Listed by UNESCO

Setos are known everywhere specifically for their imposing style of song. Setos themselves consider singing natural and everyday tradition. They use singing to express all of their thoughts and emotions and lighten their load. Singing also helps them remember what has passed – bearing their ancient beliefs ever on into the future. Seto songs are governed by traditional rules that every singer must follow, while being expected to improvise within those clear confines. The best singers hew to the old form and message of the song yet also create a new form that meets the old so naturally that it is immediately strikes one as authentic and typical.

In 2009, Seto leelo – the Seto word for the tradition – was added to the UNESCO list of world cultural heritage. That means that Seto songs are now better-known to world audiences and are considered part of humanity’s common cultural wealth.