Intangible cultural heritage: safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China. Part 1

Dublin Core

Tytuł

Intangible cultural heritage: safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China. Part 1

Temat

UNESCO
cultural heritage

Opis

258 s.; il.color.

Twórca

Schreiber, Hanna (ed.)

Wydawca

National Heritage Board of Poland

Data

2017

Prawa

Licencja PIA

Relacja

oai:cyfrowaetnografia.pl:publication:6643

Format

application/pdf

Język

ang

Typ

książka

Identyfikator

oai:cyfrowaetnografia.pl:6211

PDF Text

Text

Safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China

INTANGIBLE
CULTURAL
HERITAGE
10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention
through the Prism of Sustainable Development

Safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China

INTANGIBLE
CULTURAL
HERITAGE
edited by Hanna Schreiber

10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention
through the Prism of Sustainable Development

Title
Intangible Cultural Heritage: Safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China.
The 10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development.
Scientific and substantive editor
Hanna Schreiber
Principal reviewer
Andrzej Rottermund
Language editing
Tomasz Wiśniewski
Translation
LIDEX
Mechanical editing
Aleksandra Zych
Proof-reading
Tomasz Wiśniewski, Aleksandra Zych, Hanna Schreiber
Layout, cover design and typesetting
Magdalena Piotrowska-Kloc, Printomato
© 2017 National Heritage Board of Poland
ul. Kopernika 36/40,
00-924 Warszawa
ISBN 978-83-63260-95-8
Printed by
Łódzkie Zakłady Graficzne

The views expressed in the articles published in this volume are those of the authors and do not necessarily
represent the views of the institutions they work for, neither the National Heritage Board of Poland nor the Polish
Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.

FOREWORDS
Intangible cultural heritage at the heart of sustainable development . . . 12
Timothy Curtis

Foreword . . . 16
Magdalena Gawin

Opening speech . . . 20
Chen Fafen

The National Heritage Board of Poland in the process of implementing
the provisions of the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding
of the Intangible Cultural Heritage . . . 26
Małgorzata Rozbicka

Introductory speech made during the opening of the 1st China – Central
and Eastern European Countries Expert-Level Forum on the Safeguarding
of Intangible Cultural Heritage . . . 34
Leszek Zegzda

Kraków and its heritage in the European context . . . 40
Jacek Purchla

4

INTRODUCTORY PAPERS
Intangible cultural heritage safeguarding:
a global campaign and its practice in China . . . 52
An Deming

Implementation of the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding
of the Intangible Cultural Heritage – the Polish experience . . . 68
Jan Adamowski

PART 1. ICH AND GOOD PRACTICES OF ITS SAFEGUARDING
Croatia’s intangible cultural heritage safeguarding policies and practice.
The implementation of the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding
of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Croatia . . . 86
Mirela Hrovatin, Martina Šimunković

Safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in Latvia:
insights into the contribution of NGOs . . . 100
Gita Lancere, Anita Vaivade

Intangible cultural heritage in Lithuania . . . 112
Vida Šatkauskienė, Loreta Sungailienė, Skirmantė Ramoškaitė

Implementation of the Convention for the Safeguarding
of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Hungary . . . 128
Eszter Csonka-Takács, Vanda Illés

5

PART 2. ICH AND THE EXAMINATION AND DOCUMENTATION
OF PHENOMENA
The strategy of safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage
in the Czech Republic . . . 142
Martin Šimša

Estonian inventory of intangible cultural heritage.
The case of cross-trees . . . 154
Marju Kõivupuu

Intangible cultural heritage of Albania and the challenges in creating
the National Inventory and the list of phenomena and elements . . . 166
Silva Breshani, Arta Dollani

Ambiguity in the system of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage
in the Republic of Macedonia . . . 184
Velika Stojkova Serafimovska, Ivona Opetčeska Tatarčevska

The implementation of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible
Cultural Heritage in the Republic of Serbia: documentation of the National Register
of Intangible Cultural Heritage at the Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade . . . 198
Danijela Filipović

Safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in Bosnia and Herzegovina . . . 214
Milica Kotur

Implementation of the Convention for the Safeguarding
of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Slovakia . . . 226
Eva Ryšavá-Záhumenská

6

Safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in Bulgaria . . . 238
Albena Georgieva

Documentation as a form of safeguarding of the intangible
cultural heritage in China: practice and experience . . . 254
Deng Xuechen

PART 3. CREATING THE ICH SAFEGUARDING SYSTEM
– CURRENT CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS
The intangible cultural heritage of Romania:
current situation and future directions . . . 262
Marta Nedelcu

The intangible cultural heritage of Slovenia
and the activities of the Coordinator . . . 274
Nena Židov

Networks of intangible cultural heritage experts in Hungary . . . 286
Eszter Csonka-Takács

Intangible cultural heritage in the system of cultural heritage
protection in Poland . . . 292
Katarzyna Zalasińska

What do we mean when we say ICH?
Or does the Galičnik wedding constitute ‘intangible cultural heritage’? . . . 300
Ivona Opetčeska Tatarčevska

7

‘World is sacred’ worldview as an element of intangible cultural heritage
in the modern world . . . 306
Vida Šatkauskienė

Safeguarding and transmission of intangible cultural heritage –
the case of Surova in a museum context . . . 318
Iglika Mishkova

The Association of Folk Artists and its activities for the safeguarding
of intangible cultural heritage in Poland . . . 336
Waldemar Majcher, Paweł Onochin, Katarzyna Smyk

PART 4. ICH AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Lists of intangible cultural heritage:
the beginning or the end of sustainability? . . . 352
Eva Románková-Kuminková

Intangible cultural heritage and sustainable development:
case study of Suiti cultural space in Latvia . . . 370
Anita Vaivade

Vernacular religion as an element of intangible heritage
in terms of sustainable development . . . 380
Katarzyna Smyk

Importance of inter-institutional cooperation for ICH safeguarding
and sustainable development. The case of dry stone building . . . 398
Mirela Hrovatin

8

Securing the future of intangible cultural heritage in Romania
in a sustainable way: benefits and subsequent risks . . . 412
Adina Hulubaş

Discontinuation in transmission – threats and questions.
The case study of Glasoechko singing in the Republic of Macedonia . . . 422
Velika Stojkova Serafimovska

SUMMARY
Ten remarks on the 10th anniversary of entry into force
of the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding
of the Intangible Cultural Heritage . . . 434
Hanna Schreiber

Acknowledgements . . . 472
Hanna Schreiber

FOREWORDS

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INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE
Safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China
10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

Intangible cultural heritage
at the heart of sustainable
development
Timothy Curtis*

*

Chief of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Section, Culture Sector, UNESCO Secretary of the 2003 Convention for the
Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Forewords

In 2003, the adoption of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage
has shaped a new global understanding of heritage, beyond monuments, beyond artefacts,
to include living heritage, recognising this as a force of innovation, social transformation and
sustainable development. Within this new normative instrument, a radically new approach to the
safeguarding of the living dimension of heritage has been promoted, putting communities and
peoples first, as custodians and as bearers of cultural expressions.
A similar spirit has inspired the elaboration of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,
agreed in 2015 by the United Nations Member States. For the first time at the global level, culture,
and in particular cultural heritage and diversity are recognised as drivers and enablers of an inclusive
and human-centred approach to development. Heritage, including intangible cultural heritage, is
indeed at the centre of the most pressing challenges facing humanity. Leveraging living heritage for
sustainable development can help communities build more tolerant and more inclusive societies.
In this context, the 2003 Convention can play an important role in the implementation of the
2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as a tool for realising the potential of intangible
cultural heritage for environmental sustainability, inclusive social and economic development,
as well as peacebuilding. At its sixth session in May-June 2016, the General Assembly of States
Parties to the 2003 Convention adopted a new Chapter VI of Operational Directives dedicated
to the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage and sustainable development at national
level. These new Operational Directives encourage States and communities to see living heritage
as a wellspring of solutions to eradicate poverty and hunger, to create decent and green jobs

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INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE
Safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China
10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

Timothy Curtis, 2016, © UNESCO.

in the cultural sector, in arts and crafts, in music and many other fields. By placing emphasis on the
importance of traditional knowledge systems for identifying ways of living together and using
resources sustainably, they reaffirm UNESCO’s firm conviction that living heritage is at the heart of
contemporary issues facing our societies. Furthermore, they demonstrate how the international
community is increasingly aware of the true potential of intangible cultural heritage for tackling
current development challenges and those that can be anticipated in the future.
In this endeavour, international and regional cooperation – one of the key purposes of the 2003
Convention – is of tremendous importance. Driven by a fast economic growth in the past two
decades, Central and Eastern European countries, as well as China, face comparable challenges
in safeguarding the diversity and ensuring the viability of their living heritage. Globalization and
an unprecedented urban growth bring out new challenges for the future of our societies in
better living together. Against this backdrop, efforts to safeguard intangible cultural heritage
are increasingly considered as important to support communities not only in safeguarding their
practices and values that define their lifestyles but also in promoting respect for other cultural
traditions and lifestyles.
However, this enhanced awareness among decision-makers, experts and communities is not
yet sufficient. I am therefore very pleased to see the initiative of the Ministry of Culture and the
National Intangible Cultural Heritage Board of Poland to convene a wide range of experts from
Central and Eastern Europe and China to share good and effective practices in the safeguarding
of living traditions. It fully demonstrates how urgent and useful it is to identify and safeguard
the many cultural practices and knowledge that we have been elaborating over our history, and
that are still relevant to many of our present challenges. It also highlights the commitment of the
international community in ensuring that heritage’s full potential is mobilised, thereby advancing
the well-being of societies and human progress, and it is my hope that it will serve as a source
of inspiration for many other stakeholders worldwide.

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INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE
Safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China
10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

Foreword
Magdalena Gawin*

*

Under-secretary of State at the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage (Ministerstwo Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego),
Warsaw, Poland, professor.

Forewords

The First China – Central and Eastern European Countries Expert-Level Forum on the Safeguarding
of Intangible Cultural Heritage is a wonderful continuation of the partnership and cooperation
between China and 16 countries of Central and Eastern Europe initiated in Warsaw, Poland, and
which has been maintained for more than four years now. I am glad that culture and intangible
cultural heritage play such a significant role in many of the obvious areas of the cooperation, such
as the economy, diplomacy, or infrastructure investments.
That is because it is precisely this area of the heritage of mankind with all of its otherness and
diversity that allows us to draw deep connections between places even as far afield – at first glance
– as Asia and Europe or China and the countries of our region. Irrespective of the above-mentioned differences, all of us draw from the traditions, knowledge and skills of the past generations
equally. It is culture and the heritage it creates that build our identity and sense of community –
the great, human, European, Asian, or national ones, but also the small, regional, local and familial
ones. In important and everyday moments, it is precisely intangible heritage that allows us to
answer the basic questions of who we are, where we come from, where we are headed and what
for, as well as what values are important to us. It is also culture that allows us to recognise the same
invaluable process that has created civilisation for centuries and millennia in other human beings
– irrespective of their origin and identity. Culture teaches us the respect for our own culture and
achievements, but also for the different paths and achievements of our neighbours, often as far
afield and seemingly distant as China.

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INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE
Safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China
10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

Professor Magdalena Gawin, 2016. Photo by Monika Szalek.

Forewords

St John Paul II, one of the greatest Poles, and at the same time one of the most brilliant thinkers
of the 20th century, wrote:
What is culture? Culture is the expression of man. It is an affirmation of humanity. It is created by man –
and it is through culture that man is created. He creates himself through the inner effort of the spirit: the
thought, the will and the heart. And at the same time, man creates culture together with others. Culture
is an expression of interpersonal communication, joint thinking and joint action of humans. It is created
in service of the common good – and it becomes a basic right of human communities.1

Today, these words seem to be the most accurate description of the role which intangible
heritage plays in the life of societies. It is the heritage that, by permeating all layers of culture
– from traditional, folk culture to popular culture to high, classical or modern culture – consolidates and co-creates it, and helps to appreciate the role of community in all meanings and scopes
of this word. Owing to legal instruments such as the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding
of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, since 2003 we have had international mechanisms that make
it possible to safeguard elements of the heritage for future generations, as well as promote its
diversity all over the world.
Over the course of three days, the experts and representatives of seventeen countries who
gathered at the First China – Central and Eastern European Countries Forum shared their experiences with regard to safeguarding, supporting, and developing activities that promote and disseminate intangible heritage. This exchange of practices, culminating in this exceptional publication,
will enable all of us not only to make greater use of the potential for growth that lies in understanding and making use of the wealth of our common experiences than we did before, but first
and foremost sensitise the governments and influential bodies of our countries to the significance
of safeguarding and supporting – also financially – the intangible heritage of our nations and local
communities for contemporary times.

1

Fragment of a speech presented to the youth gathered at Wzgórze Lecha (Lech’s Hill) in Gniezno on 3 June 1979.

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INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE
Safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China
10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

Opening speech
Chen Fafen*

*

Deputy Director of the Bureau for External Cultural Relations, Ministry of Culture, People’s Republic of China.

Forewords

Distinguished Ministers,
Experts, scholars,
Ladies and gentlemen!

The first ‘China-Central and Eastern Europe Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection Experts Forum’,
jointly prepared by the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China and the Ministry
of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland is opening today in the Cultural Capital
of Europe – Kraków. First, I would like to extend my warm welcome to officials and experts from
China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries on behalf of the Ministry of Culture of the
People’s Republic of China. Moreover, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the organisers from Poland for all they have done to ensure the success of the forum.
Culture is the spirit and soul of a country and a nationality. The level of cultural development
plays a decisive role in the degree of civilisation, comprehensive power, and international competitiveness of countries and nationalities. At the same time, intangible culture plays an essential
role and has a significant impact on the cultural life of people. As modernisation and globalisation
accelerate, inherent cultural ecology and cultural space are put under huge pressure. Intangible
culture has received an unprecedented blow.
According to the consensus reached by state leaders, including the ministers of culture from
China and Poland during the third meeting of Central China and Eastern European Countries

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INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE
Safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China
10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

Cross-cultural encounter. Mr Chen Fafen and the Chinese delegation meeting the Lajkonik from Kraków,
October 2016. Photo by Paweł Kobek, © National Heritage Board of Poland.

Forewords

in Beijing in February 2015, the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China and the Ministry
of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland jointly held the forum obliged to pave
the way for stimulating international research and communication in terms of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, boosting international cooperation among institutions and experts from
the intangible cultural heritage sector in all countries, setting the concept consensus for China and
Central and Eastern European Countries to expand communication and cooperation, and gradually
laying the firm foundation for the public opinion consensus. We are hoping that the experts and
scholars from culture sectors in China and 16 Central and Eastern European Countries will make
full use of the discussions and exchange their views on the issues in the current environment for
intangible cultural heritage safeguarding.
China is an ancient civilisation; a country with a long history. The Chinese people have created
a wide range of profound and kaleidoscopic cultural heritage over the course of history. It has
fully embodied their extraordinary imagination and creativity. As a key part of the rich traditional
culture of China, intangible cultural heritage is the intuitive witness of the evolution of the Chinese
civilisation, as well as the inexhaustible driving force behind its sustainable development.
The Kunqu opera was selected as the Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity
by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2001. The
intangible cultural heritage safeguarding guided and driven by the Chinese government has been
carried out for 15 years ever since then. Cultural authorities in all levels and areas have been sparing
no efforts so that China could make great progress in intangible cultural heritage safeguarding
thanks to the concern of the Chinese government. Especially when China’s first law – the Law of
the People’s Republic of China on intangible cultural heritage protection – was enacted in 2011,
it has accelerated the progress of China’s intangible cultural heritage safeguarding, and strengthened the awareness of its entire society about intangible cultural heritage, and furthermore, significantly improved China’s global influence. China’s intangible cultural heritage safeguarding has
thus been on the track of the exemplary legislative cycle. In August 2004, the Chinese Government joined the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. This
means that modern China, together with its uninterrupted 5000-year-old tradition will continue to
progress and perfect the safeguarding of its intangible cultural heritage, and set the will to protect
it as a national goal.
China has been constantly refining its work concept of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage
amid its continuous efforts to expand and perfect the practical aspects of the safeguarding process.

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INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE
Safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China
10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

We have especially stressed three concepts in recent years: the first concept is safeguarding with
improvement; the second is integrating intangible cultural heritage with modern life; the third
is the ecological protection concept regarding people, heritage, and life.
Central and Eastern European countries have long histories and splendid cultures. The safeguarding of their intangible cultural heritage is characterised by different features and truly
inspires our work in China. The Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China and Chinese
experts greatly cherish the opportunity for communication. We hope to discuss with the intangible cultural heritage safeguarding experts from 16 countries the challenges in the relationship
between intangible cultural heritage and sustainable development, and gain substantial results.
Finally, I want to thank the organisers again for their dedicated efforts and invite all the Central and
European Countries to actively participate and wish the forum a great success.

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INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE
Safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China
10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

The National Heritage
Board of Poland in the
process of implementing
the provisions of the
2003 UNESCO Convention
for the Safeguarding
of the Intangible Cultural
Heritage
Małgorzata Rozbicka*

*

Director of the National Heritage Board of Poland, Warsaw, Poland, professor, Faculty of Architecture, Warsaw University
of Technology

Forewords

Heritage – this term is ambiguous and undergoes continuous change, which constantly broadens
and enriches its semantic range. In the field of many sciences, disciplines, and social practices,
including those in whose context the term ‘heritage’ has not been properly recognised recently,
this term often turns from a peripheral to a central one. It occurs wherever attempts are made
to safeguard, adapt or use (sometimes practical) tangible and intangible remnants of the past. In
this sense, heritage is also emotionally charged as it creates a close link between the entity which
is or feels like the owner thereof and the entity which consented to succession (Kowalski 2013, 15).
The term ‘cultural heritage’ has been changing and evolving since the 1960s. Nowadays, heritage
is understood as a broad collection of tangible and intangible values; it is a re-source subjected to
constant change, adjustment and interpretation by many users. The perception of the past and
the relics thereof, and thereby the manner and scope of making use of them, undergo constant
change. The spectrum of what is considered worth preserving also broadens and new interpretations emerge under the so-called patrimonialisation processes. Certain aspects of the past are
assigned significance, whereas others are deliberately or unin-tentionally allowed to disappear,
be it from the cultural landscape or from the public awareness (Murzyn 2007).
The First China – Central and Eastern European Countries Expert-Level Forum on the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage is doubtlessly a perfect occasion for international experts
to discuss the above-mentioned issues, and in particular to exchange information on the contemporary meaning of intangible heritage for the communities of the countries represented at the
Forum, and ways in which they understand, interpret, use, and safeguard it.

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INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE
Safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China
10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

Professor Małgorzata Rozbicka, 2013. Photo by Emilia Matuszewicz, © National Heritage Board of Poland.

Forewords

In Poland, before the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural
Heritage (2003) was ratified (2011), the tasks thereunder were assigned to the National
Heritage Board of Poland (Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa, hereinafter referred to as ‘NID’) by
decision of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage of 15 February 2010. NID is a cultural
institution, which has continued the activities of the former National Centre for Research and
Documentation of Monuments (Krajowy Ośrodek Badań i Dokumentacji Zabytków) since 2011,
and at the same time is a legal successor of the Centre for Preservation of Historic Landscape
(Ośrodek Ochrony Zabytkowego Krajobrazu, 2002), which was founded in 1962, and of the
Centre for Preservation of Archaeological Heritage (Ośrodek Ochrony Dziedzictwa Archeologicznego, 2007).
NID, under a new name and new by-laws and better adjusted to the current needs of the system
for safeguarding cultural heritage, also gained additional competencies, for in-stance in the scope
of monitoring historical monuments, digitalising the collected documentation, and creating databases of monuments, as well as – which is of particular interest to us – in the scope of safeguarding
intangible heritage. Therefore, in connection with the implementation of Article 13 of the Convention concerning the establishment of institutions documenting intangible cultural heritage and
enabling access thereto, the Team for Preservation of Tradition and Culture (currently: Team for
Intangible Heritage, Zespół ds. dziedzictwa niematerialnego) was created in May 2011 at NID,
whose main objective was to develop and implement strategic solutions aimed at ensuring
adequate safeguarding of the intangible heritage of Poland.
In collaboration with experts – researchers of this issue from academic circles – the Team – which
has been responsible for implementing the provisions of the UNESCO 2003 Convention since its
establishment – developed the inventory strategy for the intangible cultural heritage in Poland
and prepared the required documents, such as the rules and procedures for entering phenomena
onto the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (Krajowa lista niematerialnego dziedzictwa
kulturowego), as well as a relevant application form and guidelines for filling it in.
In 2012, the Team for Intangible Heritage prepared an information package for Local Government Units which apart from discussing the possibility of implementing the 2003 Convention also
contained guidelines and forms helpful for the identification and inventory of intangible heritage.
Moreover, NID launched a website (niematerialne.nid.pl), which is dedicated to the Convention
and the issues of safeguarding, first and foremost in relation to national intangible heritage. The
intended fundamental task of the website was the publication and dissemination of knowledge

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INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE
Safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China
10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

of the phenomena entered onto the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage and the creation
of a modern platform for the exchange of experiences between depositaries, non-governmental
organisations, and cultural institutions. The website was also supposed to provide relevant information on the events, competitions and workshops organised in our country in connection with
intangible cultural heritage.
Also in 2012, the Team within NID, in cooperation with the Department of Polish Culture of the
Institute of Culture Studies at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, Poland (Zakład Kultury
Polskiej Instytutu Kulturoznawstwa Uniwersytetu Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej w Lublinie), organised an international scientific conference ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage: Sources – Values – Safeguarding’ (Niematerialne dziedzictwo kulturowe: źródła – wartości – ochrona).
Submission of applications to the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which is supposed
to constitute a list of the manifestations of living intangible heritage in Poland, ultimately opened
in January 2013. The List, maintained by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, with the
help of NID and the Council for Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture and National
Heritage (Rada ds. Niematerialnego Dziedzictwa Kulturowego przy Ministrze Kultury i Dziedzictwa
Narodowego), is for information purposes only, and at the same time reflects the diversity of the
intangible heritage present in our country. Applications to enter such elements onto the National
List of Intangible Cultural Heritage are reviewed by the Council for Intangible Cultural Heritage.
To this day, the Minister of Culture and National Heritage has issued decisions to enter twenty
various phenomena from all over Poland1 onto the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage
on the basis of recommendations of the Council.
Also in February 2013, the NID Team organised an international conference under the name
‘Best Practices in the Implementation of the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the
Intangible Cultural Heritage’ (Dobre praktyki w realizacji zadań związanych z Konwencją UNESCO
w sprawie ochrony dziedzictwa niematerialnego z 2003 roku) together with the Association of Folk
Artists (Stowarzyszenie Twórców Ludowych), the aim of which was to present the general assump1

Phenomena entered onto the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (as of 2016): ‘Artistic and historical gunsmithing –
items made in accordance with the traditional Cieszyn school’; ‘The Lajkonik procession’; ‘The Kraków szopka tradition’; ‘The
lightering traditions in Ulanów’; ‘The Corpus Christi procession in Łowicz’; ‘The Esperanto language as a carrier of the Esperanto
culture’; ‘The skill of creating and playing the koza (Podhale bagpipes)’; ‘The Żukowo school of Kashubian emroidery’; ‘Falconry
– living tradition’; ‘The Polish national dances’; ‘The indulgence festivities in honour of St Roch with blessing of animals in
Mikstat’; ‘The traditional casting technique of the Felczyńskis in Taciszów’; ‘The Dyngus przywołówki in Szymborze’; ‘The
Warmia dia-lect as a carrier of oral traditions’; ‘The Żywiec–Sucha Beskidzka toymaking’; ‘Honey hunting’; ‘Perebory – the Bug
River weaving traditions’; ‘The Kraków bobbin lace’; ‘The cultural traditions of Biskupizna’; ‘The carol singing of the New Year
Dziady in the Żywiec region’.

Forewords

tions connected with the implementation of the provisions of the Convention and the scope and
manners of operation of the safeguarding of the intangible heritage in Poland and other European
countries.
In 2014, Regional Coordinators for Intangible Heritage were appointed at all sixteen Regional
Offices of NID. Before taking action, they were comprehensively trained. They participated in two
training sessions which concerned both the provisions of the 2003 Convention and the practical
aspects of the implementation thereof. From filling in applications to measures which NID coordinations can and should take in order to safeguard and inventory intangible heritage as part of the
cooperation and contact with the depositaries, local government units and non-governmental
organisations, as well as academic circles. At present, coordinators independently help local
communities to fill in applications and also inform stakeholders as well as relevant institutions
and organisations of the potential benefits, but also dangers associated with entering individual
phenomena onto the National List or, in the future, onto UNESCO lists.
In 2014, NID organised a workshop in Sandomierz which was dedicated to the cooperation
of non-governmental organisations, cultural institutions and local government units in the area
of intangible heritage. Representatives of circles active in the area of safeguarding, promoting
and documenting intangible cultural phenomena: representatives of non-governmental organisations, cultural and educational institutions, offices and cultural animators were invited to participate in the two-day workshop the purpose of which was to develop methods of cooperation in
safeguarding the intangible cultural phenomena present in our country. The workshop concerned
the essence of intangible cultural heritage and forms of safeguarding it compliant with the methodology developed at the UNESCO forum. Practitioners from this field shared their experience and
professional tips on how to safeguard intangible cultural heritage effectively, which helped the
workshop participants gain new competencies in the area of identification and inventory.
The second nationwide workshop was organised by NID in 2015 in Zakopane. This time
it was dedicated to presenting the so-called good practices in safeguarding intangible heritage.
The speakers and the hosts of the workshop were professionals who safeguard such heritage
on a daily basis. On the first day, they shared their practical experience with a large audience. On
the following day, seven workshop groups jointly discussed the matter of how the tools proposed
by the Convention can be used to safeguard individual intangible cultural phenomena effectively.
At present, NID employees actively participate in meetings dedicated to safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage of our country, co-organised by the Monuments Preservation Department

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10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

(Departament Ochrony Zabytków) of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage for representatives of local governments. They also participate in many conferences and meetings of statutory bodies of the UNESCO 2003 Convention. They also try to promote and disseminate the need
to safeguard intangible heritage and the principles thereof with the use of the radio and television.
Furthermore, in order to complete the illustration of the activity of NID outlined above, which
has been carried out since 2011 in the scope of technical, organisational, and educational support
for the implementation of the tasks under the 2003 Convention, it seems necessary to mention
the publishing activity of NID as well. With regard to the issue of identifying and safeguarding
intangible heritage, as many as six works have been published so far, including both Polish translations of key UNESCO publications2 and original works by Polish authors,3 sometimes consisting
of several volumes, which concern both theoretical and practical aspects of identifying, documenting and safeguarding the invaluable intangible cultural heritage of our country.4
To conclude, I would like to express my hope that the 1st China – Central and Eastern European
Countries Expert-Level Forum on the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage was a perfect
occasion for professionals from the seventeen countries not only to freely exchange their views
and experience and to establish relations with international experts, but also to present the wealth
of their national heritage and the measures taken by their countries in order to safeguard such
heritage. It brings immense joy and satisfaction to the National Heritage Board of Poland, which
had the honour and pleasure to co-organise the Forum in Kraków, that it met with such great
interest and was evaluated by the participants in such a favourable manner.

References
Adamowski, Jan, and Katarzyna Smyk, eds. 2013. Niematerialne dziedzictwo kulturowe: źródła – wartości – ochrona
[Intangible cultural heritage: origins – values – protection]. Lublin–Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Marii
Curie-Skłodowskiej; Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa.

2

A set of eight UNESCO brochures outlining the idea behind the 2003 Convention (UNESCO 2011).

3

Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa n.d.; Adamowski and Smyk 2013, 2015; Przybyła-Dumin 2016.

4

A brochure presenting phenomena entered onto the National List in the years 2014–2016 (Sadowska-Mazur and Włodarczyk
2016).

Forewords

Adamowski, Jan, and Katarzyna Smyk, eds. 2015. Niematerialne dziedzictwo kulturowe: zakresy – identyfikacja – zagrożenia [Intangible cultural heritage: scope – identification – threats]. Lublin–Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej; Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa.
Kowalski, Krzysztof. 2013. O istocie dziedzictwa europejskiego: rozważania [Reflections on the essence of European
heritage]. Kraków: Międzynarodowe Centrum Kultury.
Murzyn, Monika A. 2007. “Dziedzictwo kulturowe w okresie przemian. Szanse i wyzwania [Cultural heritage in time
of change: opportunities and challenges].” In Dziedzictwo kul-turowe w XXI wieku: szanse i wyzwania, edited by
Monika A Murzyn and Jacek Purchla, 139–54. Kraków: Międzynarodowe Centrum Kultury.
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa. n.d. Niematerialne dziedzictwo kulturowe w Polsce [Intangible cultural heritage
in Poland]. Edited by Anna Marconi-Betka, Katarzyna Sadowska-Mazur, and Julia Włodarczyk. Warszawa: Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa.
Przybyła-Dumin, Agnieszka. 2016. Narracja, obyczaj, wiedza…: o zachowaniu niematerialnego dziedzictwa kulturowego
[Narrative, custom, knowledge…: on the preservation of intangible cultural heritage]. Chorzów–Lublin–
Warszawa: Muzeum „Górnośląski Park Et-nograficzny w Chorzowie”; Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Marii CurieSkłodowskiej; Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa.
Sadowska-Mazur, Katarzyna, and Julia Włodarczyk, eds. 2016. Krajowa lista niematerialnego dziedzictwa kulturowego
[National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage]. Warszawa: Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa.
UNESCO. 2011. Niematerialne dziedzictwo kulturowe [Intangible Cultural Heritage]. Paryż: UNESCO.

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10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

Introductory speech made
during the opening of the
1st China – Central and
Eastern European Countries
Expert-Level Forum on the
Safeguarding of Intangible
Cultural Heritage
Leszek Zegzda*

*

Member of the Government of the Małopolska Province.

Forewords

Everything starts with the word. It is where all things originate. First, there is a thought, an idea,
something of value. The word allows us to express that thought, build an image, form a new reality.
And thus, the intangible precedes the tangible, for the latter is formed out of the former. All that
takes tangible shape has its roots in the intangible.
Tradition – the living, intangible manifestations of culture that we inherit from our ancestors is
what makes up our identity – both the identity of an individual and the identity of our community
as a whole. It allows us to define ourselves, to choose our place and to grow roots, forming a strong
foundation and helping us build a sense of value. And so, tradition becomes the link between the
past, the present, and the future.
Rites, practices, performances and musical traditions bind people together and at the same
time play a vital role in maintaining and nurturing our cultural diversity. Intangible heritage facilitates the contacts between different cultures, creating a common space for dialogue and mutual
respect.
In these contexts, the Małopolska Province truly stands out in terms of the wealth of its
cultural resources. This remarkable diversity has been accumulated over the ages by the several
ethnic groups and minorities that lived here. All of them created a vibrant cultural mosaic the
individual parts of which may be both of pure colours that represent the most pronounced
ethnic characteristics and of mixed shades produced through the cross-pollination of neighbouring cultures. Ruthenians, Jews, Romani People, Slovakians and Hungarians as well as
German settlers have all created an outstanding mixture of intangible heritage on this very

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INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE
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10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

Leszek Zegzda, 2015, © Marshal Office of the Malopolska Region.

Forewords

soil. Likewise, the influence of the dozen-odd neighbouring ethnographic regions clustered
together in Małopolska – Cracovians, Gorals, members of the Lachy culture and highlander
groups – all different in terms of local dialect, outfits, music, rites and customs – has only added
more vibrancy to this cultural melting pot.
It is our people who make up this invaluable cultural wealth and whose creativity and involvement are both rooted in regional traditions. Their attachment to the location in which they live and
to their traditions and age-old customs have shaped the character of consecutive generations and
still does so today. It is here, in the Małopolska region, that all phenomena of the present day are
experienced in a very special manner, filtered through the century-old values which influence our
perception of the world, thereby shaping our ability to create.
Intangible heritage is fleeting, fragile, and cannot exist on its own. Many phenomena have
been lost forever as people passed away and as stories came to an end, for there was nobody
to remember, nobody to save them from oblivion. It is for this reason that it is so important for
us to continue to pay great attention to the living manifestations of our heritage.
During the 1st China and East-Central Europe Expert Forum dedicated to intangible cultural
heritage, organised in Kraków at the International Cultural Centre, we have a unique opportunity
to reiterate our call for dialogue and creative exchange of experiences and good practices in the
field of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, the philosophy and management thereof, as well
as the economic and political dimensions of the activities in question; for whenever different
cultures meet, these are the values that always matter most. It is no coincidence that Kraków was
chosen as the meeting place on this occasion. It is a place where intangible heritage has a meaningful impact on the identity of the local residents, at the same time forming an immense potential
for the sustainable development of the city.
The local government of the Małopolska Province pays special attention to the protection,
development, and interpretation of the intangible heritage of the region. Among the many cultural
institutions of the Małopolska Province, museums and culture centres continue to play a pivotal
role, their activities extending to the entire region, allowing for model solutions to be developed.
As a result, these institutions continue to serve as important centres of not just cultural protection,
but cultural animation as well. Without a doubt, the SOKÓŁ Cultural Centre for the Małopolska
Region in Nowy Sącz plays an important role in the entire process, providing care and support
to local artists – regional bands and ensembles, folk musicians, instrumentalists, singers, carolers,
farmer’s wives associations and country theatres. An important event which is regularly held in

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10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

the region is the Regional Culture Congress, first organised back in 2015 at the initiative of the
Małopolska Province, with the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural
Heritage – ratified by the Republic of Poland in 2011 – serves as an inspiration. Works are now
underway to establish the Heritage Centre for Intangible Culture, formed at the initiative of the
SOKÓŁ Cultural Centre. This project would never have been possible without the involvement
of the Małopolska Province, which considers the establishment of this Centre to be an important
stage in the formation of a regional heritage safeguarding system.
The Małopolska Province continues to acknowledge and reward various activities and projects
aimed at the promotion of good examples in the field of protection of all phenomena which
comprise the local cultural heritage. It is for this reason that two awards have been established: the
Roman Reinfuss Prize for exceptional achievements in the field of safeguarding the local cultural
identity in the Małopolska region, and the Władysław Orkan Prize for promoting the idea of regionalism and for extraordinary achievements in the field of artistic and cultural activity of local communities of Małopolska.
The extraordinary wealth and diversity of the activities performed is clearly reflected in statistics: more than 1000 folk artists, 281 regional ensembles (including 153 children’s ensembles),
about 170 bands, more than 350 groups of carolers, over 200 singing ensembles, 140 folk poets,
240 folk storytellers, 50 country theatres and 450 farmer’s wives associations – all of them involved
in a plethora of artistic activities.
These impressive figures translate directly into an equally stellar artistic and substantive level
attained by most of the artists and groups involved. The ensembles and solo artists from the
Małopolska region have repeatedly earned top spots in numerous folklore competitions both in
Poland and abroad. The activities of regional artists have made it possible to produce a highly
attractive cultural offer, complementing the efforts of our tourism industry and ensuring the
continuing popularity of Małopolska as a travel destination.
These are just a few of the countless activities and valuable initiatives pursued by various institutions, private entities and both formal and informal groups of people all across the Małopolska
region, aimed at the preservation, safeguarding, and perpetuation of all that matters most to our
regional culture.
In one of his homilies, Pope John Paul II once said the following words: ‘I beseech you, stay
true to your heritage! Make it the foundation of the upbringing of your children! Make it a source
of noble pride! Preserve this heritage! Make it thrive! Pass it on to the next generations’.

Forewords

All the activities which are currently being implemented are intended as an answer to this call –
an answer that must involve all those who live in the region, for it is only in close cooperation with
them that the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage has any chance of succeeding.
I sincerely hope that the process of cooperation and dialogue, initiated during this Forum by
the eminent experts from seventeen countries who have gathered here, shall bear fruit in the
near future, becoming a starting point for joint solutions, which – through their territorial extent
– will be able to serve as examples of good practices in the field of safeguarding of the intangible
cultural heritage at the local, regional, national, and international level.

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INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE
Safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China
10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

Kraków and its heritage
in the European context1
Jacek Purchla*

*

Director of the International Culture Centre in Krakow, President of the Polish National Commission for UNESCO.

1

This chapter is based on a selection of excerpts from the book by Jacek Purchla, Kraków in the European Core (translated
by Teresa Bałuk-Ulewiczowa), second edition, International Cultural Centre, Kraków 2016 (courtesy of Wydawnictwo BOSZ).

Forewords

Kraków is often perceived as ‘the heart of Poland’ and ‘the most Polish of all Polish cities’. Although
Poland’s boundaries have been shifted to and fro so many times, Kraków has always been Polish.
But at the same time it is also the most cosmopolitan place in Poland: not only were numerous
foreign influences imported here, but they were also submitted to creative reprocessing. The myth
of Poland’s ancient capital, a place of symbolic meaning in Polish politics and national life, must
be reinterpreted today in the wider context of a uniting Europe. If Central Europe’s complex rests
in its continual striving to prove its European membership, Kraków has no need of such proofs.
It has always made up the Polish chapter of European heritage.
Kraków is one of the so-called ‘creative cities’, that is cities which have made a creative
contribution to the building up of the universal values in our civilisation while at the same time
maintaining their local features and pursuing their own, unique, identities. It is also inseparably
bound with the specific properties and genius loci of Central Europe. Three ideas of Central Europe,
the Hanseatic, Jagiellonian, and Habsburg visions, coincided with the peak of Kraków’s civilisational
prosperity. Two of them came before the end of the Middle Ages. All were to meet at Wawel Hill at
the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries. Kraków was the only city in which a creative and harmonious
blend of all three of these integrative concepts for Europa Minor ensued.
If we look at Europe’s civilisational development in its two main aspects, cultural and economic,
we observe a growing integration of Bohemia, Poland, and Hungary in the 12th and 13th centuries
with Carolingian Europe. A factor associated with this process was the economic programme of the
Cistercians; but the major determinant was the great sweep eastwards of colonisation, carrying
the Western European settlement model into these countries.

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10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

Professor Jacek Purchla, 2015. Photo by P. Mazur.

Forewords

Kraków became a special symbol of the new dimension in urbanisation. The Middle Ages
turned it into a European metropolis lodged at the foot of Poland’s royal and sacred hill. The
factors determining this were not only the city’s role as capital, but also its adoption of a new
model of settlement. Re-organised in the mid-13th century on German municipal law and designed
as an ambitiously expanding colonial town, Kraków was rapidly becoming one of the largest trading
emporia in late mediaeval Europe. Its characteristic and distinctly lucid municipal layout, which
goes back to that period, was its first creative contribution to European civilisation.
This is the paradox the incursion of Genghis Khan’s hordes brought: by destroying, they only
managed to reinforce the civilisational strength of Latinate Europe, as borne out by the mediaeval
defensive churches of Transylvania, and by Kraków. Though materially devastated, it survived the
cataclysm of 1241, demonstrating its power to continue as a civitas not in the sense of physical
structure, but as something more, an ethnos, a combination of functions, a process, or perhaps
above all as the idea of a city. The disaster gave the impulse and opportunity for an extraordinary
amount of creativity. The initiative came from its prince, Boleslaus V (the Bashful). The groundwork
for his capital’s new structure was the municipal charter he granted in 1257, opening up a new age
in its history. Up to that time, the chief factor determining Kraków’s urbanisation was spontaneous
growth in its municipal functions and space. The charter endowed it with the framework of a new
design. With its distinctive, hitherto unparalleled scale and symmetry, the new urban layout ranked
Kraków uniquely in contemporaneous civilisation. Its Market Square, one of the biggest mediaeval
market places, is extraordinary for the regularity and scale of its design, well ahead of its time
in town planning, blending harmoniously with what had survived the destruction. Freed by its 1257
charter of the narrow streets typical of mediaeval towns, Kraków was invested with a design which
is still the basis of its metropolitan development today.
For Kraków, the Magdeburg municipal law on which its charter was based soon turned into
a constitutional matrix, the first implementers of which were newcomers from Silesia. Just
as elsewhere in Central Europe at the time, the culture of the German speakers played a vital
role in the growth of the new Kraków. The influx of German colonists introduced multi-ethnicity
as an important ingredient in the life of the nascent metropolis.
In the 15th century, Kraków was one of the biggest towns in Central Europe. Since Vladislaus
Jagiełło’s victory over the Teutonic Knights at Grunwald in 1410, in 1410 it has been also the
capital of a rising European power. Its economic status was growing along with its political power.
The vigour of life at Court and the thriving city encouraged the growth of intellectual and artistic

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10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

activity. The splendour of the last years of the reign of Casimir the Jagiellonian and the work of
Veit Stoss mark the climax of Kraków’s age of felicity.
In the 16th century, as capital of a vast dominion, Kraków propagated its influence from
the south-western corner of the realm into the vast lands of Lithuania and Ruthenia. The
monarch convened Sejm parliamentary sessions to Kraków; while Wawel Castle, headquarters
of the dynasty, was one of the most important centres of political power in contemporary
Europe. The splendour of the last Jagiellon reigns marked the acme of Kraków’s significance
on the map of Europa Minor. The multi-ethnicity of the metropolis meant that large groups
of Jews, Germans, Italians, Ruthenians, Hungarians, and Scots lived in the environs of Wawel
Castle. At the same time, Kraków was truly the focal point for Polish culture. Sigismundian
Kraków not only imported a variety of foreign influences; it also creatively transformed
them, assuming the role of a prolific centre with an impact well beyond the borders of the
Jagiellonian domain.
In the mid-16th century, the Kraków agglomeration counted some 30,000 inhabitants, like
Prague, the other major city in Central Europe. Though these two cities could not vie with Rome,
Venice, Naples, Constantinople, Lisbon, Paris, London, or Antwerp in magnitude or economic
status, they were well ahead of the other cities in Central Europe, such as Gdańsk, Königsberg,
Wilno, Riga, Kiev, Lwów, or Wrocław, in the complexity and power of their functions.
Triumph would soon turn into the cause of downfall. The concept of union with Lithuania
devised in Kraków in the late 14th century eventually created a threat to Kraków’s status as capital.
This was connected with the constitutional evolution that ensued in the 15th and 16th centuries.
The commonwealth of the nobility into which Poland was transformed during the 15th century
based its political existence on a parliamentary system for the szlachta (Polish nobility and gentry).
With a peripheral situation in a state bulging out north-eastwards, for practical reasons Kraków
could no longer be the venue for parliamentary conventions. If we consider the headquarters of
the supreme authorities the capital of any state, then Kraków was gradually losing this position
in the 16th century. However, for a long time, Kraków retained its status as capital, as understood
in an age of feudalism. Here the insignia of statehood – the royal treasury and archives – were
lodged. Well-nigh until the demise of Poland-Lithuania all the main state occasions, coronations
and royal weddings were held here.
Already by the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries Kraków’s legend had proved the critical
factor decisive of its future. The city of Kraków provided the natural setting for the last great

Forewords

attempt to salvage Poland’s sovereignty. On 24 March 1794, the Kościuszko Insurrection broke
out. Kraków’s capital status unexpectedly assumed a new dimension at the Congress of Vienna.
In 1815, the city became the object of keen rivalry between the three Partitioning Powers, since it
was still perceived as a symbol of Poland’s sovereignty. In the outcome of the compromise arrived
at between Austria, Prussia, and Russia, in 1815–1846 Kraków was formally an independent
state, a Republic (der Freistaat Krakau) under the ‘guardianship’ of the three Powers.
The 19th century brought changes in the settlement network of Europe. A combination
of political and economic causes made Kraków remain a non-industrial city with a fairly slow rate
of growth until the end of the century. Locked inside the Austrian defences, it was relatively small
and poor. But a way was found to give the city a chance of development thanks to the liberalism
that came to Austria in 1860, and the power of the old metropolitan tradition. This was the essence
of the Kraków phenomenon of that period: there was no simple relationship between the city’s
size and its metropolitan function. The power of tradition was an extremely important factor in
its progress. Thanks to the power of its past Kraków became the place integrating all the Polish
people; Kraków, not the province’s capital, Lwów, became the heart of Polish national life.
Kraków’s development at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries was based on numerous
contradictions. The systemic deficiency in the city’s economy was compensated for by its
extraordinary significance to the people of Poland. Its function as the nation’s spiritual capital
contrasted blatantly with its function as a frontier fortress and provincial garrison manned by
a foreign army. From the vantage-point of the great cosmopolitan metropolis into which Vienna
had turned as the centuries changed, Kraków was but a middle-sized peripheral town. From
the point of view of Polish raison d’être, it was fulfilling the functions of the capital, albeit an
impoverished capital, of a non-existent Polish state. These and other antinomies made up the
Kraków phenomenon and accounted for the exceptionality of its situation under Austrian rule.
The contemporary Kraków was not merely the Polish Athens, but also the Polish Piedmont. At the
turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, Lwów performed the functions of provincial capital of Galicia,
the largest province in Austria, while Kraków was the lynch-pin integrating Polish national affairs,
especially after the 1905 Revolution was crushed in the Congress Kingdom (Russian partitional
zone). On the eve of the First World War, it was in Kraków that the activities of the major
independence groups were concentrated. Kraków was HQ for Józef Piłsudski, who in August
1914 led his Polish Legions out from this city to fight for independence – against Russia, but still
as a partner of Austria.

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10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

With a population of around 750,000, Kraków is much bigger than the planners of fifty years
ago expected and, more importantly, now going through a period of demographic stability. This
certainly does not mean a stop to development, but rather a slowing down of the expansion
which was responsible for a fall in the standard of living.
By virtue of its hallmark and the attractiveness of its heritage, Kraków has the potential for
the metropolitan game. Its heritage is what makes Kraków Poland’s second city and not just one
of sixteen provincial capitals. Kraków’s heritage is the natural asset with which it has entered the
21st century. It is its first metropolitan function, still determining its position in Europe today. The
potency of heritage in Kraków’s metropolitan personality has been defined by its investiture in the
19th and 20th centuries as the archetype of the nation’s spiritual capital, an archetype supporting
Kraków’s essential role as the factor integrating the people of Poland, yet at the same time
determining the city’s high level of recognisability in Europe and throughout the world. There is
also a material aspect of cultural heritage: a superbly preserved historic urbanistic fabric and firstrate monuments. The fact that Kraków was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List already
in 1978 is a cogent testimonial to the supra-regional value of its heritage resources. Kraków, the
only large historic city within Poland’s current borders to have survived the tragedy of the Second
World War physically unscathed, is a symbol of continuity and endurance. Its second metropolitan
function, strictly bound up with the first, is its intellectual and artistic potential. One of the signs
of its capacity for the creation of culture is that it is often referred to as Poland’s cultural capital.
And this is another reason why Kraków has become an international tourist centre.
Kraków is one of those of our Continent’s old cities whose contemporary development
is determined by their past and tradition. It is the only city of such a large size between Warsaw,
Berlin, Prague, Bratislava, Vienna, and Budapest which has had its historically shaped metropolitan
functions degraded to the rank of a provincial centre.
Today, Kraków’s cultural heritage has to be deciphered not only in its national framework but
also in the international dimension. It is no coincidence that international tourism has become the
chief factor determining the economic development of Kraków and Lesser Poland, especially since
Poland’s accession to the European Union on 1 May 2004. Today Kraków is ‘trendy’. The work which
contributed to the changeover involved not only operations to stop the prospect of ecological
disaster, but also the swift removal of the consequences, by the conservation of heritage.
Kraków is currently one of the busiest tourist markets on the continent. Over ten million
tourists visit it every year. In the plebiscite held by the monthly magazine Travel & Leisure in July

Forewords

2015, it was ranked third in the top ten of Europe’s most attractive cities. Only Florence and
Rome came ahead of it. The sites entered on the UNESCO World Heritage List in the vicinity of
Kraków, especially the Wieliczka Salt Mine and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum,
are popular destinations for tourists.
One of the paramount factors accounting for the growth of the tourist industry is that Lesser
Poland is the birthplace of John Paul II. The Sanctuary of Divine Mercy at Łagiewniki, which the
Pope from Poland consecrated on 17 August 2002 during his last pilgrimage to Poland, receives
pilgrims from scores of countries all over the world. Research shows that 25% of all the pilgrims
are from abroad, chiefly from Europe, but also from the Philippines, Costa Rica, Cuba, Japan, South
Korea, the USA, and they also include Ukrainians and Russians… A monumental religious venue,
the John Paul II Centre, has been raised in the neighbourhood of the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy,
on the site of Kraków’s old Solvay soda works, where during the Second World War Karol Wojtyła
worked as a blue-collar labourer. The St. John Paul II Sanctuary is at the Centre’s very heart. The
relics of the Polish Pope were brought here in 2011 and since that time his cult has flourished.
There is no other city in Poland which has accumulated so much myth and legend and preserved
its symbolic layer as full of life as the space of Kraków’s mediaeval City Centre, teeming with life
today. As in past centuries, the medieval melody of the bugle call sounding from St Mary’s Tower
determines the rhythm of life, and the Royal Sigismund Bell tolls from Wawel Hill to comment on
the important moments in the life of the nation and the city. The city continues to order its life
by the traditional calendar of religious holy days such as the feast day of St. Stanislaus, patron of
Kraków, and Corpus Christi, and the folkloric amusements such as the Rękawka fair, the Lajkonik
Hobby-Horse parade, or the Wianki midsummer night’s eve festival. The multilayer memory and
identity of the city are superbly complemented by the suburban folklore which has been forming
since the 19th century in Zwierzyniec, Krowodrza, and Ludwinów. The folklore is still thriving,
symbolised by the Lajkonik and the Nativity scene (szopka) traditions, particularly distinctive for
Półwsie Zwierzynieckie and Krowodrza. The Nativity scene (szopka) is a traditional craft which
is passed down from generation to generation, ensuring its continuity. The Lajkonik parade is
a colourful pageant through the city of Kraków. The main character is a rider dressed as a Tatar
mounted on a hobby-horse. The event commemorates the Mongol invasions which threatened
the city in the 13th century. The Lajkonik parade and the Nativity scene (szopka) competition
show how robust the local tradition is, and that is precisely why they have been entered on the
National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

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10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

Cross-cultural encounter. The Nativity Scene (szopka) Tradition in Kraków explained to Hungarian ICH expert,
Dr Eszter Csonka-Takács, October 2016. Photo by Paweł Kobek, © National Heritage Board of Poland.

