Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

‘French Baguette’ gets UNESCO heritage status


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UNESCO ICH, Baguette

Mains level : NA


Baguette the staple French bread has been inscribed into the UN’s list of intangible cultural heritage (ICH).

What is a Baguette?

  • The baguette is a long and thin loaf made of flour, water, salt and yeast, and is consumed as a staple in France.
  • Some believe that it was invented by August Zang, a baker and an entrepreneur from Vienna in 1839, who introduced the world to the taste of crusty bread with softer insides, using a steam oven.
  • It gained its official name in 1920.
  • The history of the bread is uncertain, some also believe that Napoleon Bonaparte ordered thin sticks of bread for consumption by his soldiers as they could be carried from one place to another more conveniently.

Why did France nominate it for the UN list?

  • About 10 billion baguettes are consumed every year in France by a population of 67 million.
  • It drew attention to the steady decline in the number of bakeries in the country as around 20,000 of them have closed down since 1970.
  • In March 2021, France nominated the baguette as its candidate for consideration within the UNESCO ICH list.
  • In 1970, there were 55,000 artisanal bakeries (one for every 790 residents) compared with 35,000 today (one for every 2,000), often in favour of baguettes produced industrially.

Back2Basics: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)

  • ICH means the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated with them that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as a part of their cultural heritage.
  • Furthermore, its importance is not in the cultural manifestation itself, but in the wealth of knowledge, know-how and skills that are transmitted from one generation to the next.
  • The adoption of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the ICH by the General Conference of UNESCO in 2003 was a crucial step towards preserving intangible heritage.
  • UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity was established in the year 2008.

Criteria for the selection

  • There are three criteria for an intangible cultural heritage to be inscribed in the United Nations list.
  • The entity must-
  1. be recognized by communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals as part of their cultural heritage,
  2. be transmitted from generation to generation and be constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history and
  3. provide them with a sense of identity and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity

India’s ICH on the UNESCO list

  • Sangeet Natak Akademi is the nodal organisation which looks after this function, and files nominations of intangible cultural entities from India, for evaluation by the international body.
  • ICG from India include Kolkata’s Durga Puja (2021), Kumbh Mela (2017), Navroz (2016), Yoga (2016), traditional brass and copper craft of utensil-making among coppersmiths of Punjab (2014), Sankirtana, a ritual musical performance of Manipur (2013), and the Buddhist chanting of Ladakh (2012).
  • Before 2011, the list included Chhau dance, Kalbelia folk songs and dance of Rajasthan, and Mudiyettu, a dance drama from Kerala (2010), Ramman, a religious festival and theatre performance of Garhwal in the Himalayas (2009), and Kutiyattam or Sanskrit theatre, and Vedic chanting (2008).
  • Ramlila, a traditional performance of Ramayana, was also included in 2008.
  • This year, India nominated Garba, a traditional dance form that originated in the state of Gujarat, for inscription on UNESCO’s ICH list.


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