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In the wake of several devastating earthquakes, UNESCO supports the recovery of Indonesia’s cultural expressions

2023-04-04  |   Editor : jiping  
Category : News


UNESCO has launched a number of activities to revive traditional weaving and local museums in Indonesia following a series of damaging earthquakes in August and September 2018.


Much of the earthquake damage was centred in Lombok, home to a weaving culture that dates back to the arrival of Islamic traders in the 16 th century. Local weavers in the villages of Bayan Beleq and Pringgasela in particular saw their work severely disrupted by the earthquakes, leaving many unable to practice and transmit this rich form of intangible cultural heritage.

In response, and with the support from UNESCO’s Heritage Emergency Fund , UNESCO is working with local officials, the Ministry of Education and Culture, as well as disaster management authorities on an assessment of the affected villages. This assessment will help identify the technical assistance and support needed to ensure the continuation, sustainability and resilience of Bayan and Pringgasela weaving. The results of the post-earthquake assessment and interventions will be showcased through an exhibition, which will include digital archives of the woven motifs and first-hand accounts from the residents of Lombok as they work to recover their weaving industry.

This emphasis on recovering intangible cultural heritage in the wake of disasters is something that has been championed by UNESCO is recent years. “While there is a growing recognition of the need to protect heritage sites and museums against disasters, protecting other aspects of heritage, such as the traditional knowledge, skills and practices, during the emergency response and recovery phases also needs attention,” said the UNESCO Jakarta Office Director, Dr Shahbaz Khan. “Intangible cultural heritage is often a source of livelihoods and social cohesion for local communities, and its recovery is essential for building resilience against disasters.”

Sri Hartini, Head of the Nine Penenun weaving group in Pringgasela, East Lombok, says the local tradition of weaving is not only a source of income, but also a way of life: “It is also part of our cultural identity, which we inherited from our ancestors and which we feel committed to preserve”.

The Museum of Central Sulawesi in the city of Palu also suffered enormous damage as a result of the earthquake and tsunami of September 2018. Approximately 70% of its collection, which includes a rich array of traditional beaten bark, textiles and 17th century Chinese and Japanese ceramics, was damaged. To aid in the museum’s recovery, the Heritage Emergency Fund supported UNESCO’s work with the Tokyo Restoration and Conservation Centre (TRCC) to mitigate the museum’s losses and undertake urgent safeguarding measures. These included the recovery and restoration of damaged archives and artefacts, capacity building by way of a study visit by the Museum’s Deputy Director and others to Japan, to learn techniques used to protect artefacts in the event of disasters, and a public education campaign.

“While the post-disaster damage assessment and rescue of the collection requires immediate action, capacity building for restoration and disaster risk reduction planning is a far longer process,” said Isamu Sakamoto of the TRCC. “We also hope to mobilize local youth and identify their role in supporting museums during a disaster.”

Provided by the IKCEST Disaster Risk Reduction Knowledge Service System

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