Forewords

Is a city which has committed itself to such an extent to the reverence of its past still capable
of facing the challenges of the present day? There can be no doubt that Kraków is an arena for
a fierce confrontation between contemporary civilisation and the heritage of the past. Heritage
means memory, choice, and identity. That is why Kraków is today creating a new chapter of Polish
heritage for Europe and the world. After the death of John Paul II in 2005 Kraków quite naturally
became the guardian of his memory and his legacy.
At the same time, the city is endeavouring to revive its multi-ethnic tradition, lost as a result
of the Holocaust. This is expressed both by the Jewish Cultural Festival, which every June since
1988 has summoned a large audience from all over the world; as well as in the phenomenon of
Kraków’s Kazimierz quarter. Before our very eyes, Kazimierz has become a laboratory for the
retrieval of the memory of a world that has gone forever but nevertheless is still an inherent
part of the identity of the European Core. Finally, there is the most astonishing experience: the
reinterpretation of the heritage of Nowa Huta. Today the Polish Magnitogorsk is not just a symbol
of the Sovietisation of Poland, but also the fourth phase of the grand urban development of
Kraków, a development reaching far beyond the local bounds. At the same time, it is also the
legend of a battle for dignity, the legend of Solidarity.
Diversity, integration, continuity, authenticity, representativity, artistic class in architectural
heritage – all of these determine not only the meaning of Kraków’s heritage, but also the strategy
for its protection, and especially the comprehensiveness of that strategy. The foundation of this
endeavour is the continual reinterpretation of heritage.
Thus history has become a factor in the city’s development which in turn has created a variety
of options for the interpretation of cultural heritage, for meanings of the city – as a process,
a function, an idea, form, and mirror of civilisation. The complex story of Kraków, in the 20th century
as well, confirms the words of Sophie Lang that cities are never a random occurrence, that they are
a concept of a higher order. In Central Europe, cultural identity has never been a feature that has
been fixed for all time. It has always called for continual choice. In this sense, too, Kraków is the very
essence of the European core, understood also as trauma and ambivalence. The comprehension of
the Kraków phenomenon, and a broader historical outlook on the changeability of the functions
it has played in the settlement network for this part of Europe and of its changing meanings and
subject-matters, holds the key to understanding the nature of Europa Minor.
Europa Minor has never been out of the European civilisation. But it has preserved
a distinctiveness which today is a value.

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INTRODUCTORY PAPERS

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Intangible cultural heritage
safeguarding: a global
campaign and its practice
in China
An Deming*

*

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (中國社會科學院), Beijing, People’s Republic of China, e-mail: andm@cass.org.cn.

Introductory papers

Over the recent thirty years or so, China has experienced dramatic
changes in the economy, culture, politics, and many other aspects
of social life. One of the problematic side-effects that accompany
this great development is the fading of traditional culture.

Introduction
The campaign of intangible cultural heritage safeguarding has currently been developed into an influential social and cultural movement in China. Its quick prevalence is deeply rooted in the consciousness of national identity, especially when facing the strong influences of industrialisation and globalisation, and considering the impact from UNESCO. Since its introduction to China, this campaign has
indeed brought many dynamic results to traditional culture and people’s practice, as well as to related
academic disciplines such as folklore studies. Thanks to a series of actions related to ICH safeguarding
and more active cooperation between the state, communities and scholars, numerous folk culture
genres – especially folk beliefs and religious practices used to be labelled as feudal superstition and
restrictedly prohibited – have gained an improved status in the whole country by being identified as
‘ICH items’, together with their bearers and communities having received more space for survival.
Meanwhile, folklore studies are also celebrating various new opportunities and challenges to the
discipline caused by the movement. However, a number of problems have also risen simultaneously.
Among them, the central one is the paradox between the UNESCO ideal theory and the actual practice of ICH safeguarding in specific contexts. It has not only caused competition or conflict between
different places in the country, and caused various countries to fight over property rights to traditional events, but has also diminished the authority and confidence of the common people as traditional bearers in expressing themselves through their own culture. To this extent, ICH communities,
scholars – including folklorists worldwide – and the state powers still have a long way ahead.
The Project of Intangible Cultural Heritage Safeguarding has currently been developed into
a well-known and popular movement in China. It is such a wide and influential movement, that

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10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

Part of volumes of the ten collections displayed at the 4th Exhibition of Chinese ICH, 2016. Photo by Wang Xuewen.

The 100th performance of Mudanting (Peony Pavilion), the most well-known kunqu Opera. 11 May 2007.
Photo by Wang Feng.

Introductory papers

it involves figures and institutions from different levels and regions. A Google search for ‘intangible cultural heritage’ results in more than one million hits. And the first several pages are mostly
about the content in China. Thus we can see how it flourishes.

The growing consciousness of national identity
and the stimulation from international society:
the reason for the quick prevalence of ICH movement in China
The reason for the quick prevalence of this movement in China is deeply rooted in the strong
consciousness of national identity, and the influence from the international community, especially
that from UNESCO. Over the recent thirty years or so, China has experienced dramatic changes in
the economy, culture, politics, and many other aspects of social life. One of the problematic side-effects that accompany this great development is the fading of traditional culture. Facing the strong
challenges of industrialisation and globalisation, and answering the question how to preserve and
maintain the identity of Chinese traditional unique culture and value became common concerns
for Chinese people, especially the intellectual elites.
In fact, in China, similarly to many other countries, intellectuals are always the first to perceive
the crisis of traditional culture and the first to take steps in order to prevent it. And it was thanks to
their promotional endeavours that their anxiety towards the status of tradition became a matter
of nationwide care. An earlier example of this is the project of collecting folk songs and other folklore genres started by scholars between the late 1910s and early 1920s. Considering the drastic
decline of traditional culture, and facing a violent impact of industrialisation and westernisation,
a number of faculty members and students from Peking University initiated the project for the
sake of rebuilding the ‘spirit of the nation’. It eventually developed into a country-wide cultural
movement, the so-called folk song studies movement (歌谣学运动), and has been generally recognised as the birth of Chinese folklore study as a new discipline (Zhang 1985, 306–47).
In the early 1980s, the issue of salvaging the Chinese traditional culture against the impact
of western cultures and arbitrary misuse or excessive exploitation was raised again. This
request was in a way consistent with what had been embodied in the folk song studies movement. Furthermore, since the impact of westernisation and commercialisation accompanying
the implementation of the central government’s new policy ‘reform and open’ (改革开放) was

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much more severe and prevalent than before, it involved much broader social circles and evoked
wider concerns towards the critical situation of tradition and nation. As early as in late 1970s and
early 1980s, based on increasingly more urgent requests and proposals from scholars with folklorists at the centre, the Chinese Ministry of Culture (文化部), State Ethnic Affairs Commission
(国家民族事务委员会), and China Federation of Literary and Art Circles (中国文学艺术界联合会)
jointly launched the compilation of 十部中国民族民间文艺集成志书 (Ten sets of Chinese ethnic
folk literature and arts collections, abbreviated as 十套集成 – Ten collections). These collections
included folk tales, folk songs and rhymes, proverbs, opera music, ethnic and folk instrument
music, opera and dance forms, song styles, arias, and other elements of culture. Each of them was
carried out by a specific governmental bureau or government-based society, such as the Chinese
Folk Literature and Arts Association (中国民间文艺家协会), each having its agencies on different
administrative levels. In the time shortly after the Cultural Revolution (文化大革命) of 1966–1976
that had brought fatal destruction to Chinese traditional culture, the purpose of reconstructing
the culture with the resources of folk tradition became obvious in this project. At first, the participants of different collections collected works of specific genres in villages and then compiled them
into genre-specific county collections. These county collections were subsequently selected and
compiled into volumes for each province, which make the final results of the project.
In this process, many folklore genres that had been declining for a period of time were revived.
Various local artistic organisations have been created or enhanced, and many local art talents
have emerged. After twenty-five years, with more than 10 million participants working together,
by the end of 2004 a total of 298 provincial volumes had been completed. And by the end of
2009, all those volumes containing around 450 million words in Chinese had been published.1 This
huge project was universally praised as a modern ‘Great Wall’ of cultural undertakings and has
established a substantial practical and theoretical foundation for the whole society in China. One
of its aims has been to embrace the series of actions and movements initiated by UNESCO.
Aiming at the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage, UNESCO has successively adopted
a series of conventions, recommendations, and declarations over the recent years, such as the
UNESCO Recommendation on the Safeguarding of Traditional Culture and Folklore of 1989, the
UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity of 2001, the Istanbul Declaration of 2002
adopted by the Third Round Table of Ministers of Culture, the Convention for the Safeguarding
of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of 2003, and others. Each of them stresses the importance
1

For detailed information on this project, see An and Yang 2015.

Introductory papers

and urgency of safeguarding ICH (or ‘traditional culture’ in earlier expressions) all over the
world (An 2008), and they all received active response and support from China, where the idea
of protecting traditional culture has been widely spread from the very beginning.2
According to the 2003 Convention, the purposes of safeguarding ICH are ‘to ensure respect for
the intangible cultural heritage of the communities, groups and individuals concerned’, and

to raise awareness of ‘ensuring mutual appreciation thereof’ (UNESCO 2003). Nevertheless,
in practice, for many countries, the most stimulating UNESCO act was the proclamation of
Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity launched in 2000, which was
later incorporated to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
after the 2003 Convention entered into force. In China, since the traditional Chinese opera
kunqu (昆曲) was listed as one of the first group of 19 Masterpieces in May 2001, and guqin
(古琴), the seven-string zither was listed as one of the second group of 28 Masterpieces in
November 2003, the Chinese people eager to distinguish their ‘unique’ traditional culture
in the world have been greatly encouraged. Related agencies of the state and local governments, official or academic institutions, and organisations, various individuals from different
backgrounds have all been engaged in this movement (Xiang 2004, 35–37).

The practice, achievements, and the significance of the campaign
in China
As far back as 2003, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Finance (财政部), in collaboration
with the State Ethnic Affairs Commission and China Federation of Literary and Art Circles, launched
a project of protecting folk and ethnic culture as a form of a response to UNESCO’s action. An
administrative system in charge of related affairs has been since set up, which included a leadership panel, an expert committee, and a national centre for the project. Organisational institutions
on local levels have been also accordingly established in provinces, regions, and municipalities. The
National Center for the Project of Protecting Folk and Ethnic Culture (中国民族民间文化保护工程

国家中心) had been working actively until 2006 when it was renamed to the China National Center
for Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection (中国非物质文化遗产保护中心) after China ratified
2

For instance, China joined the 2003 Convention as early as August 2004, which made it one of the first member states to ratify
the Convention at that time.

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A guqin artist playing. 12 June 2014. Photo by Wang Feng.

Introductory papers

the 2003 Convention in 2004. It was authorised as the sole official agency in charge of matters
related to ICH safeguarding in China, such as providing policy advice for stakeholders, organising
general investigations and academic discussions, and advising or guiding the implementation
of safeguarding measures in various localities or communities.
Some Chinese scholars, mostly folklorists, by comparing the contents of lists from their respective domains have observed that the concept of intangible cultural heritage, especially as it has
been recently introduced into China, is almost identical as that of ‘folk culture’ (民间文化), a term
already familiar to Chinese people. The main reason for the prevalence of this new term lies in the
intention to keep the pace with the international discourse, which introduces new concepts and
movements. Nevertheless, the term ‘folk culture’ is still used interchangeably with the term ‘intangible cultural heritage’ on many occasions.
The comprehensive participation of the governmental departments is very helpful for the further
promotion and implementation of the project of ICH safeguarding. The Ministry of Culture, in cooperation with several other related ministries, has formulated an Inter-ministerial Joint Committee as
a focal point of the project, to address major issues in a coordinated way; the Ministry of Finance has
set aside a special fund, and a number of provinces, regions and cities also collectively appropriated
funds to support the project. This has greatly attracted the wider attention of the whole society to
the project of ICH safeguarding. Institutions and people from all backgrounds have become involved,
and thus shaped a new cultural movement throughout the country.3
The movement has already made great achievements in practice. Here are some statistical information about China by the end of 2015: The information about 879 thousand ICH elements has
been collected; 38 elements have been inscribed on UNESCO ICH Lists (including 30 elements on
the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, 7 elements on the List of
Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, and one element on the Register of
Good Safeguarding Practices); 1372 elements have been included in the national inventory of ICH;
1986 inheritors have been identified as Representative Inheritors of ICH at National Level; the
central government has appropriated more than 4.2 billion Chinese Yuan (around 525 million euro
or 600 million US dollars) in total to support the ICH safeguarding programme.
3

As mentioned by Barbro Klein (2006), since the term ‘cultural heritage’ had been introduced and applied widely in the academic
domain in Sweden, not only many museum specialists celebrated it as a self-evident concept to describe what they had been
doing all along, but also many university-based ethnologists who recently denied that their field had nothing to do with efforts
of preserving and presenting culture or with any activities tainted with the worst aspects of ‘the old folklife research’ started
to increasingly use it. Similarly in China, many other academic disciplines that used to look down on folklore studies have also
began to ‘jump on the bandwagon’ initiated mainly by folklorists.

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It has shown its significance of the survival of folk tradition as well. Many genres of folk tradition such as temple festivals and other activities concerning folk beliefs have been functioning
in people’s everyday life for a long time. However, in the past, they had been labelled as feudal,
superstitious vestiges, and were restrictedly prohibited for several decades. Although these kinds
of tradition became revived after the Cultural Revolution, they were still struggling to receive the
legitimacy from the governmental discourse. As a most remarkable achievement of the ICH protection movement, in the 中国民族民间文化保护工程普查工作手册 (Guiding manuals for general
investigation of Chinese ethnic and folk culture) published by the National Center for the Project
of Protecting Folk and Ethnic Culture in 2005, folk belief was listed as one of the genres to be investigated. This is actually an indication that the folk belief or religious practice received considerable
legitimacy in the official discourse. In this situation, officials or legislators will have to be cautious
when they deal with folk culture such as temple festivals and other traditional religious practice.
It therefore provided those kinds of tradition more space for survival and maintenance (Gao 2013).
Along with the confusing translation ‘intangible cultural heritage’ (非物质文化遗产, literally
‘non-material’ cultural heritage) which became increasingly popular, growing numbers of communities, tradition bearers, and even entrepreneurs would like to use this unusual coinage to label
their cultural items. By doing so, these individuals or groups might not only gain economic benefits for these specific items, but also endow them with more significant and multiple meanings
in the global perspective, and hence improve their social status. And this was greatly reinforced
by the legislative establishment of the National Cultural Heritage Day (文化遗产日) in 2008, and
the promulgating of the national Law on intangible cultural heritage4 in 2012.
Folklore studies and other related disciplines also celebrate new opportunities. This does not
mean the superficial prosperity similar to the one when the so-called folklore experts received
through praise and recognition from the governments, local communities and mass media. Instead,
this movement enables scholars to think thoroughly and deeply about the relationship between
culture and people’s lives; it enables them to investigate Chinese folklore more deeply and more
comprehensively, with strong support from governmental agencies; it also allows searching for
a way to solve the big dilemma embedded in the movement itself. Therefore, it makes it possible
to contribute new perspectives and methods based on Chinese experiences, both to the academic
domain and to the campaign of ICH.
4

中国非物质文化遗产法.

Introductory papers

During the 9th annual session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the
Intangible Cultural Heritage held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris from 24–28 November 2014, the
Committee decided to establish the Evaluation Body (consisting of six NGOs and six independent ICH
expert scholars) for the evaluation of nomination for inscription on the UNESCO Lists from 2015. China
Folklore Society (中国民俗学会) was successfully elected into the Evaluation Body for a term of three
years. This enabled Chinese folklorists to participate in affairs concerning ICH on a more international
level as opposed to the domestic one. Through closer communication with related policies and practices of UNESCO and various countries, Chinese folklorists have been ever since trying to build a new
bridge for the mutual understanding of ICH between UNESCO and the Chinese government, and
between communities and government. In terms of establishment of this rapport, we can mention
two of the most notable examples: the modification of strategic principle of ICH safeguarding in
China from the earlier ‘safeguarding the ICH according to its original ecology’ to the current ‘safeguarding the integration of ICH’ or ‘safeguarding the ICH along with its living context’, and the focus
on tradition bearers that has changed from ‘active bearers’ (those who possess particular traditional
knowledge) to all ordinary people, stated in the conception ‘everyone is the culture bearer’.
Since the concept of intangible cultural heritage has been introduced into China, for quite a while
the dominant idea about the ICH safeguarding strategy among the involved scholars and governmental agencies was maintaining the authenticity or the original nature of concerned items. As a result
of strong concerns and alarms about the severe misuse of traditional culture and the widespread artificiality claimed as tradition based on rapid development of tourism and commercialisation, this idea
emphasised the need to keep the tradition pure. Nevertheless, it resulted in a critique from some
folklorists who had been focusing on the academic history of the controversial concept of ‘folklore as
survival’, and that of the so-called authenticity. It was those scholars’ continuous argumentation and
promotion that led to the growing debate among different participants of ICH studies and practice.
Most of the stakeholders finally came to a reflective agreement on the impossibility of ‘safeguarding
authenticity’, and on the new principle of safeguarding ICH in an integrated way.
Tradition bearers are another main focus of ICH safeguarding. For quite a long time, in accordance with the situation of the academia, the attention of most participants of the ICH programme
has been mainly paid to the active bearers, who are usually very dynamic in the transmission of
specific cultural items and have special talents in particular cultural genres. However, when the
concept of community as integration was introduced to the public, together with more and more
scrutiny on the distinction between the ‘active bearers’ and ‘passive bearers’ by some folklorists

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Shehuo, the traditional folk art performance at the temple festival during the Chinese New Year in Jiezi Villages,
an item included in ICH inventory of Gansu Province, China. 24 February 2013. Photo by An Deming.

Introductory papers

(Yang et al. 2011, 23–24), it has been gradually accepted that those ordinary people who are not
specialists in any cultural items actually shape the main foundations of the viability and vitality of
the concerned traditions. Based on increasingly more discussions and adequate communication,
the concept of ‘everyone is the bearer of traditional culture’ was subsequently promoted as the
theme word on the 4th Chengdu International Conference on Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2013.
As a new way of understanding the nature of people and their relation to culture, this modification
was in fact in accordance with the idea of safeguarding the integration of ICH. Moreover, a new
light has been shed on the timely and reasonable adjustment of the safeguarding strategies and
measures throughout the country.

The paradox between the UNESCO theoretical requirement
and actual practice; the negative impact of the programme
and the possible solution
The entire project has also brought many negative impacts, among which there has been some
competition and even conflict. Because of the system of inscription on the Representative Lists (or
the proclamation of masterpieces at the beginning), or nomination on various administrative UNESCO
levels (national or local), a certain amount of discordance has emerged among local people, as well as
disputes over the ownership of specific cultural items among communities or localities within the same
nation, or even between different nations. This has sometimes led to disturbances in people’s regular
relationship within societies or among communities. For many specific culture items or events, there
used to be various claims of origin and ownership from different areas or groups. Through long-term
arguments and disagreements, the concerned people or communities have reached compromises
or agreements, and this has also formed a vital foundation to maintain the vitality of related cultural
items. However, the proclamation of representative items can reinforce those existing tensions and
upset this balance, especially as it is associated with economic and other visible or imagined benefits.
In China, the most remarkable event concerning this affair was the debate about the ‘property rights’
to the Duanwu Festival between the Chinese and Korean internet users.5
5

In 2005, the Gangneung Danoje Festival (Dano Festival) in Korea was proclaimed by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and
Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Although this festival is different in content and ceremony form from the Chinese Duanwu
Festival (or Dragon Boat Festival), since the two festivals take place on the same day (the 5 May according to the lunar calendar)

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Folklore, or intangible cultural heritage, is highly affected by transformation and transmission.
Its time and space constantly change, adjusting and adapting to new contexts. In this process,
many customs absorb influences from other cultures and hence retain their vitality. In the time
when the world is closely tied together, emphasising the distinctiveness of each culture in a hierarchical way might to some extent create sources of new conflicts; the legislative proclamation
of the bearers and practitioners who have special responsibilities in the practice and transmission
of a traditional cultural item, which is simply understood by people as ‘ownership’ of the element
concerned, in fact, restricts or even hurts the viability and vitality of the cultural item itself.
The project of ICH safeguarding was founded on principles of equality and diversity of human
culture, but unfortunately, it, in fact, produced a new hierarchy among cultures, and within
a unique culture. The experts and UNESCO have the privilege to determine what item is suitable to
be inscribed on the Representative List, which in the public mind means a certificate to the more
valuable; whereas the actual bearers of a particular cultural item cannot have their voice on it. This
is another significant problem embedded in the project itself. Although community participation
is always emphasised by UNESCO, community members actually are only objects in the schemed
framework of ICH. To some extent, they might be treated according to the desire of those who are
higher in hierarchy. This leads to a paradoxical situation where it is the government agency that
decides which culture or whose culture constitutes culture (or cultural heritage), and folklorists
who are supposed to be made by folklore will decide what is folklore. In this process, ordinary
people are actually losing their last remaining power to express themselves through their own
tradition, becoming divided into two separate groups through being recognised as ‘having the
identified cultural heritage’ or ‘not having the identified heritage’.
All these issues are deeply rooted in the inevitable paradox between the ideal UNESCO theory
and the actual practice in various situations. There exists a fundamental contradiction between
UNESCO’s initial purpose of shaping equal understanding and mutual appreciation among different
traditions, and the pursuit of the benefits related to the intellectual property of various ICH items in
the practice of different countries. The latter is, in fact, the initial motivation for many countries to
start or participate in this campaign at the beginning, which derives from the perception or realisation of the people in developing countries about the economic potential embedded in the industrialand share the same Chinese concept of ‘Duanwu’ in the name, many Chinese people thought the Dano Festival came from
China, and the UNESCO proclamation would disable Chinese ownership and intellectual property of the Duanwu Festival in the
global context. This caused bitter hostility and fierce quarrel between internet users from the two countries, which lasted for
several months and damaged the relationship, and costed a lot of time and effort of the two countries to restore.

Introductory papers

ised culture, and the possibility of accelerating the development of the economy with this potential.6
It is hard to say that such kind of motivation or pursuit is wrong; instead, considering the contradiction mentioned above, either UNESCO or academia need to accept the fact that the ICH programme
was originated and facilitated by diverse forces with different appeals. It is therefore crucial to stress
the principles expressed in concepts such as ‘cultural diversity’, ‘ICH of humanity’ and ‘mutual respect’
in the ICH safeguarding campaign, and it is also necessary to pay close attention and genuine respect
to the appeal to intellectual property embodied in various intangible cultural heritage items from
many states parties of the 2003 Convention; especially nowadays, when the cultural industrialisation
is becoming increasingly more widespread and international. Only by doing so, UNESCO and various
states parties can make a feasible step forward to solve this problem.
Another serious example of the paradox between theory and practice centres on the concept
of ‘community’, which came from my observation when I participated in the UNESCO ICH evaluation work as a member of the Evaluation Body team as representative of the Chinese Folklore
Society. According to UNESCO’s requirement of the nomination for different lists (Representative
List of ICH of Humanity, List of ICH in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, and the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices), the community’s participation, consent, and leading role in the whole process
of safeguarding the ICH item should be adequately demonstrated in the nomination, and the lack
of any of these counterparts will result in a ‘request for additional information’. The emphasis on
the community is actually an emphasis on the tradition bearers, which is in agreement with the final
aim of safeguarding the rights of ordinary people through culture protection. However, because of
the heterogeneity and diversity even within a single community, and due to cultural, political, and
economic differences between various countries, it leads to the dominance of the government in the
ICH safeguarding practice. In some situations, communities concerned with a specific ICH item might
actually prefer to rely on the dominance of the government in the safeguarding of an item, which
can be a better way in dealing with particular issues in this special context. Such a fact is however not
an excuse for any government from the UNESCO state party to reject the central role of community, and states should aim to limit their ambition to interfere and exert their power in the process;
however, a long time is necessary to solve this paradox.
6

For example, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Religion of the Republic of Bolivia submitted a Proposal for International Instrument
for the Protection of Folklore to the Director-General of UNESCO in 1973, which was later regarded as one of the first signs of the
ICH project in the UNESCO framework. The main argument in that proposal was to propose a legislative protection of the folklore
or cultural forms of expression that were ‘undergoing the most intensive clandestine commercialization and export’ as a result
of commercially oriented transculturation destructive of traditional culture, and thus to protect the proprietary rights of a nation
or people in that nation to their traditional cultural heritage (Intergovernmental Copyright Committee 1973, Annex A).

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Nevertheless, by closer and deeper investigations of the movement and by continuous reflection on the theory and practice, the ICH communities, scholars including folklorists worldwide,
and the state powers will negotiate a better way to maintain the healthy development of the
campaign. In this regard, the concept of ‘cultural conversation’ (Baron and Spitzer 2008, 77–103)
developed by American folklorists might be helpful. As outsiders who cooperate with the community, the state power, as well as scholars should treat each other as cultural brokers instead of
owners, in order to come to a cultural representation based on mutual collaboration. This might
be one of the ways to reduce the difference between the insider and outsider, and thus to lead
to a better practice of ICH safeguarding.

Conclusion
As a result of the stronger consciousness of national identity and closer contact with the international society of contemporary China, the intangible cultural heritage safeguarding has been
developed into a quite prevalent and influential movement in the country. In accordance with the
principles and actions of UNESCO, China has acted very positively and has made various achievements in the practice and academic studies of ICH safeguarding. The widespread prevalence of the
movement has also shed a bright light on the ways of life of the Chinese society. However, by scrutinising different practices of the projects inside and outside China, we may also find that it causes
a great deal of negative impact. For instance, it does only stimulate competition, but also conflict
between different places, inside a country, or among various countries when claiming property of
traditional events. It also facilitates a new cultural bureaucracy and hegemony that might diminish
the authority and confidence of the common people as traditional bearers to express themselves
through their own culture. All those problems are deeply rooted in the paradox between UNESCO’s theoretical proposal and diverse practices of different countries. And since the campaign of
ICH safeguarding has already developed into an arena for different forces to display and present
their views – which is far beyond UNESCO’s initial purpose of launching the programme: to ensure
the respect and protection of cultural diversity according to the 2003 Convention – the space
between theory and practice is much broader.
Moreover, the project has provided a framework for various participants from different backgrounds to communicate, understand, negotiate, and make compromises. It is necessary for

Introductory papers

scholars to raise alarm in response to any ambiguous aspects both in theory and practice of the
programme, in order to nurture it and ensure its healthy development.

References
An, Deming安德明. 2008. “Feiwuzhi wenhua yichan baohu: minsuxue de liangnan xuanze非物质文化遗产保护:民俗学
的两难选择 [Intangible cultural heritage protection: the dilemma for folklore studies]. Henan Shehui Kexue 1: 14–20.
An, Deming, and Yang Lihui. 2015. “Chinese Folklore Since the Late 1970s: Achievements, Difficulties, and Challenges.” Asian Ethnology 74 (2): 273–90.
Baron, Robert, and Nick Spitzer, eds. 2008. Public Folklore. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.
Gao, Bingzhong. 2013. Zhongguo de feiwuzhi wenhua yichan baohu yu wenhua geming de zhongjie中国的非物质
文化遗产保护与文化革命的终结 [Intangible cultural heritage protection and the end of Cultural Revolution in
China]. Kaifang Shidai 5: 143–52.
Intergovernmental Copyright Committee. 1973. “Proposal for International Instrument for the Protection of Folklore.”. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0000/000058/005845eb.pdf.
Klein, Barbro. 2006. “Cultural Heritage, the Swedish Folklife Sphere, and the Others.” Cultural Analysis 5: 57–80.
UNESCO. 2014. Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Ninth
session, UNESCO Headquarters, 24 to 28 November 2014, Decisions. http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/doc/
src/ITH-14-9.COM-Decisions-EN.doc
UNESCO. 2015. Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Tenth
session, Windhoek, Namibia, 30 November to 4 December 2015, Decisions. http://www.unesco.org/culture/
ich/doc/src/ITH-15-10.COM-Decisions-EN.doc.
Xiang, Yunju向云驹. 2004. Renlei koutou he feiwuzhi yichan 人类口头和非物质遗产 [Oral and intangible heritage
of humanity]. Yinchuan: Ningxia Renmin Jiaoyu Chubanshe.
Yang, Lihui杨利慧, Zhang Xia张霞, Xu Fang徐芳, Li Hongwu 李紅武, and Tong Yunli仝云丽. 2011. Xiandai koucheng
shenhua de minzuzhi yanjiu – yi sige hanzu shequ wei gean现代口承神话的民族志研究 – 以四个汉族社区为个案
[An ethnographic study of orally transmitted myth in contemporary society: Based on investigations in four Han
Chinese communities]. Xi’an: Shaanxi Shifan Daxue Chubanshe.
Zhang, Zichen张紫晨. 1985. Zhongguo misu yu minsuxue中国民俗学与民俗学[Chinese folklore and folkloristic].
Hangzhou: Zhejiang Renmin Chuban

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10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

Implementation of the
2003 UNESCO Convention
for the Safeguarding of the
Intangible Cultural Heritage
– the Polish experience
Jan Adamowski*

*

Department of Polish Culture of the Institute of Culture Studies at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, Poland,
professor, President of the Council for Intangible Cultural Heritage, jadamowski@poczta.fm.

Introductory papers

Intangible cultural heritage must attain an appropriate legal status,
either under a separate act or by incorporating these issues to existing
acts, the latter method being probably easier to implement.

The ratification of the UNESCO 2003 Convention in Poland took place relatively late – only in 2011,
eight years after the adoption of the said Convention in Paris, with our country becoming the 136th
state to implement this document. This fact was confirmed and proclaimed by the publication
of the Convention in the Journal of Laws of the Republic of Poland.1 From that moment onwards,
efforts have been underway to incorporate the provisions of the Convention into our legal system.
However, even before the ratification, various groups had already been working on the foreseen implementation of the Convention provisions. Efforts in this regard had been made both by
the Minister of Culture and National Heritage (Ministerstwo Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego),
including the Monuments Preservation Department (Departament Ochrony Zabytków), and by
the special Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee (Zespół ds. Niematerialnego Dziedzictwa
Kulturowego) – a distinctive body appointed by the Ministry, predecessing the establishment
of the Council for ICH after the ratification of the Convention.2
One needs to emphasise that Poland has many long-standing traditions and achievements
in the field of intangible heritage protection. Examples include documentation efforts such
as Lud. Jego zwyczaje, sposób życia, mowa, podania, przysłowia, obrzędy, gusła, zabawy, pieśni,
1

Konwencja UNESCO w sprawie ochrony niematerialnego dziedzictwa kulturowego, sporządzona w Paryżu dnia 17 października
2003 r. [UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage adopted in Paris on 17 October 2003],
Dziennik Ustaw no. 172 item 1018, 8 February 2011.

2

The ICH Committee was established by the Regulation no. 12, issued on 30 April 2010 by the Minister of Culture and National
Heritage (Zarządzenie Ministra Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego nr 12 z dnia 30 kwietnia 2010 r. w sprawie Zespołu do spraw
niematerialnego dziedzictwa kulturowego w Ministerstwie Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego, Dziennik Urzędowy MKiDN [Official
Gazette of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage] no. 2 item 17, 20 May 2010).

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muzyka i tańce (The people, their customs, way of life, speech, legends, sayings, rituals, beliefs,
festivities, songs, music and dance) by Oskar Kolberg – a work which has since attained recognition in nearly all Slavic countries. This 19th-century initiative, the first volume of which was
published back in 1857, has continued into the modern times, with 84 volumes published.
A series of publications known as Polska pieśń i muzyka ludowa. Źródła i materiały (The Polish
folk songs and music. Sources and materials), created in 1974 at the initiative of Professor
Ludwik Bielawski and published under his supervision as a scholarly editor, can be considered
a tribute to the ideas of Kolberg. This series – much like the works of Kolberg – presents the
examples of Polish folk music documented in the modern times, arranged by region. So far,
four volumes of this series have been released (some of them consisting of several parts) for
the following cultural regions: ‘Kujawy’, ‘Kashubia’, ‘Warmia and Masuria’, ‘the Lublin Region’
and ‘the Podlachia Region’ (in two parts).3
The implementation of the Convention itself encompasses various activities which take
place in a multitude of dimensions. These are mostly conducted by the following entities: the
Ministry of Culture and National Heritage (including through the Monuments Preservation
Department), the National Heritage Board of Poland (Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa) – an institutionalised body acting under the supervision of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage
– as well as the Council for Intangible Cultural Heritage (Rada ds. Niematerialnego Dziedzictwa
Kulturowego) appointed by the Minister and composed of 20 specialists and experts in different
ICH domains.4 The Council – in cooperation with the National Heritage Board of Poland – was
the first to develop the necessary procedures of action related to applications for the national
as well as UNESCO ICH lists.
The first issue to be resolved was that of developing an appropriate application form so that
applications for inscription into the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (Krajowa lista
niematerialnego dziedzictwa kulturowego) could be made. It was also for this purpose that the
conceptual range of the term ‘intangible cultural heritage’ was updated and elaborated in order
to match the conditions prevailing in Poland. The importance of the latter stems from the fact
that, in our tradition, the term ‘heritage’ tends to be associated mostly with material heritage.
3

In 2016, the second, extended edition was published, which contains the third part of Pieśni Powszechne [common songs] –
editorial note.

4

The Council was established by the Regulation of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage issued on 18 September 2013
(Zarządzenie Ministra Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego z dnia 18 września 2013 r. w sprawie Rady do spraw niematerialnego
dziedzictwa kulturowego, Dziennik Urzędowy MKiDN, item 35, 19 September 2013) – editorial note.

Introductory papers

This is confirmed by the entries in various dictionaries, in which words such as ‘scheda’ (inheritance) or ‘spadek’ (legacy) are stated as synonymous with the term ‘heritage’ (Adamowski i Smyk
2013, 9). The Convention, by contrast, clearly provides that ‘intangible heritage’ is a distinct
entity which comprises ‘the practices, conceptions, expressions, knowledge and skills as well as
the associated instruments, objects, artifacts and cultural space which communities, groups and
– in some cases – individuals consider to be a part of their cultural heritage’.5
Section 2 of article 2 of the Convention includes a concise list of the five basic domains of intangible heritage. In order for these general domains to be more easily identified, the Council –
following a discussion among the experts in the field – has proposed the addition of further
examples, updated to accommodate various national traditions. In this version, the Polish definition of intangible cultural heritage encompasses the following items:
1. ‘Oral traditions and expressions’, which manifest themselves, inter alia, in folk tales, proverbs,
songs, orations, stories, speeches, funerary lamentations, shepherds’ or merchants’ calls or
shouts as well as in language as such, since language remains a vessel for intangible cultural
heritage. The term ‘orature’ may be used to collectively refer to all of the above.
2. ‘Performing arts’ – including vocal and instrument traditions, dance traditions, religious, carnivals or annual performances, etc.;
3. Socio-cultural practices, which manifest themselves in annual, family, or occasional rituals,
customs and practices such as christenings, weddings, funerals, customs related to parish
indulgence fairs and pilgrimages, games and festivities, children’s folklore, festive customs,
as well as practices designed to facilitate contacts with other people such as traditional greetings, etc.;
4. Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe, including traditional views
of the universe, folk meteorology, traditional methods of attending to household duties,
providing care to the sick, verbal spells intended to bring about good health or romance, etc.;
5. Knowledge and skills related to traditional crafts, including both the manner in which specific
objects are manufactured and their subsequent use (both in practical and artistic terms, e.g.
the ability to make an instrument and play it in a variety of circumstances) (after Adamowski
i Smyk 2013, 11).
At this stage, the proposed update of the conceptual range of the term ‘intangible cultural
5

Konwencja UNESCO…, art. 2.

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The Folk Band from Lubzina (the Kuraś family band), Podkarpackie Province, 2017. Photo by Jan Adamowski.

The ‘Sielanki’ vocal band from Sielec, Lubelskie Province, 2017. Photo by Jan Adamowski.

Introductory papers

heritage’ is merely a proposal, which allows for other phenomena to be included, provided that
they correspond to the basic criteria set out in the Convention. Furthermore,
Intangible cultural heritage should:


remain a living heritage which reflects both the traditional and contemporary practices in which the
identity of various cultural groups manifests itself;



be inclusive in nature;



be representative (as opposed to evaluative) in nature;



remain firmly anchored in local communities, which means that it may be considered as a part of the identity and tradition of specific communities only by such communities and with their consent (Zalasińska
2013, 45).

The office workers and experts of the National Heritage Board of Poland together with the
members of the Council (specialists in different ICH domains), take a direct part in regional
meetings intended to promote the idea of the Convention, appearing both as lecturers and
participants in the discussions. Furthermore, research conferences which discuss and analyse
the issues of intangible cultural heritage in Poland are organised, resulting in the publication of
a series entitled Niematerialne dziedzictwo kulturowe w Polsce i jego ochrona (Intangible cultural
heritage in Poland and its protection), the publication of which began back in 2013.6 All these
efforts have sparked an interest among various local associations and pro bono societies which
strive towards the identification of those manifestations of intangible cultural heritage, which
are of particular importance for individual regions and ensure its organised protection. In this
regard, the Council engages in relatively close cooperation with the Polish National Commission
for UNESCO (Polski Komitet ds. UNESCO). Furthermore, seeking to extend both its organisational and substantive scope, the Council appointed appropriate specialist working groups (the
group for legal affairs and development strategy for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural
heritage, as well as the group for music and dance), with the results of their work presented
and discussed by the Council. Some research institutions have also created special departments
that specialise in this field, with intangible cultural heritage now incorporated into the curricula
of cultural studies.
The efforts of the Council related to intangible heritage itself, on the other hand, have
resulted in the positive assessment of 18 applications (it needs to be said that a number of appli6

However, the first publications about the Convention appeared in Poland earlier, soon after its adoption (see Jodełka 2005)
and the first working translation of the Convention, two years before its ratification by Poland (Jodełka-Schreiber 2009).

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cations have been rejected following discussions and the preparation of the relevant expertise)
and the inscription of the following elements on the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage:
1. ‘Artistic and historical gunsmithing’ – these traditions, related to the manufacture of hunting
rifles in the Cieszyn Silesia region, known as the ptaszniczanka (a rifle designed for shooting
game birds) or the cieszynka (a name derived from its place of origin) trace back to the
16th century and are notable due to the considerable rarity of the skills involved.
2. ‘The Nativity scene (szopka) tradition in Kraków’ – the tradition of building elaborate, static
nativity scenes during the Christmas period traces back to the mid-19th century; the characteristic feature of these nativity scenes is that the urban landmarks of Kraków serve as
backdrops to the scenes themselves.
3. ‘Lajkonik procession’ – another name of this custom is konik zwierzyniecki; it is a local street
parade which takes place in Kraków on the Thursday after Corpus Christi, with the presence
of the Lajkonik – a man in Mongolian attire, riding a hobbyhorse.
4. ‘Rafting traditions of Ulanów’ – an annual reenactment presenting the legacy of the San
river raftsmen of Ulanów, who had once transported timber and other goods to the Gdańsk
seaport; today, these reenactments serve purely recreational and touristic functions;
5. ‘Corpus Christi celebrations in Łowicz’ – a long-standing Catholic tradition; this street procession takes place each year on Corpus Christi and features the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament – a symbol of Jesus Christ. According to the local folk traditions, this procession is also
intended to ensure good crops and protect the town against natural disasters; the Łowicz
procession is notable due to the presence of lavish visual elements which are a nod towards
the local folk culture;
6. ‘Esperanto as a carrier of the Esperanto culture’ – the artificial auxiliary language created
by Ludwik Zamenhof (which, since its creation, has become known all around the world),
along with the elaborate accompanying cultural tradition;
7. ‘The art of making and playing bagpipes (the bagpipes of the Podhale region)’ – the
bagpipe is a polyphonic instrument which has been known in the Podhale region since the
16th century; the practice of making and playing these instruments has survived into the
modern times;
8. ‘Falconry – a living tradition’ – the tradition of hunting in the company of specially trained
birds which continues to be practised today and traces back to the medieval times, when
it was practised, among others, by the members of the Polish royal court;

Introductory papers

9. ‘Polish national dances’ – this scope of protection applies to various dances such as the
polonez, the krakowiak, the mazur, the kujawiak and the oberek. All of them stem from rural
traditions and are known in various social circles;
10. ‘Żukowo school of the Kashubian embroidery’ – a regional type of embroidery used to decorate
tops, tablecloths, aprons, duvet covers, ties, etc. It is distinguishable due to the use of distinctive colours (shades of blue, green, yellow, red and black) as well as regional motifs such as
tulips, clovers, hearts and rosettes);
11. ‘Traditional bronze work technique used by the Felczyński family for producing bells
in Taciszów’ – a traditional technique based on knowledge passed from generation to generation within a single family, involving the use of natural materials such as clay, sand and water
for the purposes of making bells of various kinds;
12. ‘Celebrations in honour of St Roch with the blessing of animals in Mikstat’ – St Roch is, among
others, the patron saint of herdsmen and domestic animals; In connection with this saint figure,
a para-liturgical custom came into being in a number of parishes which involves the blessing
of livestock; according to folk traditions, this custom has its origins in the votive function of
the blessing, and at the same time it is also intended to grant protection to cattle and other
animals against diseases;
13. ‘Easter rhymes in Szymborze’ – a regional custom from the Kujawy region according to which,
during Easter, the local bachelors climb a pedestal erected specifically for the purpose and
recite short, humorous poems about the local maidens, designed to serve matrimonial
purposes;
14. ‘Warmia dialect as a carrier of oral traditions’ – the local language used on the Polish-German
border, which had once been commonly used in the Prussian territory; today, this tradition
is experiencing a gradual comeback;
15. ‘Toy making traditions in Żywiec and Sucha Beskidzka’ – a type of craft with long traditions
in the Żywiec and Sucha Beskidzka areas, often practised by entire families; the most typical
types of these wooden toys include the horse-drawn britzka (known locally as the karetka) with
horses, rattles, cribs and, most importantly, little birds that had once been used as Christmas
tree decorations;
16. ‘Honey hunting’ – a traditional manner of obtaining honey, achieved through the preparation
of special wild beehives in the trunks of living trees; a profession typical for areas located amidst
primaeval forests (the Kurpiowska Forest, the Białowieża Forest, the Augustów Forest etc.);

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10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

Lace making traditions in Koniaków, 2015, © National Heritage Board of Poland.

Polish national dances presented to the guests of the Forum in Wieliczka Salt Mine, October 2016.
Photo by Paweł Kobek, © National Heritage Board of Poland.

Introductory papers

17. ‘Perebory – weaving traditions in the Bug river region’ – the art of making characteristically
striped and ornamented patterns on linen textiles using looms (weaving devices), used
mostly to decorate shirts and women’s skirts, with the most popular motifs being rhombuses, squares, star polygons etc. This tradition is a typical feature of the culture of the
eastern border areas;
18. ‘The Kraków bobbin lace’ – a variety of lace, hand-made using bobbins (commonly referred
to as klocki – blocks); the threads wound on bobbins are braided and twisted, allowing for
a myriad of openwork forms to emerge.7
In its further activities, the Council proposes placing a particular emphasis on the Polish
experiences in the field of the so-called best practices related to the safeguarding of intangible
heritage. A good example which illustrates activities of this kind is the annual Ogólnopolski
Festiwal Kapel i Śpiewaków Ludowych (Nationwide Festival of Folk Bands and Singers), which
takes place in Kazimierz Dolny at the end of June each year.
Throughout the Festival’s 50-year history, a hierarchical model of regional preliminaries has
been developed, ensuring that only the very best performers appear on the stage in Kazimierz
Dolny, presenting a repertoire of both songs and instrumental compositions. It is extremely
valuable in cultural terms and remains consistent with the regional convention. In addition, the
performers appear in regional outfits, creating a lavish and remarkably diverse visual experience. The Festival takes the form of a competition, with the prizes and awards serving not only
to distinguish individual folk artists but also to confirm the value of their work in the social and
cultural spheres.
At present, the competition is divided into five categories, with the so-called ‘Tower’ –
a commemorative medal – serving as the main prize. During the 2016 edition of the Festival, the
top prizes went to:
1. The Folk Band from Lubzina (the Kuraś family band) – Podkarpackie Province;
2. The ‘Sielanki’ vocal band from Sielec – Lubelskie Province;
3. Adam Tarnawski – a solo violinist from Janiszew, Mazowieckie Province;
4. Stanisław Madanowski – a solo singer from Boczki Chełmońskie, Łódzkie Province;
7

The latest inscriptions on the National List of ICH, evaluated by the Council for ICH from December 2016 until August 2017
include also: ‘Cultural traditions of Biskupizna’, ‘New-year caroling in the Żywieckie region’, ‘Lace making traditions in Koniaków’,
‘The “Turki” guards procession in Grodzisk’ and three others are recommended for inscription, awaiting final decision of the
Minister of Culture: ‘Wedding traditions in the Szamotuły area’, ‘Bagpipe traditions in the Wielkopolska region’, ‘“Kabłącok”
basket making traditions in Lucima, Radomskie region’ – editorial note.

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5. The family band of Jacek Bursa from Guzów, Mazowieckie Province (in the ‘folklore continued’
category).
The Festival performs a variety of social and cultural functions in both direct and indirect
ways. In addition to the function outlined above, which may be described as related to identity
and which is implemented at both the regional and nationwide level, the Festival also plays an
important role by creating a certain model for the contemporary transmission of traditions. This
function is performed primarily by a special type of concert, where masters present their apprentices. These efforts, implemented over the years, have already borne fruit. For many years now
the former apprentices have been appearing during the main competition concert, with some of
them having already presented apprentices of their own. One may therefore say that it is at least
the third generation of folk performers that participate in the Festival. The Festival, therefore,
serves as a good example of an active approach to stimulating the transmission of culture, which
also ensures its safeguarding.
In addition, the well-established structure of the Festival also allows it to exert a certain
influence on the transmission of musical traditions. The aforementioned regional preliminaries
encourage large numbers of local performers to become involved. For example, in 2016, more
than 200 performers took part in twelve regional festivals in the Lubelskie Province alone. In most
cases, these events also served as festivals of a more general nature for individual local communities and their members of different generations. One can, therefore, say that the Festival
remains conducive towards cultural expression, both on the vertical and horizontal levels.
Furthermore, the Festival in Kazimierz Dolny performs other important functions. I shall
refer now to its two further functions – cognitive and ludic ones. The Festival performs the
cognitive function in a twofold manner. On the one hand, the Festival aims at ensuring that
the audience becomes acquainted with the Polish folk music tradition and allows other interested individuals to become acquainted with it in a broader sense, using both media coverage
and various publications documenting the issue in question (see for example the publication
known as Kazimierskie nuty, containing music sheets of songs and instrumental pieces, etc.).
On the other hand, the cognitive function also refers to the perception of the performers
themselves, who come to the festival from various locations all across Poland and have an
opportunity to become acquainted with the culture of other regions, which in turn allows
them to strive more actively towards the incorporation of their own culture into the greater
body of national culture.

