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16:50 May 13 2009

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Tibetan Opera likely to be listed as intangible cultural heritage
15:11, May 13, 2009  

Tibetan artists perform dance at a gala to celebrate the Tibetan New Year in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Feb. 18, 2009. (Xinhua Photo)

Tibetan Opera, which is competing to be included in the "Human Being Intangible Cultural Heritage List," has good chances of success, said Nagwa Tenzin, who participated in the preparation work.

From May, the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) started inspecting and assessing the applicants that are competing in being listed on the "Human Being Intangible Cultural Heritage List."

Tibetan Opera, an ancient traditional Chinese ethnic minority art form, is among the applicants for the title. Whether it will be on the list or not has drawn close attention in the world.

"We are very confident that (Tibetan Opera) will win," said Nagwa Tenzin.

Tibetan Opera: "treasure among China's ethnic operas"

"Among Chinese operas, there has never been an opera like Tibetan Opera that is so popular among its audience and prosperous and lasting. This also shows the vitality of Tibetan Opera," said Gequ, deputy director of Institute of Ethnic Arts Studies of the Tibet Autonomous Region, also a PhD in musicology.

Hailed as "the living fossil of traditional Tibetan culture," Tibetan Opera has a history of more than 600 years -- about 400 years longer than China's national treasure, the Peking Opera.

As the art form originated from and has been developing among the folks, it obtains an extensive support from the people, with a profound rural flavor and ethnic features, said Gequ.

It is the reflection and rich heritage of Tibetan traditions, culture, history and essence of ethnic arts, he added.

The Tibetan Opera has a variety of themes and the "eight dramas of Tibetan Opera" including "Princess Wencheng," "Prince Nuosang" and "Drowa Sangmo" have been enjoying great popularity among the Tibetan people.

In recent years, Tibetan Opera has been staged on in Japan, the United States and other foreign countries, to the warm welcome of audiences there. Titled the "treasure among China's ethnic operas," the Tibetan Opera enjoys a high reputation with its unique artistic style and aesthetic value.

Competing for intangible culture heritage: Tibetan Opera hopeful

"The first three batches of applicants on the list of ' Human Being Intangible Cultural Heritage List ' are almost all performing arts," said Doctor Gequ. In 2002, Kunqu, one of ancient Han traditional operas, was among the 27 applicants on the list released by the UNESCO. This played an active role in the protection, inheritance and development of the art.

However, by far, there has been no ethnic opera on the list. Therefore, Tibetan Opera, the age-old ethnic opera, stands to good chances of winning.

The Tibetan Opera that is competing for the title is primarily the opera in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, said Nagwa Tenzin. It also covers the forms in other Tibetan-inhabited areas like Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan provinces.

Protection needs to be strengthened

In 2006, the Tibetan Opera was included in the list of the First Batch of Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection List, said Pengcuo Langjie, director of Society and Culture Office of Tibet's Culture Bureau, also secretary of the panel of experts of the region's Intangible Culture Heritage.

In recent years, "Princess Wencheng," performed in major cities in China, has become quite popular among opera enthusiasts with its creative artistic forms, grand stage style and the brilliant performance of artists.

"Tibetan Opera has been thriving on the whole," said Doctor Gequ. "However, with acceleration of modernization, the opera has witnessed competition from foreign art forms. So, I think it necessary to step up the protection of Tibetan Opera."

Source: Tibet Business/Xinhuanet

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