Indonesian Cultural Heritage Takes Center Stage

April 18, 2008


Wayang Shadow Puppet

Wayang Shadow Puppet

As part of its efforts related to the protection of intangible cultural heritage, WIPO partnered with the Permanent Mission of Indonesia in Geneva, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Office in Geneva to support a performance of the Wayang Shadow Puppet Theatre, a fine portrayal of Indonesia’s living heritage. 

The performance, rich in skill, symbolism and legend, which took place in Geneva on April 15, 2008, was provided by the Yayasan Redi Waluyo Foundation of Indonesia. It included a seven year old puppeteer, with musical support from the Gamelan Kyai Gandrung of Geneva.  

Speaking at the event, WIPO Deputy Director General Mr. Francis Gurry noted that traditional cultural expressions are part of Indonesia’s intellectual and cultural assets, and directly convey precious cultural diversity.  The intellectual property (IP) system, he said, aims to establish an environment in which musicians, artists and performers are able to obtain just remuneration and acknowledgement for their efforts, while ensuring that the public can enjoy their artistic genius. As intangible cultural heritage embodies rich and distinctive creativity in constant evolution, suitably balanced intellectual property measures can also contribute to its preservation, promotion and protection.

The intense discussions within WIPO’s Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) reflect the commitment of WIPO and its Member States to deepening understanding of the complementarities between intellectual property protection and the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage. This policy work is complemented by practical initiatives, such as WIPO’s Creative Heritage Project, that directly support custodians of cultural heritage in understanding and promoting their interests when their cultural expressions are recorded and disseminated beyond the traditional circle. 

The performance took place alongside an exhibition of photographs of Indonesian Wayang by celebrated Japanese photographer Yoshi Shimizu.