuries, and there are a diverse number of related traditions in the country. Organ craftsmanship and music are closely related since each instrument is created specifically for the architectural space in which it will be played. The highly specialized knowledge and skills related to the practice have been developed by craftspeople, composers and musicians working together throughout history, and the specialized and mostly informally-transmitted knowledge and skills are significant markers of group identity. Transcultural by its very nature, organ music is a universal language that fosters interreligious understanding. Though mostly associated with church services, concerts and modern cultural events, it is also played during important community-building festivities. There are 400 medium-sized craftspeople’s establishments in Germany, which guarantee its viability and transmission, as well as some larger family-owned workshops. Knowledge and skills related to the element are transmitted through a direct teacher-pupil experience, which is complemented by training in vocational schools and universities. Apprentices gain practical experience in organ construction workshops as well as theoretical knowledge in vocational schools, and efforts to safeguard the element also include teaching in universities and music academies, conferences, and presentations via the media." Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

A postcard of the organ of St. Gangolf Church, Heinsberg, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Thanks to Marcel of Germany. Mailed on May 7, 2020 and arrived in Penang island on June 1, 2020 during this Covid-19 pandemic.

Austria - Czechia - Germany - Hungary - Slovakia - Blaudruck/Modrotisk/Kékfestés/Modrotlač, resist block printing and indigo dyeing in Europe

"Blaudruck/Modrotisk/Kékfestés/Modrotlač, which translates directly as blueprint or blue-dyeing, refers to the practice of printing a dye-resistant paste onto a cloth before dyeing over it with indigo dye. The resistant paste prevents the dye from penetrating the design, thereby ensuring the applied design remains white or undyed after the dyeing process. To apply the designs onto the cloth, practitioners use hand-crafted blocks that are up to 300 years old, featuring regionally-inspired patterns as well as generic designs or Christian motifs. The representation of local flora and fauna is interrelated with the local culture of the regions. Traditional indigo blue-dyeing does not end with printing, however: the textile chain involves preparing the raw materials and spinning, weaving, finishing, printing and dyeing them. Nowadays, businesses engaged in the practice mainly comprise small, family-owned workshops, run by the second to seventh generation of printers. Each family workshop involves the cooperation of the various family members, who each participate in every step of the production regardless of their gender. Traditional knowledge is still based on (mainly family-owned) journals dating back to the nineteenth century and passed on through observation and hands-on practice. Stakeholders feel a strong emotional bond with their products, and the element encapsulates a sense of pride in long-lasting family traditions."

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Traditional Lusatia blue print. Thanks to Zlwe of Dresden, Germany. Sent from Dresden on Jan 10, 2020.

Italy - Celebrations of big shoulder-borne processional structures

"Catholic processions featuring large shoulder-borne processional structures take place throughout Italy, but particularly in four historic city centres: in Nola, a procession of eight wood and papier mâché obelisks commemorates the return of St Paolino; in Palmi, bearers carry a complex processional structure in honour of Our Lady of the Holy Letter; in Sassari, the Discesa dei Candelieri (Descent of the Candlesticks) involves the votive transportation of wooden obelisks; and in Viterbo, the Macchina di Santa Rosa (Tower of Santa Rosa) commemorates the town’s patron saint. The coordinated and equitable sharing of tasks in a common project is a fundamental part of the celebrations, which bind the communities together through the consolidation of mutual respect, cooperation and joint effort. Dialogue among the bearers who share this cultural heritage also results in the development of an exchange network. The celebrations require the involvement of musicians and singers, as well as skilled artisans who manufacture the processional structures and create the ceremonial clothes and artefacts. The festive communities rely on the informal transmission of these techniques and knowledge to recreate the structures every year, a process that aids cultural continuity and reinforces a strong sense of identity."

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

"Gloria" Macchina di Santa Rosa, Viterbo. A UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. Thanks to Paola of Italy.

Argentina - Uruguay - Tango

"The Argentinian and Uruguayan tradition of the Tango, now familiar around the world, was developed by the urban lower classes in Buenos Aires and Montevideo in the Rio de la Plata basin. Among this mix of European immigrants to the region, descendents of African slaves and the natives of the region known as criollos, a wide range of customs, beliefs and rituals were merged and transformed into a distinctive cultural identity...." 

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Postcard 1A - Argentina 
Argentina is famous for the Latin dance of Tango. Thanks to Argentinian sender from Patagonia, Argentina.

Postcard 1B - Argentina
A postcard of Argentinian tango dance moves. Thanks to YL who bought this postcard in Buones Aires, Argentina in 2019.

Postcard 2 - Uruguay
Uruguay tango. Tango la Cumparsita was first performed in 1914. Thanks to Lucas of Brazil for mailing from Uruguay.

Malaysia - Silat

"Silat is a combative art of self-defence and survival rooted in the Malay Archipelago. Traced back to the early days of the Langkasuka Kingdom, Silat has evolved into a fine practice of physical and spiritual training also encompassing traditional Malay attire, Silat musical instruments and customs. There are many styles of Silat, inspired by the movements of human anatomy, nature and animals. For example, Silat Harimau involves an aesthetic rhythmic motion imitating the art of self-defence and attack of the tiger. In Malaysia alone, there are more than 150 known Silat styles whose names derive from natural elements such as animals and plants. Originally, Malay Silat was practised by warriors – as noble enforcers of justice – but nowadays practitioners consist of masters, gurus, teachers and students, who are responsible for maintaining the practice. Training sessions usually take place in the evening or at night in an open space such as a courtyard, led by the Master and ‘Jurukaka’. A large number of practitioners have been trained and nurtured, and an increasing number of training centres have been established in various regions. With this accelerated dissemination, the practice has increasingly transcended its status as a martial art to become a performing art; consequently, it is now a popular sport for health and leisure."

