Top 10 Silk Road Cultural Events Announced During the 2021 Silk Road Week

The opening ceremony of the 2021 Silk Road Week was held at China National Silk Museum(NSM) on June 18, 2021. The ICOMOS International Conservation Center Xi 'an an d NSM jointly released the Top 10 cultural events on the Annual Report of the Cultural Heritage on the Silk Roads 2020, which attracted the attention of many guests present. The cultural events were selected fr om the world’s major events in the field of Silk Road Cultural Heritage in the previous year, an d international experts an d scholars were invited to form a cultural event expert team for the Annual Report of "Cultural Heritage on the Silk Roads 2020". After reviewing an d recommending, the Top 10 major cultural events were finally selected.

1. World Heritage Centre Celebrates 30-Year Anniversary of the Silk Roads Project an d Launch of the Digital Archive of the Silk Roads

Time: July 20, 2020

Venue: Paris, France; Hangzhou, China (online)

This anniversary event was organized by NSM, the Quanzhou Maritime Museum an d the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, in coordination with the World Heritage Centre, an d was opened by Mechtild Rössler, Director of the World Heritage Centre. 

To make the research an d information collected about the Silk Roads in the last 30 years available to all those interested, Feng Jing, Chief of the Asia an d the Pacific Unit of the World Heritage Centre an d Coordinator of the Serial Transnational World Heritage nomination project, announced the launch of the Digital Archive of the Silk Roads project (DAS), to be based at the International Institute for Intercultural Dialogue on the Silk Roads (IIDOS) of the China National Silk Museum (Hangzhou, China), which will also complement the UNESCO Silk Road Online Platform, managed by the UNESCO Social Sciences Sector.

2. Webinar: Life, Environment, an d ICH along the Silk Roads & Strategic Meeting on Silk Roads ICH Networking

Time: November 18, 2020- November 19, 2020

Venue: Online

The webinar "Towards Reviving the Glory of the Silk Roads through ICH" focused on “Life, Environment, an d ICH along the Silk Roads” an d explored topics such as humanity, the environment an d the Silk Roads, the contributions of an ICH Network towards sustainable development, the viability an d sustainability of ICH festivals along the Silk Roads, an d artistic performances for the co-existence of humanity an d nature.

The strategic meeting brought together representatives fr om international organizations fr om across Central Asia who contributed to fostering an intangible cultural heritage (ICH) network along the Silk Roads.

3. The Launch of "Silk Roads Alliance for Cultural Heritage Preservation an d Inheritance"

Time: December 10, 2020

Venue: Xi’an, China

At the "2020 Silk Road International Industry-University-Research Cooperation Conference" , the "Silk Road Alliance for Cultural Heritage Preservation an d Inheritance " initiated by Northwest University was unveiled. The alliance would interpret the rich historical information contained on the Silk Road cultural heritage, an d provide decision-making support for countries an d international organizations along the Silk Road to promote the joint application of world cultural heritage. A total of 54 units fr om 17 countries have joined the alliance, an d the alliance secretariat is located at Northwestern University.

The goal of the alliance was to jointly carry out cooperative research in the field of value recognition, preservation an d inheritance of cultural heritage along the Silk Road; Jointly cultivate high-level professionals in the field of cultural heritage research for countries along the Silk Road; Build a high-level, open an d shared science an d technology platform for carrying out international cooperative research an d joint training of talents to provide technical support.

4. The First "2020 Silk Road Week" Event

Time: June 19, 2020

Venue: Hangzhou, China

NSM has proposed the “Silk Road Week”to take place in Hangzhou, China. It was hosted by the National Cultural Heritage Administration an d the People's Government of Zhejiang, with the theme of “The Silk Roads: Mutual Learning for future Collaborations”. 

Museums, institutions, an d companies along the Silk Roads were encouraged to devise an d organize associated activities in the spirit of “Silk Roads Week” an d were invited to follow the online activities taking place as part of the event. Organizers also announced the release of the "Annual Report on Silk Road Cultural Heritage 2019". Two temporary exhibitions called The Silk Roads: Before an d After Richthofen an d Mutual Learning on the Silk Roads: Stories of the Silk Road Treasures, were unveiled with the opening ceremony.

5. 2020 Dunhuang Forum: Academic Symposium on Commemorating the 120th Anniversary of the Discovery of the Library Cave an d Member Representative Conference of Dunhuang Turpan Society of China

Time: November 7,2020- November 10,2020

Venue: Dunhuang, China

The Forum was co-sponsored by Dunhuang Academy an d Dunhuang Turpan Society of China an d funded by China Dunhuang Grottoes Protection an d Research Foundation. More than 100 experts an d scholars in China discussed the development of Dunhuang studies an d explored the opportunities an d challenges faced in the new era.

The Dunhuang Library Cave preserves nearly 60,000 pieces of cultural relics fr om the 4th to 11th centuries, including manuscripts, embroidery, silk paintings, an d artifacts, such as religious classics, sub-collections of scriptures an d history, official an d private documents, minority languages, etc., involving ancient history, geography, politics, economy, literature, language, folklore, music, science an d technology an d many other fields. It can be described as "the encyclopedia of the Middle Ages" an d "the ocean of ancient academics."

