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Thread: UNESCO and the politics of culture

  1. #1
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    UNESCO and the politics of culture

    After a high-profile PR campaign by Shi Yongxin to have Shaolin Kung Fu be
    put on UNESCO's intangible heritage list the PRC has decided to hold off.
    My guess is that the trademark issue has hit a few nerves and could potentionally create some negative waves internationally for the PRC.

    http://english.sina.com/china/1/2005/0428/29336.html

    What does "safeguarding" intangible cultural heritage mean?
    Although there are many good intentions with this initiative, when you boil it down and get below the platitudes and motherhood statements, it is about political control of culture. This so called "safeguarding" is simply a tool for international legal control of culture by governments. You can be sure that the PRC will identify and define the various elements of "Shaolin kung-fu." This has to do with the adoption of legal measures aimed at groups that PRC/Shi Yongxin feels undermines his objectives in both national and international arenas. Consider the following which appeared in the Sun Shangwu (China Daily).

    "He (Shi Yongxin) says more effort from the government is needed to put Shaolin kung fu on the UNESCO list.

    He (Shi Yongxin) has submitted a proposal to the NPC session, asking the country's top legislature to consider a special law to protect (Shaolin Kungfu) ... ."

    "Controversially, he also established a company (Henan Shaolin Temple Industrial Development Ltd. Co.) to protect intellectual property rights and prevent the abuse of the name Shaolin by companies seeking easy profits."

    "Unsurprisingly, Shi (Shi Yongxin), . . .will not rest even if he gets UNESCO status or is handed a national culture-protection law."

    He says he is willing to walk the earth to promote, (read this as, getting control of) Shaolin kung fu."

    This is not about the use of the word 'Shaolin'for selling sausages etc. but rather about using the word "Shaolin" in reference to martial arts training. In the USA, as in most other countries in the world, the word "Shaolin" has already been trademarked for all products and services by Shi Yongxin. What he has not trademarked in the US, and Canada for that matter, is the exclusive use of Shaolin in relationship to martial arts training. I suspect the UNESCO list was to be the lever with which he planned to accomplish that. In Europe the trademark already includes martial arts training, but I believe this aspect of the Shaolin trademark in Europe can be still challenged successfully.

    r.
    Last edited by r.(shaolin); 05-01-2005 at 08:38 PM.

  2. #2
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    First on his list is getting control of all forum names
    VOTE FOR PEDRO '08

    Ever notice how virtually everyone agrees that 95% of all traditional schools are crap, but NOBODY ever admits to being in that 5%? Don't judge... your skill may suck also...
    Quote from SevenStar

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  3. #3
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    UNESCO and trademarking

    So far, Shaolin's trademarking lawsuits are targeting schools and tours that are claiming to be actual representatives of the Songshan Shaolin Temple when they are not. We had a thread about legal action in SF in one of these cases. It was kind of fascinating to see it play out. I think Shaolin should be able to control its name, but I'm not sure that trademarked is the best way to deal with it. We'll see.
    Gene Ching
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  4. #4
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    I don't see why Shaolin shouldn't control how it's name is used. I mean, "Shaolin Brand" really shouldn't exist unless authorized by the temple.

    Now who wants a Shaolin Sausage?
    "Prepare your mind..." "For a mind explosion!"
    -The Human Giant, Illusionators

  5. #5
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    I agree shaolin in its traditional form should be preserved by UNISCO. so that students and tourist alike when they go to shaolin they can experience the original culture and hsitory. Too much has already been lost.

  6. #6
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    I want shaolin sausage!

    My greatest missed item in my collection of Shaolin curios is a Shaolin sausage wrapper. I had them. They were kind of like a long vienna sausage, but not quite as long as a hot dog. Very nasty tasting. I really should have kept the wrapper. I did keep a wrapper for Shaolin water.

    As for the name branding, it's very delicate. Surely, after some 1500 years, the term 'shaolin' has entered into the common vernacular worldwide. At the same time, a group of Shaolin disciples should not be able to tour the world claiming to represent the Shaolin Temple. Imagine if a bunch of fake tibetan monks toured around with some one claiming to be the Dalai Lama. Of course, you could argue that this is already happening with some of the PRC lamas, but let's not muddle the issue too much here. Where I find it the most challenging is where to draw the line. It becomes a measure of Shaolin-ness, and that's hard to determine.
    Gene Ching
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing
    My greatest missed item in my collection of Shaolin curios is a Shaolin sausage wrapper. I had them. They were kind of like a long vienna sausage, but not quite as long as a hot dog. Very nasty tasting. I really should have kept the wrapper. I did keep a wrapper for Shaolin water.

