▲ Performers from around the world will converge in Jeju for the Delphic Games. Above left: Silvia Sarkozovia from the Central European group Gypsy Devils, right: Mongolian morin huur (stringed instrument) player Tseyen Tserendorj. Photos courtesy Delphic Games 2009 Organizing Committee
An ancient tradition is coming to Jeju Island Sept. 9-15, bringing modern poets, artists and musicians from across the globe to “compete” in cultural games.
More than 1,500 people from 54 countries will take part in these games in a wide variety of cultural disciplines, from percussion, a cappella and mime to dance, poetry and even Jeju stone fence making.
In the sixth century BC bards, thespians, musicians and playwrights first assembled at the Temple of Apollo in Delphi, Greece for the cultural celebration that would become the Delphic Games. In honor of Apollo, competing city-states would send their finest artists to face off against one another, so to speak, in a celebration of art and culture.
With a 1000-year Greek pedigree it is easy to draw comparisons with the Olympic Games, which historically took place two years following the Delphic Games, both one of the four Panhellenic Games of Ancient Greece. Each drew competitors from across the Mediterranean in what was a not just a battle of wits and skill, but also an exploration of creativity, identity and peace. Over two and a half thousand years later, it is Jeju’s turn to host these prestigious games.
The antiquarian games were last held in 394 and it was due to the passion of J. Christian B. Hirsch that they were revived in the 1990s. After setting up the International Delphic Council in 1994, the first games of the modern era were held in Moscow in 2000. Kuching, Malaysia was next in 2005, as the once-dead tradition began to gather pace.
Now Jeju has stepped up as international competition was headed off to secure the 2009 games for this southerly South Korean province. Delegates successfully lobbied for recognition of Jeju’s qualities for the games, and in March in Johannesburg, South Africa, the announcement was made.
The Delphic Games will take place at Shinsan Park, Halla-dom, Jeju City, where programs including musical, architectural and lingual arts will be held to celebrate not only global arts, but also the distinctiveness of Jeju people and culture. The Delphic Games are above all about safeguarding the cultural diversity of all the peoples of the world, as Delphic Public Relations Technical Expert, Jose Diaz expressed.
“In this era of global change, there lies the hidden danger that social values and traditions, and cultural heritage are lost amidst change,” said Diaz.
The games, in their promotion of local arts, give Jeju communities an opportunity to showcase their wealth of heritage on an international stage, insuring these cultural assets are safeguarded well into the future.
▲ top left and right: Famous French mime artist Philippe Genty will be participating in the Games. Bottom left: Stefan Banyak of Gypsy Devils. Right: Ernest Sarkozi of Gypsy Devils. Photos courtesy The 3rd Delphic Games 2009 Organizing Committee
The variation and diversity of the events are perfectly suited to the welcome and warmth of the Jeju people, according to Delphic Director, Kim Bong Cheal.
“Jeju people have a history of hardship, but now they look towards the future with a hope for peace and the preservation of their rich tradition. The Delphic Games share this vision, for Jeju and all cultures of the world,” Kim said.
With a history every bit as rich as the Olympic Games, it would be easy for the Delphic Games to be stuck in the past, but these games seem to offer hope to traditions the world over, that preservation of the past necessitates moving forward, into the future.
For more information visit www.delphic2009.com
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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