“The intangible heritage might be defined as embracing all forms of traditional and popular or folk culture, i.e. collective works originating in a given community and based on tradition. These creations are transmitted orally or by gesture, and are modified over a period of time through a process of collective recreation. They include oral traditions, customs, languages, music, dance, rituals, festivities, traditional medicine and pharmacopoeia, the culinary arts and all kinds of special skills connected with the material aspects of culture, such as tools and the habitat.” (UNESCO)
The Cultural Heritage Act 2002 introduces the concept of intangible cultural heritage into national legal framework. In many ways, culture and cultural heritage carry with them intangible elements. The value of heritage is in itself only partly monetary. The non-physical gains of heritage are certainly broader than such values.
Intangible cultural values provide the spirit and soul of a heritage, which would otherwise become inanimate physical relics of our past.
The range of Malta’s intangible cultural is varied. The more attractive elements are visible in traditions, customs, narratives and the various skills and crafts that have moulded earlier social-economic developments.
Other conspicuous elements of the intangible heritage are seen in Malta’s ancient landscape and the Baroque skylines that characterise this landscape. The aesthetic qualities of these elements provide iconographic identity to the archipelago.
Finally, the intangible values of culture cannot be divorced from any repertoire of cultural heritage. The definition of cultural heritage in the Cultural Heritage Act 2002 develops the idea of a cultural continuum. In this continuum, the land and the geological deposits that it holds are equally important as archaeology, architecture, paintings, music, religion, traditions and customs.
It is this cultural continuum that provides the spirit of Maltese cultural identity.