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Shadow Play in Syria, Egypt’s Al-Aragoz on List of Intangible Cultural Heritage

Shadow Play in Syria, Egypt’s Al-Aragoz on List of Intangible Cultural Heritage

Thursday, 29 November, 2018 - 12:00
Traditional Hand Puppetry: Al-Aragoz
Paris - Asharq Al-Awsat
The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage has inscribed seven elements on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

Among them are Shadow Play in Syria, a traditional art practiced with handmade puppets that act out a script with musical accompaniment behind a thin translucent curtain or screen.

“Shadow Plays offer humorous social criticism, through satirical narratives involving two main characters. Performances are traditionally held in popular cafes where people gather to watch stories about everyday life,” said a statement issued by UNESCO on Wednesday.

“However, due to several factors including modern technology and mass displacements caused by the war, the prevalence of Shadow Play has declined drastically over the years,” said the Committee, which is meeting in Mauritius until Saturday.

Also added to the list is Traditional Hand Puppetry, Al-Aragoz, an old form of Egyptian theater using traditional hand puppetry, takes its name from the main puppet, whose distinctive voice is produced with the help of a vocal modifier.

“Performances, involving interaction with the audiences, offer comical entertainment drawing on a variety of themes from everyday life,” said the statement.

“Al-Aragoz is threatened by the changing social, political, legal and cultural circumstances of its enactment, however, and regular performances now rely on fewer than ten active practitioners, all of an advanced age.”

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