Introductory papers

The ludic function manifests itself directly in the town of Kazimierz Dolny in the form
of accompanying events such as Saturday folk festivities, traditional dance workshops, social
gatherings etc. Furthermore, the Festival remains an annual celebration of folk culture – at least
in the prevalent view of the artists who come there to perform. The participants often prepare
for the whole year for this event, which manifests itself in both their traditional clothing and
the atmosphere surrounding the Festival reminiscing that of a parish indulgence fair where
various souvenirs are available for purchase; the oldest performers also consider this to be
a good opportunity to rest after long, hard work in the field.
There are many more examples of similar well-established schemes aimed at ensuring the
protection of intangible cultural heritage in Poland, which have been in place for many years.
These examples include the following:
• Annual meetings of rural theatres known as the Ogólnopolski Sejmik Teatrów Wsi Polskiej
(Nationwide Assembly of Polish Country Theatres). During the final meeting in Tarnogród
(which took place for the 41st time in 2016) there are usually about 15 theatrical troupes (about
300 performers in total), selected in the course of 5 regional meetings (Piła-Kaczory – Pomorskie Province, Stoczek Łukowski – Lubelskie Province, Bukowina Tatrzańska – Małopolskie
Province and Tarnogród – Lubelskie Province). The most typical repertoire of the said troupes
is theatrical reenactment (which thus also includes education and safeguarding) of the local
rituals, customs and beliefs such as various forms of carol singing, weddings, christenings, the
sobótki fires lit during various holidays, Shrovetide as well as general reenactments of the old
country life.
• The nationwide meetings of blacksmiths held in Wojciechów near Lublin. These meetings take
two distinct forms. The first one is the typically educational event known as the Ogólnopolskie
Warsztaty Kowalskie (Nationwide Blacksmiths’ Workshops), which is held for the 22nd time this
year – commonly referred to as the ‘school of blacksmithery’. It is aimed primarily at young
people interested in this craft, who under the supervision of its masters are able to learn new
abilities as well as enhance the skills and techniques that they already possess. The second
one is known as the Ogólnopolskie Spotkania Kowali (Nationwide Blacksmiths’ Meetings) and
is a more general forum that also includes elements of historical and cultural reflection.
• The Sabałowe Bajania (Sabała’s tales) competition – a Polish highlander competition for storytellers, musicians, singers, best men and masters of ceremony held in Bukowina Tatrzańska.
In 2016, the 50th edition of this event took place. This competition is aimed primarily at inhab-

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Safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China
10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

Bagpipe traditions in the Wielkopolska region, 2017, © National Heritage Board of Poland.

Traditional sleigh (kumoterki) races. Photo by Maciej Baraniak, © National Heritage Board of Poland.

Forewords

itants of the Polish mountains and the Małopolskie Province, even though representatives of
other regions of Poland also tend to participate; in 2016, the residents of the following provinces have taken part in the competition: Łódzkie, Lubelskie, Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Podkarpackie, Świętkorzyskie, Wielkopolskie, Śląskie (together with guests from Slovakia). Due to
the large number of young performers taking part in these meetings, one may easily see that
the festival performs the role of systematic and direct transmission of intangible cultural
heritage, making it an exemplary event in this regard.
Of course, activities of this kind are much more numerous. All of them tend to involve large
groups of people and are not just ad-hoc citations from the cultural memory of the given groups;
they perform a practical role in the propagation of traditions. As such, they should have much
greater recognition and institutional support based on the guidelines presented by the Minister
to the Council members. To conclude, one may briefly reiterate some of the most urgent tasks:
1. Intangible cultural heritage must attain an appropriate legal status, either under a separate
act or by incorporating these issues to existing acts, the latter method being probably easier
to implement.
2. The central and local government institutions must secure at least a minimum of funds for
the protection of intangible heritage.
3. Intangible heritage must not be treated as a type of ‘historical monument’, primarily due
to its unique character and the ‘inherent nature’ of its features. For this reason, all actions
related to the identification, safeguarding and dissemination thereof require employing
appropriate specialist personnel.
4. One must make all the organisational and substantive arrangements necessary, proposing
the first nominations of the Polish values forming part of our intangible heritage to be
inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
as well as Register of Good Safeguarding Practices.
5. The safeguarding and dissemination of the values linked with intangible heritage must also
be incorporated into the systemically understood didactic curriculum. In this regard, cooperation between a number of ministries such as the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education must be ensured.
6. In order to ensure the promotion of the idea of intangible heritage itself as well as to facilitate discussions on different issues between various groups within the society – including
expert discussions – one must establish dedicated publishing institutions that must operate

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on a systemic basis and receive support from the decision-making centres; these efforts
may include, among others, an independent magazine as well as the continuation of the
publishing series which had so far been released based on ad-hoc resources.
7. All the works linked with popularising the National Lists must be continued.
8. It is also necessary to integrate and systematise the cooperation with various associations
and cultural institutions, particularly including regional institutions, as well as research
centres and other entities operating in the cultural field in order to improve the efficiency of
joint operations.
9. A greater visibility of the work performed by individuals implementing the intangible cultural
heritage safeguarding programme must also be ensured. In the first place, more specialist
personnel must be hired (including both on the central level – for example, at the National
Heritage Board of Poland itself – as well as on the Province level).
10. It is necessary to create more favourable conditions for the identification and documentation, analytical recognition, as well as dissemination and the sharing of phenomena and
values that form our intangible cultural heritage.
The proposals specified above do not encompass the entire range of needs, and one must
also emphasise that Poland has only just begun implementing the ideas inherent in the Convention. Yet, even this fact may also have certain advantages. It may serve as a starting point for the
development of a carefully thought-out overall plan of action, designed for a period of many
years that would facilitate the implementation of a long-term strategy, ensuring efficient solutions to be developed in the future.

References
Adamowski, Jan and Katarzyna Smyk. 2013. “Niematerialne dziedzictwo kulturowe – teoria i praktyka [Intangible
cultural heritage – theory and practice].” In Niematerialne dziedzictwo kulturowe: źródła – wartości – ochrona
[Intangible cultural heritage – sources – values – protection], edited by Jan Adamowski and Katarzyna Smyk,
9–17. Lublin; Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej, Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa.
Jodełka, Hanna. 2005. “Międzynarodowa ochrona niematerialnego dziedzictwa kulturowego [International safeguarding system of the intangible cultural heritage].” Stosunki Międzynarodowe – International Relations 32
(3–4): 169–87.

Introductory papers

Jodełka-Schreiber, Hanna. 2009. “Niematerialne dziedzictwo kulturowe: idea, prawo, praktyka [Safeguarding of
the intangible cultural heritage: idea, law, practice].” In Wokół problematyki prawnej zabytków i dzieł sztuki:
praca zbiorowa, t. 3 [Legal framework for the safeguarding of cultural heritage, monuments and works of art,
vol. 3], edited by Wojciech Szafrański and Katarzyna Zalasińska, 115–30. Poznań: Wydawnictwo Poznańskie.
Zalasińska, Katarzyna. 2013. Zalecenia dotyczące wdrożenia prawodawstwa UNESCO do polskiego porządku prawnego [Recommendations on the implementation of UNESCO legislation into the Polish legal order]. Warszawa:
Polski Komitet do spraw UNESCO.

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PART 1.
ICH AND GOOD PRACTICES
OF ITS SAFEGUARDING

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Croatia’s intangible cultural
heritage safeguarding
policies and practice.
The implementation of the
UNESCO 2003 Convention
for the Safeguarding of the
Intangible Cultural Heritage
in Croatia
Mirela Hrovatin*
Martina Šimunković**

*

Senior Expert Advisor, Ministry of Culture, Republic of Croatia (Ministarstvo kulture Republike Hrvatske),
e-mail: mirela.hrovatin@min-kulture.hr.
** Senior Expert Advisor, Ministry of Culture, Republic of Croatia, e-mail: martina.simunkovic@min-kulture.hr.

Part 1. ICH and good practices of its safeguarding

The inscription of the elements, both in the National Registry and
on the UNESCO lists, has largely contributed to raising awareness
of the importance of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in the
country and beyond, inside as well as outside the discussed communities.
This is why the number of activities related to intangible cultural heritage
safeguarding has been increasing…

As a part of the South-European, Central-European, as well as Mediterranean cultural circles and
traditions, Croatia is very rich in valuable cultural and historical heritage. Through the actions of
its Ministry of Culture (Ministarstvo kulture), it has actively followed UNESCO’s efforts in creating
an international instrument for the safeguarding of traditional culture already since the 1970s
(Bouchenaki 2004), and intensified them especially in the 1990s. This enabled the inclusion of intangible cultural heritage as a special category in the 1999 Act on the protection and safeguarding
of cultural goods.1 The preparation of the nomination files for two editions of the UNESCO Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity programme in 2003 and 2005 resulted
in the formation of a special expert Committee for Intangible Cultural Heritage (Povjerenstvo
za nematerijalnu kulturnu baštinu) in Croatia in 2002,2 and a special Department for ICH in the
Ministry of Culture (Odjel za nematerijalnu kulturnu baštinu) in 2004 that prepared the first inscriptions into the national Registry of Cultural Goods of the Republic of Croatia (Registar kulturnih
dobara Republike Hrvatske),3 a publicly available book published by the Ministry of Culture. Soon

1

Zakon o zaštiti i očuvanju kulturnih dobara, Narodne Novine [National Newspaper] 69/1999, 5 July 1999.

2

The Committee is comprised of seven experts and scientists dealing with specific types of intangible heritage in scientific and
expert institutions (faculties, museums, institutes). The Committee’s role is to encourage legal and practical protection of ICH
in Croatia, and the preservation and promotion of ICH on both the national and international levels. Its members have been
active not only on national inscriptions and meetings with the local communities in Croatia, but also on the international level
at various meetings and conferences (ICTM), and have worked in UNESCO bodies on ICH (Intergovernmental Committee from
2008 until 2012, Evaluation Body for examination of nomination files).

3

The national Registry of Cultural Goods is available online at: www.min-kulture.hr/default.aspx?id=6212 (for intangible cultural
heritage choose ‘Vrsta’ and ‘nematerijalno kulturno dobro’ in the search engine).

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after these activities, Croatia ratified the UNESCO 2003 Convention on ICH in 2005, and confirmed
the Ministry of Culture as the central national body responsible for its implementation. Such efficient legislative and administrative background, as well as the coordinated work of communities,
NGOs, individuals, experts, and state institutions, had enabled the inscription of more than 150 ICH
elements in the Registry of Cultural Goods until 2016. Out of those 150 elements, 14 are inscribed
on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and the List of
Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. Several more are in preparation, out
of which one for the inscription on UNESCO’s Register of Good Safeguarding Practices. The Ministry’s Department for UNESCO (Odjel za UNESCO) has contributed significantly to the implementation of the 2003 Convention in Croatia and has supported the Department for ICH in its work.
In the last decade, the Department for ICH has been intensifying and systematising the cooperation with the Expert Committee for ICH and different institutions (research institutes and
academics, among others) on documenting, listing, and safeguarding ICH elements in Croatia.
The first inscriptions into the National Registry and onto the UNESCO Lists were prepared very
quickly and the communication with the bearers was done mostly via the experts who have been
researching these elements for years (Hrovatin 2011). In recent years, the full participation of the
bearers in the inscriptions has been ensured by a special procedure and the communication
on future planning and projects is better than before.
The procedure of the inscription of ICH elements into the National Registry comprises of several
phases (Šimunković 2009 and 2015). First, the proposals for the inscription are submitted to
19 Conservation Departments (konzervatorski odjeli) of the Ministry of Culture,4 depending on the
geographical location of an ICH element. Proposals can be submitted by the local communities,
bearers, NGOs, but also by experts, local and regional museums, and various expert and scientific
institutions. This is done via the special Ministry’s Application Form, which consists of basic information about the element (description, historical background, future safeguarding measures and
other, see Appendix 1). The evaluation process includes networking and cooperation of the experts
from the Ministry with the experts from the Advisory Committee for ICH and other associates from
expert institutions. The long scientific and expert research conducted over the years has provided
a good basis not only for writing the texts on intangible elements that have been inscribed, but
4

List of Conservation Departments of the Ministry of Culture: www.min-kulture.hr/default.aspx?id=1721. 19 departments
are under the Ministry of Culture; 1 department is under the capital city of Zagreb and is a part of the city’s Institute for
Preservation of Cultural and Natural Monuments (Gradski zavod za zaštitu spomenika kulture i prirode).

Part 1. ICH and good practices of its safeguarding

also for achieving better communication with the communities during the implementation of the
2003 Convention. The institutions involved in this research include: the Institute of Ethnology and
Folklore Research (Institut za etnologiju i folkloristiku), the Department of Ethnology and Cultural
Anthropology of the University of Zagreb (Odsjek za etnologiju i kulturnu antropologiju),5 Institute of Croatian Language and Linguistics (Institut za hrvatski jezik i jezikoslovlje), ethnographic
museums (in Zagreb, Pazin, Split, and Dubrovnik and other cities), as well as many other expert
organisations: Croatian Cultural Association (Hrvatski sabor kulture), Centre for Intangible Culture
of Istria (Centar za nematerijalnu kulturu Istre), Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts (Hrvatska
obrtnička komora), National Folk Dance Ensemble of Croatia LADO (Ansambl narodnih plesova
i pjesama Hrvatske), and others. The fast inscriptions were also possible thanks to the safeguarding
and documenting efforts of the local communities.
The applicant(s) for the establishment of protection of intangible cultural property can be all
natural and legal persons in the Republic of Croatia (individuals, communities, institutions, including
local heritage and city museums, NGOs, local and regional administrations, institutions, Conservation Departments of the Ministry of Culture, among others).
Proposals for the inscription in the Registry are submitted in the Conservation Departments
of the Ministry on a specially drafted application form of the Ministry of Culture, in which applicants give basic information about the element.
The criteria for inscription of the proposed element into the Registry are not rigid, but rather
form a type of a ‘checklist’ of conditions which should be met before proceeding further. The basis
for making the criteria is formed by the UNESCO documents on ICH safeguarding and the 2003
Convention:
• The element belongs to one or more categories of intangible heritage, according to Article
9 of the Act on the Protection and Safeguarding of Cultural Goods (the intangible cultural goods
may be of various forms and expressions of spiritual origin transmitted orally or otherwise,
especially: 1. Language, dialects, speeches, toponyms, oral expressions and oral literature of all
kinds; 2. Folk creativity in the areas of music, dance, play, customs, ceremonies, rituals, as well
as other traditional and folk values; 3. Traditional artistry and craftsmanship).
• The element is in accordance with international human rights instruments, requires mutual
respect between communities, and is in harmony with sustainable development.
5

For more information about the Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Zagreb, see www.
ffzg.unizg.hr/etno.

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• The community has identified the element as part of its cultural heritage.
• The element gives the community and individuals a sense of identity and continuity.
• The element is part of the community and is transmitted and constantly recreated.
• The element contributes to the diversity of the ICH in the Registry, testifying to cultural diversity and human creativity.
• The element is submitted with the free, prior and informed consent of the community concerned
following the participation of the community at all stages of identification, definition, documentation, and nomination.
• The above-mentioned consent of the community concerned is accompanied by the appropriate
documentation and feasible safeguarding measures according to the official Application Form
for Proposal to Establish the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The whole evaluation process of inscribing an ICH element includes networking and cooperation of the experts from the Ministry of Culture with the experts from the Advisory Committee for
ICH and, when needed, other associates from various museums, institutes, universities, and other
institutions. Prior to the inscription, the text of the official Resolution document (a legal document by which the element is inscribed into the Registry) is sent back to the bearers to confirm its
content and once again confirm their agreement with the inscription. The final step is the confirmation of the inscription in the Registry by the Expert Committee for the Establishment of the
Properties of Cultural Goods (Stručno povjerenstvo za utvrđivanje svojstva kulturnog dobra), which
is a special expert body in the Ministry of Culture that inscribes all the cultural elements into the
National Registry of Cultural Goods, including movable and immovable tangible heritage, as well
as intangible heritage. The same final procedure prior to the inscription of any cultural element
has contributed greatly to raising awareness about the value of intangible heritage alongside the
tangible heritage, that has been for a long time considered more important in the expert circles.
Moreover, this Committee relies almost exclusively on the decision of the Committee for ICH,
thus a special approach is secured for deciding on the inscription of an ICH element. After the
Expert Committee’s final decision, the Resolution (Rješenje) is sent officially to the bearers and
local administration, thus ensuring that they become more active in the safeguarding activities.
The system of monitoring inscribed ICH elements involves the experts from the Ministry of Culture
as well as experts from the Conservation Department of the Ministry of Culture in charge of the
exact geographical area. The monitoring is aimed at particular communities in specific areas and
their specific safeguarding activities. Also, for periodic reports, the Ministry’s experts use various

Part 1. ICH and good practices of its safeguarding

information about the inscribed ICH elements that is continually collected by other institutions via
their regular research activities.
The inscription of the elements both in the National Registry and on the UNESCO’s Lists has
largely contributed to raising awareness on the importance of ICH safeguarding in the country, as
well as in the neighbouring countries. This is why the number of activities on ICH safeguarding has
been increasing. Since 2008, the Ministry has also made possible for ICH safeguarding programmes
to apply for financial support via the annual open call for the public needs in culture. Annually, the
Ministry supports around 70 programmes aimed at ICH safeguarding, with around 300 different
projects supported from 2008 until 2016 (see Chart 1). The activities of the programmes include
transmission, enhancement, presentation, research, documentation through formal and informal
education, workshops, courses, classes, exhibitions, festivals, and the production of audio-visual
recordings and any related materials (Hrovatin 2016). Such support helps to start, continue,
and develop various ICH safeguarding programmes further, including the promotion via the ICH
elements such as games, culinary practices and rituals that are demonstrated to the public. Beside
expert and scientific institutions, the Ministry together with its ICH Department and 19 Conservation Departments contribute to the cooperation with the bearers but also with the local authorities, which have been supporting increasingly more various cultural events and festivals, at the
same time showing the achievements of safeguarding and encouraging the youth to participate
and learn.

80

120 000

70

100 000

60
80 000

50
40

60 000

30

40 000
NUMBER OF PROGRAMMES

20
20 000

10
0

2008

2009

2010

2011 2012

2013 2014 2015

2016

TOTAL IN EURO

0

Chart 1: Increase in the number of ICH safeguarding programmes and state funds from 2008 until 2016 in Croatia.

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Since the intensification of the programmes, the local and state authorities have been providing
more technical and financial support for ICH safeguarding, including support to NGOs and research
and educational institutions, as well as the inclusion of ICH in various local and national educational,
scientific, and development programmes and projects. A special attention and support is given
also to programmes developed by the minorities in Croatia.
Various awareness-raising programmes take place during exhibitions, festivals, talks, workshops,
open days and other activities for the general public, and schoolchildren in particular. To promote
traditional craftsmanship, arts programmes are implemented by different governmental bodies,
cultural artistic societies, experts, and bearers in community centres and other regional centres
spread across the country, for example in Kumrovec, the ‘Old Village’ Museum (Museum “Staro
selo”) it is making wooden toys and gingerbread. Various workshops are also organised as a part
of protection programmes in Lepoglava and Pag (lace-making), Islam Grčki (ojkanje singing) and
other. These events are in most cases open for the general public to participate.
The mass media, such as newspapers and magazines, broadcasting stations, television stations,
and websites have also played an important role in awareness-raising. Through the broadcast
of many documentaries and reports about traditional culture prepared by a special Department
for Folk and Oral Culture Broadcasts (Odsjek emisija pučke i predajne kulture), the national Croatian television plays an important role in educating and raising awareness of the importance and
value of intangible cultural heritage in Croatia.
The mobile exhibition Croatian Intangible Heritage on UNESCO’s Lists has been travelling since
2011 all over Croatia and abroad, presenting 14 elements from Croatia inscribed on UNESCO lists.
It has been prepared as an initiative of the Ministry of Culture, in cooperation with the experts from
the Ethnographic Museum in Zagreb (Etnografski muzej u Zagrebu). The exhibition displays films,
articles, photographs, maps, and other items linked to individual cultural goods on the UNESCO
Lists. The exhibition aims at supporting intercultural dialogue, making this heritage more visible
to people worldwide; it also raises awareness of the importance and the need for safeguarding
intangible cultural heritage in general.
Some of the effects of the inscriptions of ICH elements from Croatia onto UNESCO Lists are
visible also in the projects of several organisations. For example, the Croatian National Tourist
Board (Hrvatska turistička zajednica) has initiated and designed the project of ethnic posters
displaying motifs of the most attractive traditional customs and folk costumes of Croatia. Apart
from their visual content, the posters also carry brief information on the richness of Croatian tradi-

Part 1. ICH and good practices of its safeguarding

tional heritage, particularly of the variety inscribed on the UNESCO Lists. In 2012, the Croatian
Post (Hrvatska pošta) released four new commemorative postage stamps with a common theme:
‘Croatian intangible cultural heritage inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List’.6
Since the intensification of the ICH listing in Croatia, ICH has been incorporated into the annual
programme of the European Heritage Days, coordinated by the Ministry of Culture. In 2008, the
Ministry of Culture organised the European Heritage Days in cooperation with the Ethnographic
Museum in Zagreb under the topic ‘Treasure of Knowledge and Skills’. The ICH elements inscribed
in the National Registry were presented through an exhibition and an interactive CD along with
the system for protecting intangible cultural heritage in Croatia. The efforts of UNESCO aimed at
safeguarding intangible cultural heritage were also presented. In 2016, intangible cultural heritage
was the main topic again, with the emphasis on the communities, as a recommendation of the
Council of Europe. Another exhibition: Lokalne zajednice kao čuvari baštine (Local communities
as heritage keepers), was prepared with the aim to present different communities, NGOs, and individuals that implement various safeguarding measures (documenting, transmission, promotion).
On both occasions, various events and activities on ICH safeguarding in Croatia were advertised
in a special booklet prepared for marking the European Heritage Days in Croatia.7
The policy of promoting different forms of music and performance was best shown at the
44 International Folklore Festival (Međunarodna smotra foklora), dedicated to worldwide activith

ties on safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, conducted in UNESCO member states. All festival
participants were the representatives of the ICH elements listed in their national inventories and
some also on the UNESCO Representative List. The festival theme was chosen partially because
it took place during the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013–2022).
The programme of the 2013 annual concert of the National Folk Dance Ensemble of Croatia
LADO, a professional national ensemble, was made on the basis of the inscribed intangible
cultural heritage, both in the National Registry and the UNESCO lists. In its programme, LADO has
incorporated the songs, dances, and customs of Croatia that are inscribed on those lists, and has
adapted them for stage performance. Even though these elements exist within their communities, such performance brought a unique opportunity for wider audiences to see, hear, and feel
the listed items.

6
7

For more information about the project on postage stamps, see www.posta.hr/print.aspx?id=4685.
For more information about European Heritage Days and the booklets, see www.min-kulture.hr/default.aspx?id=7216.

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Pula: Fair of traditional meals and ecologically grown home products, 2014. Photo by Andreas Kancelar, © Ethnographic
Museum of Istria/Museo Etnografico dell’Istria.

Part 1. ICH and good practices of its safeguarding

In addition, there are many educational and awareness-raising programmes throughout the
country (Šimunković 2014). Intangible cultural heritage is included on the basis of general information in the primary school curriculum. In 2011, the UNESCO Handbook for Schools World Heritage
in Young Hands was presented to the public. The Handbook contains the first list that has ever been
published in Croatia of all cultural and natural tangible as well as intangible heritage elements
listed by UNESCO. The Handbook is intended as a contemporary teaching aid, to help teachers
prepare regular and extra-curricular lesson plans, and raise awareness of the need to safeguard
these elements among young people.
Depending on the skills and interests of teachers, the activities on awareness raising and
learning the traditional know-how are implemented in the schools in Croatia. The skill of producing
children’s toys has been included in the curriculum of the Woodwork Department of the Secondary
School in Oroslavje in the northern part of Croatia. For the people who are interested but do not
possess the necessary skills, special courses and trainings are provided in various public institutions beside schools. Starting with the basics, the attendees of these courses develop their skills
and talents. For example, the Open University in Ivanec has launched a training course for lacemakers, and the qualification that the participants obtain can be entered in their official employment record.
Through various projects, Croatia has also achieved a very good international cooperation
on ICH that includes bearers. Some of the programmes that are supported by EU funds also include
intangible cultural heritage, as an important vehicle for regional development and nurturing interborder cooperation. On expert and scientific level, Croatia has participated in many conferences
and has been active at international UNESCO’s meetings, as well as in the work of UNESCO’s intergovernmental and expert bodies (Hrovatin 2016a). Moreover, Croatia is also a regular member
of the Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of ICH in South-Eastern Europe (UNESCO Category
2 Centre) in Sofia (Bulgaria) since its establishment in 2011. A special department for UNESCO
at the Ministry of Culture and the Croatian Commission for UNESCO (Hrvatsko povjerenstvo za
UNESCO) are also actively working to raise awareness of the value of ICH, and promote it in Croatia
and abroad. Furthermore, international cooperation includes the preparation of multinational
nominations of ICH elements and implementation of the safeguarding projects that are supported
by national and international funding.
The two chosen examples: ‘Rovinj maritime traditions’ and ‘Traditional drystone building’
present two good practices of ICH safeguarding in local communities that comprise of various

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Kornati: Building and renewal of dry-stone walls, 2015. Photo by Vilma Stopfer, © Association 4 grada Dragodid.

Part 1. ICH and good practices of its safeguarding

activities and involve the effective cooperation of the bearers and experts with local and state
authorities. In Rovinj, the bearers have been included in planning the Batana Ecomuseum Project8
from the beginning, as it was themselves who had initiated it, basing on their own concern about
the imminent disappearance of their traditional heritage (songs, socialising, knowledge, and the
skills of building traditional wooden batana boats). It was also a good idea of the local community
to include an expert that knew how to use her previous knowledge on cultural management, which
helped to ensure long-term sustainable development of the safeguarding projects, as well as the
active participation of the local community. The bearers’ and expert’s ideas were also supported
by the local authorities, and the project started to be implemented. Many activities have been
conducted and various results have been achieved, all contributing to the preservation of the local
ICH and its inclusion into current ways of life. The second example is the building technique based
on using stone without mortar. It is an initiative started by an NGO comprised of a multi-disciplinary team of experts. The safeguarding activities have been aimed at local communities along the
Adriatic coast, the preservation of the know-how that is rapidly disintegrating, and the use of the
technique in new context. Today, with the first years of the initiative slowly advancing, the NGO
Dragodid receives technical and financial support both from the local authorities as well as from
the state.9 Moreover, it connects different bearers, local communities, and various other stakeholders in the safeguarding of this ICH element.
Both examples show that such multi-level approach to safeguarding ICH elements results
in securing the viability of the element, their inclusion in the current way of living, contribution
to sustainable development and preservation of nature, as well as to social cohesion, controlled
presentation in tourism, and local development.
In conclusion, the Ministry of Culture provides an overall as well as financial support for individuals and institutions for researching, presenting, and nurturing intangible heritage. Within the
strategy of the Ministry of Culture, the significance of intangible cultural heritage and the obligation to safeguard and promote it holds an important place. The continuous work of experts, both
in the Ministry and other institutions, has to a large extent contributed to better, more organised
activities aimed at protecting and safeguarding intangible heritage in Croatia.
The inscription of the elements, both in the National Registry and on the UNESCO lists, has
largely contributed to raising awareness of the importance of safeguarding intangible cultural
8

For more information about the project, see www.batana.org.

9

For more information about the project, see www.dragodid.org.

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heritage in the country and beyond, inside as well as outside the discussed communities. This is why
the number of activities related to intangible cultural heritage safeguarding has been increasing,
and many institutions support the implementation of projects that originate from local communities and other stakeholders.
We can also observe an increasing recognition among the public of the exceptional value
of intangible cultural heritage, as well as the conviction that the commitment and responsibility for
its safeguarding and transmission to future generations should rest on the bearers, local communities and relevant institutions; local, national, or minority identities. Not so long ago, intangible
cultural heritage, in terms of architectural, archaeological, and movable monuments was not sufficiently recognised, valued and protected; however, due to many activities on the safeguarding
and listing of ICH, this attitude has been changing in Croatia over the recent years. Although some
issues still remain to be resolved, such as intellectual rights, the market placement of products, lack
of networks and mass tourism, the enhancement of the administrative procedure, supporting and
motivating new projects, taking care of sustainability of programmes and the viability of ICH and its
inclusion in educational programmes have helped to systematise and improve its safeguarding in
Croatia. On the local and regional level, apart from the 19 mentioned Conservation Departments
and special sectors for culture within the local administrative bodies, numerous regional and local
history and ethnographic museums, nongovernmental organisations and amateur cultural-artistic
societies are also engaged in the safeguarding of intangible heritage; tourist boards are becoming
increasingly active in this respect as well. Using the bottom-up principle of popularisation and
promotion of intangible cultural heritage, the bearers themselves raise awareness of the value
of traditional heritage as a unique treasure, which ensures cultural diversity and democracy both
on the national and local level. What is more, global threats to intangible cultural heritage, such
as the negative aspects of globalisation, migration, industrialisation, and pollution compel us all
to raise awareness of its value of and importance not only on the local and national level, but also
as a part of world heritage.

Part 1. ICH and good practices of its safeguarding

References
Bouchenaki, Mounir, ed. 2004. Museum International Vol. 56, Issue 1–2. Wiley-Blackwell.
Hrovatin, Mirela. 2011. “Registriranje i očuvanje nematerijalnih kulturnih dobara u Hrvatskoj [Listing and safeguarding of intangible cultural goods in Croatia].” In Zbornik radova sa Međunarodnog skupa Craftattract – Tradicijski obrti: nove atrakcije za kulturni turizam [Collection of papers Craftattract – Traditional crafts: new attractions
for cultural tourism], edited by Goranka Horjan, 21–30. Gornja Stubica: Muzeji Hrvatskog zagorja. Accessed
September 12, 2016. http://www.craftattract.com/pdf/Zbornik-Craftattract.pdf.
Hrovatin, Mirela. 2016a. “A Short Overview of the ICH Safeguarding Policy in Croatia.” In The Contribution of UNESCO
Member States of South-Eastern Europe to the Implementation of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. A Jubilee Edition Dedicated to the 70th Anniversary of UNESCO, edited by Miglena Ivanova,
93–104. Sofia: Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in South-Eastern Europe
under the auspices of UNESCO. Accessed September 11, 2016. http://www.unesco-centerbg.org/wp-new/
wp-content/uploads/2016/05/izdanie_UNESCO_print-last.pdf.
Hrovatin, Mirela. 2016b. Izložba Lokalne zajednice kao čuvari baštine, Zagreb, Muzej Mimara, 20.–28/9/2016 / Exhibition Local Communities as Heritage Keepers, Zagreb, Mimara Museum, 20–28/9/2016. Zagreb: Ministarstvo kulture
Republike Hrvatske. Accessed October 11, 2016. https://issuu.com/narodni.muzej.zadar/docs/katalog_zajednice.
Šimunković, Martina. 2009. “Nematerijalna kulturna dobra i zaštita kulturne baštine” [Intangible cultural goods and
protection of cultural heritage].” In Slavonija, Baranja i Srijem: vrela europske civilizacije. Katalog izložbe [Slavonija, Baranja i Srijem: sources of European civilisation. Exhibition catalogue], edited by Vesna Kusin and Branka
Šulc,183–87. Zagreb: Galerija Klovićevi dvori.
Šimunković, Martina. 2014. “Promocija nesnovne kulturne dediščine na Hrvaškem / Promotion of the Intangible
Cultural Heritage in Croatia.” In Promocija nesnovne kulturne dediščine: ob deseti obletnici Unescove Konvencije
/ Promotion of the Intangible Cultural Heritage: The 10th Anniversary of the UNESCO Convention, edited by Anja
Jerin, Tjaša Zidarič, Nena Židov, 78–85. Ljubljana: Slovenski etnografski muzej. Accessed September 16, 2016.
http://www.etno-muzej.si/files/unesco_obletnica_web_1.pdf.
Šimunković, Martina. 2015. “Nematerijalna kulturna baština u Republici Hrvatskoj i sustav njene zaštite / Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Republic of Croatia and Its Conservation.” In Nacionalni katalog »Ruralni turizam
Hrvatske« / National Catalogue Rural Tourism in Croatia, edited by Leila Krešić-Jurić and Vesna Rajković, 12–17.
Zagreb: Hrvatska gospodarska komora. Accessed September 18, 2016. http://www.hgk.hr/documents/hgkkatalogruralniturizamhrvatskeweb57728ea64487b.pdf.

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Safeguarding intangible
cultural heritage
in Latvia: insights into
the contribution of NGOs
Gita Lancere*
Anita Vaivade**

*

Leading Expert in Folklore, Latvian National Centre for Culture (Latvijas Nacionālais kultūras centrs),
e-mail: Gita.Lancere@lnkc.gov.lv.
** Assistant professor, researcher, Latvian Academy of Culture (Latvijas Kultūras akadēmija), e-mail: anita.vaivade@lka.edu.lv.

Part 1. ICH and good practices of its safeguarding

Traditional Latvian folklore dates back well over a thousand years; more
than 30 thousand melodies of folk songs and 1.2 million texts have been
identified and documented. These are significant roots of the intangible
cultural heritage in Latvia, which remains a part of a much larger
and diverse heritage.

Latvia, one of the three Baltic states, is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It has
about 2 million inhabitants, and its people are historically Latvians and Livs, together with
diverse ethnic minority groups. The official language, Latvian, is an Indo-European language;
in fact, Latvian and Lithuanian languages are the only two surviving Baltic languages. Despite
foreign (German, Swedish, Russian) rule from the 13th to 20th centuries, the people of the
present territory of Latvia maintained their culture throughout generations via language and
traditions. The 19th century saw the initial formation of a distinct Latvian national identity.
Several crucial cultural and social developments took place and played a key role in that regard
– such as the first Latvian Song and Dance Celebration (Vispārējie Latviešu Dziesmu un Deju
Svētki) that took place in 1873, initiating a tradition which continues to this day. Also, the
publication of a vast collection of Latvian folk songs (Latvju Dainas, 1894–1915), catalogued in
the Cabinet of Folksongs, which was inscribed in 2001 on the UNESCO International Memory
of the World Register. Traditional Latvian folklore dates back well over a thousand years; more
than 30 thousand melodies of folk songs and 1.2 million texts have been identified and documented. These are significant roots of the intangible cultural heritage in Latvia, which remains
a part of a much larger and diverse heritage.

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State support system for the intangible cultural heritage
Policies related to cultural heritage have existed for almost a century in Latvia’s history. After
achieving independence in 1918, concerns about the identification and consolidation of cultural
heritage soon became integral to the policy development in culture, education, scholarship, and
the non-governmental organisations in the capital and other areas of the country. The continuation
of these policies only became possible in 1991, when Latvian independence was re-established.
The Republic of Latvia joined the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural
Heritage (ICH) on 14 January 2005. At present, Latvia has two elements inscribed on the ICH lists
of UNESCO: ‘Baltic song and dance celebration’ – Representative List of the ICH of Humanity, 2008; and
‘Suiti cultural space’ – List of ICH in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, 2009. Since Latvia’s adherence to the
Convention, the main institution responsible for its implementation has been the Ministry of Culture
of the Republic of Latvia (Latvijas Republikas Kultūras ministrija). The Ministry develops the legal framework for ICH safeguarding and determines relevant national policies and strategies in the field. Latvian
National Centre for Culture (Latvijas Nacionālais kultūras centrs) implements national cultural policies
and programmes in the field of ICH, coordinates the execution of state policies, provides consultations
for municipalities and communities, carries out relevant documentation, information, popularisation,
awareness-raising projects, and is the state body responsible for organising the main nationwide celebrations and festivals (including the Latvian Song and Dance Celebration).
Policy and legal framework
After the continuous work of many experts from different fields, the Latvian parliament (Saeima)
adopted the Intangible Cultural Heritage Law on 29 September 20161, which determines responsibilities
of different stakeholders involved in the safeguarding of ICH. The legal framework, which is created by
the Latvian State for the sustainable development of ICH, includes also the Song and Dance Celebration
Law2 adopted earlier, on 16 June 2005. It aims to preserve, develop, and pass on the tradition of the
Song and Dance Celebration to future generations. The policy framework is determined by the Concept
on the Safeguarding of the ICH of Latvia (2008), and the Plan for the Safeguarding and Development
of the Song and Dance Celebration Tradition (the latter adopted in 2016).
1

Nemateriālā kultūras mantojuma likums, Latvijas Vēstnesis [Latvian Herald], 204 (5776), 20 October 2016; English translation
is published on the official portal of Latvian national legislation (www.likumi.lv).

2

Dziesmu un deju svētku likums, Latvijas Vēstnesis, 99 (3257), 28 June 2005; English translation is published on the official portal
of Latvian national legislation (www.likumi.lv).

Part 1. ICH and good practices of its safeguarding

Financial framework
The main national funding resource for the safeguarding of ICH in Latvia is the State Culture Capital
Foundation (Valsts Kultūrkapitāla fonds), which has a support programme for traditional culture.
The state non-profit, joint-stock company began its work in 1998. The resources of the Foundation
are comprised by: state budget resources from the annual general revenue in the amount stipulated by a law on state budget; contributions and donations by physical persons, including foreign
persons; and other financial assistance and income from the economic activities of the Foundation.3 European structural and investment funds are available also for regional development,
including ICH. Structural funds can be used for infrastructure development, while regional cooperation programmes – for promotional activities, events, and communication. Rural development
programmes can be useful for different local initiatives, equipment, etc.
Stakeholders
There are several stakeholders involved in the sustainable development of ICH in Latvia. Those are
municipalities, NGOs, as well as research and education institutions (Archives of Latvian Folklore
within the Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art of the University of Latvia – Latvijas Universitātes
Literatūras, folkloras un mākslas institūta Latviešu folkloras krātuve; Institute of Latvian History
of the University of Latvia – Latvijas Universitātes Latvijas vēstures institūts; Jāzeps Vītols Latvian
Academy of Music – Jāzepa Vītola Latvijas Mūzikas akadēmija; and Latvian Academy of Culture –
Latvijas Kultūras akadēmija, where the UNESCO Chair on Intangible Cultural Heritage Policy and
Law is established in 2017). Among active stakeholders, there are also memory institutions such
as museums (Ethnographic Open-Air Museum of Latvia – Latvijas Etnogrāfiskais brīvdabas muzejs;
National History Museum of Latvia – Latvijas Nacionālais vēstures muzejs, among others), libraries
(National Library of Latvia – Latvijas Nacionālā bibliotēka, among others), and archives (National
Archives of Latvia – Latvijas Nacionālais arhīvs, among others).

Contribution of non-governmental organisations
After Latvia’s independence was re-established in 1991, many non-governmental organisations
(NGOs) were founded in the capital and other regions in Latvia. Some of them put safeguarding of
3

Valsts Kultūrkapitāla fonda likums, Latvijas Vēstnesis, 161 (2926), 14 November 2003; English translation is published on the
official portal of Latvian national legislation (www.likumi.lv).

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Vodka-making expedition, 2008. Photo by Uģis Pucens.

The Folk Pharmacy exhibition during the Contemporary Culture Forum ‘Baltā Nakts’ (Nuit Blanche), 2010.
Photo by Signe Pucena.

Part 1. ICH and good practices of its safeguarding

ICH and developing their own activities as their goal. The following two organisations can be highlighted: the Interdisciplinary Art Group SERDE (Starpnozaru mākslu grupa SERDE), which works
at the borderline between heritage safeguarding and artistic creativity, and the Society for Traditional Culture APRIKA (Tradicionālās kultūras biedrība APRIKA) that aims to foster heritage transmission and pass it to younger generations.
The Interdisciplinary Art Group SERDE is the first NGO in Latvia that has applied to become
accredited to the UNESCO 2003 Convention, and was accepted by the General Assembly of States
Parties in 2016. The organisation is situated in the Kurzeme region in Western Latvia, in a small town
named Aizpute. The name serde in Latvian means ‘core’ or ‘pith’, and at the core of this NGO, there
are only a few people: Signe Pucena, ICH expert and producer of culture events; Uģis Pucens, artist
and restorer; Ieva Vītola, researcher; Māris Grosbahs, artist; and some others. Since the establishment
of the organisation in 2002, it has become an inspiring example of interconnectedness explored
between scholarly research in traditional culture and artistic activities. The organisation studies living
memory and life histories and has significant experience in fieldwork; it also runs artistic residences
and workshops, with an overall objective to encourage dialogue between the artists, scholars, and
educators, often in international networking frameworks. SERDE collaborates with ICH experts,
artists, students, and scholars. In preparation for fieldwork, the ICH experts design lists of questions,
and they interview informants; the artists document the process, the milieu, and the participants. The
fieldwork, which culminates in presentations and workshops for the communities, raises awareness
at the local, national, and international level about the importance of intangible cultural heritage.
SERDE, through regular fieldwork in rural areas, also collects life histories and personal stories
about recent historical events, and about the traditional skills inherited from earlier generations,
which were crucial during the Soviet period because of very limited access to consumer goods.
The collected stories demonstrate how particular skills were carried forward from the period
preceding World War II, and subsequently maintained during the Soviet period, when many items
had to be made at home. One of the most successful and attractive projects of SERDE has been
the Post-Soviet Summer Camp, an art event with the themes ‘Artists against technological standards’ and ‘Myths of technology’, where one of the explored topics was the distillation of alcohol.
The Camp at the SERDE residence gathered artists from former Soviet republics who interpret
myths about Soviet life through their art. The event included several presentations and discussions
about life in the post-Soviet space and its cultural context. After the thorough fieldwork on the
respective theme in Central Kurzeme region was completed, the results – which included audio

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The XI Latvian School Youth Song and Dance celebration at the Freedom Monument, 10 July 2015. Photo by Ilmārs
Znotiņš.

The ‘Pulkā Eimu Pulkā Teku’ National Event, 4 May 2012.
Photo by Guntis Pakalns.

The ‘Pulkā Eimu Pulkā Teku’ National Event, 2013.
Photo by Dzintars Leja.

Part 1. ICH and good practices of its safeguarding

recordings, photos, and the purchase of a distillation apparatus – went on display as an exhibition
and performance that toured to many places in Latvia and abroad.
Another very successful project was the international expedition in the framework of Herbologies/Foraging Networks events. This program was launched in Helsinki and in the Kurzeme region
of Latvia, and later expanded. The examination of traditional knowledge about herbs, wild edibles
and medicinal plants was carried out in a series of fieldwork excursions with more than 30 participants from Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Southern Sweden, Poland, Spain, and Belgium. This Herbologies/Foraging Networks expedition continued the research into indoor plants and their medical
uses conducted by SERDE researchers themselves. This research resulted in the Folk Pharmacy
exhibition: an exposition where visitors were invited to write down their own favourite recipes or
remedies. Garden Allotment Culture was another publicly observable project initiated by SERDE,
and focused on growing vegetables, fruits, herbs, and medicinal plants in home gardens. The
results of this research were presented as a summer exposition The Freedom Garden (Brīvības
dārzs) in a venue on Brīvības Street in the Vidzeme market, as part of the Riga 2014 festivities,
to mark Riga’s turn as the European Capital of Culture.
SERDE has also collaborated with the Latvian National Commission for UNESCO (UNESCO
Latvijas Nacionālā komisija), and provided folklore study opportunities for UNESCO Associated
School Project teachers and youth from Alsunga and Riebiņi counties. This project was implemented with students and teachers invited from the corresponding counties to participate in the
fieldwork under the guidance of ICH experts. Local elders were interviewed about local history, the
Soviet period, seafaring and fishing, beer brewing, beekeeping, traditional food, and many other
subjects. All the research results provided by SERDE are published in the attractively designed
series of fourteen tradition-themed notebooks named Notebooks of Traditions (Tradīciju burtnīcas).
Some of them achieved enormous success and are out of print at the moment. Almost all of these
publications have been presented to the local communities and individuals in the events that
closed the project. As the leader of the society, SERDE Signe Pucena (2015, 37) acknowledges:
In our opinion, such expeditions and subsequent presentations promote and support the capacity building
ability of local populations to carry out research and emphasise the importance of documenting the process.
The most important element of all of SERDE’s expeditions has been a closing event which brings together
everyone involved in the fieldwork. SERDE’s experience in the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage is
based on close collaboration with communities and individuals who are willing to share their stories and skills.

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The XI Latvian School Youth Song and Dance celebration at the Freedom Monument, 10 July 2015.
Photo by Ilmārs Znotiņš.

Part 1. ICH and good practices of its safeguarding

The Society for Traditional Culture APRIKA has chosen the inheritance of cultural traditions as its
main arena of focus, concentrating particularly on children and youth (aprika in Latvian means a round
hunk of bread, cut off from a large loaf of bread). The Society’s long history of training folklore teachers
represents valuable experience in non-formal education. The Society for Traditional Culture APRIKA
was founded in 2009 as a non-governmental, non-profit organisation that is comprised of folklore
teachers, leaders of children’s folk groups, as well as others enthusiasts of teaching and promoting
traditional culture. APRIKA is the successor of the University of Latvia’s Ethnic Culture Centre (Latvijas
Universitātes Etniskās kultūras centrs), which was closed during the 2008 financial crisis.
One of the major activities of the Society is the organisation of children’s and youth folk festival,
as well as a variety of other celebrations, including folklore competitions for children and youth,
which have become a format for encouraging the development and learning of skills connected to
ICH. These activities are a part of Latvian children’s and youth folklore movement Pulkā eimu, pulkā
teku (We come together, we sing together), or PEPT in short. This movement has become a crucial
framework for fostering transmission of cultural traditions, and these initiatives are often a part
of the extra-curricular activities that take place in community centres of numerous municipalities.
The extensive and diverse educational programme ‘Pulkā eimu, pulkā teku’ started already in 1984
with a concert featuring several folklore groups. Since then, PEPT has grown into a comprehensive
movement, encompassing five folklore based competitions for children and youth. These include
contests for storytelling and anecdotes, traditional singing, folk dancing, and folk music. A wide
range of different activities have been carefully planned and are carried out within the framework
of the school year. As the leader of the society APRIKA Māra Mellēna (2015, 81) puts it:
It is apparent that the contemporary forms of competition adopted by PEPT have been successful in bringing
traditional forms of communication and practice to life. Children learn traditional culture and folklore (traditional
singing, dance, and music) in folklore groups at school, in extra-curricular settings or community centres (a holdover from Soviet times). This learning often takes place in post-functional contexts where the transmission of
traditional culture has been interrupted or altered. It is clear that preparing for regular folklore competitions
galvanises developing skills and advances learning in each field of practice. The skills possessed by group leaders
are uneven since they arrive with varying levels of musical education and skill, knowledge of traditional singing,
and uneven general understandings of tradition and its local variability. Teachers and group leaders also vary
in their pedagogical training and understanding of teaching methodologies for traditional arts. However, the
involvement of professionals and scholars in the jury and the teachers’ professional development process has
contributed significantly to broadening their understanding of traditional culture and honing their teaching skills.

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The society APRIKA is also involved in the implementation of lifelong learning and in-service
training programmes for folklore teachers. It also organises seminars and conferences dedicated to issues of ICH inheritance, including training in storytelling, singing, dancing, and playing
traditional music instruments. APRIKA also offers practical training sessions for the acquisition
of traditional skills, organises annual summer schools for folklore teachers and folk group leaders,
develops training material for folklore teacher training programmes, and regularly takes part in
the creation and implementation of folklore programmes for the Latvian Nationwide Song and
Dance Celebration and for the Latvian Youth Song and Dance Celebration (Latvijas skolu jaunatnes
dziesmu un deju svētki).

Practice of cooperation of the State and NGOs
In addition to a set of activities ran by NGOs, there is an initiative undertaken by a government institution, and further developed through involvement of NGOs and individual masters. The project
‘Meet Your Master!’ (Satiec savu meistaru), organised by the Latvian National Centre for Culture in
cooperation with municipalities and NGOs, started in 2009 with a goal to ensure visibility of ICH
values. The gist of the project is to inform the wider public about safeguarding and inheritance
of ICH, as well as about masters, their knowledge, and skills. Within the framework of the event,
the organisers of ‘Meet your master!’ promote cooperation in identification and popularisation
of the ICH and its masters among local communities, NGOs, state and municipal institutions, as well
as private bodies.
In 2016, the event ‘Meet your Master!’ was held throughout Latvia for the eighth time. Masters
of applied arts, storytellers, narrators and musicians invited apprentices to visit them in more than
150 places. The event was attended by more than 5 thousand people. During the event, the organisers prepared 7 different exhibitions and 11 seminars on various topics related to art and crafts.
In 22 venues, the visitors had an opportunity to learn new things about traditional music, and had
a chance to sing, dance, and take part in games. A unique venue was chosen by the organisers in
Sigulda – the event took place in a railway station, and everybody who visited Sigulda had a chance
to briefly meet weavers and handicraft masters; they could also sing and dance along with the folk
group. In most of the venues, masters offered practical classes and also invited visitors to try out
their skills, and participate in, for example, weaving or wood-working. Almost all of the masters

Part 1. ICH and good practices of its safeguarding

also invited the visitors to call at their own workshops, as only a few had other premises to demonstrate their craft skills. As there are 114 folk applied art studios and hobby groups in Latvia, they
are frequently the most active participants of the event. The folk applied art studios are mostly
based in the community and municipal centres; therefore, the local governments also invest in this
event. Altogether, 72 community centres, 26 craft centres, 25 master workshops, and 3 schools
became involved in the event. In recent years, 18 thousand people representing different generations have visited ‘their masters’ in workshops, studios, museums, schools, cultural centres, and
libraries, and ‘Meet your Master!’ has become an event to be looked forward to every spring.

