A hotchpotch of intangible cultural heritage

Several of our earlier blog posts were dedicated to UNESCO World Heritage sites across the world, linked to a program that has been in operation for more than 50 years. A newer initiative of UNESCO is the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Since 2008 there have been annual lists of significant intangible culture nominated by countries signed up to the Convention, the purpose of which is to raise awareness and to guarantee protection. The UNESCO definition in the Convention is:

The practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated therewith – that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage.

The Convention text gives five domains in which these are manifested:

(a) oral traditions and expressions, including language as a vehicle of the intangible cultural heritage;
(b) performing arts;
(c) social practices, rituals and festive events;
(d) knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe;
(e) traditional craftsmanship.

This results in very mixed lists each year. This blog post reflects the varied nature of the lists and features some related books in our collections. Continue reading

A long-awaited reopening in Antwerp

The city of Antwerp is celebrating the reopening at the end of September of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts (Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen, shortened to KMSKA) after an eleven year closure for renovation. The museum welcomed 25,000 visitors during its opening weekend. These were able to view over 600 artworks from the collection of more than 8000 and step for the first time into a new wing, made up of contemporary white cubes filling in space that used to be inner patios (the museum has gained 40% more exhibition space as a result).

The original large neoclassical building was built in the late 19th century to house the growing collection of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. The collection started off with works owned by the city’s disbanded guild of St. Luke and grew with the addition of 15th and 16th century Flemish works, a bequest from Florent van Ertborn, former mayor of the city.

KMSKA in 2010, photo by Ad Meskens via Wikimedia Commons

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Alchemical Connections in the UL: Jung and Eastern Alchemy

In my previous blog post, I examined a selection of the texts in the Bibliotheca Hermetica series, a recent addition to our catalogue. In this post, I wish to take a wider view of alchemy, and how the material connects people of different time periods. History is inherent to each manuscript, not only detailing the provenance and creation of each work, but also how the content shaped the lives of the people who read it. In this way, the collection of alchemical texts in the UL is a rich fabric of interwoven connections and textual interpretations, which spans centuries of academic understanding, creating almost a visual mind-map of human curiosity and giving the impetus to discover and learn more.

Carl Jung, circa 1935.

Carl Jung, circa 1935.

One particular example of how ideas interconnect across time, is Carl Jung, the Swiss 20th century psychiatrist, and The Secret of the Golden Flower (9840.b.17). Although psychology and alchemy may appear to be vastly different fields of enquiry, Jung’s approach to his specialism had a lot in common with the historical alchemists he researched. Like them, he was concerned with the unification of opposites, focusing primarily on the conscious and the unconscious, a theme he noted in a variety of Eastern archetypical images. Jung’s concept of individuation is also reminiscent of Western alchemical practices. In differentiating the self into conscious and unconscious elements, Jung was applying to psychology techniques which alchemists had applied to early approaches to natural science. Continue reading

New e-resource: Novaia Gazeta Digital Archive

Electronic Collection Management

Cambridge University Libraries are delighted to announce the acquisition of the Novaia Gazeta Digital Archive and a new subscription to the paper’s new Europe edition

The text about Novaia gazeta below is provided by East View, but the description predates Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. It therefore does not reflect the closure of the paper in Russia in March 2022 following government pressure to curb its frankness about the war nor the paper’s re-appearance in May 2022 as a separate Europe edition.

About The Collection

Novaia gazeta (Новая газета, The New Newspaper) is a popular independent Moscow newspaper known for critical investigative reporting, working to expose corruption, abuse of power and violation of laws amongst the government and main financial structures of modern Russia.

Launched in 1993, the newspaper has published under the title of Novaia ezhednevnaia gazeta (Новая ежедневная газета, The New Daily Newspaper)…

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More new (but ancient) additions to UNESCO World Heritage

This is the last of three posts delving into 2021 new additions to the UNESCO World Heritage list. The focus this time is on ancient sites and relevant publications in the University Library which support further investigation.

Settlement and Artificial Mummification of the Chinchorro Culture in the Arica and Parinacota Region: Most people would associate the death ritual of mummification with ancient Egypt. However, 7000 years ago (2000 years earlier than the Egyptians) the Chinchorro people of northern Chile were mummifying their dead, and this culture has now been recognised by inscription on the World Heritage List. The Chinchorro mummies were first brought to world attention by the German archaeologist Max Uhle in the early 20th century.  More recently, the Chilean anthropologist Bernardo Arriaza has devoted more than 30 years to researching them. His work has furthered our knowledge and helped to ensure that the culture has been validated as internationally significant. His 1995 book Beyond death: the Chinchorro mummies of ancient Chile (673:35.b.95.13) details almost 300 examples. Continue reading