Monday, 15 November 2010

Websites for Writers: UNESCO's list of Intangible World Heritage

We're all familiar with UNESCO's World Heritage List, which showcases manmade and natural wonders of global importance. A lesser-known list is UNESCO's list of Intangible World Heritage, which showcases rare and unique cultural practices like the human towers of Catalonia.

Why have I picked this site for this week's Websites for Writers? Because of the incredible breadth of human experience and creativity this list encompasses. There's everything from Tibetan throat singing to New Year's celebrations in Iran, which involves jumping over fires and streams.

It's not all exotic locales either. France has five entries on the list, including traditional timber-frame construction and processions involving huge effigies of giants and dragons.

There are hundreds of practices that can inspire your next story or act as leads for nonfiction articles (like the human towers I wrote about for Gadling, link above). Novelists and short story writers will find plenty of local color to use as their characters travel the world. Perhaps your next mystery novel involves a member of a human tower plunging to his death in suspicious circumstances. Or a fantasy writer could explore the true reasons behind why the French parade around with giant paper maché dragons.

The list is searchable by country and full text, so you can easily find a weird cultural practice that fits with your story.

[Photo courtesy user Baggio via Wikimedia Commons]

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Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

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