    As for the name branding, it's very delicate. Surely, after some 1500 years, the term 'shaolin' has entered into the common vernacular worldwide. At the same time, a group of Shaolin disciples should not be able to tour the world claiming to represent the Shaolin Temple. Imagine if a bunch of fake tibetan monks toured around with some one claiming to be the Dalai Lama. Of course, you could argue that this is already happening with some of the PRC lamas, but let's not muddle the issue too much here. Where I find it the most challenging is where to draw the line. It becomes a measure of Shaolin-ness, and that's hard to determine.
    I disagree the concept of shaolin is very clear. Have you been to the shaolin temple and see those monks living in the traditional way of abstanence?

  8. #8
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    Vasquez

    I disagree the concept of shaolin is very clear. Have you been to the shaolin temple and see those monks living in the traditional way of abstanence?
    Yeah, I've been to Shaolin. You might check my archived work on Shaolin before you take your disagreement much further. You might check your history too, especially in regards to "Shaolin's traditional way of abstinence".
    Gene Ching
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing
    Yeah, I've been to Shaolin. You might check my archived work on Shaolin before you take your disagreement much further. You might check your history too, especially in regards to "Shaolin's traditional way of abstinence".

    I agree, it is devine calling when we are called to use our kung fu. MMA ppl say we are weak because we meditate and train forms. They say our training is unrealistic but I know we will be given strength when we need to use our kung fu as it is written.

  10. #10
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    kung fanaticism?

    I know we will be given strength when we need to use our kung fu as it is written.
    Written where? What are you talking about exactly?
    Gene Ching
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing
    Written where? What are you talking about exactly?
    Its written in the article you attached as a link. The monk became strong when the god appeared to him during medation. It shows through medation we will become strong when we need to use our kung fu.

  12. #12
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    Mayb I should ask the Abbot about this...

    ...since I'll be seeing him this week. I'm sure he's very happy about this one.
    Shaolin Kung Fu to feature in UNESCO show in Paris
    www.chinaview.cn 2009-03-17 08:53:05

    ZHENGZHOU, March 16 (Xinhua) -- Shaolin Kung Fu will be featured in a cultural event in Paris in May, the China News Service reported Monday.

    Shaolin Kung Fu is a school of martial arts associated with the monks of the Shaolin Temple based in central China's Henan Province.

    The event, held by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), will celebrate cultural diversity.

    The cultural bureau of Zhengzhou City said the event would raise its global fame and perhaps help promote its bid to have Shaolin Kung Fu included on UNESCO's list of world intangible cultural heritage items.

    In 2006, China's State Council (cabinet) published the first list of state-level intangible heritage items, including Shaolin Kung Fu.

    Four items from China are already on the UNESCO list. They are the 500-year-old Kunqu Opera, known for its graceful movements and poetic lyrics; the 3,000-year-old guqin seven-string zither; the Twelve Mukams, a 12-part suite of ancient Uygur music, and Mongolian Pastoral Songs.
    Gene Ching
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  13. #13
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    whew, I thought that it was gonna effect Sil Lum kungfu practice!

    not very zen to desire control of a brand now is it?
    Kung Fu is good for you.

  14. #14
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    bummer

    As I've always said, there's a ton of treasures on Songshan, not just Shaolin. Too bad. Maybe next time...
    Mt Songshan fails to enter World Heritage list
    www.chinaview.cn 2009-06-30 08:14:28
    by Yu Fei and Gui Juan

    BEIJING, June 30 -- Songshan Mountain, one of "the five sacred mountains" in China, failed to enlist its historical architecture complex as world heritage sites.

    In a result announced Friday at the 33rd World Heritage Convention held by the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Seville, southern Spain, the non-inclusion of Songshan Mountain disappointed many officials of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH).

    "The great value of the historical architecture complex in Songshan Mountain is beyond question," said Shi Yongxin, Abbot of Shaolin Temple, "but there were some mistakes in the application procedures."

    "The World Heritage Committee has decided to postpone the inscription of Songshan Mountain into the World Heritage List," said Tang Wei, director of the world heritage department of SACH.

    Confusion caused by dual application of Songshan Mountain is the main reason for the postponement, stated the Administration overseeing China's cultural heritage in a press release.

    The World Heritage Committee stipulates that a country must first put its cultural heritage sites on the tentative list before being nominated for inscription on the World Heritage List.

    According to the World Heritage Tentative List, SACH submitted the application of the historical monuments of Songshan Mountain on March 28, 2008.

    However, Songshan Mountain was also included in the application submitted by China's Ministry of Construction on April 7, 2008 that sought heritage status for "the five sacred mountains" as an extension of Mt Taishan, already declared a World Heritage site in 1987.

    That caused confusion in the World Heritage Committee, revealed by SACH. Information about the latest application has yet to be accessed from the official website of the Ministry of Construction.

    In China, SACH is responsible for applications for World Cultural Heritage whereas the Ministry of Construction takes care of applications for World Natural Heritage.