References
Mellēna, Māra. 2015. “Nemateriālā kultūras mantojuma saglabāšana, tālāknodošana un pārmantošana. Tradicionālās kultūras biedrības ‘Aprika’ pieredze / Safeguarding, Transferring, and Inheriting Intangible Cultural
Heritage. The Experience of the Society for Traditional Culture ‘Aprika.’” In Nemateriālā kultūras mantojuma
saglabāšana: Latvijas pieredze / Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage: Latvian Experiences, edited by Anita
Vaivade, 58–83. Riga: Latvijas Nacionālais kultūras centrs. Accessed October 13, 2016. http://www.unesco.lv/
files/unesco_web_a931d609.pdf.
Pucena, Signe. 2015. “Tradīcijas un atmiņas saglabājot. Starpnozaru mākslas grupas SERDE pieredze / Preserving
Living Practices and Memories. The Experience of the Interdisciplinary Art Group SERDE.” In Nemateriālā kultūras
mantojuma saglabāšana: Latvijas pieredze / Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage: Latvian Experiences, edited
by Anita Vaivade, 14–41. Riga: Latvijas Nacionālais kultūras centrs. Accessed October 13, 2016. http://www.
unesco.lv/files/unesco_web_a931d609.p

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Intangible cultural heritage
in Lithuania
Vida Šatkauskienė*
Loreta Sungailienė**
Skirmantė Ramoškaitė***

*

Deputy Director, head of the Department of Ethnic Culture of the Lithuanian National Culture Centre (Lietuvos nacionalinis
kultūros centras), Vilnius, Lithuania, e-mail: satkauskiene@lnkc.lt.
** Senior specialist of Ethnic Culture Division of the Lithuanian National Culture Centre, e-mail: l.sungailiene@lnkc.lt.
*** Specialist at the Lithuanian National Culture Centre, e-mail: s.ramoskaite@lnkc.lt.

Part 1. ICH and good practices of its safeguarding

… children are getting increasingly more involved in the activities
concerning ICH. In Lithuania, a growing number of families want their
children to grow up according to the traditional upbringing, following the
subtle and creative means that appeal to their spiritual world. Increasingly
more often people choose the values of traditional culture: they organise
family clubs and family folklore groups.

The overview of ICH status:
state protection and modern approaches
The processes related to the protection, studies, dissemination and the awareness of the importance
of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) in Lithuania are prolific and varied. They all sprang from the folklore movement in the ’60s, formed as a bottom-up approach initiated by aspiring individuals and
communities. Their efforts manifested through organised folklore expeditions, first public folklore
concerts, the revival of calendar holidays, and through the appearance of folklore groups in villages
and cities. Moreover, the movement of the old Baltic culture Romuva was founded, ongoing folklore
festivals Skamba skamba kankliai in Vilnius and Atataria lamzdžiai in Kaunas were initiated, significant
ethnology-oriented studies were conducted, and collections of ICH were published. The historical
context, however, was unforgiving – the Soviet government would prosecute any kind of national
cultural heritage manifestations. Therefore, the movement, opposed to the rule, has nurtured the
national identity awareness and contributed to the restoration of Lithuanian independence since the
time of its particular expansion in the ’80s. The participants of the mentioned movement – the people
of various occupations, including famous ICH researchers and advocates – influenced state cultural
policy formation concerning ICH even after the ’80s, when the independence had been restored.
Nowadays Lithuania has an ICH safeguarding legal system: it has adopted a law on the principles
of the state protection of ethnic culture1 (a revised version will be soon issued), ratified UNESCO
Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage,2 and adopted the law on the

1

Etninės kultūros valstybinės globos pagrindų įstatymas, Valstybės Žinios [State Gazette] no. 82-2414, 1 October 1999.

2

Nematerialaus kultūros paveldo apsaugos konvencija, Valstybės Žinios no. 115-5734, 7 November 2003.

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song celebrations of the Republic of Lithuania,3 which regulates the protection and development
of the elements on the Representative List of UNESCO, and the law on national heritage products,4
which regulates the certification of the traditional folk art and craft products.
Since 2003, the Ministry of Culture (Kultūros ministerija) has approved the periodically updated
State Programme on the Development of Ethnic Culture, and the municipalities prepare similar
programmes based on it. The programme includes measures in terms of recording ICH objects and
researching them, their long-term protection, the preservation of historic and cultural identities of
the ethnographic regions, the development of traditions, raising awareness, and other guidelines.
The Ministry of Agriculture (Žemės ūkio ministerija) prepares the Traditional Crafts Development Programme 2012–2020. Both the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education and
Science (Švietimo ir mokslo ministerija) prepare the Song and Dance Celebrations Tradition Continuity Programme.
In terms of the institutional system, there is the Council for the Protection of Ethnic Culture
under the Lithuanian Parliament (Etninės kultūros globos taryba) with 5 regional branches. The
Ministry of Culture governs its Department for Regional Culture (Regionų kultūros skyrius), the
Commission of Experts of Ethnic Culture (Etninės kultūros ekspertų komisija), and the Lithuanian
National Commission for UNESCO (Lietuvos nacionalinė UNESCO komisija).
One of the institutions that have the most impact on the implementation of ICH policies is the
Lithuanian Folk Culture Centre, on the 1st of October 2016 renamed to Lithuanian National Culture
Centre (Lietuvos nacionalinis kultūros centras). It cooperates with community centres, museums,
libraries, and other institutions. Since 1990, specialised ICH centres have been founded in the
cities and municipalities. They aim at reviving ICH and integrating it into the modern culture, which
is implemented by specialists in ICH matters. In our opinion, this is Lithuania’s unique trait.
A prominent role in safeguarding ICH and popularising it among the society is played by the
Lithuanian National Museum (Lietuvos nacionalinis muziejus), Lithuanian Art Museum (Lietuvos
dailės muziejus) and the municipality museums.
Other ministries are also involved. The Ministry of Education and Science supervises the main
institutions related to ICH matters: Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore (Lietuvių literatūros ir tautosakos institutas), established in 1907, updates the ICH archive; Institute of the Lith-

3

Lietuvos Respublikos dainų švenčių įstatymas, Valstybės Žinios no. 128-5212, 7 December 2007.

4

Tautinio paveldo produktų įstatymas, Valstybės Žinios no. 77-3043, 12 July 2007.

Part 1. ICH and good practices of its safeguarding

uanian Language (Lietuvių kalbos institutas) conducts research on dialects; Lithuanian Institute
of History (Lietuvių istorijos institutas) has an Ethnology Department (Etnologijos skyrius); and the
Lithuanian Culture Research Institute (Lietuvos kultūros tyrimų institutas). The Ministry of Environment (Aplinkos ministerija) protects the ICH which is manifested in national and regional parks. The
Ministry of Agriculture, in turn, coordinates the protection of national heritage products, certifies
craftsmen, and provides financial support, and also establishes and supervises crafts centres. The
Ministry also oversees the work of the Council of National Heritage Products (Tautinio paveldo
produktų taryba).
The higher education institutions – Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre (Lietuvos muzikos
ir teatro akademija), Vytautas Magnus University (Vytauto Didžiojo universitetas), Klaipėda University (Klaipėdos univertitetas), as well as others – contribute significantly to ICH-related research.
Other schools and universities also provide programmes on ICH as an extracurricular or a separate subject. However, the negative tendencies are still observable – the number of students and
programmes is declining.
Non-governmental organisations also contribute, for example: Lithuanian Folk Artists Union
(Lietuvos tautodailininkų sąjunga), Community of Lithuanian Ethnographers (Lietuvos kraštotyros
draugija), Lithuanian Ethnic Culture Society (Lietuvių etninės kultūros draugija), Lithuanian Choreographers Union (Lietuvos choreografų sąjunga), and in terms of Song Celebrations – the Lithuanian Choral Union (Lietuvos chorų sąjunga).
The aforementioned institutions are state-funded; the Lithuanian Council for Culture (Lietuvos
kultūros taryba) distributes funds for projects (ICH activities have a separate programme open
for both individual and communal initiatives), municipality councils and various funds also provide
financial aid. Target funds are only allocated for Song and Dance Celebrations Tradition Continuity
Programme; they are administered by the Lithuanian National Culture Centre.
There are several awards for achievements in the field of ICH in Lithuania: National Jonas Basanavičius Prize (Nacionalinė Jono Basanavičiaus premija); 3 annual prizes; 4–6 scholarships from the
Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Agriculture awarded to the best craftsmen and crafts
centres; the ‘Aukso paukštė’ award for the most prominent amateur art groups; and ‘Aukso vainikas’ award for the best traditional craftsmen.
One of the state policies that disseminate ICH is dedicating every year to a specific object. The
Parliament, encouraged by the society and communities, has announced the years of Dialects
(2013), Ethnographic Regions (2015), Communities (2016), and National Costume and Mounds

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Laureate Lukas Malašauskas’ wooden sculpture of St. Luke for the Lithuanian youth craft contest
‘Sidabro vainikėlis’, 2016. Photo by Jonas Tumasonis-Adominis.

Part 1. ICH and good practices of its safeguarding

(2017). The method functions really well as a reminder and promoter of ICH phenomena, and
it encourages society to learn about them. It also invites the media to pay attention to them. Unfortunately, the Lithuanian media maintain a rather negative opinion about traditions – we consider
this one of our problems.
Nowadays, the traditional Lithuanian culture and the culture of other residents of various
nationalities exist in their natural environment, both in inherited and modern forms. In Lithuania,
there is a huge community of active folklore groups and craftsmen: more than 500 folklore groups
and 4000 folklore artists and craftsmen are active in cities, towns, and villages.
Also, various calendar events, such as Rasos (St. John’s Day), Užgavėnės (similar to Mardi Gras),
or the Easter Sunday are revived and celebrated. A network of folklore festivals (including international ones) has been formed, which organises contests and educational events. Moreover,
new events that involve society and celebrate the values of ICH appear, some of them organised
in cooperation with the national media, e.g. the project on national dances Visa Lietuva šoka (Lithuania dance), or Tautinio kostiumo konkursas „Išausta tapatybė” (National costume contest ‘Woven
identity’), as well as others.
What is more, the scientific and cultural institutions, as well as non-governmental organisations
frequently organise academic conferences; various other institutions are involved in hosting seminars, courses, trainings, and camps for ICH preservers. The implementers of the activities, together
with the entire society also add to improving the specialist qualifications needed for these tasks.
In terms of ethnology, various inter-institutional programmes concerning musical folklore and
dialects are conducted, and ICH development field studies are resumed. The results are shared
with the society via publications and other electronic information systems. A compelling example
is the independently initialised foundation of the Institute of Inherent Culture (Prigimtinės kultūros
institutas) by the community of scientists. The results of their phenomenological ICH research are
presented in seminars, and the material is published online and in the media.
The local communities also feel the need to identify and preserve their traditions, to create
a positive agricultural environment, to re-establish their customs and skills, as well as to pass it on
to the society through activities, programmes and tourist routes (bread, linen, beer routes, crafts
camps, etc.). Therefore, we noticed two ICH continuity tendencies in Lithuania: a historical-cultural
and a modern one.
Lithuanian youth have been supporting the idea of modernised ICH forms, for example, in the
field of music; new groups appear and popular festivals are organised, for example, Mėnuo

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A symbolic ceremony held during the Folklore Day of Lithuanian Song Celebration: the map of Lithuania is created
with ground from all over the country, 2009. Photo by Martynas Vidzbelis.

The best examples of cross-crafting vitality:
the ensembles of crosses, the most famous is the Hill
of Crosses in Šiauliai region, 2004. Photo by Lithuanian
National Culture Centre Archive.

St. John’s Day in Lithuania, 2009. Photo by Vytautas
Daraškevičius.

Part 1. ICH and good practices of its safeguarding

Juodaragis, Suklegos, Kilkim Žaibu, among others. They are acknowledged events that also
include lectures by various academics working in the field of ICH. The historical and archaeological festivals are also held; one of the biggest – Festival of Experimental Archaeology ‘Days
of Live Archeology in Kernavė’ (Eksperimentinės archeologijos festivalis „Gyvosios archeologijos
dienos Kernavėje”) – is international. Moreover, the youth takes into consideration the ancient
Baltic traditions and worldview, e.g. through Baltic cultural and religious communities: Ancient
Baltic Religious Community ‘Romuva’ (Senovės baltų religinė bendrija „Romuva”), Ancient Baltic
Fellowship of Battles ‘Vilkatlakai’ (Senovės baltų kovų brolija „Vilkatlakai”), Baltic Warfare Club
of the Living History ‘Varingis’ (Baltų karybos gyvosios istorijos klubas „Varingis”), Ancient Baltic
Reconstructed History Club ‘Sūduvos žirgas’ (Senovės baltų atkuriamosios istorijos klubas
„Sūduvos žirgas”).
The Lithuanian picture is varied and covers a spectrum of activities and people; we are proud
to say that we are passionate about ICH preservation and continuity, although unfortunately one
of the persistent problems concerning the ICH field that we have identified is the ICH register,
which does not fully function yet. Nonetheless, it is in progress: the formation of new ICH chapter
of Lithuanian National Culture Centre is almost completed, the funding is reorganised, and the
research on the suitable informational system is ongoing.
As far as the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity is concerned,
Lithuanians hold three inscribed elements: ‘Cross crafting and its symbolism’, ‘Sutartinės, Lithuanian multipart songs’, and the tradition of ‘Baltic song and dance celebrations’ (together with
Latvia and Estonia).
Cross crafting is a Lithuanian folk-art tradition that emerged in the 15th century. It is a synthesis
of craftsmanship, artistry, and faith; every step of the making and maintenance of crosses is important, including establishing the purpose of the cross (in honour of the deceased, God or saints,
search for mercy or protection), choosing the right craftsmen, following the creative process,
erecting and consecrating the crosses, visitations to crosses, chanting, and other related ceremonies that include the burning of a collapsed monument and other activities.
In this tradition, the ideas of Christianity and the archaic human relationship intertwine with
nature. The monuments are built not only in cemeteries but also in villages, towns, near water
areas and wells, and stones that are considered to be sacred; they are also hung on trees. The
shapes of sculptures vary, for example, they can be crosses, pillars with roofs, ornaments and statuettes of saints, as well as chapels with paintings and metal parts – it depends on the region.

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Even though the crafting of crosses had been forbidden during various periods of occupation,
it did not stop people from resurrecting the tradition. The best examples of cross crafting vitality
are the ensembles of crosses; the most famous is the Hill of Crosses in Šiauliai region.
Nowadays there are more than active 200 cross craftsmen in Lithuania.
Sutartinės is a syncretic art form based on interlinking polyphonic music, lyrics, and movement.
The meaning of the word sutartinė is derived from a Lithuanian verb sutarti, which means ‘to be in
tune’. Sutartinės are usually sung by women and the instrumental versions are performed by men
on pan-pipes, horns, long wood trumpets, and kanklės (similar to citterns). The choreographic part is
moderate; for example, walking in a circle while holding hands and stomping feet. The poetic lyrics
relate to work, calendar cycle, weddings, family, wartime, and other moments of everyday life.
Sutartinės represent an ancient form of two- or three-voice polyphony. Melodies contain
2 to 5 pitches and comprise distinct simultaneous melodic parts, accompanied by different sets of
lyrics: a meaningful main text and a refrain that may include archaic vocals. Folk singers distinguish
three main types of sutartinės in terms of performing practices and the number of performers, location, and function: dvejinės (twosomes), trejinės (threesomes) and keturinės (foursomes); however,
it is further divided into almost 40 variations. The distinctive feature of sutartinės is the presence
of second interval harmonies that derive from polyphonic melodic lines.
The tradition of singing sutartinės is most common in North-East Lithuania; they are performed
on solemn occasions, as well as festivals, concerts, and social gatherings.
Lithuanian Song Celebration is an ongoing cultural development process, involving amateur and
professional ensembles, artists, as well as cultural and educational institutions. It is also a prominent event that assembles more than 40,000 participants every 4 years since 1924 when it first
took place in Kaunas.
The celebration consists of 4 main parts: the Folklore Day dedicated to the traditional culture;
the Ensembles’ Evening, which is a theatrical concert of stylised folk song, dance and instrumental
groups; the Dance Day, on which 10,000 dancers present massive choreographic compositions;
and the Song Day that gathers more than 20,000 singers that perform arranged folk songs and
professional repertoire of modern and classic Lithuanian composers. The distinctive feature of the
celebration is a cappella singing. The festivities are usually held for 7 days; the programme expands
and improves by adding other, equally significant events: folk art exhibition, the national musical
instrument kanklės concert, performances of amateur theatre groups, shows of brass orchestras,
and colourful participant parades.

Part 1. ICH and good practices of its safeguarding

The tradition and symbols of the Baltic song and dance celebrations (including Lithuanian ones)
were inscribed in 2008 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The list is relatively short, although important to Lithuanians and their attempts to form their
notion of identity. Therefore, there are numerous examples of institutional and independent good
practices in the safeguarding of ICH in Lithuania, which include the society and help to disseminate
the importance of ICH and the objects themselves.

The Lithuanian good practices in the safeguarding of ICH
The Folklore Day of the Lithuanian Song Celebration
One of the examples of Lithuanian good practices in the field of ICH preservation and the widespread dissemination of traditions is the experience of organising the Folklore Day (Folkloro diena),
which is a part of the Lithuanian Song Celebration programme. It is also an instance of natural folklore movement continuation after the restoration of Lithuanian independence in 1990.
It is not just an ordinary event; it is significant that around 400 folklore groups and communities, including craftsmen and other ICH promoters – 7000 participants altogether – take part. Even
though the event is held only once every 4 years, the preparation process is always under way and
of an inclusive character.
Eventually, the main aspects of Folklore Day and related activities have been formed, namely:
• to respect ICH and increase knowledge about it;
• to highlight and present the cultural diversity of regions;
• to celebrate the range of ICH areas: traditional singing, dancing, playing games and instruments,
storytelling, customs, crafts, cuisine, costumes, medical knowledge and practices, forms of agriculture (beekeeping, farming, fishing, sauna traditions, etc.);
• to involve participants in the making of the celebration (from the preparation of the material
to the participation in the main event), and to allow them to express themselves fully;
• to include the spectators in the activities and help them interact with the participants, and
to learn from the experience.
In our opinion, one of the distinctive guidelines is to provide the preparation, programme activities and of course the context that contains celebration-specific themes and ideas. We aim not
only for a respectful presentation of traditions, but also for ideas which are relevant for modern

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individuals and which correspond to everyone’s worldview, personal standpoints, and universal,
humanistic, progressive values such as sustainable development.
The programme of the 2007 Song Celebration Folklore Day ‘Saulutė rateliu tekėjo’ (The sun rises
in a wheel) was dedicated to the concepts of day and night, and the organisation of human life
according to the solar cycle (Lietuvos nacionalinis kultūros centras 2007). The idea was to highlight all
the elements of the day – morning, afternoon, evening and night; as well as their domestic context, in
order to show the activities of people at different times of the day, such as eating, working, playing,
etc. Moreover, there was an emphasis on the most significant, traditionally meaningful and sacred
stops of the sun’s journey around the sky: the sunrise, the noon, the sunset and the midnight; and
also on their relation with human life: birth, wedding, etc. The event actually started with sunrise
at 4:45 am and was planned to continue until late at night. However, a heavy rain stopped it.
In the 2009 celebration ‘Žemynėle žiedkelėle’ (The earth in blossom) (Lietuvos nacionalinis
kultūros centras 2009), we tried to reflect the relation of a human being with the earth. The most
important premise is that the earth has been always considered sacred, the source of food, the
mother (the sky is the father) which gives birth and accepts after death. One of the most obvious
expressions of respect is to kiss the earth (the saying goes ‘By kissing the earth and kissing the
crucifix we indulge in the same act’). The participants also demonstrated in the programmes that
the work on the field – ploughing, sowing, harvesting – is a sacred action followed by rituals. The
idea of the programme was also to discover the mythological images of the origin and the place
of the earth and its parts in the cosmological structure, and the symbolical aspects of the earth
in the history of the Lithuanian state. And even more importantly, it tried to revive the emotional
relationship between human beings and the earth in general: the connection with their birthplace,
the place in which they live, their motherland, the earth’s manifestations in the landscape, and the
relationship of human beings with the land of all citizens – the Homeland, Lithuania.
It is difficult to shortly present the content of the 2014 celebration’s Folklore Day ‘Laimužės
lemta’ (Destined by Laima). The topic was rather abstract and all-embracing – happiness. In our
tradition, we consider happiness as a principle which integrates human beings, their environment
(home), life, and activities.
In Lithuanian tradition, happiness is related not only with joy, but also with fate, destiny,
success, fulfilment, economic welfare, abundance, healthiness, and other things. Every human
being, depending on the gender and age, has their own happiness or luck, and an ability to realise
the qualities and talents (a talent is conceived as a human success) bestowed to them by destiny.

Part 1. ICH and good practices of its safeguarding

Those gifts are signs of fate, which can be found in nature, the environment, or changed by actions
– attracting or distracting. Another very important quality in the Lithuanian tradition is luck. There
are successful or unlucky places and moments; even a word can change one’s fate. Laimė (luck) or
Laima is the name of the Lithuanian goddess of fate. Another very important aspect is sharing. The
more good one shares (for example, good words or thoughts), the more happiness he spreads.
However, the implementation of this concept was not easy at all – there were many separate
smaller programmes and rituals. It was even said that the place which hosted these events became
the happiest place in entire Lithuania.
As mentioned, the preparation of the participants for this event took a long time as they had
studied the material in detail, choosing the elements that seemed close to them, thus entering
and staying in context; and able to choose themselves the accents reflected in the programme.
By allowing the organisers to choose specific rituals and other activities as highlights of the
programme, we united all participants and the audience.
Continuation of ICH traditions by the society and communities
As stated before, the communities have the greatest impact on the preservation of ICH in its
natural environment and on the support to the bearers. Here, several more examples of the best
practices in this field will be discussed.
The villages and towns in the Dzūkija ethnographic region (Southern Lithuania) are a good
example of ICH centres where oral, agricultural, and living traditions are passed on naturally.
Only a few decades ago, most women of Dzūkija could sing at least a hundred songs; the most
accomplished singers remembered as many as four hundred. Songs were passed from generation to generation, exchanged among villages, and changed or augmented in the process. Nowadays, for example, the locals of Žiūrai village in Southern Dzūkija pass on their singing traditions
to the younger generations. For the villagers, the songs, customs, beliefs, and the oral folklore are
a natural part of their everyday life that impacts their spiritual practices, family and community
celebrations. What is more, 45 years ago, one of the first ethnographic ensembles in Lithuania was
founded in the village. It is still active and the members pass on their experience to their children
and grandchildren. During the anniversary concert, the whole community and the four generations
of the ensemble sang the traditional songs of Žiūrai village.
In fact, children are getting increasingly more involved in the activities concerning ICH. In Lithuania, a growing number of families want their children to grow up according to the traditional

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upbringing, following the subtle and creative means that appeal to their spiritual world. Increasingly more often people choose the values of traditional culture: they organise family clubs and
family folklore groups. They foster family and community traditions, celebrate calendar holidays,
expand knowledge and experience of ethnic culture and apply it to the upbringing of their children. Nowadays, the customs, lullabies, games, and other inherited knowledge can help adults
to communicate with children, to soothe them, play with them, nourish them, and improve various
skills, such as language, the ability to listen, sense of rhythm, coordination and focus.
It is worth mentioning that there is a number of implemented and on-going projects in the
capital city and other regions, dedicated to the ethnocultural education of young families. For
instance, for 10 years, a private non-formal education school Diemedis in Vilnius has held folklore
lessons for mothers and children. Their methods and gathered knowledge have spread to other
cities, for example, to the Panevėžys ethnoclub ‘Raskila’, which implemented them in their lessons
for mothers; also, in Klaipėda, the ethnoculture club organises theme nights called ‘Traditional
lullabies and playing’ and ‘Song club for everyone’; Vilnius Ethnic Culture Centre (Vilniaus etninės
kultūros centras) invites families to ‘Afternoons for toddlers’; and the folklore ensemble ‘Virvytė’
carries out ethnocultural education camps for families.
There are more than 100 folklore groups for children, youth, and higher education students.
Usually, they function under cultural or educational institutions; however, there are some active
independent groups and clubs. The young people interested in traditional culture are keen on folklore trainings and master’s courses, where ethnomusicologists and folklorists share their experience. This contemporary folklore community of students gathers together every year to celebrate
St. George’s Day (it has been organised by the Palanga ethnoclub ‘Mėguva’ for more than 20 years),
and every two years to attend Lietuvos studentų folkloro festivalis (Lithuanian student folklore
festival), organised by the Lithuanian National Culture Centre.
Measures that promote nationwide ICH continuity
Lithuanian National Culture Centre pays particular attention to the dissemination of traditional
art among the youth. In line with this notion, it organises a youth contest ‘Sidabro vainikėlis’ (Silver
coronet), which maintains traditional art forms and revives those on the edge of extinction and
encourages the youth to become interested and educated in traditional crafts. Hundreds of school
students all around Lithuania apply to be a part of the contest and hold craft exhibitions and seminars. This competition has also fostered the idea of children crafts workshops.

Part 1. ICH and good practices of its safeguarding

Since 2005, the Lithuanian National Folklore Centre together with the Kaunas National Culture
Centre (Kauno tautinės kultūros centras) and traditional culture teachers have been organising the
‘Tramtatulis’ contest, dedicated to Lithuanian school and pre-school children and Lithuanian folklore performers. Its purpose is to encourage children to learn about their local traditional culture,
to disseminate folklore, and to train the young folklore performers: singers, musicians and storytellers. The project includes various seminars, trainings, local auditions in all municipalities and
regions of Lithuania. Children learn how to understand and convey the artistic value of folklore,
performance authenticity, expressiveness, natural-sounding voice, as well as the skills of playing
music and stage culture. The most praised are the participants and teachers that cherish their local
and family folklore traditions. Youth contests are an appealing and effective method to introduce
crafts and folklore traditions to children and to ensure that they remain protected.
Practices that raise ICH-related public awareness
Even though the younger generations are continuously reminded of their cultural heritage, there
remains a part of the society that knows very little about it or is not encouraged enough to embrace
the traditional culture. Therefore, the Lithuanian National Culture Centre initiates increasingly
more public events that educate and entertain people. What is more, since there is a sacred counterpart to traditional culture, and a symbolic purpose is often added to it, the participation is voluntary and usually takes a form of an unforced communal gathering.
One of the public initiatives is the cultural gathering Lithuania Dance (Lietuvos nacionalinis
kultūros centras 2016). The purpose of the project is to gather and unite Lithuanians through traditional dances and music and strengthen their sense of cultural identity. Of course, foreigners are
very welcome.
The project started in 2015, when we noticed that traditional dances were becoming popular
again as a social and educational phenomenon, especially among the youth who are eager
to continue traditions. With the help of several folklore groups, the staff of the Centre recorded
16 traditional regional dance lessons and put them on YouTube (Lietuvos nacionalinis kultūros
centras 2015), spread the news via national broadcast and kindly asked cultural workers and
communities from all around Lithuania to hold dances on the same day in various public outdoor
places in order to attract as many people as possible. As a result, 85 events took place at around
5 pm on the 19th of September in Lithuania, and one in United Kingdom, organised by the local
Lithuanian community. The main event from Vilnius, as well as other clips from districts, was broad-

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casted. The hosts explained the dances, their purpose and origin. The success of the first event led
to a second one in 2016, and the event is planned to continue. In this way, a new tradition reminds
people of their roots and regional characteristics, improves opinions about traditional culture, and
helps to preserve the traditional dances through combined efforts of specialists and communities.
Moving on to the second public initiative, its purpose is similar – to strengthen, encourage, and
embrace the sense of ethnic identity. The object of the national costume contest ‘Woven identity’
is a focus on the national costume. It is worn on family gatherings, national holidays, weddings,
and therefore it carries cultural, artistic and historic value. In 2015 (Lietuvos radijas ir televizija
2015), individuals and groups were invited to send us pictures of their costumes together with
their technical and personal specifications: the origins, details of their makers, region of making,
whether it is inherited, and what kind of emotional value it brings to the owner. In the final
part, the most accurate, authentic and artistic costumes won; they were judged by professionals
from various cultural fields. It might bear signs of unfair competition at first – as if its evaluation
exploited traditions. Yet again it was a huge social gathering not only for the participants from all
over the country but also for the audience. And that was the purpose – to create an environment
that celebrates Lithuanian roots.
On the whole, in Lithuania, the state ensures the safeguarding of ICH in terms of legal and
institutional systems overseen by ICH specialists, who as a result work toward the motivation of
the bearers and their communities in order to preserve traditions and promote ICH among the
rest of society. Moreover, the number of independent initiatives in terms of ICH is growing and
this tendency manifests itself through various communities, events, and the revival of certain practices. There are still issues concerning ICH: the media presents a rather negative view of ICH, the
educational programmes of ICH are shutting down because of decreasing numbers of interested
students, and the National ICH Register is still in the process of creation. Nevertheless, the continuity of ICH all over Lithuania is safeguarded both by institutional and non-governmental initiatives, which ensures a continuous increase of its public awareness.

Part 1. ICH and good practices of its safeguarding

References
Lietuvos nacionalinis kultūros centras. 2007. “FOLKLORO DIENA Saulutė rateliu tekėjo, 2007. I dalis [Folklore Day.
The sun rises in a wheel, 2007. Part I].” YouTube video. Posted March 12, 2013. https://www.youtube.com/
watch?v=j5io_PsAtso.
Lietuvos nacionalinis kultūros centras. 2009. “Žemynėle žiedkelėle. Folkloro dienos atspindžiai, 2009. I dalis [The
earth in blossom. Folklore Day reflections, 2009. Part I].” YouTube video. Posted February 4, 2013. https://www.
youtube.com/watch?v=bdh0sAJs-5k.
Lietuvos nacionalinis kultūros centras. 2015. “Visa Lietuva šoka 2015 [Lithuania dancing 2015].” YouTube playlist. Accessed October 31, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLE_-HzqQ1wkBp7Mrf2pTXr4lGJb_
vmQvE.
Lietuvos nacionalinis kultūros centras. 2016. “Akcija „Visa Lietuva šoka” 2016 (Lithuania dance).” YouTube video.
Posted September 19. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwL0ggEN_3o.
Lietuvos radijas ir televizija. 2015. “Išausta tapatybė. Lietuvių tautinio kostiumo konkursas – 2015 [Woven identity. Lithuanian national costume contest – 2015].” Video. Posted July 5. http://www.lrt.lt/mediateka/
irasas/80176/isausta_tapatybe_lietuviu_tautinio_kostiumo_konkursas_2015#wowzaplaystart=0&wowzaplayduration=6829000.

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Implementation
of the Convention
for the Safeguarding
of the Intangible Cultural
Heritage in Hungary
Eszter Csonka-Takács*
Vanda Illés**

*

Ethnographer, Director, Directorate of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Hungarian Open Air Museum (Szellemi Kulturális Örökség
Igazgatóság, Szabadtéri Néprajzi Múzeum), Szentendre, Hungary, PhD, e-mail: csonka-takacs.eszter@sznm.hu.
** Art historian, Head of the Applied Folk Art Section, Department of Applied Folk Art, Hungarian Heritage House (Hagyományok
Háza), Budapest, Hungary, e-mail: illes.vanda@hagyomanyokhaza.hu.

Part 1. ICH and good practices of its safeguarding

Elements chosen for inscription on the National Inventory are announced
annually at the opening ceremony of the European Heritage Days national
event. … State awards also contribute to raising awareness about
traditional values in society. These awards ensure that talented artists
from laic artistic activities become visible to the masses.

The flame must be kept alive.1

In 2006, Act XXXVIII on the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage2 enabled the ratification of the UNESCO 2003 Convention in Hungary – making it the 39th state to do so. Hungary
was elected a member of the Intergovernmental Committee for a period of four years at the first
General Assembly of State Parties in 2006, and later in 2014. According to the law, the implementation of the Convention in Hungary rests on the ministry responsible for cultural heritage.
In April 2009, the Ministry of Education and Culture (Oktatási és Kulturális Minisztérium; today:
Ministry of Human Capacities, Emberi Erőforrások Minisztériuma) entrusted the coordination of tasks
emanating from the state implementation of the Convention to the Hungarian Open Air Museum
(Szabadtéri Néprajzi Múzeum). The Museum established the Directorate of Intangible Cultural Heritage
(Szellemi Kulturális Örökség Igazgatóság) as the structural unit coordinating all tasks related to the
implementation of the UNESCO Convention. The Directorate serves as an intermediary between
the institutions and organisations taking part in this work by facilitating and coordinating the further
tasks in the process of safeguarding and preserving such elements. This work is achieved through
maintaining and managing the continually expanding Hungarian National Inventory of Intangible
Cultural Heritage (Szellemi Kulturális Örökség Nemzeti Jegyzéke), developing the Network of Experts,
providing free public access by maintaining the Intangible Cultural Heritage Website (www.szelle1

Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály, whose 50th death anniversary is celebrated in 2017 in association with UNESCO,
is remembered today for his contributions to the fields of ethnomusicology and music education as much as he is for his
musical creations. His metaphor is in accordance with the purpose of the Forum, and so are his following words: ‘Culture
cannot be inherited. Ancestral traditions evaporate rapidly unless each generation reacquires them for itself.’

2

2006. évi XXXVIII. törvény a szellemi kulturális örökség megőrzéséről szóló, Párizsban, 2003. év október hó 17. napján elfogadott
UNESCO Egyezmény kihirdetéséről, Magyar Közlöny [Hungarian Gazette] no. 22, 24 February 2006.

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One of the objects of the collection, 14 June 2015.
Photo by Vanda Illés.

Education, 1 June 2015. Photo by Vanda Illés.

Part 1. ICH and good practices of its safeguarding

miorokseg.hu), providing continuous pertinent information and raising awareness among experts and
the public, as well as through organising conferences and workshops in the field. The Directorate has
also established a nation-wide network of intangible cultural heritage county coordinators.
The Hungarian National Commission for Intangible Cultural Heritage (Szellemi Kulturális
Örökség Magyar Nemzeti Bizottsága) was established in September 2008, and after restructuring
in 2012 it became the Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee of Experts of the Hungarian National
Commission for UNESCO (UNESCO Magyar Nemzeti Bizottság Szellemi Kulturális Örökség Szakbizottság). Members of the Committee are delegated by relevant institutions, organisations and
ministries involved in the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage. The Committee, comprised
of 22 members, is responsible for developing the process of implementing the Convention in
Hungary, recommending to the Minister of Culture the heritage elements to be considered for
inscription on the National Inventory, selecting elements to be nominated for inscription on the
UNESCO Representative List, developing and submitting proposals for programmes and educational projects that facilitate the implementation of the Convention, and developing and advancing
the initiatives of cultural diplomacy for international cooperation on the multi-national elements
of intangible cultural heritage.
The first Hungarian nomination – ‘Busó festivities at Mohács: masked end-of-winter carnival
custom’ – was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in
2009. Later, in 2012, two further Hungarian nominations were inscribed on the List – ‘Folk art of the
Matyó, embroidery of a traditional community’ and ‘Falconry, a living human heritage’, as a multinational nomination. In addition, two programmes were selected for the Register of Good Safeguarding
Practices: ‘Táncház method: a Hungarian model for the transmission of intangible cultural heritage’
(2011), and ‘Safeguarding of the folk music heritage by the Kodály concept’ (2016).
According to the Convention, safeguarding requires each state party to identify and make
an inventory of the elements of intangible cultural heritage present on its territory. To achieve this
end, the Ministry of Culture has made a public appeal to communities, groups, and individuals in
Hungary to apply for inscription on the National Inventory with the intangible cultural elements
they identify as their own. The objective of the inventory is not only to compile a record of cultural
expressions still practised by communities and considered as their own, but also to make the inventory publically accessible. The nomination of the elements for inscription on the National Inventory
requires the bearer communities to fill out the nomination forms and compile the necessary documentation. The Intangible Cultural Heritage Directorate then prepares nomination proposals for

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the Hungarian Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee of Experts. Upon review, the Committee
makes recommendations to the responsible minister, who gives the final approval of elements
to be inscribed. The process is initiated by the bearer communities themselves: by identifying,
defining, and drawing up plans of safeguarding their own living heritage under the guidance
of experts. This procedure complies fully with the principles of the Convention; inventorying is not
intended to be a top-down process with national treasures listed by experts.
The complete National Inventory of the Intangible Cultural Heritage elements of Hungary,
together with the complete nomination material is accessible online.3 Elements chosen for inscription on the National Inventory are announced annually at the opening ceremony of the European
Cultural Heritage Days national event. The Directorate of the Intangible Cultural Heritage has
established several series of programmes with the aim of increasing visibility and public awareness
of the intangible cultural heritage to the wide public. The most important and well-known events
are the nation-wide Cultural Heritage Days and the Pünkösdi Örökség Fesztivál (Whitsun Heritage
Festival) – International Gathering of the ICH of the Hungarian Open Air Museum.

Good practices in ICH safeguarding at the Hungarian Heritage House
This study will present the good practices applied at the Hungarian Heritage House (Hagyományok Háza)
to preserve craftsmanship for future generations as a part of the intellectual-cultural heritage, to allow it
to inspire new contemporary works, and to raise the awareness of these values among the general public.
The Hungarian Heritage House is a state institution founded by the Secretary of State for the Ministry
of Cultural Heritage (Nemzeti Kulturális Örökség Minisztériuma) in 2001 with the purpose of preserving
and promoting Hungarian folk tradition.4 The Hungarian Heritage House has three departments:
The Hungarian State Folk Ensemble (Magyar Állami Népi Együttes) was founded in 1951 with the
purpose of collecting, preserving, and presenting the treasures of Hungarian folklore. The Ensemble
presents traditional dances collected in the Carpathian Basin during stage shows and by means
of other interactive sessions.5
The ‘László Lajtha’ Folklore Documentation Centre (Lajtha László Folklórdokumentációs Központ)
was established in order to meet both scientific and functional demands. The Centre inherited and
3

www.szellemikulturalisorokseg.hu/index0_en.php?name=en_f22_elements [all cited Internet sources accessed on 28
November 2016].

4

www.hagyomanyokhaza.hu/hh/about_us.

5

www.heritagehouse.hu/mane.

Part 1. ICH and good practices of its safeguarding

enlarged the stock formerly belonging to the House of Professional Folk Dancers (Néptáncosok
Szakmai Háza). By means of modern technology and the Internet, it provides access to all available
documents on the folklore of the Carpathian Basin. The Centre digitalises folk music, folk dance, and
other documents on folklore in their original form.6
The Department of Applied Folk Art (Népművészeti Módszertani Műhely) is the most important
department for craftsmanship (at the Hungarian Heritage House). Its mission is to transmit, introduce,
and present traditional culture to the public. Its aim is to incorporate folk traditions as liveable elements
of cultural literacy, treating it as valid knowledge in community culture, entertainment, and education.
The department also makes efforts to allow the traditional folk culture – especially folk dances, folk
music, folk poetry, and craftsmanship – to live on as a part of general culture. It is in this spirit that
the department organises its courses and conferences, disseminates information, announces calls for
proposals, publishes materials, and certifies the works of contemporary handicraft artists.7
This department collaborates with the Association of Hungarian Folk Artists (Népművészeti
Egyesületek Szövetsége). The AHFA is a national network that provides interest representation for folk
artists. They are active in safeguarding and preserving our traditions and values of our heritage crafts.
They work together with international partners, providing foreign possibilities for Hungarian folk artists.
They also provide national and international entry-level opportunities: trade presentations, exhibitions,
workshops, and other kinds of events. They also run professional committees in all folk art trades, whose
members are elected from among the renowned masters of the member organisations.8
The following is a presentation of good practices applied by the Department of Applied Folk Art
to preserve craftsmanship:
Documentation and collection activities
The Museum of Applied Hungarian Folk Art (Magyar Népi Iparművészeti Múzeum), which is a part
of the Hungarian Heritage House, has been collecting objects from craftsmen for 50 years now; mainly
textiles, pottery, and sculptures. It is a unique contemporary collection in Hungary on this topic that
represents qualified folk artworks. The collection has high visibility, and it is open for everyone.9
Exhibitions
Another practice for visibility is realised through organising temporary exhibitions. In the Museum
6

www.heritagehouse.hu/fdk.

7

www.heritagehouse.hu/nmm/aboutus/handicrafts.

8

www.nesz.hu/english/association-of-hungarian-folk-artists/essences.

9

www.heritagehouse.hu/main/special_events/exhibitions/museum.

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of Applied Hungarian Folk Art, there are approximately 25 exhibitions annually. They provide entry
level opportunities for folk artists, either individually or as AHFA member organisations. The opening
ceremonies of the exhibitions are not only attended by people from Budapest – members of the
local artistic communities also are represented. These presentation opportunities help artists to
realise the values of their craftsmanship skills, and they also provide an occasion to raise the awareness of their art among the leaders of their local communities. Such an exhibition – in the capital city,
in the gallery of the most important applied folk art museum – is valuable and prestigious.
Open Handicraft Studio
Among our most important activities are the operations of the Open Handicraft Studio (Nyitott Műhely).
It is a very effective method of introducing ‘living’ folk art, and to popularise traditional folk crafts.
The Studio is a place where visitors can see applied folk artists at work for free on a daily basis.
They can ask questions, request assistance, or simply speak with the masters.
The Studio provides work opportunities to graduate weavers, basket weavers, pearl jewellers,
felt and lace makers of the Hungarian Heritage House’s handicraft courses and handicraft masters
of other trades.
The aim of the Studio is to make visitors acquainted with the secrets of traditional handicraft and
to share their insights with the youth as well as adults, professionals, students, and all those who
are interested in folk arts, the Museum collection and in the work of contemporary folk artists.10
Furthermore, a new hall of the Museum opened on the Day of Hungarian Culture on Fő Street.
The Studio’s services include:
• museum pedagogy – It is an interactive way of allowing for a better understanding of the
Hungarian history, tradition and heritage. We cooperate with Budapest schools; thus, the children from the city have the opportunity to get acquainted with the modern idea of traditional
craftsmanship at a young age, considering the fact that they have no contact with it when
growing up at home. They are not only spectators of the exhibited objects; they can actively
participate in the manufacture of simpler items of daily use, which they can later take home and
use every day. The presence of professional handicraft masters and their professionalism itself
is also a motivating factor for the children.
• programmes for families – The experience of creating items with one’s parents is not only
important to the children; it is also an occasion for the parents to relax. We organise such events
10

www.heritagehouse.hu/main/special_events/open_handicraft_studio.

Part 1. ICH and good practices of its safeguarding

around the holiday period, allowing families to enjoy the preparations as well – as a form of
shared experience.
• Interactive presentations and talks about ethnographic subjects on interesting topics, such
as Hungarian gastronomy; the pottery masters introduce their pieces of artwork while cooking
in them at the kitchen show of the Open Studio. The audience of these events can also sample
the dishes. These occasions serve the purpose of transmitting complex knowledge with the use
of experience-based methods.
• workshops for hobby artists – These programmes are intended for people who do not want
to grasp a deeper knowledge of either of the crafts but would rather prefer to spend a few (2–3)
hours creating simpler handicraft objects.
Education
The Handicrafts Section of the Hungarian Heritage House, therefore, organises educational
programmes for handicraft teachers and coordinates crafts masters training programmes countrywide. The applicants for these courses would like to become acquainted with certain crafts
or would like to broaden their existing knowledge.
The folk handicrafts instructors’ training course includes branches of folk art, such as rug
weaving, pottery, leatherwork, lace-making, basket weaving, rush work, straw work, and making
corn-husk objects. The course issues a certificate in instructing folk handicraft activities at playhouses and in teaching chosen folk crafts, both in and out of school curriculums.
There are also courses for further education of teachers of folk arts. The ‘Master course’ and the
‘Teacher of teachers’ course cover the areas of embroidery, weaving, leatherwork, and instructing
folk handicraft workshops. The participants of these courses gain thorough professional knowledge. The course is invitation-based only. Beside the opportunity to acquire knowledge, they
provide an opportunity for the craftsmen from the same areas to meet.11
National competitions for craftsmen
We organise national competitions for craftsmen in different professions (embroidery; weaving;
pottery; carving in wood, horn, bone; making instruments etc.). These competitions serve the
purpose of keeping craftsmen motivated to create high quality, new works of art.
We announce these calls in cooperation with organisers from the countryside. We collaborate
with associations of AHFA, and each of the professions has their own locations. These events are
11

www.heritagehouse.hu/nmm/aboutus/handicrafts.

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Certified product with the trade mark, 10 March 2016. Photo by Vanda Illés.

Collecting materials from elderly locals, 23 February 2014. Photo by Vanda Illés.

Part 1. ICH and good practices of its safeguarding

important because they agitate local organisations and communities, provide meeting and developing possibilities for the profession at conferences, reach a wide audience through exhibitions
and catalogue, and facilitate raising awareness.
The last event in 2016 was the Kisjankó Bori National Embroidery Competition (Kisjankó Bori
Országos Hímzőpályázat). 429 textiles arrived, and there were approximately 200 competitors.12
Certification of folk crafts
Quality control is of primary importance to the Hungarian Heritage House. Therefore, we organise
certification events on applied folk art products for craftsmen, building on traditional sources.
In this way we can ensure that the objectified forms of handicraft values protected by our institution constitute high-quality, well-functioning applied folk art pieces that have appropriate ethnographic backgrounds. The Hungarian Heritage House conducts this task as a state responsibility
based on Paragraph 3 of the Minister of National Cultural Heritage Decree 12/2004.13
We invite the members of the jury from the Applied Folk Art Qualification Committee (Népi
Iparművészeti Bíráló Bizottság), who are theoretical and practical experts. Anyone can submit their
traditional handcraft works to the certification event, during which the members of the Committee
decide on the products anonymously, considering aspects such as materials, execution, and the
quality of design (in terms of form and pattern composition). They examine whether the objects
serve their specified functions, whether the traditional elements used are authentic, and whether
their appearance meets aesthetic standards.
Similar certification events have taken place since 1953, thus establishing a well-functioning
method of quality control, which is still regularly reviewed and adapted to the requirements
of given times in order to ensure that the certified objects are always adaptable to contemporary
housing and clothing culture and to public spaces.14
We organise nearly 40 certification days per year, during which over 3000 items of every type
of traditional craft are scrutinised. Every month, in collaboration with regional member organisations of AHFA, we organise qualifications of different crafts in Budapest and other cities in
Hungary.

12

www.hagyomanyokhaza.hu/page/12649.

13

A nemzeti kulturális örökség miniszterének 12/2004. (V. 21.) NKÖM rendelet a népi iparművészettel kapcsolatos állami feladatok
végrehajtásáról, Magyar Közlöny no. 69, 21 May 2004.

14

www.heritagehouse.hu/nmm/aboutus/folkarts.

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Trademarks
Craftsmen can apply trademarks on their officially qualified products. (8. picture) The ‘qualified’
trademark sticker is a unique sign that proves the quality of the item. The text on the trademark bears a twofold message: on the one hand, it signals to foreigners in English that the item
is a Hungarian handicraft, and on the other, it emphasises to Hungarian customers that the item
is certified and thus represents high quality.
By purchasing products with this trademark, even laic customers can be assured that they are
buying valuable Hungarian folk art and applied folk art items, with which they can support Hungarian
applied artists, and thus promote the sustenance of traditional Hungarian folk art and applied folk
art. (9. picture) As the certified products are all numbered, they can be retraced and verified. AHFA
operates a website (www.pavavedjegy.hu), where the customers can find the picture of the item,
information about the crafts master and other items from the artist.
State awards
State awards also contribute to raising awareness about traditional values in society. These awards
ensure that talented artists from laic artistic activities become visible to the masses. We have three
important State awards in Hungary in crafts: Artist of Applied Folk Art (Népi Iparművész), Young
Master of Folk Art (Népművészet Ifjú Mestere), and Master of Folk Art (Népművészet Mestere).
The owner of more than one (positive) certification number can officially use the name Artist of Applied
Folk Art and will receive an official certificate (card). (10. picture) The title and the certificate are granted
by the Applied Folk Art Qualification Committee. Receiving the certificate is subject to certain requirements: the artist must have at least 30–35 certified items (with numbers); in order to ensure continuous
artistic activity, and items must be submitted at least every 3 years; after receiving the certificate card,
it must be renewed every 5 years, which ensures the successful certification of new items. This system
ensures that artists have a vested interest in supplying high-quality items and its constant renewal.15
The selection process of the Young Master of Folk Art Award is organised by the Hungarian Heritage
House, based on a decree by the Ministry of Human Capacities. Awardees can be creative or performing
folk artists between 15 and 35 years old. Craftsmen must conduct collection works, the collected materials must be subsequently documented, and 5 new items must be created from the source materials.16
A Master of Folk Art Award has been awarded since 1953 by a legal act of the Minister of Human
Capacities. It awards the life work of outstandingly talented folk artists based on recommenda15

www.hagyomanyokhaza.hu/page/10857.

16

www.hagyomanyokhaza.hu/nmm/nim.

