Pencak Silat becomes world’s intangible cultural heritage

Two Pencak Silat athletes were competing in a tournament in Jakarta. (The Indonesian Ministry of Youth and Sports)

Jakarta (Indonesia Window) – Not only does Indonesia’s Pencak Silat concern a technique and a martial art, but also a tradition that encourages respect among humans, as well as promoting fraternity and social ties.

With the wealth of life values ​​contained in it, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) established Pencak Silat as an Intangible Heritage at the 14th Session of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee in Bogota, Colombia, on Thursday (Dec 11).


The establishment of Pencak Silat as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage is a form of international recognition of the importance of the Indonesian martial arts tradition which has been passed down from generation to generation and is still developing today.

The Indonesian Permanent Delegation representative to UNESCO, Prof. Surya Rosa Putra, said that not only does Pencak Silat serve as self-defence, but also become part of the players’ way of life.

“Pencak Silat teaches us to be able to establish a good relationship with God, fellow humans and the environment. Although Pencak Silat teaches attacking techniques, but the most important thing is that it teaches us to be able to restrain and maintain harmony,” he said.


Indonesia is committed to always preserving Pencak Silat, among others  through educational activities that not only focus on sports or self-defence aspects, but also make it part of the arts and culture curriculum.

The promotion of Pencak Silat to various countries will also continue to be encouraged. Today there are Pencak Silat communities, colleges and festivals in 52 countries around the world.

In February 2020, Indonesia had the opportunity to introduce Pencak Silat to the people of Colombia through an exhibition, following talks between the Colombian Minister of Sports, Ernesto Lucena, and the Indonesian Ambassador to Colombia, Priyo Iswanto, on 7 October 2019.


With the inclusion of Pencak Silat in the UNESCO list, Indonesia currently has 11 intangible cultural heritages.

In total, Indonesia has nine sites of cultural and natural heritages, and 15 biosphere reserves that have been recognized worldwide.

The number is the largest among those of the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).


Reporting by Indonesia Window

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