Published: 13.04.2013.

Modified: 13.04.2013.

Croatian Protected Cultural Phenomena by UNESCO

The Dubrovnik Festa svetog Vlaha [Festival of St. Blaise] Dubrovnik’s patron, lace from Lepoglava, Hvar and Pag, vocal duets in the narrow region of Istria and the Croatian Littoral, the art of manufacturing traditional wooden toys from the Hrvatsko zagorje region, the annual spring procession of Ljelje (Queens) from Gorjani, the Za križen (Following the cross) procession on the island of Hvar and the annual carnival bell ringers’ pageant from the Kastav area have all recently been registered on the UNESCO World Non-Material Cultural Heritage List. During the UNESCO conference in Abu Dhabi, Croatia succeeded in enlisting seven of its cultural phenomena on the World Non-Material Heritage List and by doing so it became the country with the largest number of protected cultural phenomena in Europe. Only China, Japan and Korea have more registered phenomena.

More than one hundred cultural phenomena were registered with the goal of being enlisted on the UNESCO list and Croatia registered 16 of them. The following phenomena weren’t registered this time around: bećarac, a traditional instrumental and vocal melody, a craft where reklja, a woollen coat from Gradište is made, a mute Dinaric dance (nijemo dinarsko kolo), a Lika sewing circle (ličko prelo), traditional St. George’s Day customs from Turopolje, the production of honey in northern Croatia, the Međimurje Carnival procession, the preparation of the traditional soparnik dish and the Sinj Alka Tournament (sinjska Alka).
The tradition of the Festival of St. Blaise

The tradition of the Festival of St. Blaise is more than a thousand years old, 1037 years to be precise, and it began in 972, a year after the saint prevented the Venetians from raiding the town of Dubrovnik. St. Blaise lived in the 4th century and he was a bishop in Armenia. He was also a prominent doctor and he helped the poor and the sick very much.

The bell ringers are the most famous procession participants of the carnival magic in Croatia and the Kastav region has the largest number of bell ringer groups. Alongside the Halubje bell ringers (Marčelji and Viškovo), there are several more groups from Bregi, Brgud, Mučići, Mune, Rukavac, Zamet, Zvoneća and Žejane. The bell ringers from the west have several smaller bells around their waist, their faces are visible and they wear a hat with greenery and colorful paper flowers (krabujosnica), while the bell ringers from the east wear large (teriomorph) masks and one large bell.
Traditional procession Za Križen (Following the Cross) on the island of Hvar

The several centuries old traditional procession Za Križen (Following the Cross) on the island of Hvar takes place on the night from Maundy Thursday to Good Friday when a few thousand local worshippers and guests walk 27 kilometers following the cross. Processions from all six Hvar parishes leave in the evening, without passing each other on the way. A cross-bearer leads the procession accompanied by two assistants, two followers who carry large candlesticks, two lead singers and several persons who respond by singing the Lamentations of the Virgin Mary. All members of the procession wear white brotherhood tunics. The priest blesses the cross at the parish church and supports it while the singers sing the Lamentations of the Virgin Mary and the walk then continues. The remaining part of the procession is related to the Holy Cross’ crucifix which has been kept in the Hvar cathedral since 1510. There are records in the archives that write about the cross bleeding on 6 February 1510 in the house of Nikola Bevilaqua as the riots between the commoners and the noblemen were taking place. Since then, the cross has been intensively worshipped on the island of Hvar and the first written records of the procession date back to 16 February 1658.
Tradition of narrow intervals in music in Istria and the Croatian Littoral

The tradition of narrow intervals in music in Istria and the Croatian Littoral has been the focus of much interest for Croatian researchers throughout the entire 20th century. Ivan Matetić Ronjgov established it in the 1920s with the introduction of the term Istrian scale, differing between its four basic types, but in the 80s, certain researchers introduced the term narrow intervals since it much better describes the complex relations between the tones in this tradition. Four sub-styles within the narrow interval tradition stand out due to their specific features. kanat, tarankanje, bugarenje and diskatno dvoglasje (two-part singing) and the typical instruments are sopele (sopile, roženice), mih, pive, dvojnice, šurle and cindra, and the most specific dances are balun (balon) and polka.
Annual spring procession of Ljelje/Kraljice (Queens) from Gorjani

The annual spring procession of Ljelje/Kraljice (Queens) from Gorjani near Đakovo is held on Whit Sunday and is characterized by colorful folk costumes with lavishly decorated high hats and sabers.
lace made in Lepoglava, Hvar and Pag

After they are registered on the UNESCO list, lace made in Lepoglava, Hvar and Pag should gain the place they deserve in the future Eco-musueum of lace and lace production in Lepoglava. The preliminary designs for this museum were presented half a year ago at the European Home in Zagreb. The museum should present the heritage of lace production in Lepoglava, Hvar and Europe. The idea is to renew one of the buildings so it can be used as a museum. It would be located in the vicinity of the Pavlin monastery in Lepoglava, with three floors being decorated for permanent displays, a gallery for occasional exhibitions, a children’s lace museum, a lace and textile restoration workshop and other contents. The first lace museum in Croatia should contribute to the promotion and the preservation of the Lepoglava, Hvar and Pag lace as a Croatian phenomenon of non-material cultural heritage. Besides this, lace will also be presented as a European phenomenon, which developed in the area of today’s Italy and Belgium in the 15th century.

Croatian National tourist board
Ministry of Culture