Part 1. ICH and good practices of its safeguarding

tions and nominations by the local communities and associations in five categories (folk dance, folk
singing, instrumental folk music, storytelling, and traditional handicrafts). Since 2008 it has been
a part of the national inventory of ICH.17
Working together with NGOs on projects
Our last important practice is working together with NGOs on special projects. We will present in
detail one of them, called the Barkó Project. The Hungarian Heritage House was asked to provide
professional support by the locals of Ózd region, where the so-called Barkó people live. They wanted
to search for their roots, and their goal was to create their own item that would have traditional
inspirations. The aim of the project was to help local communities regain their lost knowledge.
The programme was attended by a mix of participants from various backgrounds: talented youth,
absolute beginners, the unemployed, skilled embroiders, sewing women, and fashion designers.
We selected four professions that were typical for the region: embroidery, costume making,
weaving, and furniture painting. For each discipline, we had 4 mentors, who were famous craft
masters from other areas. We taught them how to collect weaving patterns from elderly people
or from old photos. We then showed them that with the help of the copies and original patterns,
they can understand the arrangement of the pattern; we also taught them the traditional crafts
techniques (stitching, sewing, weaving, and painting). Only after these basics were accomplished,
the creation of new items could commence.
For visibility, we need to advertise our products. Thus, the first renewed Barkó clothes were
worn by a celebrity who hosted the TV talent show Felszállott a páva (the peacock), organised
by the Hungarian Heritage House for talented folk dancers, singers, and musicians.

Closing statement
The implementation of the Convention and good practices also affect several organisations
in Hungary. We are happy to share our experiences with institutions that work in similar fields.
We are open to all forms of international cooperation that promote the preservation of the values
of traditional culture and their transmission to future generations.

17

www.nesz.hu/a-nepmuveszet-mesterei.

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ICH AND THE EXAMINATION
AND DOCUMENTATION
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The strategy
of safeguarding
the intangible cultural
heritage in the
Czech Republic
Martin Šimša*

*

Director of the National Institute of Folk Culture (Národní ústav lidové kultury), Strážnice, Czech Republic,
e-mail: martin.simsa@nulk.cz.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

Between 1994 and 1997, the work on the film encyclopaedia Folk dances
from Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia started. The encyclopaedia consists of ten
volumes which map all distinct ethnographic areas. The exceptionally positive
results of the documentation of folk dances contributed to UNESCO’s decision
to provide financial support for a new series of documentaries – the film
encyclopaedia Folk handicrafts and folk art production in the Czech Republic.
The new series started in 1997, and the recordings still continue today.

The number of intangible cultural heritage elements, which the Czech Republic pays attention to
and which it safeguards is significantly smaller than that in the neighbouring Central-European
countries. The national list is defined as a List of Intangible Elements of Traditional Folk Culture
of the Czech Republic (Seznam nemateriálních statků tradiční lidové kultury České republiky),
which emphasises the fact that it focuses primarily on the phenomena of the traditional culture
of rural communities. Such specification is understandable due to the long participation of the
Czech Republic in the UNESCO projects which for an extended time have been aimed at traditional
folk culture and folklore. In response to the Recommendation on the Safeguarding of Traditional
Culture and Folklore adopted in 1989, several important meetings of experts from the countries
of Central and Eastern Europe were organised in the Czech Republic; these meetings dealt with
the safeguarding of traditional folk culture. The main subject-matter of the meetings included:
principles of the protection of traditional folk culture against inappropriate commercialization
(1996); ethics and traditional folk culture (1997); national policies focused on the preservation and
fostering of traditional folk culture as an important part of intangible cultural heritage (2005); and
the safeguarding measures for the elements of the intangible cultural heritage (2009). The meetings included questionnaire surveys, expert reports and papers which have been edited and subsequently integrated into several printed methodical handbooks (Krist 1997; Jančář 1999; Blahůšek
and Krist 2005). The handbooks are still among the UNESCO-recommended working materials.
After UNESCO had adopted the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural
Heritage in 2003, the Czech Republic made first steps to comply with it. The Ministry of Culture

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of the Czech Republic (Ministerstvo kultury České republiky) and the National Institute of Folk
Culture (Národní ústav lidové kultury) created basic documents with the framework for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage, which were however restricted to the phenomena
of traditional folk culture due to their previous course. The efforts of both institutions resulted
in the first systematic conception which was adopted by the government, and which is wellknown under the name the Strategy of Improved Care for Traditional Folk Culture (henceforth
Strategy). The document was in force between 2004 and 2010, and it was subsequently assessed
and supplemented with new tasks and finally implemented as the Strategy for the years
2010–2015 and 2016–2020.
One of the first tasks prepared and implemented by the Institute and the Strategy was the
identification and documentation of the phenomena of traditional folk culture in the Czech
Republic (Blahůšek 2006). The work included a large survey in the form of a questionnaire about
the contemporary situation of traditional folk culture. The questionnaires for particular groups
of tangible and intangible phenomena of folk culture were subsequently interpreted in cooperation with the research fellows from the Institute of Ethnology of the Czech Academy of Sciences
(Etnologický ústav Akademie věd České republiky) and Masaryk University (Masarykova univerzita), in categories such as: folklore; religiosity; customs and traditions; nutrition; social relations;
ways of livelihood; settlement, house and habitation; transport, trade, market; clothing and
visual culture. The data collection in particular regions was coordinated by the regional accredited workplaces, whose staff ensured the personal or remote completion of the questionnaires.
A company from Brno called FOCUS provided controlled data collection and addressed the local
authorities.
The above large-scale and long-term project resulted in tens of thousands of questionnaires
which were subsequently digitally assessed by FOCUS at the nationwide and regional levels. The
questionnaires are accessible online (www.lidovakultura.cz); they are currently processed as
a GIS map application (mapy.nulk.cz/lidove-obyceje). The pilot map, which focuses on customs
and traditions, displays the occurrence of certain phenomena in the field; it filters information
according to specific criteria and displays textual information; it also allows the users to print
maps and lists of locations as well as the questionnaires themselves.
The institutional groundwork for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in the Czech
Republic has a strong structure, which interconnects the administration officers, the experts
from professional institutions, and the bearers of elements as well as the communities in which

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

they live. At the Ministry of Culture, the Regional and Minority Culture Department (Odbor
regionální a národnostní kultury, RMCD) is in charge of organising the process of safeguarding.
Its major tasks include the coordination of international and national activities, such as sending
expert observers to the sessions of the Intergovernmental Committee of the Strategy in order
to participate in the preparation of nominations for the inscription on the Representative List
of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, to evaluate the nominations for the inscription on the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Traditional Folk Culture of the Czech
Republic, and to assess the documents for the National Council for Traditional Folk Culture
(Národní rada pro tradiční lidovou kulturu), an advisory board to the Minister of Culture.
Furthermore, the RMCD is a managing department to the National Institute of Folk Culture,
a state-funded organisation of the Ministry of Culture; the Institute is also the national central
workplace in charge of the care of traditional folk culture. Based on this mission, the Institute
issues methodological guidance to Regional Centres for Traditional Folk Culture (Regionální
centra pro tradiční lidovou kulturu) established in particular regions. Within their respective
regions, the Regional Centres cooperate with regional and local museums and local communities, as well as with the bearers of traditional folk culture. Together, they prepare the documentation and identification of the intangible cultural heritage in their areas, and based on
this they prepare documents for the inscriptions of these elements on the Regional Inventories of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which is a necessary precondition for a possible nomination of an element to be inscribed on the National List.
The List of Intangible Elements of Traditional Folk Culture of the Czech Republic was established in 2008 by the order of the Minister of Culture. The first elements were included on the
National List based on their previous inscriptions on the List of Masterpieces of the Oral and
Intangible Heritage of Humanity, and their following inscription on the Representative List of
the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In 2009, the following elements were included
on the national List: ‘Slovácko Verbuňk, recruit dances’, ‘Shrovetide door-to-door processions
and masks in the villages of the Hlinecko area’, ‘Rides of the Kings in the south-east of the Czech
Republic’, and ‘Falconry, a living human heritage’. In 2011 another inscription was added, namely:
‘Gamekeeping – planned sustainable management of game animals and of their environment
as a natural part of life in rural areas’. In 2012, the following elements were included: ‘Odzemek –
Wallachian male solo dance’, ‘Leading the Judas - Easter door-to-door processions with a person
dressed as Judas in Eastern Bohemia’, and ‘Puppetry in Eastern Bohemia’ – the art of the produc-

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Odzemek dance is inscribed in the national inventory, 2016. Photo by Jan Kolář, Wallachian Open-Air
Museum in Rožnov pod Radhoštěm.

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tion of puppets and the interpretation of traditional puppet plays. In 2013, the ‘Run for the
Barchan’ was added – a town festival associated with the contest for the fastest runner. In 2014,
the List was extended by the ‘Blueprint manufacturing technology’ (Indigo hand-block printing),
‘Traditional healing procedures and the legacy of Vincenz Priessnitz’, and ‘Czech puppetry – folk
performing arts’. In 2015, when the following elements were included: ‘Production of Christmas
decorations from glass beads’ and the ‘Nativity crèche path in Třešť’ – a Christmas tradition
of building and production of family crèches. The latest inscription was made in 2016 when two
elements were added: Skřipácký-style music in the Jihlava area and Easter door-to-door processions with boys dressed as Judas in the Bučovice area, South Moravia
The close cooperation between the Czech Republic and UNESCO on the preparation
of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity list resulted in the inscription
of the ‘Slovácko Verbuňk, recruit dances’ in 2005, when verbuňk was inscribed as one of the first
masterpieces. The Slovácko verbuňk is a male dance which includes jumping up, with a high level
of improvisation. Its peculiarity is caused by the fact that although verbuňk is usually danced in
groups, each of the dancers dances on his own and expresses his regional and local citizenship,
individual dancing skills and character.
After the Czech Republic joined the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible
Cultural Heritage in 2009, it was possible to submit the elements proposed to be inscribed on the
newly established Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In 2010,
the ‘Shrovetide door-to-door processions and masks in the villages in the Hlinecko area’ were
inscribed. The processions are held at the end of the winter season, which is called Shrovetide.
Village men and boys disguised in traditional masks go from door to door around the village,
accompanied by a brass music band. The procession stops at each house, and with the householder’s permission, four masked figures perform a ritual dance. The dance is meant to secure
a rich harvest and prosperity for the family. The Shrovetide processions are well-established and
important public activities of the local community.
2011 saw the inscription of the Ride of the Kings in Slovácko. This tradition is one of the important festivities that can be observed in diverse forms throughout Central Europe. However, it is
held very rarely at present. The major reason is that the tradition has always been connected with
agrarian rural culture, as it has depended on the availability of horses without which the ceremony could not be performed in its traditional form. For this reason, the tradition has survived
only in a few Moravian settlements in the south-eastern part of the Czech Republic.

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St. Nicholas masked procession in southern Wallachia, 2008. Photo by Eva Románková-Kuminková.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

At the end of 2016, in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, another element was inscribed on the List:
the ‘Puppetry in Slovakia and Czechia’. Currently, there is also a common nomination for the
‘Traditional blueprint technique in Central Europe’ being jointly prepared by the Czech Republic,
Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, and Germany, submitted in March 2017.
In response to the safeguarding measures prescribed by the Recommendation on the Safeguarding of Traditional Culture and Folklore adopted in 1989, the Czech Republic has awarded
the exceptional experts in production techniques since 2001. Since that year, the Minister
of Culture of the Czech Republic has awarded the title of the Bearer of Folk Craft Tradition
(Nositel tradice lidových řemesel), which is the national version of the UNESCO Living Human
Treasures system. The award is intended for the producers that master the folk production
techniques which are at risk of extinction; it strives to present their techniques and participate
in their preserving and passing them to next generations. The major objective of the award
is to highlight the folk masters and to draw the attention of the society to them, as they are
very modest in their private life and only a narrow circle of customers know their work. These
efforts are supported by the bestowal of the ‘Bearer of Tradition’ trademark, which helps to
make the products visible and to provide basic information about the award. Printed materials and representative publications are published regularly; several thematic exhibitions have
been organised to date. The awards are conferred during the National Opening of European
Heritage Days, which takes place on the first week of September in different historical towns
of Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia. The award can be conferred to a maximum of five persons
every year. The awardees are recommended to the Minister of Culture by a special commission,
whose members come from professional associations of producers, the Ministry of Culture,
the National Heritage Institute (Národní památkový ústav), as well as academic, university, and
museum backgrounds.
The National Institute of Folk Culture is managed by the Ministry of Culture and it is the
central accredited institution that coordinates the safeguarding of traditional folk culture in
the Czech Republic. The Institute complies with the requirements for safeguarding not only
through its main activity but also by means of research projects. It provides the professional
and lay public with methodological, expert, and informational service in the field of traditional
folk culture; it also organises education and documentation for all kinds of folklore activities in
the Czech Republic; moreover, it mediates the cooperation between professional institutions
and amateur groups related to traditional folk culture. Since 1956, it has organised the prestig-

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ious International Folklore Festival Strážnice, which is one of the oldest and largest festivals in
Europe. Since 1974, it has also managed the Strážnice Open-Air Museum of Rural Architecture
in South-East Moravia (Muzeum vesnice jihovýchodní Moravy), which is an open-air museum that
focuses on the safeguarding of traditional earth architecture.
Based on the UNESCO Recommendation on the Safeguarding of Traditional Culture and Folklore adopted by UNESCO in 1989, the Institute began to work on documentaries that would
capture remarkable expressions of traditional folk culture. Between 1994 and 1997, the work
on the film encyclopaedia Lidové tance z Čech, Moravy a Slezska (Folk dances from Bohemia,
Moravia, and Silesia) started. The encyclopaedia consists of ten volumes which map all distinct
ethnographic areas. The screenplay and accompanying publication were written by Hannah
Laudová and Zdena Jelínková, Academy of Science research fellows. The film encyclopaedia
continued between 2000 and 2007 and it was accordingly titled Mužské taneční projevy (Male
dance expressions). Among other dances, the documentaries focused on the verbuňk solo male
dances and their regional forms, which were captured in six volumes; and odzemek, which was
pictured in one documentary.
The exceptionally positive results of the documentation of folk dances contributed to UNESCO’s decision to provide financial support for a new series of documentaries – the film encyclopaedia Lidová řemesla a lidová umělecká výroba v České republice (Folk handicrafts and folk
art production in the Czech Republic). The new series started in 1997, and the recordings still
continue today. The basic series of documentaries was divided according to the processed materials, such as ceramics, plaiting materials, wood, textiles, glass, metal, leather, and others. The
particular documentary volumes were made by experts in the fields of traditional handicrafts,
who not only proposed the structure of recorded techniques and the producers who would
demonstrate their craft but were also authors of the accompanying publications. The second
series of documentaries was made in cooperation with the National Heritage Institute and it
recorded building techniques associated with the construction of wood, stone, and mud houses,
as well as houses with roofing and heating systems. The latest series shows procedures related
to folk outfits, hairstyles and headdresses, types of headscarves and methods of tying them, and
the ways of layering garments. To date, thirty-nine volumes of film documentaries have been
made, each with an accompanying specialised publication.
The National Institute of Folk Culture is a research organisation; it conducts basic and
applied research and experimental development, as well as distributes its results through

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teaching, publishing, and transferring technologies. Until 1995, the research and development tasks had been formulated as independent partial projects, among which two large
ones must be mentioned: the long-term research into Shrovetide customs conducted by
Josef Tomeš, and the research into Anabaptist faience conducted by Jiří Pajer. Between 1996
and 1998, the research project was called ‘Collection, Documentation and Different Forms
of Scientific Treatment of Documents about Traditional and Folk Culture’. This project was
followed by two research projects: ‘Research of the Phenomena of the Tangible and Intangible Heritage in the Realm of Traditional Folk Culture and Folklore’ in 1999–2003, and ‘Transformations in Traditional Folk Culture and its Ties to the Tangible and Intangible Heritage
of Humanity’ in 2004–2010. The intentions featured different forms of scientific treatment,
protection, preservation, and presentation of the phenomena of traditional folk culture:
cultural heritage, traditional folk culture and folklore, folk dance, songs, music, folk habits,
ceremonies and customs, folk handicrafts, techniques used in folk art production, folklore,
principles of museum work, and others. Based on the positive results of its scientific activity,
the National Institute of Folk Culture was given the status of a research organisation in 2011
and was integrated into the programme Long-Term Conceptual Development of Research
Organisations. It was also assigned a regular financial contribution to implement the research
projects. The institution can also apply for contributions from grant agencies and take part in
public procurements in science and development.
In addition to its special and scientific tasks, the National Institute of Folk Culture focuses on
digitalising the oldest periodicals with ethnographic themes and making them accessible in the
form of a large online electronic edition accessible on the Institute’s website. This process has
entailed journals such as Český lid (Czech folk; 1891–1931), the Národopisný věstník českoslovanský
(Czechoslavic ethnographic journal; 1906–1934), the Národopisné aktuality (Ethnographic news;
1964–1990) and the Národopisná revue (Journal of ethnology; 1990–). The project continued
with the electronic edition of the oldest song collections and collectors – Karel Jaromír Erben,
František Sušil, František Bartoš, and Ludvík Kuba. The digitised documents offer the possibility
of searching for specific articles or keywords, and in the case of song collections, it is possible
to play the basic note transcriptions of the melodies and to search according to note characteristics of the songs.
The National Institute of Folk Culture uses several mutually linked websites, such as www.
nulk.cz, www.festivalstraznice.cz, and www.skanzenstraznice.cz to present the above-men-

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tioned outcomes and the reports about own activities, research projects, and publication activities. The information about traditional folk culture can be accessed at www.lidovakultura.cz.
The website structure allows the experts, informed amateurs from the folklore movement, and
common visitors to folklore festivals and open-air museums to find relevant information. It also
contains links to research institutions focused on ethnology and social anthropology, their scientific projects and interesting outcomes. There are also lists of song and dance ensembles, voice
choirs, and music bands, and an overview of previous festivities and folklore festivals observed
during fieldwork.

Conclusion
The broad institutional anchoring of the National Institute of Folk Culture covers the research,
memory, education, and experimental and methodical activities, which the Institute implements
actively on the international, nationwide, regional, and local scales. The particular counterparts
and dimensions of its activities are mutually reinforcing, and cover a variety of users. It enables
the Institute to link together theoretical requirements for the safeguarding of traditional folk
culture with practical experience of its implementation and presentation. Due to its institutional
profile, the National Institute of Folk Culture is unparalleled in the Czech Republic, and it is irreplaceable in its activities. The achieved results are for the most part of excellent quality, which
is demonstrated by the positive assessments of particular VaVaI (Informační systém výzkumu,
vývoje a inovací, Research and Development Information System) priorities and projects under
the Applied Research and Development of National and Cultural Identity Programme NAKI,
commitments resulting from the fulfilment of the Strategy, as well as by numerous awards from
professional organisations (e.g. International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and
Folk Arts, Czech Ethnological Society [Česká národopisná společnost], Association of Museums
and Galleries [Asociace muzeí a galerií], among others). Finally, we can observe an increasing
number of visitors to the International Folklore Festival and the Open-Air Museum.

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References
Blahůšek, Jan, ed. 2006. Identifikace a dokumentace jevů tradiční lidové kultury v České Republice [The identification
and documentation of traditional folk culture phenomena in the Czech Republic]. Strážnice: Národní ústav
lidové kultury.
Blahůšek, Jan, and Jan Krist, eds. 2005. International Meeting of Representatives of Central and East European
Countries on National Policies for the Preservation and Fostering of Traditional and Folk Culture as an Important
Part of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Strážnice, Czech Republic 2005. Strážnice: Národní ústav lidové kultury.
Jančář, Josef, ed. 1999. Ethics and Traditional Folk Culture: Study on Moral Consciousness and Conduct in Manifestations of Traditional Folk Culture. Strážnice: Ústav lidové kultury.
Krist, Jan, ed. 1997. Principles of Traditional Culture and Folklore Protection Against Inappropriate Commercialization. Strážnice: Ústav lidové kultury.

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Estonian inventory
of intangible cultural
heritage. The case
of cross-trees
Marju Kõivupuu*

*

Senior researcher and heritage ambassador (voluntary spokesperson) of the Year of Cultural Heritage in Estonia 2013, Tallinn
University (Tallinna Ülikool), Estonia, e-mail: kpuu@tlu.ee.

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A community that wishes to draw attention to their intangible heritage
by means of the inventory, needs experts both on the inside (e.g. advocates
of a phenomenon and compilers of the inscription) and on the outside
(e.g. counselling museum workers and specialists in folk culture). However,
the main factor is the interest in the (public) interpretation of intangible
heritage and an inner urge to write the inscription for the inventory, beside
or instead of other forms of expression (contributions to museums and
archives, publications, websites, etc.).

Introduction
‘Community’ and ‘heritage’ are words and concepts that can be seen in policy documents, academic
texts, media, as well as everyday contexts. For many people ‘community and heritage are comfortably self-evident, defined by place and shared histories and often ethnicity and nationality, and
redolent of shared values and their celebration’ (Smith and Waterton 2009, 12). It is difficult to say
who constitutes a community for a particular heritage and what is understood as heritage by the
community. Both ‘community’ and ‘heritage’ can be interpreted quite diversely by different people
and in different contexts (Bardone et al. forthcoming).
The new conception of heritage gives importance to the role of community-based heritage
management in the sustainable development of local cultures (Van der Auwera, Vandesande, and
Van Balen 2015, 7–10). Participatory heritage culture is also supported by the growing impact
of digital technologies and social media. The role of heritage curators and conservators is thus
currently seen as ‘facilitators rather than authoritative scripters and arbiters of authenticity and
significance’ (Silberman and Purser 2012, 13–14). This people-centred understanding of heritage
is expressed most powerfully in the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible
Cultural Heritage (2003)1 that defines intangible cultural heritage as:
the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated therewith – that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals

1

Along with the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, one of the most popular
UNESCO cultural conventions is the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. 172 states have
acceded to the latter (as of May 2017), and 193 states to the former (as of January 2017). UNESCO has 195 member states
and 9 associate members.

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recognize as part of their cultural heritage. This intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation
to generation, is constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their
interaction with nature and their history, and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thus
promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.2

In Estonia, the year 2013 was proclaimed the Year of Cultural Heritage. What is cultural heritage?
How does it evolve? Who does it belong to and how does it concern us? These are questions the
Year of Cultural Heritage seeks to answer. Its motto/slogan – ‘There is no heritage without the heir’
– refers to the fact that we are the heirs, but at the same time, we are also the bequeathers. The
aim of the thematic year was thus to increase people’s awareness of the cultural heritage everywhere around them, and to develop the understanding that heritage should be protected by our
joint efforts, as it is the foundation of our identity.
While safeguarding heritage, we should think not only about how, but for whom we keep it;
what we protect today and how will it be re-interpreted by future generations.

Estonian inventory of intangible cultural heritage
Estonia signed the UNESCO 2003 Convention in 2006. As a state party to the Convention,
it can introduce its cultural heritage through the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural
Heritage of Humanity. The preceding list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage
of Humanity includes ‘Baltic song and dance celebrations’ (2003, together with Latvia and Lithuania) and the ‘Kihnu cultural space’ (2003). In 2009, ‘Seto leelo, the Seto polyphonic singing
tradition’ was also entered. In 2014, the tradition of the Võru smoke sauna, or chimneyless
sauna, was added onto the list. The sauna has been the traditional place for cleansing and
healing, a symbol of the togetherness of community, and of the rural way of life that strives
for harmony with nature.
Different areas of cultural heritage – folklore, literature, (folk) music, landscape heritage, architecture, and handicraft – are much easier to describe than to ascribe meaning to. For cultural
heritage to be preserved, first of all, its sustainability should be supported. Primarily, the creativity
of local inhabitants in producing and reacting to the elements of cultural heritage (neighbourhood
2

Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Paris, 17 October 2003, art. 2:1 (available online:
www.unesco.org/culture/ich/en/convention).

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and landscape preservation, artefacts, and other elements) should be appreciated and valued
(Rahvakultuuri Keskus 2016).
In 2006, when Estonia joined the Convention, a decision was made in favour of compiling
a national inventory based on the initiatives and interpretations of communities. What problems
might arise in this seemingly ideal democratic solution? What issues are encountered when drawing
up an inventory? How to find balance between the institutional expectations and the requirements
of imagined communities?
The inventory focuses on the idea of strong and active communities, which make decisions
about their intangible heritage, the ways to maintain and protect it, and subsequently, start the
compilation of the inscription. During the training courses and information days, the participants
are encouraged to use the concept of intangible heritage in a broad sense: to express subjective
interpretations and regard themselves as experts in their own heritage. It is emphasised that
these are not scholars or officials that prescribe what the community could introduce as intangible
heritage (Porila 2015, 10). In 2017, the inventory included 86 inscriptions.3
Each entry includes short texts and audio-visual materials. The structure of the inventory
contains 4 types of entries: important for the community; corresponding to the definition of ICH;
living heritage; transmitted from generation to generation.
The inventory is based on community initiative, and it is the community representatives that
compile the entries and decide if their ICH should be on the inventory, which elements should be
there, and how to present them. The Folk Culture Centre (Rahvakultuuri Keskus) helps and encourages them (ICH trainings, ICH homepage, presentations at local conferences and community meetings, articles in the media, special brochures – e.g. the ICH information kit in Estonian).
A community that wishes to draw attention to their intangible heritage by means of the inventory, needs experts both on the inside (e.g. advocates of a phenomenon and compilers of the
inscription) and on the outside (e.g. counselling museum workers and specialists in folk culture).
However, the main factor is the interest in the (public) interpretation of intangible heritage and an
inner urge to write the inscription for the inventory, beside or instead of other forms of expression (contributions to museums and archives, publications, websites, etc.). Despite the work on
spreading the idea of the usefulness of those other forms (as a supportive means for evaluating,
maintaining, and transmitting the traditional skills and knowledge, the sustainable development
3

Statistics can be seen online (Rahvakultuuri Keskus 2017a, 2017b).

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South Estonia: the crosses, 2015. Photo by Marju Kõivupuu.

Rosma cross-forest, 1931, © Estonian Folklore Archive.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

and creative industry) and the offered training courses, new inscriptions are not added as quickly
and smoothly as it was expected by the Ministry of Culture (Kultuuriministeerium).

From community stewardship to complex heritage management:
cross-trees in southeast Estonia
Cross-trees in southeast Estonia are related to the issues of tangible as well as intangible heritage
maintenance. For various reasons, the cross-trees, as objects and as things related to a practice, are
cases of liminal, ‘hybrid’, and in some respect also ‘dissonant heritage’ (cf. Kõivupuu 2014; Kuutma
2013). A ‘cross-tree’ is a tree (pine, spruce, birch, or other) on the side of the road leading to a cemetery, onto which a cross is carved by the closest male relatives of the deceased. It is a commemorative practice and a way to signify a conscious or unconscious border which the deceased cross
when they are excluded from the living world. Cross-trees are an expression of ‘vernacular religion’
(Primiano 1995), probably a combination of pre-Christian and Christian beliefs (Kõivupuu 2009,
2014). Cutting a cross in the tree has been a part of the funerary tradition, especially in historical
Võrumaa,4 which according to earliest records dates back to the 17th century and has survived until
today only in southeast Estonia (Kõivupuu 2009, 2014).
The persistence of cross-trees has fallen under threat because local communities have undergone transformations (population declines, immigration) and not all locals may belong to the
community that practices this tradition and acknowledges the need to preserve it. The traditional
funerary customs have changed likewise (e.g. cremation instead of coffin burial) (Kõivupuu 2009,
2014). However, it can be said that today it is the heritage that defines the community, and both
the locals and those living outside the region know the meaning of the trees, value this custom
and follow it. Internationally, cross-trees belong to the category of sacred natural sites and objects;
there are many native groups in the world for whom certain trees and groves and related customs
may have strong spiritual or religious meanings. Sacred natural sites connect people and nature,
as well as the personal and collective memory; they may confirm the cultural identity for a family,
community, or the whole nation. Such religious landscapes and places related to cultural memory
4

Historical Võrumaa is a separate cultural region in southeast Estonia, which according to the present-day administrative
division covers areas in Võru, Põlva, Valga, and Tartu counties. The region features several enduring traditions and a dialect
used in everyday life. The Võru Institute (Võro Instituut), which was established on the basis of the so-called Võru Movement,
originated in the 1980s, and actively investigates, maintains, and advocates the cultural heritage of historical Võrumaa.

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often emerge as a result of practices or with the help of oral traditions, folklore, and narratives that
support the collective process of remembering (Fox 1997, 8–9; Siikala 2004; Rønnow 2011, 225).
Edmund G. C. Barrow points out that traditionally, the sacred trees are under ‘community stewardship’, which saves them from being cut down or damaged. Today, local communities, as well
as their ways of life, have changed considerably and the modern socio-economic values tend to
dominate over traditional spiritual values (Barrow 2010). Therefore, a question arises: why should
sacred trees be safeguarded for the future – and by whom – if they are no longer part of all community members’ everyday life? What happens if community stewardship does not function the same
way as in the past?
The tradition of carving crosses in trees was still alive in Soviet Estonia and it had an ambivalent status: officially, the forests belonged to the state; yet, they were managed by local people
who respected local customs. Cutting a cross at the funeral was also considered a supplementary act to the Christian funeral; local clergymen accepted the ritual, and sometimes even participated in it. After Estonia became independent, forest management became centralised, and
the local community stewardship practice was disrupted. During the transition period in post-socialist Estonia, several cross-trees and cross-forests still related to the lived practice were cut
down – partly because of forest managers’ ignorance, and partly due to the disregard towards
this tradition. Forestry companies and sometimes also forest owners (especially those to whom
land had been restituted) did not recognise this as law-breaking, as the majority of cross-trees
were not under heritage or nature protection. The State Forest Management Centre (Riigimetsa
Majandamise Keskus) has cut down cross-trees in production forests, and expanded roads by the
expense of cross-tree groves, which in several cases has caused deep resentment among locals
(see Kõivupuu 2009). Due to these developments, the community who wanted to preserve crosstrees needed external authorities (including heritage officials as well as academic scholars), who
would legitimise the importance of the tradition by giving it the value of cultural heritage that
needs safeguarding.
Natural heritage, including sacred natural sites, is regulated by several international and
national ‘heritage regimes’ (Bendix, Eggert, and Peselmann 2012): e.g. The Man and the Biosphere
Programme (1970), the UNESCO World Heritage Convention (1972), and the Intangible Cultural
Heritage Convention (2003). The guidelines for protecting natural sacred sites were formulated
in collaboration with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and UNESCO in
2003–2008. According to the IUCN definition, ‘sacred natural sites are areas having special spiritual

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

significance for peoples and communities’, and they are often ‘community conserved areas’ (Wild
and McLeod 2008). However, the meaning of ‘community’ in the document is somewhat problematic, because it is related to the Convention Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries (1989)5. Similarly to the case of the UNESCO 2003 Convention, community
involvement in conservation and community participation in the development of national heritage
politics is of crucial importance. Stakeholders of sacred natural sites are defined as natural resource
users and managers; yet, stakeholder identification and analysis based on understanding different
interests, characteristics, and circumstances is stressed in order to manage sacred natural sites
better (Wild and McLeod 2008, 46–47).
The definition of sacred natural sites in Estonia is based on the IUCN document. Today, there are
about 500 historical sacred sites and objects (sacred groves, trees and springs, sacrificial stones,
among others) that have been located, mapped, and designated as monuments under natural or
cultural heritage protection.6 Among these two categories we can distinguish the following: sites
that relate to cultural memory and not to lived practices, and sites or cult objects that are currently
related to the cultural heritage and lived practices of certain groups (Kõivupuu 2009, 224). Crosstrees belong to the latter. Furthermore, they belong to both the natural and cultural world, as well
as to both tangible as well as intangible heritage. Despite the IUCN guidelines for protection, there
is a lack of legal regulations in Estonia that would define sacred natural sites as unique objects of
both natural and cultural heritage, and that would reflect diverse values for varied groups (see
Kultuuriministeerium 2008). 700 cross-trees have been currently included in an inventory, but only
a few of them are under protection as natural monuments. In the Estonian introduction to the
IUCN guidelines, cross-trees are defined as part of ‘community heritage’, however, the ‘community’
remains undefined in the local context. A stakeholder group related to the maintenance of sacred
natural sites such as the neo-pagan organisation Maavalla Koda (Estonian House of Taara and
Native Religions) relies on and exploits a romantic ideal of the native Estonian community rooted
in the national movement of the late 19th century, and does not correspond with actual communities and their practices in the 21st century Estonia.
Although the traditional community stewardship of sacred sites has changed, there are
various groups of interest, communities, and heritage stakeholders who have become involved

5

Convention adopted under the auspices of International Labour Organization [Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention].

6

According to historical sources, there are about 2800 historical sacred sites known to researchers.

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Cross-spruce in the cross-forest Rosma (South Estonia), 2015. Photo by Marju Kõivupuu.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

in the issues related to their protection and preservation. For example, during roundtable meetings discussing the protection of cross-trees along with other sacred natural sites, participants
have included NGOs as well as state institutions.7 Throughout the past few years, the collaboration between different stakeholder groups (e.g. locals, scholars, officials, and forest managers)
has increased, aiming for a better protection of the cross-trees. However, the current practice
of forest management in Estonia clearly shows that the state forest management bodies should
show more respect towards local religious relationships with nature.
The implementation and intervention of international heritage regimes (e.g. UNESCO, IUCN)
exert a noticeable impact on local heritage politics and management, as well as on people’s
everyday lives. Like several other local traditions, cross-trees as a funerary custom in historical
Võrumaa have been included in the Estonian inventory of intangible cultural heritage analysed
in the previous example (Rahvakultuuri Keskus 2016). The inscription in the inventory and nomination as (intangible) heritage certainly dignifies a cultural tradition (cf. Bendix and Hafstein
2009). Thus, participation in defining cultural heritage may, in turn, increase the community’s
self-awareness, consciousness, and through this also the visibility and social, economic, and
political capital, thereby marshalling the community (cf. Silberman and Purser 2012, 20–21).
For instance, in 2014, a traditional bathing practice – ‘Smoke sauna tradition in Võromaa’ – was
inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
as a result of community initiative. This may also indirectly influence the status of cross-trees
as valuable cultural heritage of the region. Thus, external recognition may change how the
local people value their customs, and draw state and international attention to a particular
custom, although one also cannot overlook the negative impact of this attention to the
viability of cultural heritage (see Labadi 2013, 141–42). ‘Heritagisation’ is inevitably a process
of cultural intervention – if traditions that have formerly been part of everyday life become
seen as heritage, it may enforce people to see them as something separate from the mundane;
this, in turn, may change the meaning of the traditional practice itself (Kirschenblatt-Gimblett
2004; Kockel 2007).

7

The organisations and institutions who have taken part in roundtables are: Hiite Maja (House of Sacred Groves) Foundation,
Maavalla Koda, representatives of different disciplines from the University of Tartu (Tartu Ülikool) and Tallinn University,
including the Centre of Sacred Natural Sites (Looduslike pühapaikade keskus) at the University of Tartu, and representatives
from the Ministry of Environment (Keskkonnaministeerium); Ministry of the Interior (Siseministeerium), the Environmental
Board (Keskkonnaamet), and Estonian Fund for Nature (Eestimaa Looduse Fond), among others.

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References
Bardone, Ester, Kristi Grünberg, Marju Kõivupuu, Helen Kästik, and Helen Sooväli-Sepping. forthcoming. “The Role
of Communities in the Politics of Cultural Heritage: Examples from Estonia.” In Approaches to Culture Theory.
Tartu: Tartu University Press.
Barrow, Edmund G.C. 2010. “Falling between the ‘Cracks’ of Conservation and Religion: The Role of Stewardship
for Sacred Trees and Groves.” In Sacred Natural Sites: Conserving Nature and Culture, edited by Bas Verschuuren,
Robert Wild, Jeffrey McNeely, and Gonzalo Oviedo, 42–52. London–Washington, DC: Earthscan.
Bendix, Regina, Aditya Eggert, and Arnika Peselmann, eds. 2012. Heritage Regimes and the State. Göttingen: Universitätsverlag Göttingen. http://webdoc.sub.gwdg.de/univerlag/2012/GSCP6_Bendix.pdf.
Bendix, Regina, and Valdimar Tr. Hafstein. 2009. “Culture and Property. An Introduction.” Ethnologia Europaea.
Journal of European Ethnology 39 (2): 5–10.
Fox, James J. 1997. “Place and Landscape in Comparative Austronesian Perspective.” In Poetic Power of Place:
Comparative Perspectives on Austronesian Ideas of Locality, edited by James J. Fox, 1–21. Canberra: Department
of Anthropology, Australian National University.
Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara. 2004. “Intangible Heritage as Metacultural Production.” Museum International 56
(1–2): 52–65.
Kockel, Ullrich. 2007. “Reflexive Traditions and Heritage Production.” In Cultural Heritages as Reflexive Traditions,
edited by Ullrich Kockel and Máiréad Nic Craith, 19–33. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.
Kõivupuu, Marju. 2009. “Natural Sacred Places in Landscape: An Estonian Model.” In Nature, Space and the Sacred.
Transdisciplinary Perspectives, edited by Sigurd Bergmann, Peter M. Scott, Maria Jansdotter Samuelsson, and
Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, 223–34. Aldershot: Ashgate.
Kõivupuu, Marju. 2014. “Pärimus maastikul, maastik pärimuses Hargla ja Kambja kihelkonna näitel [Landscape and
heritage: the case of Hargla and Kambja parish].” In Maastik ja mälu. Pärandiloome arengujooni Eestis [Landscape
and memory. The landscape and heritage studies in Estonia], edited by Linda Kaljundi and Helen Sooväli-Sepping, 441–75. Tallinn: Tallinna Ülikooli Kirjastus.
Kultuuriministeerium. 2008. “Eesti ajaloolised looduslikud pühapaigad. Uurimine ja hoidmine. Valdkonna arengukava 2008–2012 [Estonia’s historic sacred natural sites. Research and preservation. Development plan].”
http://www.kul.ee/sites/default/files/looduslikud_pyhapaigad_arengukava_2008_2012.pdf.
Kuutma, Kristin. 2013. “Between Arbitration and Engineering: Concepts and Contingencies in the Shaping of
Heritage Regimes.” In Heritage Regimes and the State, edited by Regina Bendix, Aditya Eggert, and Arnika
Peselmann, 2nd rev. ed., 21–36. Göttingen: Universitätsverlag Göttingen.

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Labadi, Sophia. 2013. UNESCO, Cultural Heritage, and Outstanding Universal Value. Value-Based Analysis of the World
Heritage and Intangible Cultural Heritage Conventions. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press.
Porila, Kristiina, comp. 2015. Vaimne kultuuripärand Eestis [Intangible cultural heritage in Estonia]. Tallinn: Rahvakultuuri Keskus. http://www.rahvakultuur.ee/s2/1783_11557_707_Loe_infovihikut_siin.pdf.
Primiano, Leonard Norman. 1995. “Vernacular Religion and the Search for Method in Religious Folklife.” Western
Folklore 54 (1): 37–56.
Rahvakultuuri Keskus. 2016. “Eesti vaimse kultuuripärandi nimistu [Estonia’s intangible cultural heritage list].”
Accessed December 5. http://www.rahvakultuur.ee/vkpnimistu/.
Rahvakultuuri Keskus. 2017a. “Nimistu ja vaimse pärandi kaitse [List of protected intangible heritage].” Accessed
May 25. http://www.rahvakultuur.ee/Nimistu_ja_vaimse_parandi_kaitse_1042.
Rahvakultuuri Keskus. 2017b. “Sissekanded Eesti vaimse kultuuripärandi nimistusse [Entries on the list of intangible cultural heritage in Estonia].” Accessed May 25. http://www.rahvakultuur.ee/Sissekanded_Eesti_vaimse_
kultuuriparandi_nimistusse_3243.
Rønnow, Tarjei. 2011. Saving Nature: Religion as Environmentalism – Environmentalism as Religion. Münster: LIT.
Siikala, Anna-Leena. 2004. “Kuuluvuspaigad: ajaloo taasloomine [Belonging sites: recreating history].” Mäetagused
26: 53–68. http://www.folklore.ee/tagused/nr26/siikala.pdf.
Silberman, Neil, and Margaret Purser. 2012. “Collective Memory as Affirmation: People-Centered Cultural Heritage
in a Digital Age.” In Heritage and Social Media. Understanding Heritage in a Participatory Culture, edited by Elisa
Giaccardi, 13–29. London: Routledge.
Smith, Laurajane, and Emma Waterton. 2009. Heritage, Communities and Archaeology. London: Duckworth.
Van der Auwera, Sigrid, Aziliz Vandesande, and Koen Van Balen. 2015. “A Recent History of Heritage Community
Involvement.” In Community Involvement in Heritage, edited by Koen Van Balen and Aziliz Vandesande, 7–14.
Antwerpen: Garant.
Wild, Robert, and Christopher McLeod. 2008. Sacred Natural Sites. Guidelines for Protected Area Managers. Gland:
IUCN.

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Intangible cultural
heritage of Albania
and the challenges
in creating the National
Inventory and the
list of phenomena
and elements
Silva Breshani*
Arta Dollani**

*

Director, National Inventory Centre of Cultural Properties, Ministry of Culture (Qendra Kombëtare e Inventarizimit të Pasurive
Kulturore, Ministria e Kulturës), e-mail: Silva.Breshani@qkipk.gov.al; silvabreshani@yahoo.com.
** Director, General Director, Institute of Cultural Monuments, Ministry of Culture (Instituti i Monumenteve të Kulturës, Ministria
e Kulturës), e-mail: artadollani@yahoo.com.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

One of the projects that could provide inspiration for the new inventorying process
in Albania is the project Show Your Culture. … It involves a wideranging appeal
to communities in Albania to document various practices, knowledge, and skills
that they maintain and identify as their cultural heritage through means of video
and brief textual information. The project uses YouTube as a web-based platform
and practically does not require any preliminary investment, as the video and photo
recordings can be performed with mobile phones and can be accompanied with
a sample selection of basic information about the practised ICH element.

Introduction
Albanian intangible cultural heritage, conveyed from generation to generation, has been continually recreated by communities and groups in terms of their function in the environment and their
interaction with nature and history; it gives them a sense of identity and continuity and provides
assistance in promoting the respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.
Albania joined UNESCO on 16 October 1958. The safeguarding of the intangible heritage
of Albania is legally and directly guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Albania and
the national law for cultural heritage. The National Committee for Intangible Cultural Heritage
(Komiteti Kombëtar i Trashëgimisë Kulturore Shpirtërore), in addition to its specific tasks, lists the
most remarkable intangible heritage creations: the Albanian Masterpieces of Intangible Cultural
Heritage (Kryevepra të trashëgimisë kulturore shpirtërore shqiptare). Albania has also ratified the
UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and the 2005
Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
The 2003 Convention states that in order to ensure a better visibility for the intangible cultural
heritage, better awareness of its importance, and in order to favour dialogue while respecting
cultural diversity, the Committee, upon the proposal of the concerned States Parties, should make
decisions on the inscriptions on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of
Humanity. Based on the national legislation and international conventions, Albania adopted the
National List of Masterpieces of Intangible Heritage of its territory in 2010.
To ensure national and international recognition as well as the protection, treatment, study,
popularisation, inventory, and computing values of the intangible cultural heritage, the Ministry

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Dropulli Girls Folk Dance, one of the masterpieces of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Greek ethnic minority in Albania,
at the National Folk Festival in Gjirokastra, 2015. Photo by Adnan Beci.

A wedding reception in Kolonje (Southeastern Albania). Photo shows the full orchestra harmonica (sazet), playing
llahutë, clarinet and violin, the beginning of 20th century. Photo by Dhimiter Vangjeli.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

of Culture (Ministria e Kulturës) intends to reform and modernise the structure, methods, and
the character of the institutions dealing with intangible cultural heritage on the national and local
level. It also aims to develop a national inventory of the phenomena and elements of intangible
cultural heritage and complete the dossier of the phenomena of masterpieces of national intangible cultural heritage. The Ministry of Culture maintains contacts with other institutions and their
counterparts in the world, as well as UNESCO, the Council of Europe, and other institutions specialised in the field of heritage and cultural anthropology, in order to make Albania’s cultural heritage
known and integrate it into the global network of cultural heritage.
In this article, we will present two elements of Albanian intangible cultural heritage featuring
on the national list: the Logu i Bjeshkëve festival in northern Albania, and folk music instruments
craftsmanship, which is a distinct craft among all Albanian techniques and includes hand-crafted
music instruments such as the cyle dyjare. These two elements are approached in the territories
of their origin and are still being developed; they remain alive in the communities.

Intangible cultural heritage in Albania
Albania is located in the heart of the Mediterranean region and stretches along the seashores
of the Adriatic and Ionian seas. Known as the Land of the Eagles (Shqipëria), it is an epic country
with a rich history and culture, where people speak one of the oldest living languages in Europe.
The Albanian language is the only branch of the Indo-European language family and is now spoken
by close to eight million people around the world.
It is also an important gateway to the Balkan Peninsula, located at the North-South and EastWest crossroads, with the proximity to reach major European capitals within two or three hours by
air. As a result of its geographical location and setting, Albania displays traces of different civilisations and cultures, including Illyrian, Hellenic, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman. It shares borders
with a number of countries, including Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, Greece, and Italy (across
the Adriatic Sea).
The intangible heritage, as one of the most important vectors of the Albanian culture inherited
from generation to generation, is continuously preserved and diligently safeguarded among the
communities that created and transmitted it as a part of their national identity and pride – by the
public and private institutions which are responsible for its safeguarding.

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Group of young artists from the Gjirokastra District, performing Iso-polyphony at the National Folk Festival
in Gjirokastra, 2015. Photo by Adnan Beci.

National Folklore Festival of Gjirokastra, Albania – aerial view of the Castle of Gjirokastra, 2015.
Photo by Egon Musliut.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

According to the Albanian Law for cultural heritage, adopted in 2003,1 intangible cultural heritage
consists of: the use of Albanian language; oral folklore; vocal, choreographic and instrumental folklore; traditional customs and practices; traditional beliefs; traditional crafts. These forms of intangible heritage have been created in the Albanian way over the centuries, by communities and groups
interacting with nature and history. It gives them a sense of identity and continuity.
Albania has inherited extremely rich phenomena of ICH, diverse in their forms and widely distributed
across all parts of the country, marked by a common feeling of shared sensitivity to its importance and its
value as a resource of cultural identity. However, on the other hand, in present-day contexts, this heritage
is facing significant constraints in maintaining its viability and is under considerable and increasing threat
of disappearance and decrease of vitality. The dynamic transformations that the country had faced after
the end of the communist regime in 1990 have opened new venues for economic and social development, but have also introduced a new reality of economic problems, collapses of previous state enterprises, and a steady rise in unemployment, which in turn has led to increased population mobility and
mass migration outside and inside the country, and has led to the concentration of population in the
main urban centres. Elements of traditional crafts have suffered, quickly replaced by mass-manufactured
furniture, decorative objects and industrial tools, which have drastically changed people’s lifestyles.
Traditional, individual workshops have become bankrupt or begun to respond to new demands of lifestyle thus becoming consumed. Having an enormous effect on Albanian economic and social development in the last two decades, these processes have affected particularly the rural communities and the
cultural traditions maintained by them. Many of the previous forms and genres of the verbal, musical,
and dance folklore have been either lost as a shared cultural tradition or limited to a set of examples. This
has been paralleled with the disappearance of many folklore instruments, costumes and traditional craft
items; paired with a dramatic decrease in the knowledge and skills related to their production and use.
Whilst many of the bearers are ageing and only a few are passing their knowledge and skills on to the
next generations, young people have either migrated abroad or to larger cities, or have become disinterested in maintaining the traditional practices and expressions. In such a context, the few forms that still
remain active as means of transmitting knowledge and skills about the cultural traditions are related to
the various regional and local folklore festivals, which are held on a regular basis (most of them annually)
and are attended by a relatively large number of young people.
Albania has adopted a number of international cultural agreements, introduced new legislative
acts and measures specifically targeted at cultural heritage, realised administrative and institu1

Ligj nr 9048, datë 7.4.2003. Për trashëgiminë kulturore, Fletorja Zyrtare e Republikës së Shqipërisë [Official Gazette of the
Republic of Albania] no. 33/2003.

