Gov’t Hopeful Thai Massage Gets UNESCO Recognition

Image: Roberto Faccenda / Flickr

BANGKOK — The government said Tuesday it has petitioned the United Nations to recognise Thai massage as part of its intangible heritage.

Speaking to reporters today, Culture Minister Veera Rojpojanara said UNESCO will convene to make its decision in November. If accepted, Thai massage – or nuad thai – will be Thailand’s second entry in UNESCO’s intangible world heritage list. Last year, the agency granted a similar status to Thai traditional masked dance.

“We have already submitted it,” Veera said. “Right now it is under consideration.”

He said he has high hopes that UNESCO will recognize Thai massage as an important part of Thai culture.

“We have submitted very detailed information,” Veera told reporters. “And we have high expectations, because Thai massage is considered part of Thailand’s unique intangible heritage.”

In its submission, the Thai government said there are about 25,000 practitioners of the craft nationwide. It also said Thai massage is a manifestation of folk knowledge of the body’s workings that has been passed down for centuries.

“Nuad Thai is considered part of the art, science and culture of Thai traditional healthcare,” the government said in its application.

About 50 entries around the world are vying this year for recognition in UNESCO’s prestigious list of intangible heritage – a distinction given to oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festivals and more.

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