Pubblicato: 24.11.2014.

Modificato: 24.11.2014.

Except seven Croatia sites that are on the  UNESCO World Heritage list, Croatia is rich in intangible heritage also listed on UNESCO Intangible Heritage List

Intangible cultural heritage, also known as ‘living heritage’, refers to the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and skills transmitted by communities from generation to generation.

Lacemaking in Croatia: 

Lace is independent porous handiwork originating from the Renaissance period on the Mediterranean and western Europe. The main lacemaking techniques produce needle point and bobbin lace.

The difference between the lacemaking in European countries and our country lies in its creators. In Europe, lacemaking was in the hands of nuns, bourgeoisie and nobility, while in Croatia it was transferred from them to the hands of rural women in small villages. They have made lace for traditional clothes and furnishings.

Nowadays, there are three main centres of lacemaking in Croatia, whose work is a continuation of the long-lasting lacemaking tradition. These are: Lepoglava in Hrvatsko zagorje with bobbin lace, Pag on the Adriatic with needle point lace and Hvar with aloe lace.

The skill of making ribbon bobbin lacework from flax fibres that the rural women from Lepoglava made for decorating their garments or for sale, resulted in the making of fine lace with different forms. The Pag lace is an ornamental element first occurring in folklore textile and later as an independent decoration. The skill of making lace from aloe in the town of Hvar is specific due to the material it is made of (aloe) and its single connection to a Benedictine convent.

Two-part Singing and Playing in the Istrian Scale: 

Two-part singing and playing in the Istrian Scale is a complex style of folk music found even outside Istria and the Croatian Littoral, but it is most compactly preserved precisely in this area. Basically, two-part singing is based on non-tempered tone relations and a characteristic color of tone that is achieved in vocal music by powerful singing, partly through the nose.

There is often a degree of improvisation and variation during the performance in both voices, but endings in unison or in octave remain as a strict rule. This feature can be noticed in bugarenje sub-style, too, regardless of the fact that the lower voice drops additionally for a second or a diminished third.

Most of tone rows consist of four to six tones. Metro-rhythmical organization, formal structure and structure of the sung text range from simple to very complex patterns, and the relationship between music and lyrics is specific.

Festivity of St. Blaise, Patron Saint of Dubrovnik: 

The Festivity of St. Blaise, the patron of Dubrovnik, represents an exceptional example of intangible cultural heritage, which in a continuous historic sequence from the 10th century to our time, has kept its traditional and recognizable features and exquisite expression, channelling local and national cultural landscape into diverse manifestations, intertwining tangible and intangible cultural heritage with permeating spiritual dimension. Based on the legend of the appearance of Saint Blaise to help the inhabitants of Dubrovnik against their enemy, the Festivity is an occasion in which the people of the City and its surrounding area, the representatives of state and local authorities together with the representatives of the Roman Catholic Church participate. Added to the spiritual dimension is a special effect the Festivity produces in relation to social relations and order, as well as the quality of the authorities. The Festivity as a display of the worship of the Saint has influenced and shaped the entire cultural and partly natural space of the City and its surrounding area contributing to the intercultural dialogue by welcoming guests, individuals and groups, from other parts of Croatia as well as the neighbouring countries. 

Spring procession of Ljelje/Kraljice (Queens) from Gorjani: 

Kraljice (queens) from village Gorjani are girls who go through their village in a procession and perform a ritual consisting of special songs and dance with sabres in spring, on Whitsunday. They are divided into kraljice (queens) and kraljevi (kings); about ten kings wear sabres and male hats decorated with flowers and half as much queens wear white garlands on their heads like brides. From a wide repertoire of kraljica lyrics they choose songs corresponding to the families they are visiting; most often they sing to a girl, boy or a young bride. Then kraljevi perform a dance with sabres, and kraljice comment on the dance figures through song. This is followed by a folk dance accompanied by musicians that can be joined in by the household members. After they are treated to food and drinks, the procession goes to another house. On the second day of Whitsuntide they visit a neighbouring village or a close by town. Finally there is a common feast and entertainment at one of the participant's homes.

Annual Carnival Bell Ringers’ Pageant from the Kastav Area: 

During the Carnival period (between the 17th of January and Ash Wednesday), about ten groups of men in the Kastav area march through their own and surrounding villages in processions via traditional routes, several kilometers long. Some wear masks and others different headgear symbolizing vegetation and fertility. They all have sheepskin throws turned inside-out and bells, after which they were named. They ring with the bells by moving in different ways, which requires certain skill and physical endurance. Therefore it is considered that not just anyone can become a bell ringer. Although, on one hand, visibly embodying the ancient magical meaning of a ritual, which should invite fertility at the end of winter, this custom is still very much alive even today. By enabling interaction of a group of bell ringers (and the people following them in their procession) with the inhabitants of the villages they pass on their way, the ritual maintains and stresses the social significance and function of mutual relationships between villages in the Kastav region, which is extremely important for the cohesion of the villages in which the ritual takes place. Bell ringers are from Bregi, Brgud, Halubje, Mučići, Mune, Rukavac, Zvoneća, Žejane, Frlanija, Vlahov Breg, Korensko.  

