Cultural Heritage: Definition & Types

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  • 0:01 Defining Cultural Heritage
  • 1:12 Intangible & Tangible…
  • 2:48 Why Is Cultural…
  • 3:24 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

In this lesson, we'll define cultural heritage, discuss both tangible and intangible cultural heritage, talk about why cultural heritage is important and see some basic examples of it.

Defining Cultural Heritage

Brigid is a first generation Irish-American. Her mother is originally from Ireland, but she relocated to America after meeting and marrying Brigid's father who is an American businessman. Brigid's mother is a talented curator who collects artifacts from all over Europe. The walls of their home are decorated with Irish artwork. Every night before bed, Brigid's mother tells her stories about Ireland and reads Irish fairy tales. They also say a Celtic prayer right before Brigid's mother tucks her in. Though Brigid doesn't know it yet, her mother is passing on her cultural heritage.

Cultural heritage is the indicators of the ways of living that a community developed, which are inherited from previous generations. It includes artwork, buildings, books, objects, songs, folklore, and oral history. Cultural heritage provides both tangible and intangible representations of the values, beliefs, traditions and lifestyles of prior generations. Though it comes from the past, cultural heritage is preserved in the present and valued by present generations.

Intangible and Tangible Cultural Heritage

Cultural heritage can be tangible or intangible. Tangible cultural heritage refers to things that we can store or physically touch. Examples of tangible cultural heritage include traditional clothing, tools, buildings, artwork, monuments, and modes of transportation.

Intangible cultural heritage refers to things that are not physical items but exist intellectually. Intangible cultural heritage includes oral traditions songs, rituals, values, superstitions and myths, beliefs, social practices, and the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts. The stories Brigid's mother told her are a form of intangible cultural heritage, as is the Celtic prayer they say before bed.

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