The relevant results of this forum not only commemorate the 120th anniversary of the discovery of the Library Cave, but also provide necessary academic accumulation an d intellectual support for the development an d growth of Dunhuang Studies in the new era, an d generate many new academic growth points.

6. The UNESCO World Heritage Centre Publishes a Special Issue on the Silk Road

Time: November, 2019- January, 2020

Venue: UNESCO, Paris, France

In this issue, we learn about the complicated process of establishing this extraordinary site, an d efforts underway to carry this work further through the South Asian Silk Roads World Heritage nomination project. We examine the particularities of the Silk Roads in Iran an d Turkey, an d the natural heritage along the way, such as Tajik National Park an d the Saryarka-Steppe an d Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan.

It also shares the results of the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee in Baku, Azerbaijan fr om 20 June to 10 July 2019, including the Committee's decisions concerning sites in danger an d new sites inscribed on the World Heritage List.

7. The Ong Chun Ceremony by China an d Malaysia Inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Time: December 17, 2020

Venue: China, Malaysia

Ong Chun ceremony, also known as Wangchuan or Wangkang, rituals an d related practices for maintaining the sustainable connection between humans an d oceans, is inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO on December 17, 2020. It was jointly put forward by China an d Malaysia. 

The ceremony an d related practices are rooted in folk customs of worshiping Ong Yah, a deity believed to protect people an d their lan ds fr om disaster. Its element, developed in southeast China's Fujian Province between the 15th an d 16th centuries, is now centered in Xiamen Bay an d Quanzhou Bay, as well as in Chinese communities in Melaka, Malaysia. 

The Ong Chun ceremony is usually hosted once every three or four years in a fixed lunar month, but the certain date is determined by poe divination. 

8. Japan Supported Afghanistan’s Efforts towards Removing the Bamiyan Site fr om the List of World Heritage in Danger

Time: February, 26, 2020

Venue: Afghanistan

On February 26, Mitsuji Suzuka, Japan's ambassador to Afghanistan, signed an agreement with the director of UNESCO's Kabul office an d representative in Afghanistan to formally approve a new project in the field of culture.

The Government of Japan announced that it would provide USD 3.8 million dollars in financial support to the World Heritage property of "Cultural Lan dscape an d Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley" in Afghanistan.The property was inscribed simultaneously on the World Heritage List an d the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2003, after the destruction of the Giant Buddhas, in recognition of its values as a testament of interconnectedness an d shared history between Western an d Eastern civilizations.

Approved on the 90th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Japan an d Afghanistan in 2020, this initiative will provide a new impetus towards fulfilling the necessary conditions to remove the World Heritage property of Bamiyan Valley fr om the List of World Heritage in Danger.The authorities of Afghanistan an d the international community, already very active in joining forces to preserve component sites an d build national capacities for heritage conservation an d management, are further encouraged to be associated with this endeavour.

9. Ancient Life-sized Statue of Buddha Smashed into Pieces in Northwest Pakistan

Time: July 23, 2020

Venue: Mardan District, Pakistan

Construction workers deliberately smashed a life-sized statue of Buddha into pieces with a sledgehammer in Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa(KP) province on July 17, believing that they were fulfilling their religious duty of destroying an idol.It belonged to the Gan dhara civilisation an d was nearly 1,700 years old.

Four persons were arrested on Saturday for van dalising the statue that was discovered during excavation at an agriculture farm in tehsil Takht Bhai of Mardan district. The suspects had followed the orders of a local Maulvi.The arrests were made after a video went viral on social media showing a man smashing the statue, parts of which were still embedded underground, into pieces with a sledgehammer. Other construction workers can be seen looking on as the statue is being destroyed while a couple of people were making videos.

Director Archeology an d Museums Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Abdus Samad Khan said on Sunday that the pieces of the destroyed statue have been recovered to assess its archaeological value.

10. Guiding Opinions of the General Office of the State Council PRC on Strengthening the Protection an d Utilization of Grotto Temples

Time: October 23, 2020

Venue: Beijing, China

Guiding Opinions of the General Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China on Strengthening the Protection an d Utilization of Ggrotto Temples [2020] No. 41 People's governments of all provinces, autonomous regions an d municipalities directly under the Central Government, ministries an d commissions of the State Council, an d institutions directly under the State Council: In order to thoroughly implement the spirit of the important instructions of the President Xi Jinping on the protection an d utilization of cave temples, implement the decisions an d arrangements of the Party Central Committee an d the State Council, an d effectively strengthen the protection an d utilization of cave temples in the new era, with the consent of the State Council, the following opinions are hereby put forward.

Grotto temples in China are widely distributed, large in scale an d complete in system. They integrate architecture, sculpture, murals, calligraphy an d other arts into one, fully reflecting the aesthetic pursuit, values an d cultural spirit of the Chinese nation.

Strengthening the protection an d utilization of grotto temples is of great significance as it bears on the inheritance an d development of fine traditional Chinese culture, the building of a strong socialist culture, the high-quality joint construction of "One Belt One Road" an d the promotion of exchanges an d mutual learning among civilizations.

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