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tional reforms in this sphere, and made first steps in inventorying and inscribing elements onto
the national list of ICH elements. It has also participated in various other initiatives aimed at raising
awareness and popularisation of cultural heritage.
The Ministry of Culture, the central national body responsible for the protection of tangible and
intangible cultural heritage in Albania, together with its two main directorates – of arts and cultural
heritage – has directed its work basing on four pillars, which correspond to the four main objectives set out by the 2003 Convention itself: to safeguard and preserve the intangible heritage; to
ensure the respect for it; to raise awareness of its importance and ensure mutual appreciation;
to provide for international cooperation and assistance.
These objectives are constantly present in its work on the creation of a strategic framework
designed to better address the problems and challenges related to Albanian ICH. In collaboration
with research institutes, private NGOs, and the communities themselves, the Ministry of Culture
is continuously increasing the ability of relevant structures to protect and promote Albanian ICH.
The communities and bearers of ICH elements are actively involved in a series of activities aiming
at their preservation, transmission, and promotion.
As a result, a significant number of institutional, legal, educational, and promotional efforts have
been undertaken over the recent years. More specifically, the Ministry of Culture has undertaken efforts
to obtain funding from the state budget, as well as other donors, related to promotional activities
such as festivals, fairs, and workshops. Despite the continuous change of people and structures, a valid
was introduced to the stakeholders, but it is still not approved (as of June 2017) in Parliament due to
changes and debates between the stakeholders. A significant result has been achieved in collaboration
with the Ministry of Education and Sport (Ministria e Arsimit dhe Sportit), namely, one including both
tangible and intangible heritage-related curricula in the educational system.2 Despite the excellent and
tangible results, more efforts should be made by the relevant structures in the area of community
involvement and on the increase of international cooperation with countries and organisations.
Albania’s Law for cultural heritage was amended in 2005–2006 to include articles directly
concerning the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage, and to specify the institutional
tasks and actions required for its protection. The law, adopted in 2003, made first steps towards

2

The introduction of iso-polyphony in the school curriculum, which acquaints the pupils with the values of intangible cultural
heritage and cultural diversity, proceeds as follows: in the 9-year basic education, from grade 5 to grade 9, in ‘Musical
education’ which is a compulsory subject. In the upper education: in grade 10, in the subject ‘Our cultural heritage’, one of the
optional subjects within the compulsory package, and in grade 11 in the subject ‘The European cultural heritage’. In the higher
education curriculum, at graduate and post-graduate levels, in a course called ‘Albanian intangible heritage’ (at the University
of Tirana, Faculty of Philology, and at the University of Arts).

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

a national legislation of ICH and permitted the creation of the National Committee for Intangible
Cultural Heritage in Albania (Komiteti Kombëtar i Trashëgimisë Kulturore Shpirtërore) – the beginning of listing ICH – and the inscription of iso-polyphony on UNESCO’s List of Masterpieces of
the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005. Subsequently, the Albanian Music Council
(Këshilli i Muzikës Shqiptare), a non-governmental organisation, compiled the first publicly accessible database of this element. Since its inscription to the List of Masterpieces a series of legal,
institutional, and other measures have also been undertaken by the Ministry, including an action
plan for the protection of iso-polyphony approved by the Ministry of Culture (2005), and a Ministerial order for the preservation, protection and promotion of Albanian iso-polyphony (2005).3 Its
inclusion is a source of pride among the performers and has increased their sense of responsibility
for its transmission and practice; moreover, it has increased the interest of other bearer communities in their own intangible cultural heritage. In 2010, the Albanian National List of Masterpieces of
Intangible Cultural Heritage (Lista kombëtare e kryeveprave të trashëgimisë kulturore jomateriale)
was created with 7 elements in total (Qendra Kombëtare e Veprimtarive Folklorike 2014, 11–15).
In the category of vocal, choreographic and instrumental folklore:
1. Iso-polyphony, which is an epic form of singing in Albania, one of the world’s most ancient a cappella
song traditions, which originated in ancient times and can be traced back to the Illyrians, the ancestors of modern Albanians. Transmission of iso-polyphony is prompted by cultural projects in the
field of intangible cultural heritage. Also, in order to preserve this phenomenon of our cultural
heritage, we organise national activities4 devoted to types and musical genres of iso-polyphony.
2. North Albanian epos of heroes – a cycle of legendary songs accompanied by llahuta (Albanian
music instrument), which are sung in epic verse and focus on the adventures of two brothers:
Mujo and Halil, and their band of mountain warriors.
3. Homophonic folk music in Central Albania (Tirana, Elbasani, Kavaja, Durrës, Krujë, and Berat).
3

Udhezim nr 1, date 09.12.2005 per ruajtjen, mbrojtjen dhe promovimin e iso-polifonise shqiptare (published in ‘Iso-Polifonia
Newsletter’ 2009, Nëntor, no. 1, pp. 14–15).

4

These events include:
• Festivali Kombëtar i Iso-Polifonisë (National festival of iso-polyphony) organised by the city municipality, which takes place
every year in the city of Vlora.
• Activities organised by private or state institutions at the local level, such as: Përmeti Multikulturor (Multicultural Përmet)
in Përmet, Festivali Ndërkombëtar i Polifonisë “Bylisfonia” (International Festival of Polyphony ‘Bylisfonia’) in Mallakastra,
“Sofra Ilire” (‘Sofra Illyrian’) in Fier, Festivali i Këngës dhe Valles Çame (Song and dance festival of Cham) organised in Saranda,
and others.
• Concert with the Masterpieces of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, held in 2011.
• Festivali Folklorik Kombëtar i Gjirokastrës (National folklore festival of Gjirokastra), which is organised every four years in the
castle-museum of Gjirokastra, and is included in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO.
• Festival of musical instruments of iso-polyphony and the festival of harmonica players, which are held annually in the city
of Korça and are organised by the Ministry of Culture together with the City Hall of Korça.

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4. The urban music of the town of Shkodër5.
5. Dropulli folk girl dance, which is one of the Masterpieces of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the
Greek ethnic minority in Albania and an important part of the cultural diversity in Albania.
In the category of traditional craft:
6. Folk music instruments craftsmanship, which is a distinct craft among all Albanian crafts and includes
hand crafted music instruments such as gajde, fyell, cyle dyjare, çifteli, lahuta, dajre, and others.6
In the category of oral folklore:
7. Linguistic dialects and the Gegë-Tosk dialect.
Additional element added later:
8. Xhubleta, which is a traditional folk garment of women in North Albania. It has an ancient origin
and represents the oldest type of garments in Albania and in the Balkans.
The viability and recognition of each element included in our inventory by the concerned communities and groups have already been fully taken into account. The inventory describes the bearers,
the groups connected to it, the modalities of the element (such as polyphonic singing modalities),
and also the potential risk of extinction if such is the case. For each element, a card is issued that
describes its features, history, values, and its bearers. In addition, there are supporting materials,
such as photographs, as well as video and audio recordings of the element. The format ID of the
element is currently under preparation to be digitised and entered into a specific database. In addition, the viability of intangible cultural heritage is secured by financing certain elements through
the financial support issued by the Ministry of Culture.

Safeguarding institutions, programs and measures
The institutions that are engaged in preserving intangible cultural heritage in our country include
the Ministry of Culture, Academy of Sciences (Akademia e Shkencave e Shqipërisë), the National
5

One of the most important elements of the repertoire of the Gheg ethnic group Albanian folk music is the Shkodra song. The
Ahengu (urban music) consists of 12 musical counterparts comprised of song, instrumental, and dance performances – the
repertoire is based on a musical scale. It is estimated that there are around 300 different songs sung during this ceremony.
Research also shows that this event began to take shape at the beginning of the 18th century. The ceremony in Shkodra has
a special rule: the songs must be sung one after another. It usually occurs during the wedding night. It begins in the evening,
when the couple is crowned as the newly wed, and lasts until the morning. It is played on instruments of both national and
foreign origin. In the 20th century, in northern Albania, instruments used included the clarinet, the saze, the violin, the kaval,
the tambourine and castanets. The music in the ceremony is expressed in single voice or single voice with accompaniment.

6

Once, popular folk instruments were made by families and in particular by folk-bearers. This tradition continued until about
the break of the 19th century 20th century, when the first stores were opened for the preparation of musical instruments.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

Committee for ICH, the Albanian National Commission for UNESCO (Komisionit Kombëtar Shqiptar
për UNESCO-n), Albanian Public Radio and Television (Radio Televizioni Shqiptar), the General Directorate of State Archives (Drejtoria e Përgjithshme e Arkivave), museums, National Centre of Folk
Activities (Qendra Kombëtare e Veprimtarive Folklorike), Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Art
Studies (Instituti i Antropologjisë Kulturore dhe Studimit të Artit), Institute of Linguistics and Literature (Instituti i Gjuhësisë dhe i Letërsisë), Regional Directorates of Cultural Heritage (Drejtoria
Rajonale e Kulturës Kombëtare), universities, the National Central Inventory of Cultural Property
(Qëndra Kombëtare e Inventarizimit të Pasurive Kulturore), as well as local government institutions
in their respective fields. All these institutions perform the tracking, collecting, studying,7 preserving
and protecting the intangible cultural heritage of Albania, but also engage in the popularisation,
promotion, inventory and dissemination of information on this precious heritage of our country.
ICH is increasingly more often included as a significant dimension of the identity of communities
in various local and national developmental, educational and scientific programmes and projects.8
For the first time, the Ministry of Culture has included a specific chapter on intangible heritage in
the Strategy of Culture, drafted by experts from various fields. In this chapter, the priorities and
objectives are clearly set, and for the first time language is also listed as one of the most important
domains of intangible heritage.
The efforts to develop the legislative basis have continued with the preparation of several laws
and strategies in the last several years, including the Draft law on handicrafts (2009),9 the National
7

The study of iso-polyphony includes:
• the publication by the Albanian Music Council of the Encyclopaedia of Albanian Folk Iso-Polyphony, Albanian–English edition
(2007), with the support from the US Ambassador Fund for Cultural Preservation;
• the publication of the Iso-Polifonia journal as an online periodical, which informs about the issues of iso-polyphony, its
importance for the community, and the cultural identity of Albanians;
• organisation of national and international conferences on iso-polyphony, such as the conference organised by the Ministry
of Culture, the Albanian National Commission for UNESCO, and the Academy of Sciences in the city of Vlora in 2010 on the
occasion of the 5th anniversary of the inscription of iso-polyphony on the UNESCO List;
• the introduction of iso-polyphony as a study topic on the Master and PhD levels at the Albanian and foreign universities.

8

The initiatives for cultural projects in the field of intangible heritage, which promote the transmission of iso-polyphony:
• The Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Art Studies is currently implementing research project and survey titled ‘Living on
the border’, which aims at assessing and inventorying the manners of living and elements of ICH on both sides of the border;
• ‘The chambers of iso-polyphony’ 2007–2009, supported by UNESCO and the Japanese Government. It was implemented in
four cities and towns of South Albania. Well known singers of iso-polyphony presented to the youth the manners of singing
and interpreting the iso-polyphony;
• The Himara Iso-polyphony, a project financially supported by UNESCO-BRESCHE, designed to produce a CD and TV
programme with iso-polyphonic music;
• The CD of the iso-polyphony children band Obelisku, in the museum city of Gjirokastra, supported by the Vodafone Albania
Foundation, in the framework of ‘The world of change’, 2010–2011;
• Presenting various documentaries about iso-polyphony and its singers, financed by the Ministry of Culture, the National Film Centre
(Qendra Kombëtare e Kinematografisë) and the Albanian Public Radio and Television, such as: Polifonia shqiptare (Albanian polyphony;
2009); Magjia klarinetë (The clarinet magic; 2009); Mjeshtri i fudit (The last master; 2010); Këngët e kafesë (Café songs; 2010) etc.

9

Final document adopted at the National Conference of Artisans in Albania in 2009.

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Strategy for Promotion of Creative Small and Medium Businesses (2010), the Draft law on cultural
heritage (section 2014–2016 has a specific chapter related to ICH that reflects obligations of the
2003 and 2005 Conventions), and Draft law chapter on cultural products (2014). However, as long
as the initial proposals of these laws are not approved, the development of the legislative base
that would specifically address ICH and its links with sustainable development still remains a niche
that awaits relevant legislative measures in need of undertaking as soon as possible.
One of the features of recent transformations in the institutional infrastructure, as a new
national scheme of ICH that deserves more attention in Albania, is the work of individual ICH
experts as a part of Regional Directorates of Cultural Heritage, which has been underdone in the
six administrative areas in Albania. Their mission is to develop activities for documenting cultural
heritage in their respective regions, to gather the information about different forms of ICH and
their bearers, to carry out educational and awareness-raising initiatives, to collaborate with local
institutions and firms in supporting projects connected to ICH safeguarding, as well as other activities. Initially, some of the steps undertaken by ICH experts in the Regional Directorates had been
related mainly to the Friends of Monuments project of the Ministry of Culture aimed at documenting the monumental heritage and the social practices around it. Gradually, however, the
scope of their activities has expanded to include activities addressing the documentation and
popularisation of ICH, e.g. research of local dialects and heritage of different ethno-linguistic
groups, documentation of popular celebrations and feasts, workshops for the preparation of traditional textiles and costumes, and photo exhibitions and publications dedicated to different ICH
elements. The Regional Directorates of Cultural Heritage and the ICH experts affiliated with them
will definitely play a crucial role in the development of policies of safeguarding ICH in the forthcoming years, therefore it is important to outline some of the main challenges they encounter at
the present stage and the related needs in this paper. The first major challenge is connected with
the overall approach to ICH, and with the need of a clearer understanding of its scope and meaning
in line with the spirit of the 2003 Convention. Although general knowledge on ICH issues is present
among the experts of this network, special training and workshops are still extremely necessary
for employing these newly established positions better. The second major challenge relates to the
critical problem of inventorying intangible cultural heritage in respective regions. There is confusion about the existing cultural traditions in the regions and about the safeguarding measures
that can be applied in the future. The Ministry is responsible for coordinating the work of these
Regional Directorates and for facilitating the implementation of activities for ICH safeguarding

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

that each of them organises within the respective part of the country. In addition to the establishment of this new institutional network, the Ministry continues to play a major role in coordinating
the activities connected with documenting, presenting, and promoting different forms of cultural
heritage; facilitating the organisation of folklore festivals, workshops, exhibitions, and promotional materials; and coordinating the work and partnership with main cultural heritage institutions
in the country. The national body charged with safeguarding intangible cultural heritage is the
Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage and Revitalization of the Albanian Language (Drejtoria
e Trashëgimisë Jomateriale dhe Rijetëzimit të Gjuhës Shqipe), a department of the Ministry of
Culture. The National Committee for ICH, in turn, is a collegial body established in 2006, and it is
the highest decision-making body in the field of intangible cultural heritage. It is chaired by the
Minister of Culture responsible for intangible cultural heritage and comprised of nine members
from different scientific institutions. The composition and functions of the National Committee
for ICH are defined by the Decision Council of Ministers; its mission covers the major tasks of nominating elements to the national list and approving ICH programmes and activities in the country
that are organised by state institutions and NGOs. It also approves the main lines of intervention.
Another body under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture is the National Centre for Folkloric Activities (Qendra Kombëtare e Veprimtarive Folklorike). It is one of the main state institutions responsible for the promotion and safeguarding of intangible values. The Centre organises folk festivals10 and related activities throughout the country, such as traditional music and
dance festivals, the National Folklore Festival of Gjirokastra (held once in four years and involving
performing groups from all regions of the country, as well as from abroad), popular instruments
(in Korce), festivals of bards and popular instrumentalists/players (in Lezhe), festivals of popular
10

The folk festivals enjoy a high level of popularity and seem to be a productive form of presenting overviews of folklore
traditions on regional and national basis. Using the format that was promoted during the communist period as a basis,
many of these festivals have appeared and flourished over the last two decades, signifying, in a way, the public sensitivity
to the gradually disappearing cultural traditions. Beyond the undisputable significance of these festivals for maintaining the
knowledge and skills of traditional practices, some reservations need to be expressed with regards to their role in contributing
to the safeguarding of ICH in the country.
The organisation of these festivals involves the preparation of special criteria and a preliminary evaluation for selecting the
groups that will perform at them. The criteria (prepared in collaboration between the Institute of Cultural Anthropology and
Art Studies, National Centre for Folkloric Activities, and the Ministry of Culture, and based also on questionnaires filled out by
the local authorities of these festivals) involve the relevant presentation of the respective domain, the geographic presence in
every part of the country, as well as the presentation of cultural traditions of different minority groups. The recommendations
of authenticity that guide the organisation of most of these festivals guarantee the careful preliminary examination of the
texts, costumes, music, etc. used by the festival participants. This is also made sure through the guidelines of experts in the
festival juries – involving specialists in music, instruments, texts, costumes, etc. The festivals are accompanied by a series of
side activities (e.g. conferences, workshops, reviews of traditional costumes, etc.) and are attended by visitors from all parts
of Albania and abroad, mostly from the neighbouring countries of South-Eastern Europe.

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songs (in Elbasan), iso-polyphony, popular song and dance (in Lushnje), and multicultural festivals
(in Permeti), the ‘Oda Dibrane’ festival (in Peshkopia), or the ‘Sofra Dardane’ festival (in Tropoje
region). It also organises traditional craft fairs based on scientific criteria, as well as workshops and
meetings of experts on intangible heritage, and publishes books and promotional materials thus
carrying out policies related to education and ICH safeguarding in collaboration with local governments. Financed by the state budget, the Centre implements its approved yearly plan set by the
Ministry throughout the country and operates according to its statute. The Ministry of Culture
offers a yearly financial support for organising the activities in the field of ICH. Half of the amount
of this subsidy is dedicated to the activities organised by the National Centre for Folkloric Activities, which holds annual events throughout the country.
Another important body with key potential and significance for the policies of safeguarding
ICH is the Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Art Studies, which is a part of the Centre for Albanian Studies (Qendra e Studimeve Albanologjike). As a primarily research-oriented institution, the
Institute dedicates its activities to the documentation and study of traditional cultural heritage,
develops MA and PhD training courses, organises scholarly conferences and publishes specialised publications on various aspects of Albanian traditional culture. The Institute collaborates
with bearers, communities and individuals, and proposes safeguarding measures to the National
Committee for ICH, where the most important decisions are made. A major asset of the Institute is
its rich archive, which includes ethnographic materials, musical records and video materials, collections of verbal folklore, photos, sketches, and drawings.
Furthermore, the Law for cultural heritage requires all public institutions to draw up inventories11
of cultural heritage (including intangible heritage), and to fulfil the spirit of the 2003 Convention,
which in Article 11(a) states that ‘each State Party shall take the necessary measures to ensure the
safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage present in its territory’.12 This is complemented with
11

Institutions, communities and bearers usually collaborate with the experts that collect the data in the field, and they are
also involved in related research projects. The criteria used for the inclusion of intangible cultural heritage in the inventory
are the following: the element belongs to one or more categories of intangible heritage; the community has identified the
element as part of its cultural heritage; the element contributes to the diversity of the ICH in the List; the element belongs to
specific categories of people such as minorities, ethnic groups, etc.; and the element is in danger of disappearance. Hence, the
inventory takes into account the viability of intangible cultural heritage and the potential risk of its disappearance. The List is
updated when a new intangible heritage element is inscribed; any revision of information on previously inscribed elements is
decided case-by-case. If any changes occur to the element, the bearers are to notify the experts (ethnologists and others) who
then forward this information to the Ministry; alternatively, the bearers may notify the Ministry directly.
One critical area affected by restricted financial resources is the ICH inventorying. That is why Albania submitted a request for
International Assistance to UNESCO for the amount of US$158,200 which was examined by the Intergovernmental Committee
in December 2014. The Committee identified some weaknesses in the request and provided a number of recommendations
for improvement. A new request, taking into account the recommendations, can be submitted for the next cycle.

12

Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Paris, 17 October 2003 (available online: www.unesco.org/
culture/ich/en/convention).

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

the clarification in Articles 11(b) and 12, which state that the identification of the ICH present in their
territory takes place through the preparation of one or more inventories prepared with the full participation of the involved communities, and it is regularly updated. In 2010, the National Committee for
ICH proclaimed the first seven elements on the National List of Masterpieces of Intangible Cultural
Heritage (see above).
The Centre for Albanian Studies is the main ICH documentation13 institution; another body that
also holds relevant documentation is the Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Art Studies. Various
museums are also involved in documentation activities related to their own ethnographic collections, including the National Historical Museum (Muzeu Historik Kombëtar) in Tirana, the National
Ethnographic Museum (Muzeu Kombëtar Etnografik) in Berat, and the Ethnographic Museums
(Muzeu Etnografik) in Shkodër, Krujë, and Vlore. Another institution in charge of the inventory of
intangible heritage is the National Inventory Centre of Cultural Properties. This is a state funded
institution under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture, which is in charge of the computerised
inventory of all movable and immovable properties. The Centre keeps the data in the national
database also for ethnological objects of private and public ownership. Since 2011 it has been in
charge of designing specific software for a database dedicated entirely to intangible heritage. The
database (under construction) will keep hard copies of all the data the Institutions have compiled
so far. Until now, the Albanian Music Council is the sole non-governmental organisation that has
successfully completed inventorying activities (on iso-polyphonic singing and its bearers).
Many independent institutions and non-governmental organisations14 are also active in safeguarding
ICH, awareness-raising, and the popularisation of ICH. They include the Gjirokastra Conservation and
Development Organization (Organizatës për Ruajtjen dhe Zhvillimin e Gjirokastrës), the Albanian Artisans Association in Shkodër (Shoqata Artizaneve Shkoder), the Rozafa Foundation (Fondacioni Rozafa)
based in Tirana, and the Albanian Music Council created in 1999 – a member of the International Music
Council IMC founded in 1949 upon request of the UNESCO Director General.
13

Periodic report of Albania on the implementation of the 2003 Convention is available online: www.unesco.org/culture/ich/
doc/download.php?versionID=33117.

14

NGOs have played an important role in carrying out safeguarding activities in different realms of cultural heritage, particularly
those related to traditional arts and crafts; in organising crafts markets and artisan incubators in some of the larger cities in
Albania (e.g. in Kruja, Gjirokastra, Shkodër); in the organisation of fairs and festivals of traditional culture; in educational and
training initiatives, etc. In Gjirokastra, since 2007, the NGO Cultural Heritage Without Borders has been involved in organising
15 cultural restoration camps in the area (attracting more than 440 participants), with a range of other educational and
awareness-raising activities, such as drawing classes in traditional ethnographic houses in the city, cooking classes, and craftrelated workshops. Other NGOs focus exclusively on the preparation and organisation of folklore festivals in various parts of
Albania. As forms that present both an overview of the cultural traditions, and a lively context of their popularisation, folklore
festivals in Albania are proving to be a productive mechanism for the promotion of intangible cultural heritage, and for the
beneficial collaboration in this sphere between state and independent institutions. The procedure for approval of activities
initiated by NGOs needs an affirmation from the National Commitee for ICH and is thus frequently followed by resulting
complications on the local and district levels.

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Inventorying ICH in Albania
Developing provisions for inventorying ICH could be an important aspect of strategy and policy
for safeguarding ICH, especially in order to understand the viability of ICH in Albania better, and
to support communities in safeguarding their ICH. It will be important to involve key stakeholders
and communities concerned. Despite the fact that the major coordinating work will be concentrated in the capital, the main tasks in the preparation of the inventory have in fact to be carried
out on the local and regional levels. A much more adequate and successful approach would be to
involve local communities and institutions in building up the capacities for inventorying. Such an
approach would allow the promotion of inventorying as an important step in the long-term safeguarding process, and subsequently allow the collaboration with communities and relevant NGOs
from different cultural and linguistic groups, who sometimes live in remote locations.
To carry out this process, it would thus be also necessary to undertake a new approach to understanding the ICH inventorying in line with the spirit of the 2003 Convention. This means that the
inventory would need to focus on elements that are present as living traditions and that continue
to be performed by communities today. The inventorying of extinct practices or traditions, which
are re-enacted only on festivals and in museum contexts, would not need to be in the centre of the
inventorying procedure. Similarly, the inventory should not concentrate only on selected representative examples, but on the diversity of cultural heritage country-wide. The inventory would,
in particular, give an account of the viability of the elements and the threats that they encounter,
thus promoting awareness about the need of measures for their safeguarding. In such a way, the
inventory would not represent an extensive account aimed at detailed research, but rather the
core information about the identification of the elements and about the primary aspects related
to their viability in present-day circumstances. Thus, the inventory has to be an ongoing process
involving the fullest cooperation of the communities and bearers of the traditions, engaging them
as much as possible in the documentation and safeguarding of their heritage (Vukov 2014).
One of the projects that could provide inspiration for the new inventorying process in Albania is
the project Show Your Culture. It was initiated by the staff of the Ministry of Culture and the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage and Revitalization of the Albanian Language. It involves a wideranging appeal to communities in Albania to document various practices, knowledge, and skills that
they maintain and identify as their cultural heritage through means of video and brief textual information. The project uses YouTube as a web-based platform and practically does not require any prelim-

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

inary investment, as the video and photo recordings can be performed with mobile phones and can
be accompanied with a sample selection of basic information about the practised ICH element. Therefore, the focus is put mainly on the two sides of the inventorying process – the communities willing
to record, process, and upload the recorded practice on the specially created network on YouTube
(Ministria e Kulturës e Shqipërisë 2015); and on the specialists and staff who work in cultural institutions, as the ones who gather the uploaded records systematise the information and include it into
the inventorying system. The initiative represents a mere strategy for inventory of intangible cultural
heritage, but it is in fact much more: namely, the first step of protection and preservation of its kind to
transmit to further generations. It aims to develop partnerships aimed at popularising cultural heritage
with the use of new methods and collaborating with cultural organisations in entire Europe, together
with actors of the public and private sector, capable of integrating services to include certain groups.
It also seeks to establish cooperation with the touristic sector, aiming for the recognition of cultural
heritage through the development of digital mapping, and an inventory of their data in order to reflect
the physical and virtual aspects of cultural heritage, as well as increasing its sensitivity.
Recently, two projects have been initiated by experts of the Department of Intangible Cultural
Heritage and Revitalization of the Albanian Language and the National Inventory Centre of Cultural
Properties aimed at the inventorying of two elements of Albanian intangible cultural heritage, contained
in the national list: ‘Logu i Bjeshkëve’ in Northern Albania and ‘Folk music instruments craftsmanship’.

International cooperation in ICH safeguarding
With regard to bilateral, sub-regional, regional, and international cooperation, Albania collaborates with
other States on ICH-related issues, especially those of the South-East Europe sub-region; and these are
included in bilateral and/or multilateral agreements, mainly concerning the exchange of information,
experts, and knowledge on various aspects of intangible cultural heritage. What is more, traditional,
annual folklore festivals are held, which gather together groups and cultural communities from outside
Albania. Albania was a member of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of
Intangible Cultural Heritage from 2010 until 2014 and participates actively in the meetings organised
by other partners. Experts, mainly from the research institutions and museums, participate in international meetings of experts, especially those concerning South-East Europe, where they formally
or informally exchange knowledge about ICH elements and safeguarding problems.

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In 2016, Albania took over the presidency of the Council of Ministers of Culture of South-East
Europe. This was announced at the meeting of Ministers of Culture of South-East Europe ‘For the
Promotion of Culture for Sustainable Development’, which was assembled in Istanbul. The forum
adopted a joint plan, the Ohrid Declaration, which provided the detailed work in the management
of culture and cultural heritage by stressing the importance of intangible heritage as an important
element of identity, but also as a powerful instrument of cultural diversity.
The Ministry of Culture, together with local authorities, also supports capacity building and
awareness-raising activities such as workshops, exhibitions, classes, performances, production
of audiovisual recordings and other related materials. A national training workshop was held
on 14–18 September 2015 in Tirana, called ‘Building capacities for the Convention of 2003 of
UNESCO’. Another workshop on methods of registering ICH elements in video format was held
on July 2015 in Tirana, where 100 individuals received training. An important project in the area
of capacity-building for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, implemented by the Albanian
Music Council in collaboration with UNESCO and supported by the UNESCO/Japanese Funds-inTrust, organised training courses for young people in the ways of interpreting and singing iso-polyphony. Vodafone Albania has also supported another project for training of young people in
iso-polyphonic singing. Educational programmes are also offered by different governmental
bodies, associations (non-governmental organisations), and experts to promote traditional craftsmanship and arts in craft centres throughout the country, for instance by revitalising traditional
crafts and empowering their bearers to transmit them. What is more, education on natural and
cultural heritage is an integral part of the official school curriculum. At the local level, efforts are
made to raise the awareness in the communities themselves and among the young generation.

Conclusions
Despite the various efforts that have already been made in the recent years, it is evident that there
is still an inadequate level of awareness of ICH and its safeguarding, both on the side of governmental and independent institutions and on the side of the stakeholders.
Despite positive steps, there are certain weaknesses that still hinder the development of
adequate policies and measures for safeguarding ICH in the country. These weaknesses include,
for example: the absence of an integrated strategic plan for ICH issues; the lack of coordination

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

and unified efforts of state and independent institutions for carrying out safeguarding policies;
the absence of special provisions in the existing laws that would directly approach ICH and its safeguarding; the scarce financial resources for ICH-related initiatives; the tendency to establish lists
of intangible cultural heritage rather than comprehensive inventories; the insufficient presence of
ICH in educational programmes; and last but not least, the low level of involvement of communities, civil society, and media in the policies related to ICH. Altogether, these priorities and activities
call for a major step that needs to be undertaken on the state level in Albania, one that would
prioritise culture on the list of state policies, including placing ICH issues on the national agenda
and promoting the idea of direct connection between heritage and sustainable development.
Intangible heritage in Albania needs to be re-discussed in all aspects, ranging from cultural policies, its value and importance for our cultural identity, and heritage and education together with their
transmission to the younger generations, especially important in interdisciplinary studies. Variety
and diversity of this type of heritage, its widespread occurrence across the country, its permanence
throughout all historical periods among all sections and groups of the population, its human and
democratic values as well as the beauty of its multitude of arts and symbols: all these make us realise
that before any material monuments, no matter how old, there is a human being, with its language
and dialects, rituals, folklore, oral, musical, choreographic and musical artistry, clothing, lifestyles, and
a plethora of other colourful cultural forms. The human being is the oldest monument of the world.

References
Ministria e Kulturës e Shqipërisë. 2015. “21 Maji, Dita Ndërkombëtare e Diversitetit Kulturor për Dialog dhe Zhvillim
– ‘Trego Kulturen Tende’ [May 21, International Day of Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development – ‘Show
Your Culture’].” YouTube playlist. Last modified May 21. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwyP74ZrjaXe_QBVySYaM3RMLPXK2uVEe.
Qendra Kombëtare e Veprimtarive Folklorike. 2014. Udhëzime për ruajtjen, mbrojtjen, popullarizimin dhe promovimin
e vlerave të trashëgimisë kulturore jomateriale [Guidelines for the conservation, protection, popularization and
promotion of the intangible cultural heritage values]. Tiranë.
Vukov, Nikolai. 2014. “Report. Needs-Assessment. Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Republic of
Albania.” http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/doc/src/REPORT-Albania_needs_assessment-NVukov-2015.doc.

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Ambiguity in the system
of safeguarding intangible
cultural heritage in the
Republic of Macedonia
Velika Stojkova Serafimovska*
Ivona Opetčeska Tatarčevska**

*

Ss. Cyril and Methodius University, Institute of Folklore “Marko Cepenkov” (Univerzitet “Sv. Kiril i Metodij”, Institut za folklor
“Marko Cepenkov”), Skopje, Republic of Macedonia, PhD, e-mail: lika73@yahoo.com.
** Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Macedonia, Cultural Heritage Protection Office (Ministerstvo za kultura na Republika
Makedonija, Uprava za zaštita na kulturnoto nasledstvo), Skopje, Republic of Macedonia, Mr.Sc.,
e-mail: itatarcevska@gmail.com.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

The first attempt to normatively define the notion of intangible cultural
heritage in the Republic of Macedonia was made back in 1988, with
the definition of ‘cultural wealth’ in the Cultural wealth bill. According
to this preliminary definition, apart from descriptions of mobile and
immobile cultural wealth, the term ‘cultural wealth’ also included: ‘folk
songs, dances and other creations, rituals, and other folk elements; crafts
and performance pieces of cultural and historical importance (intangible
cultural wealth)’.

The contemporary history of Southeastern Europe marks an exceptionally important period
of political and economic transition of the society. It has brought changes and reforms, and the
re-creation of nations and cultures, which despite all similarities and common history opted for
complete independence and transformation into independent states with unique national identities and symbols (Czekanowska 1996; Laušević 1996; Buchanan 1996). Discerning this newly established context is also related to the newly established social identities, with the respective ‘new’
musical expressions that also surfaced in the Republic of Macedonia during the ‘social transition’.
Similarly to the rest of the countries, the Republic of Macedonia, as a relatively new independent
state – and facing serious challenges related to its identity, history, and existence imposed from
outside in many ways – needs to prove itself and to be present on the world stage, which is somewhat specific for ‘small’ countries (Zebec 2013, 330).
The crossroads between the East and the West, as the Macedonians stereotypically identify their
own country, are considered a country rich in different layers of traditional culture, and thus also in
intangible cultural heritage. The state, however, is not always prepared for its adequate identification, legal protection, preservation, absorption, and the dissemination of the knowledge about it.
The political elites have recognised the relationship between the intangible cultural heritage and
the national identity since the 1950s, which also continued throughout the period of transition in
the society of the early 1990s. It is also a matter of prestige in a world of United Nations activities
to be networked in this system and to cooperate on an equal level with other states. ICH has the
power to solve conflicts, mainly because in many different ways it goes beyond political borders.

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The living traditional culture is still present in the everyday life of Macedonia and plays a major
role in the positioning and policy making connected to the system of safeguarding of its intangible
cultural heritage.
The first attempt to normatively define the notion of intangible cultural heritage in the Republic
of Macedonia was made back in 1988, with the definition of ‘cultural wealth’ in the Cultural wealth
bill. According to this preliminary definition, apart from descriptions of mobile and immobile
cultural wealth, the term ‘cultural wealth’ also included: ‘folk songs, dances and other creations,
rituals, and other folk elements; crafts and performance pieces of cultural and historical importance (intangible cultural wealth)’.1
In the 1990 legislative project in this area, ‘intangible goods’ were not subject to protection,
under the pretext that the problem of their protection has not been sufficiently studied, as well
as that in terms of intangible cultural heritage, it is the nurturing of the goods that matters,
rather than their protecting. Furthermore, the exclusion of intangible goods from the protection acts, regardless of their terminological identification, was announced in the 1995 Strategic
concept for normative regulation of culture.2 Nevertheless, according to the source text of the
1998 Law on culture,3 ‘all intangible culture regardless of its value and significance’ was eligible
for protection.
This preliminary definition distinguished five types of intangible cultural heritage, including
music, theatre, and other performance arts. However, in the normative part of the concept of the
2002 Cultural heritage law proposal, as already stated, intangible goods were formally referred
to as ‘spiritual goods’, hence the legal definition of intangible cultural heritage became ‘spiritual
cultural heritage’ and included only folklore, toponyms, and traditional crafts.
In the 2003 Cultural heritage protection bill, the folk goods,4 language, and toponyms were
identified as types of spiritual and cultural heritage, with definitions for each. With slight corrections, these definitions remained in the final draft of the national Law on protection of cultural
heritage from April 2004:
1

Zakon za izmenuvanje na zakonot za spomenici i spomen-obeležja, Služben vesnik na Republika Makedonija [Official Gazette of
the Republic of Macedonia] no. 51, 31 December 1988, art. 4.29.

4

Strateški koncept za kulturata.

3

Zakon za kulturata, Služben vesnik na Republika Makedonija no. 31, 2 July 1998.

4

According to the Law on protection of cultural heritage in the Republic of Macedonia, the term ‘folklore goods’ encompasses
all manifestations of traditional culture that the UNESCO 2003 Convention defines as intangible cultural heritage. Having
in mind all the debates on the definitions of this term (Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 2004, 53–54), in this article we use the term
‘folklore goods’ as it is stated in official domestic legal acts.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

1.3. Intangible cultural heritage
Folklore goods
Article 24
As folklore goods shall be considered the habits, rituals, tales, mental creations, folklore songs, stories,
legends, adages, riddles, dances, plays, old and rare crafts, traditional crafts and other expressions of the
immaterial national creation.
Language
Article 25
The language is the literature, i.e. the standard language and its alphabet, as well as the local speeches of
the same languages (dialects).
Toponyms
Article 26
The toponyms are the names of lakes, rivers, springs and other water objects (hydronyms), cities, villages and
other settlements (oikonyms), natural or administrative areas (horonyms), roads (dromonyms), agricultural
spatial facilities (agronyms), mountains and other objects of nature related to forests (dendronyms) and
other genuine, local and official names which are subject to the toponymy of the Republic of Macedonia.5

Apart from the national legal framework, Macedonia ratified two international conventions.
The Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, only 8 days after it officially came into force, namely on the 28 April 2006,6 and the Convention on the Protection and
Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (Paris 2005) ratified on 2 April 2007.7
From the onset of the idea of creating this system for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage,
the Republic of Macedonia has recognised its importance and supported the entire process of
its promotion, especially in this region of Southeastern Europe. Moreover, the Republic of Macedonia is an active participant in the South-East European Experts Network on Intangible Cultural
Heritage, which meets annually around the region, and is placed under the auspices of the Venice
UNESCO Regional Office. Regarding the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible
Cultural Heritage and the national law in question, and in order to identify the intangible cultural
5

Zakon za zaštita na kulturnoto nasledstvo, Služben vesnik na Republika Makedonija no. 20, 2 April 2004.

6

Zakon za ratifikacija na Konvencijata za zaštita na nematerijalnoto kulturno nasledstvo, Služben vesnik na Republika Makedonija.
Meǵunarodni dogovori [Official Gazette of the Republic of Macedonia. International Agreements] no. 59, 12 May 2006.

7

Zakon za ratifikacija na Konvencijata za zaštita i unapreduvanje na raznovidnosta vo kulturnite izrazuvanja, Služben vesnik na
Republika Makedonija. Meǵunarodni dogovori no. 47, 13 April 2007.

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goods, a National classification of Macedonian cultural heritage8 and National Registry of Cultural
Heritage (Nacionalniot registar na kulturno nasledstvo)9 have been prepared.

MINISTRY OF CULTURE
CULTURAL HERITAGE
PROTECTION OFFICE

DEPARTMENT FOR PREVENTION
AND SUPERVISION

DEPARTMENT FOR
IDENTIFICATION,
PROTECTION AND USE
OF CULTURAL HERITAGE

SECTION FOR MOVABLE
HERITAGE

DEPARTMENT
FOR DOCUMENTATION
AND INTERNATIONAL
COOPERATION

SECTION FOR IMMOVABLE
HERITAGE

SECTION FOR INTANGIBLE
HERITAGE

Institutional structure of the Cultural Heritage Protection Office in the Republic of Macedonia

By decree of the Ministry of Culture from between 2005 and 2011, five institutions were
appointed as protectors10 of the intangible cultural heritage:
1. The Institute of Folklore ‘Marko Cepenkov’ in Skopje, as a legal entity for the safeguarding
of folklore (www.ifmc.ukim.mk);

8

Odluka za donesuvanje na Nacionalna klasifikacija na kulturnoto nasledstvo, Služben vesnik na Republika Makedonija no. 37,
28 March 2006.

9

National Registry of Cultural Heritage in Macedonia is only a synonym for the UNESCO National inventory of inscribed goods.
There are three types of registries in the Macedonian system: national registry of immovable cultural heritage, national
registry of movable cultural heritage, and national registry of spiritual cultural heritage.

10

The audio/video heritage in the Republic of Macedonia, which is strongly connected with intangible cultural heritage,
according to the Law on protection of cultural heritage is separately defined as movable heritage. The institutions authorised
to protect the audiovisual cultural heritage are: the National and University Library ‘St. Clement of Ohrid’ – Skopje (Nacionalna
i univerzitetska biblioteka „Sv. Kliment Ohridski” – Skopje) and National Film Laboratory – Skopje (Kinoteka na Makedonija).

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

2. The Krste Misirkov Macedonian Language Institute (Institut za makedonski jazik „Krste Misirkov”)
in Skopje, as a legal entity for safeguarding Macedonian language, its dialects, and the ethnic
minority dialects spoken in the Republic of Macedonia (www.imj.ukim.edu.mk);
3. The Museum of Macedonia (Muzej na Makedonija), which made a quiet entrance into the system
of safeguarding intangible goods with a project on traditional cuisine at the initiative of the
National UNESCO Office in Turkey (www.musmk.org.mk);
4. The Institute for Old Slavic Culture in Prilep (Institut za staroslovenska kultura – Prilep), authorised in May (www.isk.edu.mk);
5. The Institute for Cultural and Spiritual Heritage of Albanians in Skopje (Institut za duhovno
i kulturno nasledstvo na Albancite – Skopje), since 2011.
In the Republic of Macedonia, this concept of ‘protection’ instead of ‘safeguarding’ of folklore
is conceptualised on the basis of protecting material culture and introduces a system of validation/valorisation of the importance of the intangible type of culture. The Law on the protection
of cultural heritage in the Republic of Macedonia lists two main categories of values of cultural
heritage: ‘cultural heritage of exceptional value’ (divided into two subcategories: ‘cultural
heritage of extraordinary value’ and ‘cultural heritage of great value’) and ‘important cultural
heritage’.11
This concept of measuring the value of cultural expressions is against the nature of intangible
culture since each community considers their cultural heritage – its rituals, songs and games – to
be unique. For them, these expressions are unconditionally beautiful and regarded as the most
important in their public life. In the second half of 2006, the Government of the Republic of Macedonia approved the foundation of the special Intangible Cultural Heritage Department (Oddelenie
za duhovno kulturno nasledstvo) as a part of the Cultural Heritage Protection Office in the Ministry
of Culture of Republic of Macedonia. The responsibility of this institution is to implement the state
policy regarding cultural heritage, to coordinate the network of different types of institutions,
non-governmental organisations including individuals, and to improve the implementation of the
laws and conventions that are already in force.
Over the active period of 12 years, since the establishment of the Cultural Heritage Protection Office, and 10 years from the enactment of the Law on ratifying the Convention for the
Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, the Office has placed 88 intangible goods
11

The Government of the Republic of Macedonia declares all cultural goods which apply for the first category, while the cultural
goods of the second category are declared by the Cultural Heritage Protection Office.

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The Gavrovski Trio – bearers of the UNESCO inscribed element ‘Glasoechko, male two-part singing in Dolni Polog’,
on the solemn concert which marked the 10th anniversary of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible
Cultural Heritage, 23 October 2013, © ICTM NC for Macedonia.

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on the National Inventory List, including: 58 folk creations; 19 dialects of Macedonian language;
10 dialects of the ethnic minority languages in Macedonia; 1 position in the category of cultural
goods-toponyms.
All activities that have arisen since the establishment of the system of ICH require intensive,
dynamic, and continuous activities, not only on the national level. Thus, in 2011, Republic of Macedonia submitted three files for UNESCO Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage; two multinational
applications have been also pending since 2013.

First national inscriptions
The ‘Feast of the Holy Forty Martyrs in Štip’ was the first ICH element inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (in December 2013). The second was
‘Kopachkata, a social dance from the village of Dramche, Pijanec’, inscribed in 2014. In addition,
‘Glasoechko, male two-part singing in Dolni Polog’ was inscribed in 2015 on the List of Intangible
Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

Multinational nominations
The Republic of Macedonia participated in nominating the following elements for the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity: ‘Spring celebration, Hıdrellez’ (The initiative was taken by the UNESCO National Commission of Turkey. The file was submitted by Turkey
and Republic of Macedonia for possible inscription in 2017) and ‘Cultural practices associated to
the 1st of March’ (The initiative was taken by the UNESCO National Commission of Romania. Four
Southeastern European countries participated: Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, and Macedonia. The
file was submitted for possible inscription in 2017).
All of these elements inscribed on the national and UNESCO lists are results of the cooperation
on various levels. Initiatives have been coming from the bottom to the top, and the local community
NGOs appear as initiators for almost all activities. Nowadays, through the Fund for Annual Cultural
Programme, local cultural operators receive funds from the Ministry of Culture to work on the safeguarding of ICH, not only on the national level but also to promote their cultural goods internation-

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ally. The diversity of the system of the safeguarding of ICH complements the actions of one of the
world’s best-known non-profit organisations associated with UNESCO, the International Council for
Traditional Music (ICTM), through their National Committee for Macedonia which appears as central
non-profit and non-governmental consultative organisation for the Ministry of Culture. Together
with the Macedonian Research Society, they are officially accredited within UNESCO.
Traditional culture is in a dynamic relationship with social, political, and economic processes, and
safeguarding practices must consider this dynamic relationship. Although the long-term effects in
our case remain to be seen, the processes of safeguarding ICH, when implemented in ways that
empower local tradition-bearers, may be effective in sustaining cultural traditions even when safeguarded ICH elements are simultaneously employed for other political or economic ends. A considerable number of community projects are active at this moment in the Republic of Macedonia,
and allow the traditional culture to function somewhat independently through new possibilities
provided by innovative discourses, such as the creative industries, or through programmes such
as the new agenda for sustainable development.12
In the Republic of Macedonia, the establishment and development of institutional mechanisms
for the safeguarding of ICH are inextricably linked to politics on the international level, particularly
with regard to the contestation of the existence of the Macedonian ethnicity characterised by
a distinct language and culture. Even before its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Macedonia’s geographic neighbours had challenged the ethno-national distinctiveness of the Macedonian
nation and ethnic Macedonian people. Throughout the socialist period, Greece officially denied
the existence of the Macedonian ethnicity and language, while Bulgaria claimed both of them as
parts of the Bulgarian nation and language. In many ways, these contestations constitute concrete
threats to the distinct Macedonian identity, resulting in ‘identity’ (identitet) itself emerging
as a politicised concept (and an influential political tool) since the 1990s. As a consequence, the
state has put significant focus on affirming and publicising the national and cultural identity, which,
in turn, has spurred processes of recontextualisation and heritagisation of ICH.
Within the process of industrialisation, when the primary cultural (ritual) functions of ICH
elements (such as rituals, traditional music and dance folklore, crafts and oral expressions, even
the language and the dialects) begin to fade, the process of gradual disappearance of traditional
music and dance as ICH also starts. However, in the period of transition and under the threat
12 See en.unesco.org/sdgs.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

of losing identity, and especially with the ethno-renaissance movement in Republic of Macedonia
that started in 1993 – that is the repopularisation and reaffirmation of the cultural and the national
identity – the 2003 Convention arrived as an excellent pretext for the repopularisation of the ICH
elements also in another context, that is, as a means of strengthening the local and national identity (Stojkova Serafimovska 2014).
UNESCO 2003 Convention states that the ‘intangible cultural heritage’ is defined as practices,
representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts, and
cultural spaces associated therewith – that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals
recognise as part of their cultural heritage. This intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation to generation, is constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history, and provides them with a sense of identity
and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.13 At the same
time, scholars have increasingly linked music and dance to various conceptions of identity (see
Rice 2007; Stokes 1994; Frith 2004; Nettl 2005, 263, 268–71). There are four observed positions
in which music and dance relate to identity in ethnomusicological literature: music gives shape to
a pre-existing identity; musical performance provides opportunities for communities to see their
shared identities ‘in action’; music contributes an effective quality or ‘feeling’ to an identity; and
gives identity a positive valence (Rice 2007, 34–35).
A case study for elaborating these processes and issues is the Kopačkata dance, a social dance
from the village of Dramche in Pijanec, which is still alive and shows an interesting case of implementation of the UNESCO 2003 Convention on several levels. Kopachkata, as it was inscribed on
the UNESCO Representative List in December 2014, is a dynamic social chain dance (oro) from the
region of Pijanec in the eastern part of the Republic of Macedonia. The male version of Kopačkata
takes place as a series of four sections, each involving a particular dance sequence performed in
a semicircle: šetanica (walking sequence), which serves to set the formation of the dance and warms
up the dancers; sitnoto (small steps sequence), in which the dancers’ steps are swift and short
(skilful dancers actually slide their feet on the ground); prefrlačka (crossing-legs sequence), in which
the left foot is swiftly crossed over the right foot and the dancers and musicians speed up the
dance to its climax; and kopačkata (digging sequence), the fastest and most dynamic sequence in
which the dancers dramatically jump, landing firmly on the right foot while the left foot repeatedly
13

Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Paris, 17 October 2003, art. 2 (available online: www.unesco.
org/culture/ich/en/convention).

