UNESCO Recognizes Jamu as Intangible Cultural Heritage

According to reporting from Tempo, UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has declared Indonesia’s traditional herbal medicine, Jamu, as an Intangible Cultural Heritage on Wednesday (6/12/23.)

The announcement was made during the 18th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Kasane, Botswana.

With this recognition, Jamu Wellness Culture has become the thirteenth Indonesian Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) added to the UNESCO ICH list. According to Tempo, the other Indonesian ICH traditions include:

  • Wayang (2008),
  • Keris (2008),
  • Batik (2009),
  • Batik Education and Training (2009),
  • Angklung (2010),
  • Saman Dance (2011),
  • Noken (2012),
  • Three Genres of Traditional Dance in Bali (2015),
  • Art of Pinisi Shipbuilding (2017),
  • Pencak Silat Tradition (2019),
  • Pantun (2020), and
  • Gamelan (2021).

The Jamu Wellness Culture is a unique combination of traditional skills and cultural values linked with traditional herbal and spice remedies and traditional therapeutic practices that promote health by bolstering immunity, say Tempo, adding that the use of Jamu has been prevalent in Indonesia since the 8th century, as indicated by the reliefs at Borobudur Temple and ancient manuscripts such as Kakawin Ramayana and Serat Centini.

UNESCO recognized the importance of herbal culture as a way of cultural expression and connecting humanity to the universe. Jamu Wellness Culture is also recognized as supporting the Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 3: Health and Wellbeing, Goal 5: Gender Equality, Goal 12: Responsible Production and Consumption, and Goal 16: Life on Land, say Tempo.

Indonesian Minister of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology Nadiem Makarim expressed delight in the designation of Jamu Wellness Culture as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in remarks made via a video message.

He emphasized that the herbal medicine culture has been learned, developed, and passed down from generation to generation since ancient times, making it a way of life in the archipelago. 

Indonesia would continue to conserve Jamu through formal and non-formal education and training, as well as research, development, and innovation, Minister Nadiem Makarim said.

Source: Tempo

Stock image by Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Indonesia

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