Malaysia and 4 other countries submit nomination for kebaya to Unesco

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia has joined hands with four other countries to submit a multi-national nomination for the kebaya to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity for the year 2023.

The kebaya is a garment representing a significant part of the cultural heritage and identity of women from the Malay, Peranakan (Chinese, Baba Nyonya, Chetti, Siamese, Kristang) and other communities in Malaysia, as well as other countries in Southeast Asia.

"Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand have jointly submitted the multi-national nomination for the kebaya to Unesco as it represents and celebrates our rich and shared history, promotes cross-cultural understanding, and continues to be present across Southeast Asia," said the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry in a statement today.

According to the ministry, with the consensus for multi-national nomination, all participating countries were involved in a series of working meetings since early 2022 with Malaysia hosting the first physical workshop in Port Dickson, Negri Sembilan, in November 2022, followed by the second workshop in Jakarta, Indonesia, in February this year.

"With the involvement of government officials, experts, and kebaya community representatives from all participating countries, the kebaya nomination dossier was updated and streamlined as per the new format by Unesco.

"A final online workshop was led by Singapore to finalise the nomination dossier in March 2023," it said.

According to the ministry, the kebaya meets the definition of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) element as traditional craftsmanship skills such as embroidery and sewing techniques are involved to make this traditional women's garment.

"The kebaya is also associated with other forms of cultural heritage, such as festive occasions and weddings. There is an active community of makers and wearers of kebaya who share and transmit the knowledge and socio-cultural value of the kebaya from one generation to another," the statement read.

The ministry said the multi-national nomination effort should ensure that the kebaya is safeguarded through the transmission of formal courses and workshops, promotional efforts, and documentation or research efforts with the support of nominating states and their communities.

"The kebaya presents us an opportunity to promote and celebrate this shared cultural heritage found in the Southeast Asian region," the statement said.

The results of the nomination would be decided during the 19th Session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2024. -- BERNAMA

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