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Display of Malay martial arts of Bersilat by women in Sungai Ular, 22 miles north of Kuantan, Pahang.

Armenia - Lavash

"Lavash is a traditional thin bread that forms an integral part of Armenian cuisine. Its preparation is typically undertaken by a small group of women, and requires great effort, coordination, experience and special skills. A simple dough made of wheat flour and water is kneaded and formed into balls, which are then rolled into thin layers and stretched over a special oval cushion that is then slapped against the wall of a traditional conical clay oven. After thirty seconds to a minute, the baked bread is pulled from the oven wall. Lavash is commonly served rolled around local cheeses, greens or meats, and can be preserved for up to six months. It plays a ritual role in weddings, where it is placed on the shoulders of newlyweds to bring fertility and prosperity. The group work in baking lavash strengthens family, community and social ties. Young girls usually act as aides in the process, gradually becoming more involved as they gain experience. Men are also involved through the practices of making cushions and building ovens, and pass on their skills to students and apprentices as a necessary step in preserving the vitality and viability of lavash making."

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Lavash, the preparation, meaning and appearance of traditional bread as an expression of culture in Armenia. Traditional baking in Oshakan Village, Armenia. Thanks to Jean-Pierre of France who visited Armenia in November 7, 2019 and arrived in Penang island on November 26, 2019.

Cyprus - Croatia - Spain - Greece - Italy - Morocco - Portugal - Mediterranean Diet

"The Mediterranean diet involves a set of skills, knowledge, rituals, symbols and traditions concerning crops, harvesting, fishing, animal husbandry, conservation, processing, cooking, and particularly the sharing and consumption of food. Eating together is the foundation of the cultural identity and continuity of communities throughout the Mediterranean basin. It is a moment of social exchange and communication, an affirmation and renewal of family, group or community identity. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes values of hospitality, neighbourliness, intercultural dialogue and creativity, and a way of life guided by respect for diversity. It plays a vital role in cultural spaces, festivals and celebrations, bringing together people of all ages, conditions and social classes. It includes the craftsmanship and production of traditional receptacles for the transport, preservation and consumption of food, including ceramic plates and glasses. Women play an important role in transmitting knowledge of the Mediterranean diet: they safeguard its techniques, respect seasonal rhythms and festive events, and transmit the values of the element to new generations. Markets also play a key role as spaces for cultivating and transmitting the Mediterranean diet during the daily practice of exchange, agreement and mutual respect."

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Multi-view of Mediterranean cuisine of Algarve, Portugal. Thanks to Tiago of Portugal. Received in November 2019.

Georgia - Living culture of three writing systems of the Georgian alphabet

The evolution of Georgia’s written language has produced three alphabets – Mrgvlovani, Nuskhuri and Mkhedruli – which all remain in use today. Mrgvlovani was the first alphabet from which Nuskhuri was derived and then Mkhedruli. The alphabets coexist thanks to their different cultural and social functions, reflecting an aspect of Georgia’s diversity and identity. Their ongoing use in a cultural sense, also gives communities a feeling of continuity. The alphabets Mrgvlovani and Nuskhuri are practised and taught informally predominately by the community of the Georgian Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church. For example, the alphabets feature in texts used by church worshippers such as the psalms and hymns and on inscriptions of display items used in the church, like the icons. Traditional craftspeople (goldsmiths, embroiderers, icon-painters and sculptors) who create pieces for the church can also be considered as practitioners and transmitters of the alphabets, as well as some theological schools, tertiary institutions, linguists, scholars and historians. Georgia’s educational system, however, is based on the Mkhedruli alphabet. Taught in primary and high school, the Mkhedruli alphabet is also transmitted informally in the home from older to younger generations. The Mrgvlovani and Nuskhuri alphabets are taught in schools in Georgia but at a basic level.

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Georgian alphabets. Thanks to Shawn of New Zealand who visited Georgia. Received in June 2019.

Portugal - Craftmanship of Estremoz clay figures

"The Craftsmanship of Estremoz Clay Figures involves a production process lasting several days: the elements of the figures are assembled before being fired in an electric oven and then painted by the artisan and covered with a colourless varnish. The clay figures are dressed in the regional attires of Alentejo or the clothing of religious Christian iconography, and follow specific themes. The production of clay figures in Estremoz dates back to the seventeenth century, and the very characteristic aesthetic features of the figures make them immediately identifiable. The craft is strongly attached to the Alentejo region, since the vast majority of the figures depict natural elements, local trades and events, popular traditions and devotions. The viability and recognition of the craft are ensured through non-formal education workshops and pedagogical initiatives by the artisans, as well as by the Centre for the Appreciation and Safeguarding of the Estremoz Clay Figure. Fairs are organized at the local, national and international levels. Knowledge and skills are transmitted both in family workshops and professional contexts, and artisans teach the basics of their craft through non-formal training initiatives. Artisans are actively involved in awareness-raising activities organized in schools, museums, fairs and other events"

Source: UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List

Estremoz postcard. Thanks to Rui of Portugal.