What is cultural heritage?

We explain what cultural heritage is in its material and intangible form. In addition, examples in Mexico and the rest of the world.

  1. What is cultural heritage?

The cultural heritage of a specific nation or region is its particular cultural heritage, that is, the set of tangible and intangible assets that are strongly linked to its social and cultural identity , that is, that are perceived as characteristic of that country. or region.

All communities treasure and maintain some kind of cultural heritage, which they have received from previous generations. This heritage usually becomes a tourist attraction .

Among the cultural manifestations that make up the cultural heritage are very diverse things, ranging from places, buildings and architectural works , to dances, songs, and of course the Fine Arts , such as painting , literature and sculpture . They are recognized by international entities such as Unesco (attached to the United Nations Organization).

In fact, its Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage of 1972 pursued the establishment of a unified international policy around the conservation and promotion of places considered emblematic or emblematic of a particular culture , region or ethnicity, or even of humanity as a whole.

  1. Examples of cultural heritage

cultural heritage krakow christmas szopkas
Szopkas are Christmas decorations that have been made since the 19th century.

Some possible examples of different countries are:

  • The Eiffel Tower , built in Paris, France, in 1889, as an example of innovations in engineering and materials typical of the recent industrial era.
  • The Chichen-Itza , are the ruins of a city or ceremonial center of the ancient Mayan culture, located in the Mexican peninsula of Yucatan.
  • The Carnivals of Humahuaca , held in the Quebrada de Humahuaca in northern Argentina, containing reminiscences of Spanish and indigenous culture, as well as the history of the region near Bolivia and Peru.
  • The University City of Caracas , the main campus of the Central University of Venezuela and an outstanding architectural work of South American modernity, fruit of the Venezuelan genius Carlos Raúl Villanueva, and endowed with murals and sculptures by artists such as Jean Arp, Fernand Léger, Victor Vasarely and Mateo Manaure.
  • The traditional Christmas births of Krakow , known in Poland as szopkas , are lightweight models of Christmas nativity scenes whose manufacture dates from the 19th century.
  1. Cultural heritage and natural heritage

natural cultural heritage zhangjiajie national forest park
The natural heritage, such as Zhangjiajie Park, was not created by humans.

Unesco differentiates in its precepts between two types of human heritage: cultural and natural.

It is one that comes from human history , that is, it is a memory or a remnant of ancestral activities and practices, inherited as a reminder or a symbol to new generations. It is, therefore, heritage manufactured by humanity itself, such as a statue, an architectural work or a set of dances .

On the other hand, natural heritage refers to places, living beings or other significant elements of nature that, over time, have captivated the human being with its beauty. They are reminders of the alien forces that shape our planet.

The natural heritage is received by humanity without participating in its preparation. It can be a particularly high water fall, a hugely biodiverse jungle or an island paradise of unique animal species in the world.

  1. Material and intangible

Likewise, it usually distinguishes between two primary types of cultural heritage, which are:

  • Material or tangible cultural heritage . The one that can be touched, which is concrete and physical, such as statues, architectural works, costumes, props, etc., whether or not they can move from one place to another.
  • Intangible or intangible cultural heritage . The one who, on the contrary, cannot be held or displaced, since it does not consist of physical objects, but verbal, musical or imaginary, oral or social practices, such as songs, verses, dances or choreographies.
  1. Cultural heritage of Mexico

cultural heritage mexico day of the dead
The Day of the Dead celebration is part of the Mexican cultural heritage.

The particular case of the cultural heritage of Mexico is quite fruitful and diverse. It is the product of the different historical periods of this nation , dating back to pre-Columbian antiquity, with its leafy and particular cultures such as the Mayas , Olmecs , Aztecs and others.

Its cultural heritage also comes from the colonial era, with its society controlled from the metropolis and bound to Christianity. The most recent examples come from the independent era, especially the revolutionary memory of the early twentieth century.

Many of the icons and traditions of this set are consumed globally as exotic or flashy objects, or as archaeological evidence that enhances important anthropological investigations .

In broad strokes, in the Mexican cultural heritage we can find:

  • Pieces, decorations and architectural ruins from native Mesoamerican cultures.
  • Pre-Columbian languages surviving the imposition of Spanish in the colonial era, as well as the imaginary associated with them (stories, songs, dances, etc.).
  • Inherited practices of syncretic (mestizo) or particular Catholic devotion from the various Mexican regions.
  • The Mariachi and its forms of singing and interpretation, both in its traditional and modern variant.
  • Culinary and gastronomic practices unique to the Mexican region, recognizable throughout the world.
  • The celebration of the day of the dead , a set of indigenous festivals assimilated with the Christian imaginary that attract the attention of the entire world.

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