Database on the Status of Intangible Cultural Heritage Research and Documentation in India

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) is India’s largest non-profit membership organization dedicated to conservation and preservation of India’s natural, tangible and intangible heritage.

The Intangible Cultural Heritage Division of INTACH has worked on various aspects of the subject, including research and documentation, seminars, workshops, and promoting intangible heritage through a series of festivals and awareness creation events. We are now undertaking a project of creating a database on the Status of Intangible Cultural Heritage Research and Documentation in India. It will be a listing of published or unpublished works done in the field of INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE, and held, by individuals, Government Organisations, Government aided autonomous bodies, Non-government organisations, libraries and academic institutions.

  • Project Details:

Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH), as spelt out in the UNESCO Convention of 2003, incorporates the knowledge, skills and practices that communities or individuals recognize as part of their unique identity. It promotes cultural diversities and human creativity. This heritage, passed down orally from generation to generation, is constantly evolving and being recreated in response to the environment

It is manifested in the domains of:

  1. Oral traditions and expressions including language
  2. Performing arts
  3. Social practices and rituals
  4. Traditional knowledge
  5. Craftsmanship


A large volume of India’s ICH wealth, documented over the last six decades, is stored in printed form with various governmental and non-governmental institutions and academic institutions and individuals. The contents of these works enshrine the creativity and knowledge of some of India’s greatest artistic talents. This is an invaluable national heritage that needs to be preserved for all time and also made accessible to the citizens of the country.


  • Scope of the Project:
  1. Identifying and cataloguing the ICH of India available in printed form in institutions across the country through a process of briefly describing them and making the list accessible to the people.
  2. Instituting state-of-art digital database and storage systems through the aegis of INTACH and partner institutions to preserve these resources as a whole, in some cases, or an annotated listing in others.
  • In the long term, setting up a dedicated website and a virtual network of these repositories and offering online hyperlinked access to their resources, programming schedules etc.
  1. Standardization and periodic upgradation of the storehouse of such resources. Broadly speaking, the genres of print materials to be covered will include oral traditions, traditional crafts and textiles, dance, music and theatrical practices, cultural practices and traditional knowledge. The exhaustive inventory will archive printed works on the following subjects: folklore, language , mythology, rituals, medicine, health practices, wisdom keepers /knowledge holders, human treasures, educational traditions, nature, enviroment ,oral traditions, music ,dance, musical instruments, paintings, murals, rock/cave art, body painting, house decoration, vernacular architecture, art, building patterns, folk art & skills, production, food ,drink, costume, jewellery, hair styles utensils, forms of greeting, birth rituals, hospitality, games, sport, pottery, life cycle, rituals, disposal of the dead, magic, witch-craft, occult practices, shamanism, marriage, sexual practices, cosmology, philosophy, festivals, fairs, worship, iconography etc.
  2. Capacity building in conservation, cataloguing, digitization and retrieval of ICH related print materials.
  3. Instituting outreach and awareness programmes.
  • The objectives of the project:
  • To bring it into public domain;
  • To make it interactive for scholars;
  • To create such an archive makes possible virtually instant retrieval of data.
  • Most importantly, to prevent needless duplication of research and documentation, thus saving time and resources
  • Partners for the Project:
  • Local and Regional Government agencies which collect cultural data
  • Academics, experts, researchers in social and cultural studies at universities
  • Communities, associations, social institutions, Libraries, informal organizations and individuals who/ which collect cultural data
  • INTACH convenors across the country


  • Beneficiaries of the Project
  • The Government
  • To have regularly updated data on oral or intangible cultural elements in different communities and regions.
  • To facilitate planning and policy-making for safeguarding ICH.
  • To facilitate preparation of regional and local museums and archives.
  • To raise the standard of living of communities in a sustainable manner
  • Academics
  • As a living subject and source of social science, science, and ethnographical research
  • For developing curricula and teaching materials for schools and universities.
  • Entrepreneurs
  • To develop cultural elements as creative products which are competitive globally.
  • To creative product businesses and market such programmes.
  • General Public
  • To know the diversity of living culture in our country.
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