    Furthermore, China recently had also applied for Wutai Mountain to become a mixed cultural and natural world heritage and the Buddhism shrine was successfully included in the List over the weekend but only as a cultural heritage site. Thus, Songshan Mountain, a similar type of cultural heritage as Wutai Mountain, faced an uphill task in getting inscription at the same time, stated the SACH press release.

    "More documents and materials about Songshan Mountain are required by the World Heritage Committee for future application," said Tang.

    Many officials with the Henan Cultural Heritage Bureau went silent over the result they had been waiting for till midnight Friday.

    "We have spared no efforts for the last eight years to see Songshan Mountain inscribed on this esteemed List," said Chen Ailan, head of Henan Cultural Heritage Bureau, "but we can accept the result. The ultimate goal of the world heritage application is to better protect the heritage."

    The experts have reviewed the cultural value of the Songshan Mountain ancient buildings during the bidding process. "And the public awareness of protecting those ancient buildings has been increased," Chen added.

    Shaolin Temple, the most well-known site, seated in Songshan Mountain, was first built in 495 AD. Many more disciples went to Shaolin Temple following Bodhidharma's arrival in 527 AD. They learned Zen from Bodhiharma at the monastery, turning Shaolin into the origin of Zen in China.

    Other ancient architectures and sites included in the world heritage bid are rarely known by the outside world. Yet they are no less valuable.

    They include China's oldest observatory remains dating back to the early 13th century, the 1,500-year-old brick tower of Songyue Temple, the oldest remaining one of its kind in China, and three pairs of towers - Taishi, Shaoshi, and Qimu, the country's oldest existing ritual structures built in Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD).

    "Songshan Mountain houses ancient architectures from different ages over the past 2,000 years, which is rarely seen around the world," said Guo Daiheng, a professor at the School of Architecture, Tsinghua University.

    Explaining why ancient heritages have clustered in one area of no more than 4,000 hectares, Gong Songtao, deputy director of the Cultural Heritage Bureau of Dengfeng city, said "Songshan Mountain was regarded as the center of the world by ancient Chinese. Altogether 72 Chinese emperors in history have visited this place and offered sacrifices to Heaven."

    "Different religious groups belonging to Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism came to build their bases. The religious culture embodied by them has been constantly evolving with the times," said Gong.

    Local government has earmarked a huge sum of money in the world heritage application. To map out the protection plan alone has cost more than 10 million yuan (1.5 million U.S. dollars), Gong said. But he didn't give the total sum.

    China currently has 38 world heritages, including 27 cultural, seven natural and four mixed ones. The application has become increasingly hard for China during recent years as the World Heritage Committee tries to balance and diversify the heritage list. "The repeated application for Songshan Mountain by more than one department exposed the problem of too many authorities involved in the management of cultural heritage," said an official with the Cultural Heritage Bureau of Dengfeng city, on conditions of anonymity.

    "A world heritage site means much more fame and cash, which unfortunately also leads to frictions among different departments," said the official.

    The SACH hopes the string of ancient relics in Songshan Mountain would be inscribed into the World Heritage List as early as possible.
    Gene Ching
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  15. #15
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    The UNESCO Paris show

    There's a vid - click the link.
    Shaolin Kung Fu wows int'l audience
    2009-12-24 09:03 BJT

    A world cultural event was held at the Headquarters of UNESCO in Paris on Sunday. Capturing the bulk of attention at the multi-cultural festival was a stunning display of Kung Fu presented by monks from the Shaolin Temple based in central China's Henan Province.

    Twenty-seven warrior monks performed twenty-four styles of Shaolin Kung Fu, which is actually a collection of Chinese martial arts emphasizing fighting prowess, authentic technique, and self-defense. It also focuses on the harmony and quiescence of body and mind. Performing for more than an hour, warrior monks showcased their unique Kung Fu stunts, overwhelming an audience that regularly burst into cheers and applause.

    An audience member said, "This is really awesome! It's so amazing! Both my son and I saw the show today, and my son has been practicing Chinese Kungfu here in France."

    "I think the Kung Fu performance represents the fine tradition of Chinese culture and history. It is the essence of Chinese civilization, and it definitely should be well preserved and passed on from generation to generation," said an audience member.

    Shaolin Kung Fu was among the first batch of cultural heritages from China to make it onto UNESCO's cultural heritage list. With a history of over 15-hundred years, Shaolin Kung Fu has been religiously practiced by Shaolin disciples over many generations.

    Shi Yongxin, a Buddhist Abbot of the Shaolin Temple, says Shaolin Kung Fu represents compassion, peace, and justice. He adds he's glad to be invited by UNESCO to join such a multi-cultural event because it shows a recognition and appreciation for Chinese Kung Fu and Chinese culture.
    Gene Ching
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