Push for Thai Traditional Massage to be Added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List

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Push for Thai Traditional Massage to be Added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List
Push for Thai Traditional Massage to be Added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List

The benefits of massage are many, including increased circulation, stimulation of the lymph system (the body’s natural defence against toxic invaders), release of endorphins (the body’s natural painkiller), increased joint flexibility, and pain relief from migraines. In Thailand we are fortunate to have access to traditional Thai massage. Thai massage uses no oils or lotions, and the recipient remains clothed during the treatment. Rather than rubbing on muscles like a Western massage, the body is compressed, pulled, stretched and rocked. Thailand is trying to get traditional Thai massage added to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) world’s cultural heritage list, said Dr Boonruang Trairuangworawat, director-general of Health Service Support Department. Dr Boonruang went on to say he has discussed the matter with representatives from the Health Service Support Department, the Department for Development of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine, the Ministry of Culture, the regional office of UNESCO and members from the private sector.

All parties have agreed with the idea to push for the inclusion of Thai traditional massage on UNESCO’s world cultural heritage list. Dr Boonruang noted that Thai traditional massage is a legacy of Thai local wisdom,dating back more than 600 years. There are two types of the massage – one which was practiced in the Royal Court and the other by common people. He disclosed that the matter was also raised with the Labour Ministry as labour law needs to be updated to make sure the quality of Thai traditional massage is standardised and that the massage is preserved as an occupation for Thai nationals.

In order to apply for the UNESCO’s listing, Dr Pattharapol Jungsomjetpaisarn from the Department of Health Service Support, said his department must prepare full details about Thai traditional massage and present them to the national committee ata convention of world heritage protection, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Thanasak Patimaprakorn. The proposal will need cabinet’s endorsement before it is submitted to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in Paris. Currently, five sites in Thailand have been put in the Unesco’s World Heritage List. They are Sukhothai ancient city, Ayutthaya ancient city, Ban Chiang, Thung Yai-Huey Kha Khaeng wildlife sanctuary and Dong Prayayen-Khao Yai forests.

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