Austria - Belgium - Czech Republic - France - Hungary - Spain - Morocco - Saudia Arabia - Syria - Qatar - UAE - Mongolia - South Korea: Falconry, A Living Human Heritage

"Falconry is the traditional activity of keeping and training falcons and other raptors to take quarry in its natural state. Originally a way of obtaining food, falconry is today identified with camaraderie and sharing rather than subsistence. Falconry is mainly found along migration flyways and corridors, and is practised by people of all ages, men and women, amateurs and professionals. Falconers develop a strong relationship and spiritual bond with their birds, and commitment is required to breed, train, handle and fly the falcons. Falconry is transmitted from generation to generation as a cultural tradition by a variety of means, including mentoring, learning within families, or formalized training in clubs. In Mongolia, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, for example, falconers take their children to the desert and train them to handle the bird and build a relationship of trust with it. While falconers come from different backgrounds, they share common values, traditions and practices such as the methods of training and caring for birds, the equipment used and the bonding between falconer and the bird, which are similar throughout the world. Falconry forms the basis of a wider cultural heritage, including traditional dress, food, songs, music, poetry and dance, all of which are sustained by the communities and clubs that practise it." 

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Collected: Qatar, UAE, Mongolia, France, Austria
Missing: Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, Spain, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria

Postcard 1 - Falconry in Qatar
Falconry in Qatar. Thanks to Ashraf of Qatar.

Postcard 2 - Falconry of United Arab Emirates
Falcons are important in UAE. Falcon is seen in the UAE stamps used. Thanks to Cazz of UK for sending this card from Ras Al Khaimal, one of the seven emirates of UAE.

Postcard 3 - Falconry in Mongolia
A postcard of Mongolian falconry. Falconry is now listed in 2010 as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in Mongolia, France, UAE and other countries. This is my 3rd postcard sent from Mongolia. Thanks to Cliffe.

Postcard 4 - Falconry in Austria 
Falconry with vultures at Rosenburg Castle in Austria. Thanks to Marco of Austria.

Postcard 5 - Falconry in France 
Spectacle de Fauconnerie Equestre was held in Provins. Thanks to Sylvie of France who went to see this performance and bought this postcard.

Portugal - Cante Alentejano, polyphonic singing from Alentejo, southern Portugal

"Cante Alentejano is a genre of traditional two-part singing performed by amateur choral groups in southern Portugal, characterized by distinctive melodies, lyrics and vocal styles, and performed without instrumentation. Groups consist of up to thirty singers divided into groups. The ponto, in the lower range, starts the singing, followed by the alto, in the higher range, which duplicates the melody a third or a tenth above, often adding ornaments. The entire choral group then takes over, singing the remaining stanzas in parallel thirds. The alto is the guiding voice heard above the group throughout the song. A vast repertoire of traditional poetry is set to existing or newly created melodies. Lyrics explore both traditional themes such as rural life, nature, love, motherhood and religion, and changes in the cultural and social context. Cante is a fundamental aspect of social life throughout Alentejano communities, permeating social gatherings in both public and private spaces. Transmission occurs principally at choral group rehearsals between older and younger members. For its practitioners and aficionados, cante embodies a strong sense of identity and belonging. It also reinforces dialogue between different generations, genders and individuals from different backgrounds, thereby contributing to social cohesion."

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Cante Alentejano. Thanks to Marco of Austria for mailing from Lagos, Portugal.

Belgium - France - Processional Giants and Dragons

"Traditional processions of huge effigies of giants, animals or dragons encompass an original ensemble of festive popular manifestations and ritual representations. These effigies first appeared in urban religious processions at the end of the fourteenth century in many European towns and continue to serve as emblems of identity for certain Belgian (Ath, Brussels, Dendermonde, Mechelen and Mons) and French towns (Cassel, Douai, P├ęzenas and Tarascon), where they remain living traditions. The giants and dragons are large-scale models measuring up to nine metres in height and weighing as much as 350 kilos. They represent mythical heroes or animals, contemporary local figures, historical, biblical or legendary characters or trades. St. George fighting the dragon is staged in Mons; Bayard, the horse from the Charlemagne legend, parades in Dendermonde; and Reuze Papa and Reuze Maman, popular family characters, parade at Cassel. The performances, often mixing secular procession and religious ceremony, vary from town to town, but always follow a precise ritual in which the giants relate to the history, legend or life of the town...." Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Postcard 1 - Belgium
A UNESCO Multiview of Dendermonde showing Procession of Giants and Dragons Festival. Thanks to An of Dendermonde, Belgium.

Postcard 2 - France
A black white vintage postcard of the Process in Cassel. Thanks to Veronique of France.

Postcard 3
Procession of Giants in Cassel, France. Thanks to Jean-Pierre from France for this maxicard.

