Asia comprised one-third of the world’s land mass and two-thirds of the world’s population with huge range of languages. The region is divided into geographic and cultural subregions including North Asia, East Asia, South Asia, West Asia, Southeast Asia and Central Asia. The important parts of Asian culture are Asian art, music, literature and cuisine. Eastern religion and philosophy play major roles in its culture and tradition. There has been no common history or little unity in the culture and people of Asia. Asian culture is diverse, it ranges from tribal culture to sophisticated civilization and greatly influenced by the culture of neighbouring regions.
Traditional Asian culture like the art, religion, philosophy, laws, literature, politics and history have been learned, preserved and transmitted over time. This traditional culture suffered under ailing economies, by World War. Many Asian countries under European dominance gained their independence by mid-century. These countries were influenced by western politics and started to lose cultural identity. They embraced the cultural characteristics of their conquerors and new culture and arts started to emerge. Asian arts and culture started embracing modernity by remoulding the old cultural system into a new mode. Some Asian countries embraced modernity by merging indigenous cultural elements with Western culture. Modernization occurred in these countries by accepting Western culture which resulted in changes of everyday life.
Asians were exposed to western art, culture and politics which led to modernization influenced by western culture. The adaptation of western systems of law, military and customs started modern and cosmopolitan culture in Asia. Education and migration also contributed to rapid modernization. Western clothes, food, houses and even fashion have been adopted as part of westernization. Traditional Asian art such as painting on glass, woodwork, metalwork, textiles, leather and wall frescoes were considered archaic traditions. Modernity in arts started reshaping and developing new ways that created the Asian contemporary art.
The introduction of telephones, radio, television and the internet hasten Asian modernization. They transformed Asians way of thinking from exposure to western culture. Non-material Asian cultural heritage such as arts, values, beliefs, rituals, social practices and community life were greatly affected by globalization. Traditional culture is important part of history and national identity. Yet this cultural heritage is changing and lost as people move to the urban areas to work. Different Asian cultural groups are emerging and attempting to preserve disappearing art and culture. ChinaVine an interactive website which is a collaboration among University of Oregon, University of Central Florida and other parts in China and United States is sharing Chinese custom and tradition using modern technology.
Non-material cultural heritage is very important because it can’t be recovered once it has been lost. Cultural heritage is the root of cultural identity. The preservation and promotion of cultural heritage has been gaining attention around the world. Asian art and culture although embracing modernity did not want the traditional culture to be lost. Asian community has been recognising the diversity of Asian culture, and active discussion is going on to preserve and promote non-material cultural heritage in this age of globalization. Japan established Japanese Funds-in Trust for the Preservation and Promotion of Intangible Cultural Heritage with UNESCO in 1993. It had contributed $15.67 million and implemented 100 projects to ensure the survival of non-material cultural heritage in Asia and the world.