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Education crisis: Kids find abacus a total alien object

Updated: 2014-01-03
By Jack Sun (chinadaily.com.cn)
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The Zhusuan, otherwise known as the Chinese abacus was officially listed as an intangible cultural heritage at the 8th Annual UNESCO World Heritage Congress on December 4th in Baku,Azerbaijan.

The abacus is an ancient calculating method with a history of over 2,500 years. It is regarded asthe fifth invention in Chinese history and was listed as a national-level intangible cultural heritagein 2008.

The abacus's popularity has been compromised over the course of time by the emergence ofdigital calculators; however, they are still in use in many of China's rural marketplaces. Today, theabacus has a richer value as a cultural symbol rather than a practical calculating tool.

The UNESCO stated that intangible cultural heritage could bring a sense of identification to thepeople who own it and it is essential to maintaining cultural diversity and human creativity.

Since 2001, China has successfully applied for 37 items to be listed as World Intangible CulturalHeritages, including Kunqu opera, the shadow play and acupuncture.

China currently has 30 intangible cultural heritage items listed by UNESCO, the most among allcountries throughout the world.

Video: Jack Sun

Producer: Flora Yue

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