Malaysia - Mak Yong theatre

"This ancient theatre form created by Malaysia’s Malay communities combines acting, vocal and instrumental music, gestures and elaborate costumes. Specific to the villages of Kelantan in northwest Malaysia, where the tradition originated, Mak Yong is performed mainly as entertainment or for ritual purposes related to healing practices. Experts believe that Mak Yong appeared well before the Islamization of the country. It was performed as a royal theatre under the direct patronage of the Kelantan Sultanate until the 1920s. Hence, the tradition was perpetuated in a rural context without forsaking the numerous refinements acquired at court, such as sophisticated costume design. A typical Mak Yong performance opens with an offering followed by dances, acting and music as well as improvised monologues and dialogues. A single story can be presented over several consecutive nights in a series of three-hour performances. In the traditional village setting, the performances are held on a temporary open stage built of wood and palm leaves. The audience sits on three sides of the stage, the fourth side being reserved for the orchestra consisting of a three-stringed spiked fiddle (rebab), a pair of doubleheaded barrel drums (gendang) and hanging knobbed gongs (tetawak). Most roles are performed by women, and the stories are based on ancient Malay folk tales peopled with royal characters, divinities and clowns. Mak Yong is also associated with rituals in which shamans attempt to heal through song, trance-dance and spirit possession. Mak Yong, which requires long years of training, has been preserved until the present largely through oral transmission. In today’s society, few young people are willing to commit to such rigorous apprenticeships. As a result, this important tradition is undergoing steady decline, as attested by reduced dramatic and musical repertories and a shortage of seasoned performers."

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

A beautiful illustration postcard of Mak Yong Theatre by Marni of Cameron Highlands, Malaysia. Thanks to Marni for sending me this awesome postcard. Mak Yong theatre is Malaysia only UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Vietnam - Gong Culture

Vietnam World Heritage multi-view postcard showing in Gong Culture in top right picture.

Bolivia - Carnival of Oruro

"The town of Oruro, situated at an altitude of 3,700 metres in the mountains of western Bolivia and once a pre-Columbian ceremonial site, was an important mining area in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Resettled by the Spanish in 1606, it continued to be a sacred site for the Uru people, who would often travel long distances to perform their rituals, especially for the principal Ito festival. The Spanish banned these ceremonies in the seventeenth century, but they continued under the guise of Christian liturgy: the Andean gods were concealed behind Christian icons and the Andean divinities became the Saints. The Ito festival was transformed into a Christian ritual, celebrated on Candlemas (2 February). The traditional llama llama or diablada in worship of the Uru god Tiw became the main dance at the Carnival of Oruro.

The Carnival, which takes place every year, lasts ten days and gives rise to a panoply of popular arts expressed in masks, textiles and embroidery. The main event in the Carnival is the procession or entrada. During the ceremony, the dancers walk the four kilometres of the processional route and repeat the journey for a full twenty hours without interruption. More than 28,000 dancers and 10,000 musicians organized in about 50 groups take part in the procession which still shows many features dating back to medieval mystery plays. The decline of traditional mining and agriculture is threatening the Oruro population, as is the desertification of the Andean high plateau, which is leading to massive emigration. Urbanization has given rise to acculturation as well as a growing generation gap. There is also uncontrolled financial exploitation of this Carnival."

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Dancing the tobas at Oruro Carnival in Bolivia. This is my 10th postcard written stamped from Bolivia. Thanks again to Luk of Belgium for mailing from Bolivia.

Peru - Festivity of Virgen de la Candelaria of Puno

"The Festivity of Virgen de la Candelaria, celebrated each February in the city of Puno, includes activities of religious, festive and cultural character that draw on Catholic traditions and symbolic elements of the Andean worldview. The main festival commences at the beginning of the month with a daybreak mass, followed by an ancient purification ceremony. A liturgical act the next morning leads into a religious procession, as the image of the Virgin is carried aloft along the streets accompanied by traditional music and dancing. The festival continues with two contests that attract numerous groups gathering several thousand dancers and musicians from across the region. The main practitioners are rural and urban inhabitants of the Puno region who belong to the Quechua and Aymara ethnic groups. Many emigrants from Puno also return to participate, reinforcing a sense of cultural continuity. Three regional federations of practitioners cooperate to organize the festivity and preserve the traditional knowledge and skills associated with dance, music and mask-making. Rehearsals and crafts workshops are the places where these skills are passed on to younger generations. The festivity closes with a ceremony for the Virgin, a parade and farewell masses."

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Mask, pose and dance of Virgen of Candelaria Festival of Peru. Thanks to Luk of Belgium who sent from Peru.

Belize - Guatemala - Honduras - Nicaragua - Language, Dance and Music of the Garifuna

"A population of mixed origin incorporating cultural elements of indigenous Caribbean and African groups, the Garifuna settled along the Atlantic coast of Central America after being forced to flee from the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent in the eighteenth century. Today, Garifuna communities mainly live in Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Belize... " Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Postcard 1 - Honduras
Honduras - Garifuna Dancers. Thanks to Marco.

Postcard 2 - Belize
Joncunu (John Canoe) dancing are performed during Christmas season to mimic white slave owners and their behavior. Thanks to Melanie for this colorful postcard from Belize.

