About ICH


Various forms of Intangible Cultural Heritage define people or a community and impart a unique cultural identity to them. Many of our oral traditions and indigenous knowledge systems are under threat in the face of a busy lifestyle and modern technology.

UNESCO States that ICH is manifested in the following domains:

  • Oral traditions and expressions, including language as a vehicle of intangible cultural heritage;
  • Performing arts;
  • Social practices, rituals and festive events; knowledge and practices concerning nature, mutual relations between people, and the universe;
  • Traditional craftsmanship.

Elements of ICH:


  • Folklore and Language
  • Mythology, Customs and Rituals, Worship and iconography
  • Medicine and Local Health Practices
  • Wisdom Keepers and Knowledge Holders
  • Human Treasures-Master Craftsmen
  • Ancient Educational Traditions
  • Relationship with Nature and Environment
  • Oral Traditions, Music and Dance
  • Musical Instruments
  • Paintings, Murals, Rock/Cave Art, Body Painting/Tattooing
  • House Decoration, Vernacular Architecture, Building Patterns
  • Folk/Tribal Art, Craft and Skills
  • Food and Drink
  • Costumes, Jewelry, Hair Styles
  • Pottery and Utensils
  • Traditional Forms of Greeting, Hospitality
  • Life Cycle Rituals of Birth, Death, Marriage
  • Traditional Games and Sport
  • Magic, Witch Craft, Occult Practices, Shamanism
  • Cosmology and Philosophy


The ICH division of INTACH was started in June 2008 to document and safeguard some of the endangered cultural expressions that sustain traditional communities and which have social meaning and relevance even today. Initiatives to collect and disseminate the intangible heritage are extremely important as they foster human creativity and cultural diversity, both of which are crucial elements in enriching society. With its unique network of over 170 chapters, INTACH has an inbuilt capacity to work effectively in all parts of the country.

The Division has worked on various aspects of Intangible Cultural Heritage, including documentation in tribal areas, holding an important international seminar on endangered languages in India, documentation of dying crafts and traditional knowledge, holding of training workshops, and promoting intangible heritage through a series of festivals, quizzes and panel discussions.


Collection and documentation of ICH information by recording it in tangible forms, collecting documents that relate to it and researching its current state are various ways used by the division to create its ICH inventories and collections which are further disseminated to the government, academicians and the general public.

The collection and recording of these ICH elements are necessary to:

  • Record our endangered living heritage
  • Maintain, celebrate, document our heritage and traditions
  • Sustain ICH traditions within communities, especially those connected to livelihoods

The division works towards the safeguarding of ICH in the following ways:

  • Through research and documentation of the ICH of communities of India
  • By spreading awareness amongst the stakeholders about the various aspects of ICH
  • Through publications and reports based on the subject
  • By organizing workshops, lectures and other events on the subject