Wherever you are you’re probably familiar with the Zhusuan, or the abacus. This simple counting aid was doing the math long before the electronic calculator was invented. But it’s now in a battle with South Korean pickles for the title of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The result will be revealed on Monday during UNESCO’s 8th intergovernmental Council in Azerbaijan.
With a history of over 1,800 years, the abacus is considered the world’s oldest computer.
Chinese abacus and South Korean pickles compete to be Cultural Heritage (Photo/CNTV)
However, with new technology and new gadgets, calculating with beads might seem archaic to some.
But to preserve this ancient wisdom, the government listed the abacus as a national-level intangible cultural heritage in 2008. Now the Ministry of Culture are hoping the abacus will be recognized on an international stage.
South Korean pickles (File Photo)
"The entries are the most representative things from Chinese culture. After carefully examining and debating each one, the abacus really stood out. Apart from the mathematical calculations, the cultural connotations of the abacus rhymes are also very rich. So we all hope that the abacus will be listed by UNESCO." said Ma Wenhui, President, Dept. of Intangible Cultural Heritage, MOC.
The result will be released on Monday December 2nd. Since 2001, China has successfully applied for 37 items to be listed as World Intangible Cultural Heritages, including Kunqu opera, shadow play and acupuncture. China now has the most intangible cultural items listed by UNESCO.