Umbrella maker, salted fish on list of intangible treasures

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 February, 2011, 12:00am

Government-appointed researchers have identified 63 local traditions and customs as the city's 'intangible cultural heritage', including some skills and crafts that will soon disappear with their elderly practitioners.

Told of the survey's interim results yesterday, lawmakers said the government should come up with measures as soon as possible to preserve the traditions before they die.

Compiled by the University of Science and Technology, the list was part of the government's duty to fulfill the Unesco Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Leisure and Cultural Services Department director Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee said this was just a first step. 'For education and research purposes, we will build a database recording the details of these traditions, which will be open to the public.

'The research results will be handed to an advisory committee to consider. The committee will decide whether any items are recommendable to the mainland authorities to be recognised as national intangible cultural heritage,' Fung said.

Apart from better known traditions such as the Dragon Boat Festival and the fire dragon dances in Tai Hang and Pok Fu Lam, the survey also identified masters and their crafts. One of these is 89-year-old umbrella maker Ho Hung-hee, who has a stall in Peel Street, Central and is known as Dr Umbrella.

Food-making skills are also noted, with prawn paste and salted fish on the list. Hakka folk songs for funerals and weddings are also included.

The basin meal prepared in the New Territories' walled villages during festivals, and the way locals rear chickens and pigs, are also on the list. It will be completed in 2012.

Democratic Party lawmaker Cheung Man-kwong urged the government not to wait for national recognition to come up with measures to protect the city's heritage. 'Otherwise, the day these traditions are endorsed as valuable will also be the day they vanish,' Cheung said.

The Civic Party's Tanya Chan called for legislation for a comprehensive programme to promote and preserve these traditions. But Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing said such a law would come only after the list was completed.