Indonesia - Indonesian Kris

"The kris or keris is a distinctive, asymmetrical dagger from Indonesia. Both weapon and spiritual object, the kris is considered to possess magical powers. The earliest known kris go back to the tenth century and most probably spread from the island of Java throughout South-East Asia.

Kris blades are usually narrow with a wide, asymmetrical base. The sheath is often made from wood, though examples from ivory, even gold, abound. A kris’ aesthetic value covers the dhapur (the form and design of the blade, with some 40 variants), the pamor (the pattern of metal alloy decoration on the blade, with approximately 120 variants), and tangguh referring to the age and origin of a kris. A bladesmith, or empu, makes the blade in layers of different iron ores and meteorite nickel. In high quality kris blades, the metal is folded dozens or hundreds of times and handled with the utmost precision. Empus are highly respected craftsmen with additional knowledge in literature, history and occult sciences.

Kris were worn everyday and at special ceremonies, and heirloom blades are handed down through successive generations. Both men and women wear them. A rich spirituality and mythology developed around this dagger. Kris are used for display, as talismans with magical powers, weapons, sanctified heirlooms, auxiliary equipment for court soldiers, accessories for ceremonial dress, an indicator of social status, a symbol of heroism, etc."

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Postcard 1
Keris of Gowa, South Sulawesi form the collection in Museum Nasional Indonesia, Jakarta. A matching kris stamp with two other nice stamps used. Thanks to Shinta of Indonesia.

Postcard 2
Javanese Keris of Indonesia. Thanks to Connie of Indonesia.

Morocco - Cultural space of Jemaa el-Fna Square

"The Jemaa el-Fna Square is one of the main cultural spaces in Marrakesh and has become one of the symbols of the city since its foundation in the eleventh century. It represents a unique concentration of popular Moroccan cultural traditions performed through musical, religious and artistic expressions. Located at the entrance of the Medina, this triangular square, which is surrounded by restaurants, stands and public buildings, provides everyday commercial activities and various forms of entertainment. It is a meeting point for both the local population and people from elsewhere. All through the day, and well into the night, a variety of services are offered, such as dental care, traditional medicine, fortune-telling, preaching, and henna tattooing; water-carrying, fruit and traditional food may be bought. In addition, one can enjoy many performances by storytellers, poets, snake-charmers, Berber musicians (mazighen), Gnaoua dancers and senthir (hajouj) players. The oral expressions would be continually renewed by bards (imayazen), who used to travel through Berber territories. They continue to combine speech and gesture to teach, entertain and charm the audience. Adapting their art to contemporary contexts, they now improvise on an outline of an ancient text, making their recital accessible to a wider audience."

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Postcard 1
Jemma el-Fna Square of Marrakesh, Morocco. Thanks to Brigitte of Germany who was visiting Morocco.

Postcard 2
An amazing postcard of snake charmers in Morocco. Thanks to "jayjayc" who was in Morocco. The stamp of Royaume du Maroc - Morocco commemorates the aniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Morocco.

Costa Rica - Oxherding and oxcart traditions in Costa Rica

"The traditional oxcart, or carreta, is the product of Costa Rica’s most famous craft. Dating from the mid-nineteenth century, oxcarts were used to transport coffee beans from Costa Rica’s central valley over the mountains to Puntarenas on the Pacific coast, a journey requiring ten to fifteen days.

The oxcarts used spokeless wheels, a hybrid between the disc used by the Aztec and the spoked wheel introduced by the Spaniards, to cut through the mud without getting stuck. In many cases, oxcarts were a family’s only means of transport; they often served as a symbol of social status.

The tradition of painting and decorating oxcarts started in the early twentieth century. Originally, each region of Costa Rica had its own particular design, enabling the identification of the driver’s origin by the painted patterns on the wheels.

Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Traditional oxcart of Costa Rica. Nice stamps but not cancellation. Thanks to Jean of Costa Rica.

China - Chinese Shadow Puppetry

"Chinese shadow puppetry is a form of theatre acted by colourful silhouette figures made from leather or paper, accompanied by music and singing. Manipulated by puppeteers using rods, the figures create the illusion of moving images on a translucent cloth screen illuminated from behind. Many elder shadow puppetry artists can perform dozens of traditional plays, which are orally transmitted or found in written form. They master special techniques such as improvisational singing, falsetto, simultaneous manipulation of several puppets, and the ability to play various musical instruments. Many puppeteers also carve the puppets, which can have between twelve and twenty-four moveable joints. Shadow plays are performed by large troupes with seven to nine performers and smaller troupes of only two to five, primarily for entertainment or religious rituals, weddings and funerals and other special occasions. Some puppeteers are professional, while others are amateurs performing during slack farming seasons. The relevant skills are handed down in families, in troupes, and from master to pupil. Chinese shadow puppetry also passes on information such as cultural history, social beliefs, oral traditions and local customs. It spreads knowledge, promotes cultural values and entertains the community, especially the youth." Source: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

Postcard 1
An extra large multi-view postcard showing Chinese Shadow Play.Thanks to CL of Shenyang, China.

Postcard 2
Chinese Shadow Puppetry. Thanks to Yao of China.