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hits the ground with the intention of digging, which is how this dance got its name. The dance
has typically been accompanied by two tapani (double-headed drums) usually played by Roms, but
nowadays also Macedonians equipped with four or even five tapani. In addition to tapani, variants
of Kopačkata may also be accompanied by a kemene (bowed fiddle), and less often, by a tambura
(long-necked fretted lute) or a bagpipe.
Through parallel processes of inscription and heritagisation, this cultural practice has come
to exist in multiple parallel performance contexts. The case of Kopačkata from eastern Macedonia
illustrates the potential for living traditions to embody multiple meanings when they involve the
same participants in different contexts. At present, Kopačkata exists in 4 different renderings:
as a living local tradition; as a staged performance by local practitioners; as a part of the repertoire
of professional and amateur folk ensembles nationwide; and as portrayed in the media and social
media discourse and perceived by the public as a symbol of Macedonian national identity.
The first of these, its local context, involves spontaneous performance at social gatherings,
including weddings and festivals. For example, the annual gathering in Dramče on the Day of St.
Michael the Archangel (21 November) concludes with a collective and spontaneous performance
of Kopačkata, bringing together around one hundred dancers. Kopačkata was also part of the first
group of nominations from the Republic of Macedonia for the possible inscription on UNESCO ICH
lists in 2011. The process leading up to this nomination has put into motion a new heritagisation
process intertwined with both UNESCO ICH implementation guidelines and contemporary political
factors. We (the authors of this paper) began working with the tradition bearers in 2003, and we
were also part of the team that prepared the applications for the first three elements proposed
for inscription. We soon found ourselves in two roles. In the first, we served as mediators between
theory and practice – that is, we assumed the position of interpreters of the UNESCO 2003 Convention in terms of content and implementation, both for the tradition bearers and for the institutions that were less familiar with the Convention and the term ‘intangible cultural heritage’ itself.
In our second role, we were given the task of identifying cultural practices as ICH – a task that
required us to alter our way(s) of thinking about ICH. We had to align our thinking with political
concerns at the expense of scholarly ones, and to redirect our interest away from the analysis of
living folklore and instead focus on the processes related to the institutionalisation of ICH, and
the related concerns of heritagisation and recontextualisation (Peĭcheva 2014, 292). In Kirschenblatt-Gimblett’s (2004) terms, we became embedded in a metacultural process that implicated
the fundamental conditions for cultural production and reproduction of traditional music and

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dance forms. Thus, although Kopačkata has been heritagised and recontextualised in the course
of its inscription on the UNESCO List – that is, as a symbol of national identity and an example of
staged folklore at the national level – it continues as a living local tradition in parallel with its newer
contexts. These parallel contexts relate to the multi-layered identities of the tradition bearers, the
significance of which was highlighted by dancers from the younger generation. One junior dancer,
when asked what he feels has been safeguarded by UNESCO and to whom Kopačkata belongs,
stated, ‘Kopačkata is primarily mine, and only after that it is a Macedonian folk dance’.
Since the nomination and the inscription of the Kopačkata on the UNESCO Representative List,
the folk dance group Kopačka from the village of Dramče now has been annually applying for these
funds and receiving them, which results in improved conditions for rehearsing Kopačkata (as well
as other local folk dances and songs), the ability to maintain and purchase instruments and folk
attire, and the means to promote the interest in folk music and dance among younger generations.
The group was prioritised to receive funds from the Ministry of Culture for projects involved in
safeguarding and promoting the dance. Indeed, 2014 witnessed a revival of several ICH traditions
in the Pijanec region, an increased interest among youth, and several projects that mapped other
music and dance ICH elements in this region, essentially establishing a community-based inventory,
one of the goals of the UNESCO 2003 Convention. Tradition-bearers have also continued to take
steps that indicate that the tradition at the local level is not a ‘frozen’ one, but a living, evolving
practice. At the same time, the implementation of the Convention in tandem with national identity
politics in Macedonia resulted in Kopačkata becoming a symbol of national identity. This had the
effect of directing significant funds to tradition bearers, who have thus far been able to participate
in maintaining control over their tradition itself in accordance with UNESCO guidelines.
UNESCO’s efforts to establish an instrument for the protection of what it now calls intangible
heritage date back to 1952. The focus on different legal concepts, such as intellectual property,
copyright, trademark and patent, as the basis for protecting what was then called folklore, has
been always twofold. Folklore, by definition, is not the unique creation of an individual; it exists in
versions and variants rather than in a single, original, and authoritative form; it is generally created
as performance and transmitted orally, by custom or example, rather than in tangible form (writings, notes, drawings, photographs, recordings). ‘Living archive’ and ‘library’ are common metaphors. Such terms do not assert a person’s right to what they do, but rather their role in sustaining
the culture (for others). According to this model, people come and go, but culture persists, as one
generation passes it on to the next. However, all heritage interventions – such as the globalising

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pressures they are trying to counteract – change the relationship of people with what they do.
They change how people understand, perceive, and practice their culture, as well as the people
themselves. They change the fundamental conditions for cultural production and reproduction
throughout time. Change is intrinsic to culture, and measures intended to preserve, conserve,
safeguard, and sustain particular cultural practices are caught between freezing the practice and
defining the intangible cultural heritage. So far, Kopačkata has been a positive, living example
of an ICH element that endures through all of these processes and meanings.

References
Buchanan, Donna A. 1996. “Wedding Musicians, Political Transition, and National Consciousness in Bulgaria.”
In Retuning Culture: Musical Changes in Central and Eastern Europe, edited by Mark Slobin, 200–30. Durham and
London: Duke University Press.
Czekanowska, Anna. 1996. “Continuity and Change in Eastern and Central European Traditional Music.” In Retuning
Culture: Musical Changes in Central and Eastern Europe, edited by Mark Slobin, 92–116. Durham and London:
Duke University Press.
Frith, Simon, ed. 2004. Popular Music: Music and Identity. Vol. 4. London: Routledge.
Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara. 2004. “Intangible Heritage as Metacultural Production.” Museum International 56
(1–2): 52–65.
Laušević, Mirjana. 1996. “The Ilahiya as a Symbol of Bosnian Muslim National Identity.” In Retuning Culture: Musical
Changes in Central and Eastern Europe, edited by Mark Slobin, 117–35. Durham and London: Duke University
Press.
Nettl, Bruno. 2005. The Study of Ethnomusicology: Thirty-One Issues and Concepts. Urbana: University of Illinois
Press.
Peĭcheva, Lozanka. 2014. “Narodnata muzika kato nematerialno kulturno nasledstvo: konstruirane i upotrebi [Folk
music as intangible cultural heritage: Construction and uses].” In Dni na nasledstvoto 2013 [Heritage Days 2013],
edited by Lozanka Peĭcheva, 291–308. Sofia: Akademično Izdatelstvo “Prof. Marin Drinov.”
Rice, Timothy. 2007. “Reflections on Music and Identity in Ethnomusicology.” Muzikologija 7: 17–38.
Stojkova Serafimovska, Velika. 2014. “Makedonskata vokalna muzička tradicija vo procesot na opštestvenata
tranzicija [The Macedonian vocal music tradition in the process of social transition].” Ph.D. diss., Ss. Cyril and
Methodius University in Skopje.

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Stokes, Martin, ed. 1994. Ethnicity, Identity and Music: The Musical Construction of Place. Oxford: Berg.
Zebec, Tvrtko. 2013. “Etnolog u svijetu baštine: hrvatska nematerijalna kultura u dvadeset prvom stoljeću [An ethnologist in the world of heritage: Croatian intangible culture in the 21st century].” In Proizvodnja Baštine: kritičke
studije o nematerijalnoj kulturi [Producing heritage: Critical studies of intangible culture], edited by Marijana
Hameršak, Iva Pleše, and Ana-Marija Vukušić, 313–33. Zagreb: Institut za Etnologiju i Folkloristiku.

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The implementation
of the UNESCO Convention
for the Safeguarding of the
Intangible Cultural Heritage
in the Republic of Serbia:
documentation of the National
Register of Intangible Cultural
Heritage at the Ethnographic
Museum in Belgrade
Danijela Filipović*

*

Curator in the Center of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Serbia, Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade (Centar za nematerijalno
kulturno nasleđe Srbije Etnografski muzej u Beogradu), e-mail: danijela.filipovic@etnografskimuzej.rs.

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…the collaboration among professionals, heritage bearers, and local
communities plays an important role in the process of identifying
heritage elements and recognising them as part of the heritage that
can qualify for the National Register of ICH. In this respect, the role
of the network of regional coordinators, which has been established
in the heritage safeguarding system in the Republic of Serbia, becomes
particularly evident.

The establishment of a system of intangible cultural heritage in the Republic of Serbia and the
introduction of this concept in the professional, scholarly and wide public debate have raised
a series of questions regarding not only its definition, but also its place within the existing system
of institutional heritage protection. The study of spiritual culture, social rituals, knowledge and
beliefs specific to a particular community, skills, and the making and using everyday objects – have
all belonged to the area that has been subject to systematic and professional research within
scholarly disciplines, such as ethnology and anthropology, folklore studies, ethnomusicology and
others, from the very beginning. However, after the adoption of the UNESCO Convention for the
Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2003, it is coming back into the public focus and
is being reconsidered through a new prism.
The Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage was adopted by
UNESCO with the idea of devising a new approach to the safeguarding of this part of cultural
heritage, while establishing a new mechanism and expanding the circle of stakeholders involved
in its protection and preservation, in order to ensure that it is passed on to the next generations. In order to accomplish this task, the care for heritage has also been entrusted to the heirs,
bearers, and local communities apart from the professionals and official institutions. As a result,
it is frequently heard in professional circles that the issue is raised and there is a need to define the
roles entrusted to these stakeholders in the newly established system of ICH. On the one hand, the
Convention has instituted administrative measures, the implementation of which requires action
on the part of state administration, whereas, on the other hand, the study of all aspects of heritage

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within the domain defined by the Convention necessitates studious expert work and systematic
scholarly research.
The agency of museums, since their beginnings, has not been limited to making various collections;
they have been rather involved in detailed documenting and recording of the life of heritage-bearing
communities and all that relates to it. Therefore, according to Richard Kurin (2007), it is already their
current structure that makes them the most eligible institutions to be entrusted with the care for the
implementation of the Convention. However, in order to successfully implement its key principles, it is
crucial to define the roles of those who have been actively involved and recognised in heritage conservation systems: the bearers of heritage and local communities. Their role is recognised already in the
implementation of the first prerequisite for the systematic safeguarding of the heritage referred
to as intangible, namely, the identification of heritage items and the establishment of an inventory
of intangible cultural heritage. However, their role is also crucial in transferring and maintaining the
function of heritage in the communities of heirs. The unification of the activities undertaken by these
seemingly remote actors in the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage – heritage bearers –
and heritage professionals can be perceived through the implementation of the first step defined
in the Convention: the identification of ICH items and their inclusion in relevant registers. Through
recognising the importance and value of their own heritage and identifying the need to preserve
and protect this heritage through the system foreseen by the Convention, the heritage bearers take
on a very active role, which later acquires a prominent place in the further stages of the heritage safeguarding system. What is more, through their work, and through the methodology of recording and
interpreting heritage, the heritage professionals play a significant role in ensuring the safeguarding
of ICH, especially in the area of documentation and registration. That is why the establishment of
a national inventory of ICH, which is mandatory for State Parties to the Convention, is the best indicator of the efficiency of the ICH safeguarding system in their territory; also, because the maintenance and enhancement of such an inventory require intensive cooperation between the aforementioned stakeholders. By placing the National Register of the ICH of the Republic of Serbia and the ICH
elements inscribed in it under the auspices of the Ethnographic Museum, it has been made possible
to apply the existing body of knowledge and experience to the exploration and documentation of
heritage, as well as to devise new methods of work stemming from the features specific to documenting ICH as living heritage. At the same time, this method has allowed enhancing the presentation
means that are available due to digitisation and the development of information and communication
technologies. This, in turn, has improved the documentation methods.

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Establishing a system for the safeguarding of intangible cultural
heritage in the Republic of Serbia
Since the adoption of the Law on the ratification of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage1 in May 2010, the Republic of Serbia has been undertaking its implementation
by establishing a network of professional bodies and introducing regulations that make it possible
to put the defined framework into practice, as well as facilitate the promotion of the importance
of recognising intangible cultural heritage as part of their own cultural heritage and an active participation in the education of the professional and general public. The safeguarding of ICH found its
professional and scholarly anchor in the decades-long activities of institutions. Through their ethnological, anthropological, ethnolinguistic, and ethnomusicological research, and through the collection of data about the traditional ways of life, social festivities and practices, customs, beliefs, oral
traditions, crafts and knowledge, they have laid the foundations for further study and preservation
of the living heritage present in Serbian communities for generations. Based on these principles,
a network for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage has been established. Its activities
are directed towards providing a solid safeguarding system that enables heritage protection and
the continued transmission of cultural heritage; it facilitates cooperation among professionals, the
bearers of the knowledge of intangible heritage, and institutions (Živković 2011).
The Ministry of Culture and Media (Мinistarstvo kulture i informisanja), the body responsible
for the implementation of the Convention, has established key expert and advisory bodies which
operate as a network for the safeguarding of ICH, with precisely defined responsibilities and roles.
The National Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (Nacionalni komitet za
nematerijalno kulturno nasleđe) comprised of experts in various fields has been established within
the Ministry of Culture and Media. It is in charge of devising and adopting a strategy for the preservation of intangible cultural heritage of the Republic of Serbia and is involved in a coordinated process
of including the domain of intangible cultural heritage in the national legislation. It also decides on
the nominations for the inclusion of heritage items in the National Register of Intangible Cultural
Heritage (Nacionalni registar nematerijalnog kulturnog nasleđa) and accepts nominations for inclusion in the UNESCO lists. The multidisciplinary character of the activities associated with intangible
1

On 5 May 2010, the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia adopted the Law on ratification of the Convention for the
Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (Zakon o potvrđivanju Konvencije o očuvanju nematerijalnog kulturnog nasleđa,
Službeni glasnik RS, Međunarodni ugovori [The Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia. International Treaties] 001/2010, 21
May 2010).

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cultural heritage is reflected in the work of the Commission for the Inscription of Intangible Cultural
Heritage in the National Register, which as part of this network of experts is responsible for evaluating and preparing proposals for inscription in the National Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The activities of seven regional coordinators responsible for Vojvodina, Belgrade, Central Serbia, West
Serbia, East Serbia, South Serbia and Kosovo, and Metohija are particularly important in the process of
identifying, nominating, and monitoring the elements of intangible cultural heritage, and help establish cooperation among communities, groups, individuals, experts, museums, centres of expertise,
and research institutes in collecting, documenting, archiving and preserving data related to heritage.
The Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage at the Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade was established in June 2012 as a particularly important part of the system of safeguarding the intangible
cultural heritage in Serbia. One of its main tasks is to keep the National Register of Intangible
Cultural Heritage. The idea to place the Register under the auspices of the Centre established at
the Museum is in accordance with the conviction that the identification, registration, and documentation of intangible cultural heritage should be a part of the overall system of safeguarding
cultural heritage. Although certain professional debates about the role of museums in the implementation of the Convention raise major dilemmas, one needs to keep in mind that since their
beginnings, museums have collected items that belong to the sphere that is presently defined by
the concept of ‘intangible cultural heritage’. Therefore, it seems quite natural that the care for
intangible heritage is institutionally placed under the auspices of museums (Bižić-Omčikus 2005).
Consequently, it is possible to ensure that the new safeguarding system is integrated faster
within the general care for heritage, based on the gained experience. This aspect is particularly
apparent in the field of documenting ICH, i.e. the process of compiling, preparing, and archiving
dossiers for individual elements of intangible cultural heritage, which is entrusted to the Centre
for ICH. The Centre also maintains the complete documentation for the elements inscribed in the
National Register of ICH of the Republic of Serbia, as well as the documents for the ICH inscribed
on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, and the Register of Best Safeguarding
Practices. The important tasks of the Centre include coordinating and establishing cooperation
among communities, groups, individuals, professionals, centres of expertise, and research institutes. The Centre implements activities related to research, collection, documentation, preservation and presentation of the elements of intangible cultural heritage in the territory of the Republic
of Serbia, as well as those related to the publication and presentation of ICH.

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The National Register of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Serbia
The establishment of the National Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage is the first step in heritage
safeguarding, and the basic precondition for this is the act of identifying an element by the members
of a local community as representing their specific value. However, in order to create all conditions
for safeguarding heritage, it is also necessary to ensure other stages in the process: documentation, education, and presentation. It is also important to note that documentary films, photographic
documentation, scholarly and technical papers, audio-visual recordings of the elements of intangible
cultural heritage made during field research by researchers and participants and, above all, the education of professionals and new generations that would stress nurturing the diversity of customs and
adopting local identities and values are not merely methods aimed at recording the current status of
heritage elements, but also means for their preservation. All these factors are covered by the criteria
for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity defined in
the Convention, which provide a framework that countries should rely on when establishing a procedure for inclusion of ICH elements in any of the established lists.
Furthermore, the collaboration among professionals, heritage bearers, and local communities
plays an important role in the process of identifying heritage elements and recognising them as
part of the heritage that can qualify for the National Register of ICH.2 In this respect, the role of the
network of regional coordinators, which has been established in the heritage safeguarding system
in the Republic of Serbia, becomes particularly evident. The regional coordinators, in the same way
as professionals who perform field research, have an opportunity to identify heritage elements
and encourage heritage bearers, individuals, groups and communities to recognise the importance
and value of their intangible cultural heritage. The general principle in the previous heritage practice was to establish an administrative legal framework for heritage safeguarding and secure technical and research activities aimed at monitoring and studying heritage. The Convention, however,
actively involves heritage bearers in this process. It is thus precisely the way to create conditions for
the next step, which follows the process of registering and documenting heritage items by relevant expert institutions – passing it down to the next generations.
The identification of a heritage element, its recording and registration in the National Register
by no means imply efforts to conserve it and artificially keep it in its present form. On the contrary,
2

On the importance of developing a new approach in which museums will be more closely linked with the territories and
communities they should cover, see Boylan 2006, 57.

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Consecration of the family Slava cakes in the church, 2013. Photo by Saša Milutinović, © Ethnographic Museum
in Belgrade.

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it is very important to remain aware that we are dealing with ‘living heritage’ (Blake 2002, 7),
which implies change and adjustment to new environments and new circumstances. Therefore,
the act of including a heritage element in the inventory of intangible cultural heritage means that
safeguarding measures are adopted, but also that the system to ensure the sustainability of this
element is put in place. Along with heritage bearers, an important role in accomplishing this task
is played by organisations, associations, and institutions that ensure – through their programmes –
the visibility and sustainability of an element. In this aspect, particularly important roles are played
by relevant collaborating museums (Boylan 2006, 62) and other expert institutions and individuals,
local communities, non-governmental and other organisations and associations which have recognised the importance of heritage for the survival of the community or have realised that heritage
and its interpretation offer new opportunities.
In order to enable the inclusion of the identified elements in the lists of intangible cultural
heritage in the Republic of Serbia, the National Committee for Intangible Cultural Heritage
adopted the form for the registration of elements. This form basically follows the model of the
application form for the UNESCO Representative List, but it is adjusted to the specific character
of field research and the current state of legal framework in the Republic of Serbia. It covers
all important issues of identification, safeguarding, preservation, and survival of intangible
cultural heritage and it clearly highlights the most important participants in the process of ICH
safeguarding: heritage bearers, local communities, non-governmental organisations, expert
institutions, and the state that initiates activities in the field of intangible cultural heritage and
warrants their implementation. The activities and programmes of each of these bodies aimed at
ensuring the sustainability, preservation, and protection of individual elements are also an integral part of the data necessary to complete the form. Through individual sections of the form,
it is defined and explained how the accomplishment of planned activities will ensure compliance
with the fundamental postulates of the Convention. In this way, it is possible to grasp the basic
tasks put before the most important participants in the process of heritage safeguarding from
several aspects: the legislative and financial perspective, the accomplishment of which is the
primary task placed before a State Party to the Convention; the professional aspect in terms of
research such as recording and education, which primarily depend on the strength and capacity
of institutions responsible for heritage safeguarding and education; as well as the aspect of preservation and sustainability, which largely depends on heritage bearers, local communities, and
non-governmental organisations.

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Taking into account the priorities established by the Convention and the need to define the
procedure for compiling the lists of ICH elements in the Republic of Serbia, the National Committee
for Intangible Cultural Heritage adopted the Regulations on the Registration in the National
Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage. As the criteria for the registration of intangible cultural
heritage are primarily determined by the postulates in the 2003 Convention and the Operational
Guidelines for its implementation, the Regulations additionally specify the procedure of registration, define the lists of intangible cultural heritage elements,3 and specify the mandatory content
of the documentation dossier for ICH elements.
The National Register of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Serbia was established in June 2012 and currently includes 32 inscribed ICH elements, based on the decisions of
the National Committee for ICH. The establishment of the Register has made it possible for the
Republic of Serbia to propose and prepare nomination dossiers for inscription in the UNESCO
Representative List of the elements of intangible cultural heritage. The first nomination from the
Republic of Serbia, prepared with the support of local governments, regional museums, tourist and
non-governmental organisations and individuals, ‘Slava’ (celebration of the family saint patron’s
day), was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
in November 2014; whereas the nomination of the ‘Kolo, traditional folk dance’ is still under evaluation for the 2017 cycle.

The documentation of the National Register of the Intangible
Cultural Heritage of Serbia
Along with printed materials, the National Register of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Serbia,
maintained at the Centre for ICH at the Ethnographic Museum, contains an electronic database
which brings together all types of documentary materials about the elements inscribed in the
Register. The documentation dossier necessary for inscription on the lists of intangible cultural
heritage consists of a completed application form and relevant accompanying documentation:
audio and video materials, photographic documentation, technical papers, proofs of the informed
3

According to the Regulations, the National Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage includes the Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage
as well as the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, and the list of nominations for the
UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, which at the moment does not contain any elements.

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consent of heritage bearers (individuals, groups, or communities), and the opinions of expert institutions (museums, institutes) or specialists in the area of intangible cultural heritage. The nomination for inscription on the lists of intangible cultural heritage can be submitted by individuals,
communities, institutions, or relevant non-governmental organisations.
The application form, as a basic document, is structured in such a manner that the work on its
completion reflects both the accomplished activities and those necessary to prepare and implement in the system for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage. Furthermore, an important
part of the documentation is the proof of informed consent of specific heritage element bearers.
By signing these consent documents, a heritage bearer confirms that an ICH element is a part of
his or her identity and heritage, passed-on from generation to generation. At the same time, the
bearers confirm their own intention to ensure that the transfer of heritage elements will continue.
Thus, by signing the document, the bearers transcend the framework set by the previous practice,
in which they were passive observers of scholarly and technical documentation of their knowledge
and skills, and become the protagonists of a process in which they will contribute, together with
other stakeholders, to the survival of a part of their heritage.
Simultaneously, the opinion of a responsible museum or another institution provides the certification that the nominated element is subject to professional research and ensures that it belongs
to the specific heritage of individuals, groups and communities who nominate it, and that relevant sources about it are available. Furthermore, the audio, video and photo documentation is also
essential in the process of recording and documenting elements of intangible heritage, and forms
a part of the dossier. Together with the statements of informed consent, the dossier is a specific
feature of the documentation on elements of intangible cultural heritage. Moreover, the very
fact that it is necessary to provide documentation that shows the changes of elements – because
the documentation of intangible cultural heritage as living heritage implies constant monitoring,
amending and updating – contributes to the complexity of this documentation and makes it necessary to define new rules for its handling and studying.
Based on the experience gained while documenting ICH and maintaining the National Register,
the Centre for the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Serbia has identified the need for improvement of this process through a development of an electronic database. Bearing in mind that the
efforts aimed at preserving ICH involve constant monitoring and updating of data on the elements
inscribed in the National Register – and therefore of the documentation that makes their integral
part – a task of designing an electronic database proved to be necessary. In order to ensure the

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A collective performance of the kolo by members of folklore ensembles, participants in Čivijada at Šabac, 2011.
Photo by Dragutin Petrović, Ethnographic Museum.

A kolo performance as part of a satellite programme within the celebration of Đurđevdan (St George’s feast) in the
village of Vrtovac near Knjaževac. The youngest members of the local folklore ensemble present a kolo variant from
their cultural heritage, 2010. Photo by Saša Milutinović, Homeland Museum Knjaževac.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

preconditions for the proper archiving of ICH documentation, as well as its use and presentation,
a digital National Register of ICH was thus developed.4 It contains an inventory of ICH, as well as
records associated with the elements inscribed on and nominated for the UNESCO list, i.e. the
documentation about elements of intangible cultural heritage in a digital format.
Taking into consideration the specific character of the documentation in which audio-visual
recordings are prioritised over textual records and information, an electronic database was
developed as an optimal solution for storing, preserving, and presenting the data about ICH
elements. The database structure basically corresponds with the structure of the Form for the
Registration of Elements and it enables to store all relevant documents associated with the
items inscribed in the Register in a digital format. The database of the National Register also
allows to enter and regularly update the data about the elements inscribed in the National
Register, as well as to deposit different types of documents that make up the dossier of an
ICH element (official documents, videos, photographic and audio materials). It also enables to
define user access levels with various user privileges (in addition to the access level granted
to administrators and database operators, under defined conditions, the data may be made
available to other users for research or scholarly purposes). It also allows keeping a record
of the stages in the process of adopting heritage elements – from nomination to the final
decision on acceptance or refusal. Additionally, limited sets of data are publicly available on
a website (see below). The data access is ensured by defining different levels of access to the
data contained in the database and these levels comply with the Regulations on Maintaining
the National Register. This means that only those pieces of information for which consent
is provided by heritage bearers can be used in promoting intangible cultural heritage or the
values of the Convention. Respectively, the data that can be used for the education of various
segments of society on intangible heritage is presented online and publicly available. Other
data contained in the electronic database may only be used under the terms and conditions
defined in accordance with the standards set by the 2003 Convention and the laws pertaining
to the use of data and technical materials. The access to the documentation is thereby enabled
to professionals, interested communities, and the general public.

4

The National Register of ICH, namely the database of the National Register, was developed within the project Digitizing
the Documentation of the National Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage and the Application of New Information and
Communication Technologies in the Protection and Promotion of Intangible Cultural Heritage, supported under the UNESCO
Participation Programme 2014–2015.

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Partial access to the content of the National Register of ICH is made possible through the web
platform (www.nkns.rs), which enables to display a selected set of data from the database on the
website dedicated to the intangible cultural heritage of Serbia. Along with the basic information
about the system for the safeguarding of ICH, developments within the system, and the activities
of local communities in the area of ICH preservation, the platform contains an excerpt from the
National Register. The digitisation of documentation on intangible cultural heritage and the access
to it through the web platform ensure an increased visibility of ICH, whereas the application of
new technologies in its presentation facilitates its inclusion in the educational, cultural, touristic and
other programmes implemented by institutions within the system or by communities. At the same
time, this approach creates preconditions for networking with other entities involved in the safeguarding of cultural heritage (museums, archives, libraries, private collections, websites, and online
databases). Moreover, through the new forms of communication, the young generations that play
a crucial role in the transfer and – accordingly – preservation of intangible heritage, become familiar
with heritage. Similarly, the platform allows establishing the necessary connections with multimedia
materials and new ways of presentation and accessing via mobile phones or tablets.
An example of the successful application of new technologies in the presentation of digital
documentation on the elements of intangible cultural heritage was the promotion of the ‘Slava’
(celebration of the family saint patron’s day) and its inscription on the UNESCO Representative List.5
With the use of modern information and communication technologies and multimedia in a variety
of formats, such as 3D digitising, holographic projection and interactive augmented-reality applications, the presentation of this ICH element achieved its set objectives by creating new cultural
content and bringing cultural heritage closer to new presentation modes, and at the same time
opened up space for new interpretations of traditional culture.

Challenges in documenting ICH
Through the implementation of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible
Cultural Heritage, the establishment of an ICH safeguarding system in the Republic of Serbia, and
especially through the establishment of the National ICH Register, a new framework has been
5

The ‘Slava’ (celebration of the family saint patron’s day) was presented at an exhibition at the Cultural Centre of Serbia in
France and the 2015 World EXPO in Milan within the project The Food Culture of Serbia.

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created in which the professional public is once again encouraged to identify and record heritage
items, as well as to motivate heritage bearers and local communities to preserve traditions, beliefs,
knowledge, skills, and all that belongs to the category of intangible heritage. The objectives set by
the Convention are achieved and a new field of action is created for professionals in various disciplines by inventorying the elements of intangible cultural heritage, compiling the necessary documentation, facilitating involvement, and educating the bearers of this heritage, and by committing
to ensure its transfer to future generations.
The establishment of the National Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage is the result of the
full cooperation of all those who have been recognised in the Convention as significant bearers
of the process of preserving this form of heritage. Museum professionals and museums as institutions, primarily the Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade, make up the part of the professional
audience that is actively involved in the process, which at the same opens up new possibilities for
defining the role of scholarly and cultural institutions. This pertains primarily to museums, which
nowadays seek to build a new concept that does not aim at destroying the old, but – to put in the
words of Tomislav Šola (2011, 25) – seeks to build upon it and enrich it with new possibilities. At the
same time, it is in the interest of local communities and heritage bearers to make their heritage
visible and recognisable, and ensure that it is preserved for the future. In this sense, the decision to place a register and the documentation on intangible cultural heritage under the auspices
of a museum, as it is the case with the Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage at the Ethnographic
Museum, brings a new type of materials to the museum, opens up the possibility of using and
interpreting the already existing collections and documentation, performing new research, and
opening up museum spaces for new programmes that also involve the bearers. It also offers an
opportunity for the Museum to upgrade its activities through the implementation of a system
instituted by the Convention. Consequently, with support from official institutions, the system
forms a stable framework for the safeguarding of ICH.
Thus, the process of documenting ICH, in the same way as living and developing heritage, requires
constant monitoring and regular updating; hence the documentation is constantly expanding. The
approach to ICH documentation, especially in the context of museum documentation, is, therefore, a major challenge. That is why the establishment of standards for documenting ICH is one
of the tasks that will become a priority for experts in this field in the years to come. Specifically,
digital content management implies the establishment of a consistent system for networking,
presenting, and creating content. By defining metadata as a precondition for networking and

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exchange of information and digital (digitised) documentation about ICH, we ensure the use and
share of information about the elements of ICH among institutions involved in documenting ICH
and among those that are directly involved in segments of heritage safeguarding, also on the international level. By creating an online platform accompanied by the activation of social networking
sites with the bearers and promoters of the ICH elements that are already inscribed in the National
Register, it is possible to bring about a new impetus and give a sense of united action to the stakeholders that are already involved in the system, as well as to expand the actions so that they involve
new users and potential nominators.

References
Bižić-Omčikus, Vesna. 2005. “Nematerijalna kulturna baština i Etnografski muzej u Beogradu [Intangible cultural
heritage and the Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade].” Glasnik Etnografskog Muzeja 69: 147–60.
Blake, Janet. 2002. Developing a New Standard-Setting Instrument for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage:
Elements for Consideration. Paris: UNESCO.
Boylan, Patrick J. 2006. “The Intangible Heritage: A Challenge and an Opportunity for Museums and Museum
Professional Training.” International Journal of Intangible Heritage 1: 53–65.
Kurin, Richard. 2007. “Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage: Key Factors in Implementing the 2003 Convention.” International Journal of Intangible Heritage 2: 9–20.
Šola, Tomislav. 2011. Prema totalnom muzeju [Towards a total museum]. Beograd: Centar za muzeologiju i heritologiju Filozofskog fakulteta.
Živković, Dušica. 2011. “Implementacija Konvencije o očuvanju nematerijalnog kulturnog nasleđa u Republici Srbiji
[Implementation of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Republic of
Serbia].” Nematerijalno Kulturno Nasleđe Srbije 1: 22–25.

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Safeguarding intangible
cultural heritage in Bosnia
and Herzegovina
Milica Kotur*

*

Ministry of Education and Culture of Republic of Srpska (Ministarstvo prosvjete i kulture Republike Srpske), Banja Luka, Bosnia
and Herzegovina, e-mail: m.kotur@mp.vladars.net.

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The bearers of the elements included on the List of Intangible Cultural
Heritage organise various activities for promoting their heritage, for
example: traditional events held in the areas where the elements originate
from (picking of iva grass on Ozren mountain, Nevesinje Olympics); schools
for transmission of skills, knowledge, and mastery (School of Zmijanje
embroidery); the study on the ‘secret code for communication of Osat
builders’ (Osat language) by the local community.

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is a country in Southeastern Europe located on the Balkan Peninsula. It has two entities: Republic of Srpska (RoS) and Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
(FBH). The capital city is Sarajevo.
On the basis of the Dayton Peace Agreement and the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, culture is the responsibility of both RoS and FBH, acting as one entity. The Constitution
of BiH also guarantees freedom of expression of ethnicity and culture. Moreover, specific laws
of this entity regulate issues such as cultural heritage and its protection, use, improvement, and
acquisition.
On the state level, the Ministry of Civil Affairs (Ministarstvo civilnih poslova) is responsible for
coordinating the activities of government entities in the field of culture, aimed at its presentation on the international level.
The State Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina for UNESCO (Državna komisija za saradnju
sa UNESCO) has been established as an advisory body to the Council of Ministers of BiH.
What is more, within the framework of the Commission of BiH for UNESCO the Committee
for Culture was founded, which includes experts in intangible cultural heritage. The Commission for UNESCO adopted the rules and procedures related to the processes of nominations
for the inscription of elements on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage
of Humanity.
BiH ratified the 2003 Convention in February 2009. Both entities, in accordance with the
highly decentralised decision-making in the field of culture, gave its approval to the Convention

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Zmijanje embroidery making workshop in the Primary School ‘Mladen Stojanovic’, Bronzani Majdan, children from
7 to 9 grade, 2013. Photo by Dejan Kosić, © 2013 by Museum of Republic of Srpska.

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as a part of the regular process of BiH aimed at the adoption of international legal instruments.
The approval was preceded by a formal procedure of accession to the Convention.
The appointed experts from the entities, in collaboration with the non-governmental sector,
local communities, and experts from museums and academia, have made two preliminary lists
of intangible cultural heritage, one for RoS and one for FBH. The preliminary lists of intangible
cultural heritage of the consolidated entity together create the Preliminary List of Intangible
Cultural Heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Preliminarna lista nematerijalnog kulturnog naslijeđa u Bosne i Hercegovine). The list is open for the inscription of new elements. BiH submitted
its first Report on the implementation of the 2003 Convention and on the status of elements
inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity at the end
of December 2015 (“Report on the Implementation” 2015).
The first element of intangible cultural heritage from BiH, ‘Zmijanje embroidery’, was inscribed
on the Representative List in 2014. In 2016 and 2017, we sent two nominations for the List:
‘Konjic woodcarving’ (2017 cycle) and ‘Picking of iva grass on Ozren mountain’ (2018 cycle). The
nomination of the ‘Konjic woodcarving’ was submitted for inscription on the List in 2014, and in
2016 we submitted additional materials with the nomination document. Also, two nominations
are in the process of preparation.

Safeguarding measures of the Republic of Srpska
RoS adopted amendments to the Law on museum activity, 1 which added the articles
related to intangible cultural heritage. Consequently, a Department of Intangible Cultural
Heritage was formed in the Museum of the Republic of Srpska (Odjeljenje za nematerijalno kulturno nasljeđe Muzeja Republike Srpske). Ministry of Education and Culture of
the Republic of Srpska subsequently formed the Commission for the Intangible Cultural
Heritage (Komisija za nematerijalno kulturno nasljeđe Ministarstva prosjete i kulture Republike Srpske), adopted the Central Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage (Centralni registar
nematerijalnog kulturnog nasljedja), and established the rulebook on keeping the register
(Pravilnik o vođenj Registar).
1

Zakon o muzejskoj djelatnosti, Službeni glasnik Republike Srpske [Official Gazette of Republic of Srpska] no. 89, 25 September
2008; Zakon o izmjenama i dopunama zakona o muzejskoj djelatnosti, Službeni glasnik Republike Srpske no. 57, 20 June 2012.

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Department for ICH of the Museum of RoS prepared the Rulebook on the procedure for
nominating, determining and declaring of intangible cultural heritage (Pravilnik o procedure
nominacije, utvrđivanja i proglašenja nematerijalnog kulturnog nasljedja). This Department
documents all data on the intangible cultural heritage of RoS. The access to this information
is open to the public, and the Preliminary List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Republic
of Srpska (Preliminarna lista nematerijalnog kulturnog nasljeđa Republike Srpske) is available
on the websites of the Museum and the Ministry of Education and Culture of RoS (muzejrs.
com/site).
The classes aimed at the transmission of skills, knowledge, and mastery of making Zmijanje
embroidery have been organised in elementary schools.
Within the relevant local communities, and based on the cooperation with the Museum of
RoS, Association ‘Duga’ has organised two cycles of the ‘School of Zmijanje embroidery’, each
lasting three months.
Between 2013 and 2015, the Department for ICH, in cooperation with the Republic of Srpska
Post Office, prepared several series of stamps related to the intangible cultural heritage of RoS
(old crafts, Zmijanje embroidery, and others).

Safeguarding measures of Federation of Bosnia and
Herzegovina
In FBH, the competent institutions for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage are
cantonal Ministries of Culture. Federal Ministry of Culture and Sports (Ministarstvo kulture
i športa) coordinates the activities of cantons.
Within the Institute for Protection of Monuments (Zavod za zaštitu spomenika), which is
an organisational unit of the Federal Ministry of Culture and Sports, there is a Department of
Scientific Research (Odjeljenje za naučnoistraživački rad), which is engaged in historiographical
research, identification, and documentation with the aim to safeguard the intangible heritage.
In FBH, the draft version is being prepared of the revised Law on the protection and use
of cultural, historical and natural heritage of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina,2 which
2

Zakon o zaštiti i korištenju kulturno-historijskog i prirodnog naslijeđa, Službeni list Socijalističke Republike Bosne i Hercegovine
[Official Gazette of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina] no. 20, 16 July 1985.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

is harmonised with the provisions of ratified international conventions, including the 2003
Convention.
At the cantonal level, two cantons have Laws on the protection of cultural heritage that
are harmonised with the provisions of the 2003 Convention; a draft law is also prepared in one
canton on the process of amending the Law on protection and use of cultural and historical
heritage in order to include provisions on the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage. Other
cantonal laws are still to be harmonised with the 2003 Convention.
Federal Ministry of Culture keeps and updates the Preliminary List of the Intangible Cultural
Heritage of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Preliminarna lista nematerijalnog
kulturnog naslijeđa u federacije Bosne i Hercegovine), while the documents are in institutions
governed by the cantons.

Activities in the ICH field in the country
Since the ratification of the 2003 Convention BiH has promoted intangible cultural heritage
through the program of European Heritage Days. Specifically, there have been conferences,
round tables, exhibitions, and other forms of presentation, promotion, and affirmation of intangible heritage.
Both entity ministries provide financial support to folk festivals, certified by the International
Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts (CIOFF), which are held in BiH. These
festivals comply with international standards in the field of traditional arts and promote the
intangible cultural heritage in accordance with the 2003 Convention.
All ministries of culture in BiH provide financial assistance for the implementation of projects
aimed at safeguarding and promotion of intangible cultural heritage.
The bearers of the elements included on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage organise various
activities for promoting their heritage, for example: traditional events held in the areas where the
elements originate from (picking of iva grass on Ozren mountain, Nevesinje Olympics); schools for
transmission of skills, knowledge, and mastery (School of Zmijanje embroidery); the study on the
‘secret code for communication of Osat builders’ (Osat language) by the local community.
Also, all local communities promote their intangible cultural heritage through electronic and
printed media.

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Zmijanje traditional costume, 2013. Photo by Dejan Kosić, © 2013 by Museum of Republic of Srpska.

Zmijanje traditional costume, 2013. Photo by Dejan Kosić, © 2013 by Museum of Republic of Srpska.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

The National Section of CIOFF Bosnia and Herzegovina has activities that greatly contribute
to the safeguarding of intangible heritage in BiH and its promotion abroad. The Association
of Croatian Amateur Cultural Clubs in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Udruga hrvatskih amaterskih
kulturno umjetničkih društava u Bosni i Hercegovini) is another NGO which was accredited in
2014 to provide consultative service to the Intergovernmental Committee for Safeguarding
of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The conference ‘European Heritage Days’ was held in November 2015 in Livno, and it was
dedicated to one of the elements on the Preliminary List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of FBH:
ganga, a polyphonic form of rural musical tradition. Conference proceedings were subsequently
published (Bandur 2016).
The local community of woodcarvers in Konjic has been cooperating with the Academy of
Fine Arts in Sarajevo (Akademija likovnih umjetnosti u Sarajevu) by organising training for the
students of the Department of Product Design.
To encourage interest in woodcarving craft, the family workshop Rukotvorine organises Open
Door Days for the senior elementary school students and their parents from Konjic.
It is also important to mention the work of the Society for the Digitization of Traditional Cultural
Heritage (Društvo za digitalizaciju tradicijske kulturne baštine), which was founded in 2008, and
which deals with the digitisation and presentation of the content related to traditional cultural
heritage. This project of the Society was presented on several international expert conferences.

Banja Luka

Gradačac

The map represents the location of selected
Ozren mountain

elements of intangible heritage in Bosnia and Herzegovina. One of these elements – ‘Zmijanje embroidery’ – is inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List

Kupres

of ICH of Humanity. It is the first element from BiH
Konjic

inscribed on this List. There are also two elements
that are nominated (‘Konjic woodcarving’ and
‘Picking of iva grass on Ozren mountain’ 2017 and
2018 cycles respectively), and two elements that are
in the preparation phase of the nomination to the
inscription on the List (‘Gračanica lacemaking – kera’
and the ‘Custom of mowing in Kupres’).

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There is no institution that deals with the training in the management of intangible cultural
heritage in BiH, however, following the ratification of the 2003 Convention, the Ministry of Civil
Affairs and the Commission of BiH for UNESCO, with the financial and technical assistance of
UNESCO Antenna Office in Sarajevo, have organised a workshop to provide the training for the
representatives of government levels, NGOs, and public institutions in inventorying, managing,
and other aspects of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. The workshop was facilitated by
independent international experts, and all its attendees have received a certificate of completion. This training has enabled our experts to proceed with activities connected to compiling
the inventories of intangible cultural heritage. We consider it very important to strengthen the
regional cooperation.

Zmijanje embroidery
Zmijanje embroidery is undoubtedly one of the most characteristic embroidery techniques
in the RoS, BiH, as well as the entire Balkan region. Its uniqueness stems from the abundance
of characteristic harmonically perfected ornaments accomplished with the use of a single dark
blue thread. It is a unique method that has not been altered for centuries. Zmijanje embroidery
showcases the artistic sentiment, creativity, inner symbolisms of Zmijanje Highland women, as
well as their spirit and temper. The base material has been transformed over the years, but the
embroidery kept its authentic features.

The picking of iva grass on Ozren mountain
The Ozren mountain is located in the northern part of BiH. There is an old folk belief in the
Balkans that this herb allows mental and physical recuperation after long illnesses and severe
physical and mental exhaustion. Iva grass is one of the most trusted healing herbs. It is highly
regarded in mountainous areas and some people believe it can cure all diseases. There is an old
saying: ‘Iva grass can raise the dead’. Several local associations, among which the most notable
is the Sokol Club from Boljanic, promote this element by bringing together the people in Gostilj
on the day of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

Konjic woodcarving
The woodcarving in Konjic is a traditional method of producing decorated items made of wood
with both functional and decorative functions. The wood-carved items are made manually,
using hand tools. Woodcarving is a part of the cultural heritage of Konjic residents created as
a response to the abundance of forests that surround this city. Thanks to the activity of a number
of workshops and masters of this craft, the continuity of this tradition has been preserved. Over
more than one century of its history, wood carving has become a part of the cultural identity
of all Konjic masters as well as the residents who do not actively participate in the craft. Today,
there is not a single house in Konjic that would not possess at least one wood carved product.
The items decorated with Konjic woodcarving are a testimony of a specific culture of living,
whose users have recognised the preserved traditional values in them.

Custom of mowing in Kupres
The Kupres Field is an area with a highly developed cattle breeding tradition, which is also
closely related to mowing and harvesting grass-hay in July for feeding cattle during wintertime.
The mowing in the national tradition is a skill and knowledge that young bachelors and young
married men have proudly manifested on the occasion of joint mowing – through collective
work. The Dani Kosidbe (Days of Mowing) event has manifested a number of traditional cultural
elements: The mowing tradition using manually produced scythes, preservation of the scythe
making tradition by renowned blacksmiths from Mrkonjic Grad, production and use of water
buckets abundantly decorated in woodwork, preservation and use of men’s summertime holiday
national costumes from the Kupres area. The maintenance of this tradition involves collective
work, presentation, and preservation of traditional songs and dances performed during and
after the finished work, preparation and serving of traditional meals with the use of traditional
wooden and metal dishes, and the establishment of acquaintances among the youth of opposite
sexes (dating).

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Gračanica lacemaking ‘kera’
(Gracanica, Tesanj, Mostar, Travnik, Banja Luka, Sarajevo, Stolac)
The hand-made ‘kera’ lace is a gauzy, translucent and fragile handwork, hand-made by women
who base on the imagination and skills of their numerous nameless predecessors. Unlike the
lace made of flaxen or thick cotton thread most commonly used to decorate the hems of the
textile parts in traditional clothing, this type of lace is made with the creative use of a thin sewing
needle, and this method has been preserved until today. Throughout the passage of time, the
‘kera’ lace has kept its basic roles: decorating parts of women’s clothes or being used as interior
decorations which suit a specific culture of living.
The ‘kera’ lacemaking tradition carries archaic values inherited from the past that have been
adopted and adjusted to new fashions and customs.

References
Bandur, Mate, ed. 2016. Dani europskog naslijeđa 2015: zbornik radova, 19.–21.11.2015., Livno / Proceedings of
European Heritage Days 2015. Livno: Federalno ministarstvo kulture i sporta.
“Report on the Implementation of the Convention and on the Status of Elements Inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.” 2015. http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/doc/
download.php?versionID=39385.

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Implementation
of the Convention
for the Safeguarding
of the Intangible Cultural
Heritage in Slovakia
Eva Ryšavá-Záhumenská*

*

Slovak Intangible Cultural Heritage Centre (Centrum pre tradičnú ľudovú kultúru), Bratislava, Slovakia,
e-mail: eva.zahumenska@sluk.sk.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

Electronic Encyclopaedia has become a base for creating new authorities
related to traditional folk culture. The employees have been collecting
information, particularly from private or community archives in the
regions. This allowed us to obtain unique information about traditional
folk culture, which is not included in archives, museums, or other
institutions.

The traditional folk culture in Slovakia represents a vivid and valuable cultural heritage. It has been
created by generations of Slovak nationals, minorities, and ethnic groups that live on our territory.
The diversity of folk culture is a unique indicator of abilities and creativity of the previous generations, and the preservation and support of this cultural diversity are the main aims of the Slovak
Intangible Cultural Heritage Centre.
Slovak Intangible Cultural Heritage Centre is a professional institute at the Slovak State Traditional Dance Company (Slovenský ľudový umelecký kolektív), which is an established authority of
the Ministry of Culture of Slovak Republic (Ministerstvo kultúry Slovenskej republiky). Its activities
concentrate on documenting, storing, processing, filing, and making the elements of the traditional folk culture generally available and accessible.

What was the impulse and background for the complex care
of traditional folk culture in Slovakia?
In Slovakia, traditional folk culture is perceived in two forms – primary and secondary. The primary
form is the actual traditional folk culture as it evolves through contact and communication in its
natural environment. The second form represents mainly scenic folklore – artistically developed,
stylised phenomena that live in the present environment, transferred through institutionalised
communication, such as folklore groups or folklore festivals. While the secondary form is largely

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supported by a network of regional cultural organisations and is the most frequent way of disseminating the information about the traditional folk culture, the primary form has no systematic
support by any institutionalised network. It is documented by Institutes of the Slovak Academy
of Sciences (Slovenská akadémia vied, SAV); however, none of these are suited for the wide public.
Moreover, the scenic folklore is often mistaken by the lay audience as traditional folk culture. This
state of affairs created the need to make the primary form of traditional folklore culture accessible
for the public (Kyseľ 2016).
UNESCO documents and normative framework, particularly the Convention for the Safeguarding
of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and Convention on Protection and Promotion of Diversity of Cultural
Expressions, have been very helpful in the efforts to seek complex care for traditional folk culture. The
Slovak Republic ratified both conventions in April 2006, thus creating the legislative foundation (Hamar
2007). Subsequently, the Slovak Minister of Culture established the Council for Safeguarding the Traditional Folk Culture (Rada na ochranu nehmotného kultúrneho dedičstva), which drafted the Conception of safeguarding the traditional folk culture,1 adopted by the Slovak government in August 2007.
To implement this conception, the Slovak Intangible Cultural Heritage Centre was established in April
2008 and the Program of Safeguarding of Traditional Folk Culture that specified the strategic goals
of the Conception was approved by the Slovak Ministry of Culture in December 2008 (Kyseľ 2010).

Conception of Safeguarding the Traditional Folk Culture
The main task of the Conception is to create conditions and tools of care of traditional folk culture in
order to preserve it in its natural environment, so it does not disappear from the cultural consciousness of Slovak nationals and becomes protected by institutions. Moreover, it makes it available for
the present and future generations. The entire concept has focused on 4 basic themes: education and dissemination of information, documentation and preservation, methodological support,
and interdepartmental and international cooperation. These basic themes are represented by the
following projects (Kyseľ 2008):
1. Identification and inventory of traditional folk culture
2. Electronic encyclopaedia and documentation of traditional folk culture
1

Uznesenie vlády Slovenskej Republiky č. 666 z 8. augusta 2007 k návhru Koncepcie starostlivosti o tradičnú ľudovú kultúru.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

3. Central database of traditional folk culture (Digital Fund of Traditional Folk Culture)
4. Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Slovakia
5. Education
6. Publishing
7. International cooperation

Identification and inventory of traditional folk culture
This is the most extensive part of all tasks. The aim of the project is to create a system of collecting,
processing, and storing information that should provide a review of the occurrences and conditions of living or preserved phenomena of traditional folk culture in all regions in Slovakia. The
individual villages of Slovakia have been determined as the basic units. In collaboration with a team
of 20 experts, methodological material was prepared as guidance for processing and preserving
the phenomena of traditional folk culture. The methodology was published in the form of 6 work
sheets and it contains the basic classification and detailed description thereof in the following
areas: Location, Cultural land and settlement, Social and spiritual culture, Material culture, Fine
art culture, Art culture. This methodology has become the base for the entire system of ICH safeguarding in Slovakia (Kyseľ 2010).

Electronic Encyclopaedia
This project was the first step in identifying and inventorying traditional folk culture for the wide
public, both professional and non-professional. Electronic Encyclopaedia was an extensive project
conducted in cooperation with the Institute of Ethnology of the Slovak Academy of Sciences (Ústav
etnológie SAV). The working process involved 62 scholars, who used the experience gained from
similar print projects, such as Etnografický atlas Slovenska (Ethnographic atlas of Slovakia, 1990)
and Encyklopédia ľudovej kultúry Slovenska (Encyclopaedia of folk culture of Slovakia, 1995). The
working process began in 2008 and ended in 2011. The Electronic Encyclopaedia contains more
than 1800 entries from traditional Slovakian folk culture, supplemented by illustrative samples
such as photographs, audio and video recordings. Each entry contains a short description of the

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element, with pictures, audio or video samples, together with references to other entries related
to the topic. Entries can be searched by register, alphabetical order, or by topic order (Centrum pre
tradičnú ľudovú kultúru 2016a).

Central Database of Traditional Folk Culture
The project of Central Database contains the technical and organisational part of the entire traditional folk culture documentation. The task of this project is to create a digital, virtual space for
archiving and preserving data about traditional folk culture. All the information are extracted from
various sources – Electronic Encyclopaedia, project of inventory of traditional folk culture, data
from existing regional and private archives or collections, and data from strategic archives (Slovak
Academy of Sciences or memory-related institutions such as the Slovak National Museum [Slovenské národné múzeum] or Slovak Film Institute [Slovenský filmový ústav]).
The significant part of the Central Database is our project – the Digital Fund of Traditional Folk
Culture. This project plays a nation-wide role in safeguarding cultural heritage, trying to preserve
archaic forms of traditional folk culture in digital form through its activities. This project has been
financed by the governmental Operational Programme Informatization of Society. Due to a late
entry of our Centre to the entire programme, it lasted only for an extremely short period of time.
We had officially 9 months instead of several years in comparison to other national institutions
involved in the project. The project lasted from March until November 2015. Its main goals were:
inventorying, collecting, and digitising the phenomena of traditional folk culture, as well as creating
the technological base for digitising. The project involved more than 45 external employees who
helped with the collection, acquisition, and digitisation of traditional folk culture. They were divided
into eight 3-member teams, covering all regions. Each team was equipped with mobile devices,
which included laptops with external hard drives, printers, scanners, cameras and audio recorders.
The methodological base for the content site was our project of Inventory with its classification of traditional folk culture. Electronic Encyclopaedia has become a base for creating new
authorities related to traditional folk culture. The employees have been collecting information,
particularly from private or community archives in the regions. This allowed us to obtain unique
information about traditional folk culture, which is not included in archives, museums, or other
institutions. On the other hand, however, it meant specific requirements for work: an extremely

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

sensitive approach to the sources was required; most of the information and materials also had
a very personal meaning to their owners and it had to be digitised directly in its place of origin
(Kyseľ 2016). We have been thus able to assemble a huge number of digital objects of traditional
folk culture: thousands of digitalised pictures, hundreds of hours of audio and video recordings,
and a large number of illustrations, most of which are now waiting for the next processing.
This project has allowed us to gain various types of knowledge. We can say that it has significant
meaning not only for our Centre but also for the propagation of traditional folk culture in general.
One of the positive results is the large amount of new information which has been collected.
Secondly, creating the new digitising workplace will allow to post-process the material collected
in the future and also to help other institutions in the coordination of their efforts in inventorying
traditional folk culture. What is more, by creating the proper methodology, foundations have been
laid for involving other subjects in documenting and preserving intangible cultural heritage. The
‘know-how’ of working with information about traditional folk culture and identifying and documenting it has been presented to the public. This project will thus help to create a basis for modern
promotion and popularisation of traditions through ways which will be integrated into contemporary cultural life (Kyseľ 2016). Despite the fact that the first part of the project has finished,
this is a long-term project for the next several years and our Centre is ultimately responsible for
its permanent sustainability.

Lists of Intangible Heritage Culture of Slovakia
Our Centre is mainly responsible for compiling two National Lists: The Representative List of the
ICH of Slovakia and The Register of Best Safeguarding Practices in Slovakia. The call for the submission of proposals is announced annually by the Ministry of Culture. The first call for nominations
was made in May 2010. Our Centre prepares all documentation relating to the call for nominations,
receives and registers all nomination files. For each nomination file, at least two expert opinions
are created by experts in their respective fields. Subsequently, the committee examines the nomination and makes its decision. They are then confirmed by the Minister of Culture of Slovakia.
Slovakia already has 14 elements inscribed on the National Lists. Thirteen elements are on the
Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Slovakia: ‘Fujara – the musical instrument and its music’; ‘The Radvaň fair’; ‘Aušus services of Špania Dolina miners’; ‘Music of Terchová’;

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Ján Kroták and Pavel Bielčik from Kokava nad Rimavicou during the Ceremonial announcement
of new elements inscribed on the Representative List of ICH of Slovakia and 10th Anniversary
of the inscription of Fujara on the UNESCO Representative List of ICH of Humanity, 2016.
Photo by Michal Veselský.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

‘Traditional manual bell ringing and the bell founders’ role in Slovakia’; ‘Ornaments in Čičmany’;
‘Salamander in Banská Štiavnica’; ‘Traditional puppetry in Slovakia’; ‘Bagpipes and the bagpipe
culture in Slovakia’; ‘Blueprint’; ‘Multipart singing in Horehronie Region’, ‘Tulle bobbin lace from
the Myjava Highlands’, ‘The Vajnory ornament’. One activity is inscribed in the Register of Best
Safeguarding Practices of Slovakia: ‘The School of Crafts of the Centre for Folk Art Production’
(Centrum pre tradičnú ľudovú kultúru 2016b).
Four elements have been included into the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible
Cultural Heritage of Humanity:
1. Fujara – the musical instrument and its music
Fujara is an exceptionally long pipe with 3 touch holes, which is typical of Slovakia, specifically
its central region. The oldest use of the word ‘fujara’ which could be considered as the first
reference to fujara is found in Bruk’s manuscript miscellany dating back to the 1780s. Fujara
has a more specific musical repertoire than any other musical instrument. This is due to its role
in the life of shepherds, its relation to the shepherds and highwaymen, the musical and technical properties of the instrument, as well as due to its onomatopoeic use of high tones. Every
single musical instrument is the reflection of the unique properties of its maker and performer
(Hamar, Ryšavá, and Voľanská 2016).
2. Music of Terchová
It is an orally cultivated musical culture of the community of Terchová, which is specific for its
original collective vocal-instrumental performance. The phenomenon of the music of Terchová
does not apply only to the typical instrumental body with a little two-string bass, but also to the
entire musical tradition. It is only complete when complemented by singing and folk dancing
known as terchovská krútená or čardáš (a typical rotating dance), with its own musical style and
performers who perceive it as a key part of their cultural identity and a product of their spiritual
equipment. The first direct evidence of the existence of the music of Terchová dates back to
the turn of the 19th to the 20th century when a 3-member band of Terchová called Kvočkovská
muzika was active in the settlement of Kvočkovia (Hamar, Ryšavá, and Voľanská 2016).
3. Bagpipe culture
The traditional bagpipes, as well as the entire bagpipe culture, represent a long and continuous
music tradition of peasants and shepherds, who lived on the territory of Slovakia. In terms of
their construction, the types of bagpipes used in Slovakia belong to the broader context of
Central Europe. However, many of their attributes represent identification signs of the tradi-

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Bagpiper Pavol Kužma, Kysuce Region – northern Slovakia, 2013. Photo by Michal Veselský.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

tional folk culture in Slovakia, for instance: technological methods of bagpipes’ construction;
aesthetical forms of instruments; local as well as individual styles of bagpipe interpretation;
song and dance repertoire; rituals associated with bagpipes; texts of bagpipe songs; and a folk
oral tradition associated with bagpipes (Hamar, Ryšavá, and Voľanská 2016).
4. The puppetry in Slovakia and Czechia
Traditional puppetry in Slovakia and Czechia is an inherent part of the vernacular theatrical
and literary tradition. Initially, it was promoted by families of nomadic puppeteers who made
their living by performing in theatrical plays. The original repertoires that had been based on
imported European patterns underwent a rapid process of folklorisation. They were enriched
by specific local linguistic and themes and developed their own typology of personages and
artistic interpretations of puppets. The most famous personages are Gašparko and the codgers
– peasants Škrhola and Trčka. Traditional puppetry combines dramatic, dramaturgy, staging,
interpretation, scenography, fine art and musical skills, and still is a vital part of the intangible
cultural heritage in Slovakia and Czechia (Hamar, Ryšavá, and Voľanská 2016)
Our next expectation in connection with the UNESCO Representative Lists is a joint multinational submission of ‘Blue-dyeing’ together with four Central European countries: Austria,
Czech Republic, Hungary, and Germany. In November 2017, a proposal called ‘Multipart singing
in Horehronie Region’ will be evaluated by the Committee of UNESCO.

Education
From the very beginning, it was clear that complex care would require addressing the youngest
generation and finding the way to convey the information to elementary schools. The expert group
proposed to create a run-through theme ‘Regional Education and Traditional Folklore Culture’. This
is not a particular class subject; ‘run-through’ refers to the fact that teachers can communicate the
information through a number of different subjects. The project was approved by the Ministry of
Education, Science, Research and Sport (Ministerstvo školstva, vedy, výskumu a športu) and since
2009 has been a part of the State Pedagogical Program. Early in the project, we became aware of
the lack of literature and other available materials to support school curricula on this topic. This
lack was considered and addressed when implementing the next project: publishing.

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Publishing
In the publishing plan, as indicated above, we focused on books to promote and support the
teaching of the run-through topic in schools. We published several titles, which were put on the list
of teaching aids by the Slovak Ministry of Education. Titles such as Vianoce na Slovensku (Christmas
in Slovakia) or Maľovanky kroje Slovenska (Slovakia’s folk costumes) were distributed to all elementary schools and to five hundred kindergartens in Slovakia. Other publications included an edition
called Ľudové piesne regiónov Slovenska (Folk songs from regions of Slovakia), which contains 8 song
books to support musical education; or Slovenské ľudové hudobné nástroje (Slovak folk music instruments), which is a book with a multimedia CD that presents Slovak instruments in four ways: using
text, audio, video and photographic documentation. The second part of our publishing plan was
aimed at methodological support of live manifestations of traditional folklore culture and their
presentation. We annually publish a booklet of the elements inscribed on the Representative
Lists of Slovakia which is published in both Slovak and English. We are also planning to publish
a monograph of the elements inscribed in the UNESCO Representative List of the ICH of Humanity.
At present, we are working on a new project called ABC book of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which
is designed as a set of books for primary schools.

Conclusions
I have mentioned the crucial parts of the conception of safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage
in Slovakia. Each of them is important, and when deciding on the area on which we should stress
more, we came to the conclusion that the values of cultural heritage will be best preserved only
when our care is complex and the individual parts match and fit each other. However, most of our
present efforts are focused mainly on two of our activities: creating the digital archive of traditional
folk culture and completing the Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Regarding the Lists, we strongly
believe in their importance. By promoting and increasing the number of elements, we raise public
awareness about the significance of the intangible cultural heritage in general. The bearers and
communities also become aware that their knowledge and practices have an important value for
the entire society. On the other hand, we are dealing with the negative influence of the promotion:
commercialisation and deformation of its presentation as an unintentional result of the listing.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

We are trying to find a proper mechanism to oversee the course and changes of inscribed
elements and welcome the committee’s suggestion for their better safeguarding. This year, we are
waiting for the first evaluation reports from the proposers, which should provide us with feedback
about the problems they are dealing with, and about their point of view on the meaning of the List.
Regarding the digital archive, almost eighty percent of our activities are aimed at creating a professional presentation platform, where all our digital objects will be available to the public. The first
step will be to fill the archive with perfectly processed objects supplemented with complete metadata. The next step will include creating the digital and multimedia presentations of traditional folk
culture, which will be able to connect practical information with emotional stories about persons,
objects, or locations. We consider this as an important way of using digital content, especially for
the young generation. Such combination of new information technologies and traditional knowledge in practice means creating spaces and opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration, suitable for subsequent innovative solutions in creative industries.

References
Centrum pre tradičnú ľudovú kultúru. 2016a. “O projekte [About the project].” Accessed October 24. http://www.
ludovakultura.sk/index.php?id=5893.
Centrum pre tradičnú ľudovú kultúru. 2016b. “Representative List of Slovakia.” Accessed October 24. http://www.
ludovakultura.sk/index.php?id=5953.
Hamar, Juraj, ed. 2007. Tradičná a ľudová kultúra v dokumentoch UNESCO [Traditional folk culture in the UNESCO
documents]. Bratislava: Slovenské centrum pre tradičnú kultúru.
Hamar, Juraj, Eva Ryšavá, and Ľubica Voľanská, eds. 2016. Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Slovakia.
Register of the Best Safeguarding Practices in Slovakia. Bratislava: Slovak Intangible Cultural Heritage Centre.
Kyseľ, Vladimír, ed. 2008. Koncepcia starostlivosti o tradičnú ľudovú kultúru [Conception of safeguarding the traditional folk culture]. Bratislava: Národné osvetové centrum.
Kyseľ, Vladimír. 2010. Inventarizácia tradičnej ľudovej kultúry. Metodické zošity na podporu výskumu, spracovania a prezentovania tradicnej ľudovej kultury [Inventory of traditional folk culture. Methodical papers to support research,
processing and presentation of traditional folk culture]. Bratislava: Centrum pre tradičnú ľudovú kultúru.
Kyseľ, Vladimír. 2016. “Digitálny fond tradičnej ľudovej kultúry – národný projekt [Digital Fund of Traditional Folk
Culture – a national project].” ITlib. Informačné technológie a knižnice 2: 55–59.

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10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

Safeguarding intangible
cultural heritage
in Bulgaria
Albena Georgieva*

*

Professor at the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences,
e-mail address: albenaang@abv.bg.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

ICH experts carried out the necessary consultations with eminent
sociologists and devised a questionnaire card, which was circulated
nationwide through an extensive network of various cultural institutions:
respective municipality departments, museums, and specific Bulgarian
chitalishta (community cultural centres) existing in almost every
settlement. Thus, the questionnaire was filled in by local representatives
who were familiar with the tradition in their region and – what is more
important – with its concrete bearers and masters, who could perform
it and transmit it to the younger generation.

In Bulgaria, the work on the institutional safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) in accordance with the UNESCO guidelines already has a meaningful history. The state participated in the
process of preparing the Recommendation on the Safeguarding of Traditional Culture and Folklore, adopted on the 25th General UNESCO Conference in Paris 1989 (Santova 1990) – a significant
step towards evaluating and declaring the need and importance of protecting traditional culture
and cultural variety.

National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage
Bulgaria is also one of the leading countries in the world in developing its national inventory of ICH.
Realising the UNESCO program Living Human Treasures adopted by the Executive Board in 1993,
the project ‘Living Human Treasures – Bulgaria – List of Activities’ was realised by a team of experts
from the Institute of Folklore (Institut za folklor)1 at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS,
Balgarska akademiya na naukite) under the leadership of Prof. Mila Santova, D.Sc, in years 2001
and 2002.
To achieve their final goal and to prepare the lists of remaining living traditional activities
nationwide and in the various regions of the country, the experts, qualified in field research and
1

Since 2010, the Institute of Folklore has been merged with the Ethnographic Institute and Museum to become the Institute of
Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum (IEFSEM, Institut za etnologiya i folkloristika s Etnografski muzey)
at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

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in studying oral folk culture, cooperated with the Regional Activities Department in the Ministry
of Culture (Otdel “Regionalni deynosti” na Ministerstvoto na kulturata) (Peycheva 2002; Anastasova
2003; Petkova 2004). They carried out the necessary consultations with eminent sociologists and
devised a questionnaire card, which was circulated nationwide through an extensive network of
various cultural institutions: respective municipality departments, museums, and specific Bulgarian
chitalishta (community cultural centres) existing in almost every settlement. Thus, the questionnaire was filled in by local representatives who were familiar with the tradition in their region and –
what is more important – with its concrete bearers and masters, who could perform it and transmit
it to the younger generation. This made it possible for the project team to focus not only on the
elements important for maintaining a sustainable identity of the communities on different levels
(local, regional and national) but also on the ‘living human treasures’ themselves – people who are
able to effectively re-create and hand down traditional skills and knowledge.
Parallel to learning the results from the questionnaire card and to its circulation in the country,
some theoretical and training seminars were organised in order to clarify the significance and
objectives of UNESCO programs for safeguarding ICH and to broaden the competencies of local
specialists and officials in culture departments. After the filled cards were returned, the experts
from the Institute of Folklore carried out extensive statistical and analytical work, verifying some
of the confusing or unclear data in the field. As a result, in December 2002, the list titled ‘Living
Human Treasures – Bulgaria’ was officially submitted to the Minister of Culture and was published
online in Bulgarian and in English (http://www.treasuresbulgaria.com).
The list consists of two main levels: the first one is national and includes the activities and skills
that are representative of the country as a whole, while the second one comprises of 28 regional
lists that correspond to the respective administrative divisions in districts; it also particularises in
more detail the activities typical for the communities from each district. Furthermore, in the inventory, six main spheres of ICH are differentiated: ‘Traditional rites and feasts’, ‘Traditional singing
and music playing’, ‘Traditional dancing and children’s games’, ‘Traditional narration’, ‘Traditional
crafts and traditional production of homemade objects or products’, and ‘Traditional medicine’.
The respective experts have also prepared a theoretical introduction to every sphere, outlining its
range and characteristics, as well as the history of its investigations. Based on the data acquired
through the questionnaire cards, they also depicted its development and possible transformation
in the contemporary world. The inventory and the experts’ research outcomes were also published
in a book – a bilingual volume in Bulgarian and in English (Santova et al. 2004).

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

The Bulgarian inventory – although it precedes the UNESCO 2003 Convention (adopted in Paris
on 17 October 2003 and operating since 20 April 2006) – actually meets the main requirement
of its article 12.2 Bulgaria ratified the UNESCO Convention 2003 (see Santova 2004) with a law
passed by the 40th National Assembly in January 2006. The Convention was promulgated in the
State Gazette3 and has operated for the Republic of Bulgaria since 10 June 2006.
In 2006, a National Council for ICH (Natsionalen savet za nematerialno kulturno nasledstvo),
a successor to the preceding National Council for Folklore, was established at the Ministry
of Culture. Its tasks are:
• to support and develop a strategy for safeguarding and popularisation of the Bulgarian ICH;
• to propose measures for the application of the international acts in the sphere of ICH and for
the elaboration of the systems of ICH safeguarding;
• to give recommendations on issues related to the preservation and popularisation of ICH;
• to submit to the Minister of Culture’s approval the elements of ICH selected from the regional
nominations for inscription in the National Representative List of ICH.

South-East European Experts Network
on Intangible Cultural Heritage
In the summer of 2007, a seminar of the South-East European experts on ICH was held in Bulgaria,
organised by the Institute of Folklore at BAS, the Ministry of Culture, and the National Commission for UNESCO – Bulgaria (Natsionalna komisiya za UNESCO – Balgaria), with the support of the
UNESCO Office in Venice. The seminar was a fruitful forum for the further development of the
methodology on realising the UNESCO ICH safeguarding programs, and for exchanging the experience and good practices from the particular works on drawing up the national inventory. Participants included representatives of nine countries from South-Eastern Europe: Albania, Bosnia and
2

The full text of Article 12 of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage is as follows:
‘Article 12 – Inventories
1. To ensure identification with a view to safeguarding, each State Party shall draw up, in a manner geared to its own situation,
one or more inventories of the intangible cultural heritage present in its territory. These inventories shall be regularly
updated.
2. When each State Party periodically submits its report to the Committee, in accordance with Article 29, it shall provide
relevant information on such inventories.’

3

Konvenciya za opazvane na nematerlialnoto kulturno nasledstvo, Darzhaven vestnik no. 61, 28 July 2006.

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Bistritsa Babi at UNESCO, 2013, © Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural
Heritage in South-Eastern Europe under the auspices of UNESCO.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia, and Turkey. The seminar
ended in establishing a South-East European Experts Network on ICH (Ekspertna mrezha po nematerialno kulturno nasledstvo ot Yugoiztochna Evropa) (Stanoeva 2007). The Network became
a platform to reinforce cooperation, exchange knowledge, and share experiences on safeguarding
ICH among the countries in the region. In 2016 in Brac, Croatia, Tenth Annual Meeting of the
Network took place – the latest in a series of meetings held in the years since its founding (Arbanasi, Bulgaria, 2007; Safranbolu, Turkey, 2008; Zagreb, Croatia, 2009; Râmnicu-Vâlcea, Romania,
2010; Belgrade, Serbia, 2011; Athens, Greece, 2012; Sofia, Bulgaria, 2013; Limassol, Cyprus, 2014;
Venice, Italy, 2015).

Living Human Treasures – Bulgaria
The beginning of 2008 saw the start of the National System ‘Living Human Treasures – Bulgaria’.
It is coordinated by the Ministry of Culture and the Institute of Folklore at BAS and realised
in cooperation with the National Commission for UNESCO – Bulgaria. Its objective is to contribute
to the presentation and safeguarding of traditional skills and knowledge of important historical
and cultural significance for Bulgaria that can be passed to future generations. The team of
academic experts developed the guidelines for the practical operation of the System, trying to
envisage the possible problems, challenges, and the ways to approach them in the instructions.
A preliminary seminar was organised in December 2007, with the aim of training the representatives of regional museums, the Regional Expert Consulting and Information Centres (Regionalno ekspertno-konsultantski i informacionni centrove), and some local chitalishta – those that
were expected to be directly involved in the nomination process (Grancharova 2008). The
System ‘Living Human Treasures – Bulgaria’ is carried out biennially and proceeds in two rounds
– regional and national.
The first, pilot stage in 2008 indicated the goodwill of the state and the society as a whole for
identifying, presenting and safeguarding its ICH, which consequently secures the safeguarding of
its very cultural identity in the conditions of globalisation and unification. The Living Human Treasures of Bulgaria, inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the
Republic of Bulgaria (Natsionalna predstavitelna lista na nematerialnoto kulturno nasledstvo „Zhivi
choveshki sakrovishta – Balgaria”) are as follows:

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Project name

Nominating institution

Bearer

Nestinarstvo [firewalking ritual],
messages from the past: the Panagyr
[fair] of saints Constantine and Elena
in the village of Bulgari

Regional Historic Museum (Regionalen
istoricheski muzey), Burgas, District
Burgas

A group from Bulgari (headed by Michail
Michailov), Tzarevo Municipality, District
Burgas

Kalusha – long-standing tradition kept
for the generations to come

Chitalishte ‘Nicola Y. Vaptzarov’, Hurletz,
Kozlodui Municipality, District Vratza

Group for authentic folklore ‘Kalushari’

Traditional Vasilitsa wedding

Chitalishte ‘Geo Milev’, town of Momin
Prohod, Kostenetz Municipality, District
Sofiya

Folklore ensemble ‘Momin Prohod’

2008
TRADITIONAL RITES AND FEASTS

TRADITIONAL SINGING AND MUSIC PLAYING
Two-part singing in the town of Nedelino

Chitalishte ‘Svetlina’, town of Nedelino,
District Smolyan

Group for authentic singing (headed by
Aneta Emilova)

TRADITIONAL CRAFTS AND TRADITIONAL PRODUCTION OF HOMEMADE OBJECTS OR PRODUCTS
Chitalishte ‘Prosveta’, town of Apriltsi,
and Museum of Art Crafts and Applied
Arts (Muzey na narodnite hudozhestveni
zanayati i prilozhnite izkustva), town of
Troyan, District Lovech

Dyanko Dyankov (master of weapons,
knives and tinning copper utensils)

Two buenets met and started a dialog

Chitalishte ‘Napredak – Yuper’, town
of Kubrat, Kubrat Municipality, District
Razgrad

Group for source folklore and customs

Mask game ‘Djamal’ (Koshov, Municipality of Ivanovo, District Ruse)

Regional Historic Museum (Regionalen
istoricheski muzey), Ruse, District Ruse

Group for authentic folklore

Dyanko Dyankov – master of ancient
weapons from the town of Apriltsi

2010
TRADITIONAL RITES AND FEASTS

TRADITIONAL SINGING AND MUSIC PLAYING
The song – past, present and future

Chitalishte ‘Sts. Cyril and Methodius
– 1926’, town of Satovcha, Satovcha
Municipality, District Blagoevgrad

Women’s group for ‘high voice singing’,
children’s group for ‘high voice singing’

TRADITIONAL DANCING AND CHILDREN’S GAMES
Spring folklore dancing on songs from
the town of Banya, Karlovo Region

Chitalishte ‘Sts. Cyril and St. Methodius’,
town of Banya, Karlovo Municipality,
District Plovdiv

Group for source folklore

Chitalishte ‘Minyor – 2005’, town of
Pernik, Pernik Municipality, District
Pernik

Lidia Evtimova Dobrevska, storyteller
from the town of Breznik, Breznik
Municipality, District Pernik

Regional Historic Museum (Regionalen
istoricheski muzey), Pernik, District
Pernik

Surova groups from 31 locations

TRADITIONAL NARRATION
Listen and you will know

2012
TRADITIONAL RITES AND FEASTS
The national Surova [St. Basil’s Day]
celebration in the region of Pernik

Table 1. The Living Human Treasures of Bulgaria, inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural
Heritage of the Republic of Bulgaria.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

TRADITIONAL SINGING AND MUSIC PLAYING
Dobarsko babi [Grannies] – keepers of
the Voditsi traditional rite

Chitalishte ‘Prosveta – 1927’, Dobarsko,
Razlog Municipality, District Blagoevgrad

‘Grannies from Dobarsko’

Let us preserve the Danube rhythms in
Antimovo village

Chitalishte ‘Razvitie – 1926’, Antimovo,
Vidin Municipality, District Vidin

Aerophonic music ‘Danube rhythms’

TRADITIONAL CRAFTS AND TRADITIONAL PRODUCTION OF HOMEMADE OBJECTS OR PRODUCTS
From the source today in order
to continue existing tomorrow

Chitalishte ‘Bratstvo – 1869’, town of
Kustendil, District Kustendil

Stefan Alexov Petrov from Lomnitsa
village

Carpets from Chiprovtsi

Chitalishte ‘Peter Bogdan – 1909’, town
of Chiprovtsi, Chiprovtsi Municipality,
District Montana

Women’s folklore group and youngsters
(Ivanka Ivaylova and Zaharinka Ivaylova)

St. Lazarus’s Day ritual in Staro Selo
village – from centuries to centuries

Chitalishte ‘Vazrazhdane – 1940’, Staro
Selo, Tutrakan Municipality, District
Silistra

Ensemble for authentic folklore ‘Staroseltsi’

Hıdrellez – Alevi carnival games from
Bisertsi village

Chitalishte ‘Stefan Karadzha – 1928’,
Bisertsi, Kubrat Municipality, District
Razgrad

Group for source folklore

Dervish’s Day in Lesichovo

Chitalishte ‘Otets Paisii – 1890’,
Lesichovo, Lesichovo Municipality,
District Pazardzhik

Mummers group

2014
TRADITIONAL RITES AND FEASTS

TRADITIONAL SINGING AND MUSIC PLAYING
‘Dobrudzha Thriad’ – past, present and
future

Chitalishte ‘Yordan Yovkov – 1870’,
Dobrich, District Dobrich

Group ‘Dobrudzha Thriad’ – Stefan
Georgiev Mitev, Atanas Stoyanov Mitev,
Zhivko Georgiev Stoyanov

TRADITIONAL CRAFTS AND TRADITIONAL PRODUCTION OF HOMEMADE OBJECTS OR PRODUCTS
Belts woven ‘on barks’

Chitalishte ‘Probuda – 1958’, Shumen,
District Shumen

Sofka Petrova Dimitrova

The Erkech ritual on St. Lazarus’s Day:
a living tradition

Chitalishte ‘Prosveta – 1906’, Kozichino,
Pomorie Municipality, District Burgas

Group for authentic folklore

Mummers at Shrovetide

Chitalishte ‘Probuda – 1927’, Bozveliysko, Provadiya Municipality, District
Varna

Group for authentic folklore

Painting eggs with wax

Chitalishte ‘Prosveta – 1881’, Kostenets,
Kostenets Municipality, District Sofia

Ivanka Petrinina, Ivanka Tsvetanova,
Lyubka Stamatova, Tsvetanka Nadzhakova, Yordanka Gerina, Mariana Dukova,
Lyubka Katsarova, Nadezhda Petrinina,
Lyudmila Chingova

2016
TRADITIONAL RITES AND FEASTS

TRADITIONAL SINGING AND MUSIC PLAYING
Polyphonic women’s / men’s singing
with tambura accompaniment

Chitalishte ‘Sts. Cyril and Methodius –
1919’, Dorkovo, Rakitovo Municipality,
District Pazardzhik

Men’s vocal folklore group at ensemble
‘Ovcharska Pesen’ [Shepard’s song]

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Project name

Nominating institution

Bearer

The Rhodope bagpipe – the magic
of the mountain

Chitalishte ‘Rodopska Prosveta – 1923’,
Devin, Devin Municipality, District
Smolyan

Group of bagpipe players

TRADITIONAL SINGING AND MUSIC PLAYING / TRADITIONAL CRAFTS AND TRADITIONAL PRODUCTION OF HOMEMADE
OBJECTS OR PRODUCTS
Kostadin Ilchev – a distinctive continuer
of the Rhodope bagpipe tradition

Regional Historic Museum (Regionalen
istoricheski muzey) ‘Stoyu Shishkov’,
Smolyan, District Smolyan

Kostadin Stefanov Ilchev

TRADITIONAL DANCING AND CHILDREN’S GAMES
Traditional dances in Gamzovo village –
tradition meets the future

Chitalishte ‘Prosveta – 1928’, Gamzovo,
Bregovo Municipality, District Vidin

Gamza Ensemble for Source Folklore

With the dances of our ancestors

Chitalishte ‘Otets Paisii – 1956’, Pet
mogili, Nikola Kozlevo Municipality,
District Shumen

Youth dance group ‘On the Square’

TRADITIONAL DANCING AND CHILDREN’S GAMES / TRADITIONAL SINGING AND MUSIC PLAYING
Songs and dances in the square of Kipra
village

Chitalishte ‘Hristo Botev – 1927’, Kipra,
Devnya Municipality, District Varna

Ensemble for authentic folklore ‘Kipra’

TRADITIONAL CRAFTS AND TRADITIONAL PRODUCTION OF HOMEMADE OBJECTS OR PRODUCTS
Knitting of fishing tackles – pounds,
fishing nets and hoop nets – a thousand-year old craft in the Burgas Bay

Regional Historic Museum (Regionalen
istoricheski muzey), Burgas, District
Burgas

Stalin Ivanov Iliev

The Living Human Treasures of Bulgaria, inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage
of the Republic of Bulgaria; cont.

The successful biennial realisation of the System ‘Living Human Treasures – Bulgaria’ proves that
there are elements of ICH that are actively maintained in practically all of the country’s regions. It
also demonstrates the readiness and the responsibility of all the community representatives and
experts that take part in the nominations and the selections. In the framework of this program,
an integral archive for all the documents and materials, connected with the programs for safeguarding the ICH is established at the National Centre for ICH (Natsionalen tsentar za nematerialno
kulturno nasledstvo) at IEFSEM.
Beside the inscriptions in the Representative List of the ICH of the Republic of Bulgaria, the
state realised four successful inscriptions in the UNESCO Representative List of ICH of Humanity:
in 2008 – ‘Bistritsa Babi, archaic polyphony, dances and rituals from the Shoplouk region’ (Sofia
District) (Shtarbanova 2006), a traditional female polyphonic voice ensemble, continued for three
generations; in 2009 – ‘Nestinarstvo, messages from the past: the Panagyr of Saints Constantine
and Helena in the village of Bulgari’ (Burgas District) [a firewalking ritual, anastenaria – editorial

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

note]; in 2014 – ‘The tradition of carpet-making in Chiprovtsi’ (Montana District); in 2015 – ‘Surova
folk feast in Pernik region’ (Pernik District), wintertime New Year’s celebrations.
In addition, another two nominations submitted in 2013 for inscription in the Representative List
of ICH of Humanity are awaiting evaluation: ‘High voice polyphonic singing from Dolen and Satovcha’
(Blagoevgrad District) and ‘Two-part singing from the town of Nedelino’ (Smolyan District).
Another two nominations were submitted in 2013 for inscription in the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices: ‘The folklore fair in Koprivshtitsa’ (Sofia District) was inscribed in December 2016,
while the ‘Bulgarian chitalishte (community cultural centre): practical experience in safeguarding the
vitality of the intangible cultural heritage’ still awaits evaluation.
Furthermore, in 2014, Bulgaria took part in a multinational nomination – together with the Former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Republic of Moldova, and Romania – for inscription in the Representative List of ICH of Humanity of ‘Cultural practices associated to the 1st of March’. During the first
cycle of 2015, the UNESCO Committee requested additional information from the State Parties and
invited them to resubmit the nomination for examination in the following cycle (2017).

The Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of the Intangible
Cultural Heritage in South-Eastern Europe under the auspices
of UNESCO
The Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of the ICH in South-Eastern Europe under the auspices
of UNESCO (Regionalen tsentar za opazvane na nematerialnoto kulturno nasledstvo v Yugoiztochna Evropa pod egidata na UNESCO) was founded in 2008, registered as a non-profit organisation in accordance with the Bulgarian legislation. With the Resolution adopted at the 35th session
of UNESCO General Conference in October 2009, the Regional Centre was recognised as a regional
centre (Category 2) under the auspices of UNESCO.
The agreement between UNESCO and the Bulgarian Government, which regards the establishment of the Regional Centre in Sofia, was signed on 25 October 2010 in Paris. On 16 March 2011,
Bulgarian Parliament ratified the Agreement, entering it into force.
On 20 February 2012, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, together with the former
Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikolay Mladenov, the former Minister of Culture Vezhdi Rashidov,
and the former President of Bulgarian Academy of Sciences Nikola Sabotinov officially inaugu-

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International Folklore Festival ‘Between Three Mountains’, 2013, © Regional Centre for the Safeguarding
of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in South-Eastern Europe under the auspices of UNESCO.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

rated the Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of ICH in South-Eastern Europe under the auspices
of UNESCO in Sofia.
The co-founders of the Sofia Centre are: the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Bulgaria, the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria (Ministerstvo na vanshnite raboti), and the
Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. The necessary funds for the running costs of the Sofia Centre are
provided by the Bulgarian Government. For this purpose, a specific article in the Bulgarian Cultural
Heritage Act has been amended. Members States of the Sofia Centre are: Albania, Armenia,
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, The Former Yugoslav Republic
of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, and Turkey.
The mission of the Sofia Centre is to promote cooperation in the field of ICH on the national,
regional, and international level, and to carry out initiatives for safeguarding and popularising ICH
in the countries of South-Eastern Europe. As a Category 2 centre under the auspices of UNESCO,
the Sofia Centre is expected to contribute directly to achieving the Strategic Programme Objectives or programme priorities and themes of the organisation.
The key objectives are:
• to promote the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage
and to contribute to its implementation;
• to increase the participation of communities, groups, and individuals in safeguarding the ICH
in the region;
• to coordinate and exchange information related to ICH;
• to foster regional and international cooperation between the countries in the region and UNESCO;
• to support and participate in the activities that aim to enhance the capacity of experts in the field
of ICH.
In order to achieve the above objectives, the specific functions of the Centre include:
• instigation and coordination of research into practices of safeguarding ICH elements present in
the South-Eastern European countries, as referred to in Articles 11, 12, 13 and 14 of the 2003
Convention;
• organisation of training courses on subjects connected to the safeguarding of ICH;
• improvement of international and regional cooperation through networking with institutions
active in the domain of ICH, notably those established under the auspices of UNESCO (Category
2), in order to coordinate activities and exchange information and knowledge concerning the
safeguarding of ICH, and to promote good practices.

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Surova folk feast in Pernik region, 2013, © Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of the Intangible
Cultural Heritage in South-Eastern Europe under the auspices of UNESCO.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

Since its beginning, the Sofia Centre has been realising three key types of activity: capacity
building, networking, and raising awareness.
Capacity building
One of the main goals of the Regional Centre is to support and encourage the countries of the region in
strengthening their capacity for safeguarding ICH at the national level. In this regard, the Centre organises a series of training seminars in the framework of UNESCO’s global capacity-building strategy in the
field of ICH. Until now, eight seminars have been successfully delivered in five countries in the region
(Bulgaria, Albania, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania, and Croatia).
Networking
The Regional Centre focuses its efforts on enhancing the regional and international cooperation in the field of ICH through networking and forming active partnerships. Pursuing this goal,
the Centre realises activities aiming at the exchange of information and knowledge about the
safeguarding of ICH and the promotion of best practices in related policies, including the organisation of annual meetings of the South-East European Experts Network on ICH, meetings of
related Category 2 centres, workshops and seminars. These are, among others: the Conference
on ‘Intellectual Property, Intangible Cultural Heritage and Traditional Medicine’ in the Context of
Policies for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in South-Eastern Europe (2015);
Round table on ‘70 Years UNESCO: Peace through Education, Science and Culture’ (2015); The
Contribution of UNESCO Member States in South-Eastern Europe to the Dissemination and
Implementation of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage
(2015, see Ivanova 2016).
Raising awareness
Through various actions and events, the Regional Centre endeavours to raise awareness about the
ICH in the region, to inform the wide public about the dangers that threaten this heritage as well
as about the initiatives undertaken for the implementation of the 2003 Convention. Fulfilling this
objective, the Regional Centre supports and organises international representative events such as
film festivals, exhibitions, concerts, and promotion materials. The Centre has updated its official
website (http://www.unesco-centerbg.org) with a new layout, new design, and new administration, all intended to facilitate its use and its way of posting information.

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In the future, the Regional Centre is planning to intensify its cooperation with the countries of South-Eastern Europe, and to expand the network of experts in order to increase the
capacity for the safeguarding of ICH and for implementing the 2003 Convention at the national
level; it strives to be the platform for disseminating and exchanging information in the field
of ICH.

References
Anastasova, Ekaterina. 2003. “Zhivi choveshki sakrovishta. Nomenklatura na deynostite – Balgariya [Living Human
Treasures. List of activities – Bulgaria]”. Balgarski Folklor 29 (2–3): 187–88.
Grancharova, Evgenia. 2008. “Natsionalen seminar „Zhivi choveshki sakrovishta – Balgaria” [National seminar ‘Living
Human Treasures – Bulgaria’]”. Balgarski Folklor 34 (1): 154–56.
Ivanova, Miglena, ed. 2016. The Contribution of UNESCO Member States of South-Eastern Europe to the Implementation
of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. A Jubilee Edition Dedicated to the 70th
Anniversary of UNESCO. Sofia: Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in SouthEastern Europe under the auspices of UNESCO.
Petkova, Svetla. 2004. “Etap ot proekta „Zhivi choveshki sakrovishta – Balgariya” priklyuchi uspeshno [A stage of the
project ‘Living Human Treasures – Bulgaria’ completed successfully]”. Balgarski Folklor 30 (1–2): 194–95.
Peycheva, Lozanka. 2002. “Zhivi choveshki sakrovishta – Balgaria [Living Human Treasures – Bulgaria]”. Balgarski
Folklor 28 (2): 81–83.
Santova, Mila. 1990. “Preporaka za opazvane na folklora [A recommendation for the safeguarding of folklore]”.
Balgarski Folklor 16 (3): 110–14.
Santova, Mila. 2004. “Konventsiya na YUNESKO za opazvane na nematerialnoto kulturno nasledstvo [UNESCO
Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage]”. Balgarski Folklor 30 (3): 118–32.
Santova, Mila, Dimitrina Kaufman, Albena Geogieva, Lozanka Peycheva, Ekaterina Anastasova, Vanya Mateeva,
Radka Bratanova, et al. 2004. Zhivi choveshki sakrovishta: Balgaria / Living Human Treasures: Bulgaria. Sofia:
Akademichno izdatelstvo “Prof. Marin Drinov.”
Shtarbanova, Anna. 2006. “Otlichena balgarska kandidatura sred svetovnite shedyovri na nematerialnoto kulturno
nasledstvo na chovechestvoto [A distinguished Bulgarian candidature among the world’s masterpieces of intangible cultural heritage]”. Balgarski Folklor 32 (2): 134–35.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

Stanoeva, Iva. 2007. “Regionalen seminar na eksperti ot Yugoiztochna Evropa po problemite na nematerialnoto
kulturno nasledstvo [A regional seminar of experts from South-Eastern Europe on the problems of intangible
cultural heritage]. Balgarski Folklor 33 (4), 112–16.

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Safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China
10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

Documentation
as a form of safeguarding
of the intangible
cultural heritage in China:
practice and experience
Deng Xuechen*

*

Director of Digitizing Center, China National Center for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage of Chinese National
Academy of Arts (中国艺术研究院–中国非物质文化遗产保护中心), e-mail: dengxuechen@ihchina.cn.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

At the beginning of the 21st century, China launched a nationwide survey
on intangible cultural heritage. The survey, spanning from June 2005
to December 2009, captured a collection of 290,000 precious objects
and materials, producing two-billion-word documents, 4.77 million
pictures, and a large number of audio-video materials, which resulted
in 870,000 ICH elements in total.

The past fifteen years have witnessed the great importance Chinese government attaches to the
safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage. In line with its different domains and survival conditions, four approaches have been established over this time: productive safeguarding, integrated
safeguarding, prioritised rescue safeguarding, and legislative safeguarding. What is more, these
four approaches, respectively supported by actions and solutions, have been practically proved
to play a positive role in the safeguarding efforts. China has accumulated rich experience in the
successful establishment and improvement of the Chinese national list system of intangible
cultural heritage, the recognition and nomination of bearers, the publicity and exhibition of intangible cultural heritage, and the first national survey of intangible cultural heritage; furthermore,
a great amount of intangible cultural heritage has been safeguarded effectively. Documentation,
as a primary and essential way of prioritised rescue safeguarding, proved to be a useful solution,
especially in the current information and technology-oriented society. As such, it provides a significant contribution to the sustainable development of intangible cultural heritage safeguarding.
In fact, China enjoys a long history of studying, documenting, and preserving national and folk
cultures. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the Government has been
making great efforts to preserve its intangible cultural heritage. Many experts and scholars visited
remote regions inhabited by national minorities, conducted surveys, and collected vast amounts
of data on their national and folk cultures. For example, two professors: Yang Yinliu and Cao Anhe,
who worked at the Institute of Music of Chinese National Academy of Arts (中国艺术研究院音乐
研究所), recorded the famous Erhu musical piece Er Quan Ying Yue (The Moon reflected on the

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Safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China
10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

Deng Xuechen during the discussion at the Forum, October 2016. Photo by Paweł Kobek, © National Heritage Board
of Poland.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

Er-quan Spring) with a wire recorder in 1950. This was, in fact, the last recording piece of the Erhu
performer A Bing, who passed away shortly after. Similar music and sound recordings of over
7000 hours in total, made in the 1950s and 1960s by the Institute of Music, are now one of the
most invaluable national legacies – considering that most performers passed away over time. In
December 1997, UNESCO proclaimed the traditional music and audio data collected by the Institute of Music as the first inscription on the register of the Memory of the World Programme, which
demonstrates effective efforts made by the Chinese government to preserve a large amount
of ICH in danger of extinction.
In 1979, Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China (中华人民共和国文化部), State
Ethnic Affairs Commission of the People’s Republic of China (中华人民共和国国家民族事务委员会),
and China Federation of Literary and Art Circles (CFLAC, 中国文学艺术界联合会) jointly launched
a general survey which focused on ten fields in five artistic genres, including folk literature, folk
music, folk dance, folk opera and drama, which resulted in the composition and publication
of a series of ten volumes known as the modern ‘Great Wall of Chinese culture’ (Leilei 2010).
At the beginning of the 21st century, China launched a nationwide survey on intangible cultural
heritage. The survey, spanning from June 2005 to December 2009, captured a collection of 290,000
precious objects and materials, producing two-billion-word documents, 4.77 million pictures, and
a large number of audio-video materials, which resulted in 870,000 ICH elements in total.
In the globalised world today, our political, economic and cultural structures as a whole are
undergoing revolutionary changes. A large amount of intangible cultural heritage is on the verge
of extinction. The rapid technological development in recent years has brought advances in digital
technology to our attention for the improvement of ICH documentation. It is thus our duty to undertake the responsibility to document and transmit outstanding traditional Chinese culture by using
scientific technology without any delay. At the beginning of 2006, China National Center for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage of Chinese National Academy of Arts started constructing
the database and a digital application in compliance with the requirements of the Ministry of
Culture. In 2010, the Ministry put forward the construction of the Digitized Safeguarding Project
of Chinese ICH in the Twelfth Five-year Plan (2011–2015), authorising China National Center for
Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage of Chinese National Academy of Arts to undertake this
project. Subsequently, we have conducted research and exploration over the past five years mainly
in the three aspects of defining standards and specifications, establishing a database of digital
resources and developing pilot projects. Out of these tasks, defining standards and specifications

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is the primary one, as it forms the foundation for the establishment of a standardised system for
digitised safeguarding of ICH. Once completed, the standards and specifications will provide guidance for the implementation, management, and application of digitised safeguarding of ICH at
both technical level and professional level, enabling the orderly conduct of digitised safeguarding
throughout the nation with all unified standards to ensure the quality of digitised resource collection. By the end of 2014, we had accomplished 非物质文化遗产数字化保护专业标准 (Professional
standards on digitised safeguarding of ICH),1 a series of three books which cover all the characteristics of ten categories of ICH in China. The three books are titled: 数字资源采集方案编制规
范 (Specifications for the compilation of digital resources collection plan), 数字资源采集实施规
范 (Specifications for the implementation of digital resources collection), and 数字资源著录规则
(Rules for digital resources description). The standards are now applied in twenty-six regions in
China. By using such professional standards, recorders can learn the whole process of intangible
cultural heritage collection, including how to collect information, how to make plans, and how
to implement them. Besides, the professional standards can also provide specific requirements
on the environment and the process of collection.
Based on the Chinese practice and experience over the past years, I believe that four decisive factors are essential to ensure the success of ICH documentation. The first factor is qualified
manpower, which should be equipped with rich knowledge of ICH, and be capable to document its
elements in line with required standards. What is more, ICH experts or professionals must be the
leading members of that manpower. However, in reality, the shortage of ICH professionals is the
biggest concern we are facing. The second factor is documentation standards, which should define
how to document and what to document. As mentioned earlier, China has made tremendous
endeavours to set such standards, since the ten ICH categories differ from each other in details,
and therefore require specific standards for documentation of each respective category. The third
factor is devices and equipment, including, but not limited to cameras, scanners, and recorder
pens. Sometimes, advanced equipment such as high-speed cameras is required when documenting
details of various performing arts or moving processes. The fourth factor is time. It refers to
specific moments, such as festivals or ceremonies that only occur at exact times. Knowing when
these events occur is crucial to their documentation. This factor also refers to the duration and the
process of documentation, as it is usually an enduring task.
1

A research achievement of cultural industry standard formulation project undertaken by Chinese National Academy of Arts.

Part 2. ICH and the examination and documentation of phenomena

China National Center for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage of Chinese National
Academy of Arts plays an important role in collecting, documenting, archiving and conserving
data on intangible cultural heritage, as well as in providing information and raising awareness on
the importance of ICH. Furthermore, as the internet is widespread today, it is the best channel
to introduce and disseminate the Chinese ICH, as well as to practice information sharing. In line
with the requirement regarding the national safeguarding of ICH, China National Center for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage of Chinese National Academy of Arts started constructing
the website at the beginning of 2006, which was completed and opened to the public as China’s
official ICH website (www.ihchina.cn) in September 2006. The Website is used to introduce and
popularise ICH elements among the public, both in China and other parts of the world; reflecting
the richness and variety of Chinese traditional culture as a contribution to the safeguarding,
scientific research, academic exchanges and popularisation of ICH in China. The major columns
are as follows: Homepage, Organisations, Normative Instruments, UNESCO Lists, National Lists,
ICH Bearers, Nomination Directives, News, Protection Forum, Exhibition and Performance. Under
the Protection Forum, a large number of essays and interviews with ICH masters are provided.
Under the Features, there are reports on ICH activities, detailed introduction to ICH elements and
safeguarding experience. Beside these columns, there are more: Repository, Master, ICH Memory,
and others. As a convenient platform to demonstrate and popularise information on Chinese ICH,
the Website plays an important role in ICH information sharing.

References
Leilei, Jia, ed. 2010. 数字化时代文化遗产的保护和展现: 中美文化论坛文集 / Preservation and Presentation of
Cultural Heritage in Digital Age: China-US Cultural Forum Collection of the Theses. Beijing: Wen hua yi shu chu
ban she.

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Kolekcja

Cytat

Schreiber, Hanna (ed.), “Intangible cultural heritage: safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China. Part 1,” Cyfrowa Etnografia, Dostęp 4 grudnia 2022, https://cyfrowaetnografia.pl/items/show/6238.

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