Procession "Za Križen" (Following the Cross) on the Island of Hvar: 

The Procession “Following the Cross” is a very pious ceremony and an expression of the religious and cultural identity of the population of the central part of Hvar Island. It has been taking place for nearly five centuries uninterrupted. On the night from Maundy Thursday to Good Friday, the Procession passes through 6 villages on the island: Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirče, Vrbanj and Vrboska. At the same time, processions start from six parish churches with a cross-bearer ahead, wearing a heavy cross as a symbol of prayer or gratitude, as his own or family pledge. He is followed by a chosen suite in brotherhood tunics and numerous worshippers and pilgrims. They stop in front of churches and chapels in other villages where greeted by priests and return to their parish church before dawn. The people in the Procession pass 25 kilometres in 8 hours. It is prepared and conducted by brotherhoods, i.e. communities of Hvar believers whose history has been profoundly marked by the cross. The central part of the Procession is the Lamentations of the Virgin Mary, an octosyllabic Passion-related text dating from the 15th century, sang in a dialogue form by chosen singers - kantaduri.

Traditional Manufacturing of Children’s Wooden Toys in Hrvatsko Zagorje:

Wooden children’s toys are recognizable traditional products of Hrvatsko zagorje with a long history. Precisely in this area, a peculiar production of toys was developed in the 19th century and it has been preserved in some villages such as Laz, Stubica, Tugonica and Marija Bistrica.

All these villages are on the route to the greatest pilgrimage site in Croatia - Marija Bistrica. From very simple reed toys, the assortment widened so that, at times, one hundred and twenty different toys were produced. The method of their production was passed on from generation to generation in some families and has been kept to this day. The peculiarity is that they are handmade by men and mostly painted by women.

There can never be two completely identical toys since each one is handmade. The material used is soft wood from the area, willow, lime, beech and maple that craftsmen hew after drying and then cut and shape it with the help of wooden or cardboard models. In painting they use eco paint and their base colours are usually red, yellow or blue. They paint the toys with floral and geometrical ornaments. Today, about fifty types of toys are made, ranging from various reeds, tamburitzas, animal toys and objects of common use.

The Sinjska Alka, a knights’ tournament in Sinj:

The Sinjska Alka is a chivalric tournament that takes place annually, as it has since 1717, in the town of Sinj, in the Cetinska krajina region. During the contest, knights ride horses at full gallop along a main street, aiming lances at an iron ring hanging on a rope. The name of the tournament derives from this alka or ring, a word whose Turkish origin reflects the historical co-existence and cultural exchange between two different civilizations.

The tournament rules, codified in a 1833 statute, promote ethics and fair play, and stress the importance of participation in community life. Participants must be members of local families of Sinj and the Cetinska krajina region. The whole community helps to make, conserve, restore and reconstruct weapons, clothes and accessories to support the continuation of the tradition.

The tournament is also entwined with local religious practices, social gatherings, family visits and festivities at home and in the open air. The Sinjska Alka is the only remaining example of the medieval knightly competitions that were regularly held in the Croatian coastal towns until the nineteenth century. It has become a marker of local history and a medium for transferring collective memory from one generation to another.

Gingerbread craft from Northern Croatia:

The tradition of gingerbread making appeared in certain European monasteries during the Middle Ages and came to Croatia where it became a craft. Gingerbread craftspeople, who also made honey and candles, worked in the area of Northern Croatia. The process of making gingerbread requires skill and speed. The recipe is the same for all makers, utilizing flour, sugar, water and baking soda – plus the obligatory spices.

The gingerbread is shaped into moulds, baked, dried and painted with edible colours. Each craftsperson decorates gingerbread in a specific way, often with pictures, small mirrors and verses or messages. The gingerbread heart is the most common motif, and is frequently prepared for marriages, decorated with the newlyweds’ names and wedding date. Each gingerbread maker operates within a certain area without interfering with that of another craftsperson.

The craft has been passed on from one generation to another for centuries, initially to men, but now to both men and women. Gingerbread has become one of the most recognizable symbols of Croatian identity. Today, gingerbread makers are essential participants in local festivities, events and gatherings, providing the local people with a sense of identity and continuity.

Bećarac singing and playing from Eastern Croatia:

The bećarac is a vocal and vocal-instrumental song performed in the area of Eastern Croatia, in the regions of Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem.

One lead singer starts and the rest of the singers follow him or her in two-part, or occasionally three-part, singing. The significance of the bećarac lies in its decasyllabic verses: there are many of them and they are suitable for word-play, which makes the repertoire practically inexhaustible. The first verse is provocative, taunting, amorous, mocking or boastful, while the second is a humorous antithesis to the first.

Often, two groups of singers, led by two or more of the best singers, perform the bećarac. Lead singers enjoy special admiration and status in the community; they must have a pleasant and powerful voice, know a wide repertoire of old and new couplets, and be apt, quick and clever in inventing new verses.

The bećarac is mostly sung by men, women usually join the male accompanying voices. The singing is accompanied by folk instruments, usually the tambura (chordophone), joined sometimes by a fiddle and/or accordion. The bećarac forms part of various occasions and happenings, a component of both informal music-making and special events.

Nijemo Kolo, silent circle dance of the Dalmatian hinterland:

In the nijemo kolo - silent circle dance, each dancer performs his own steps, jumping in a closed circle or in couples, leading his female partners, one or two, to be clearly seen by everyone, and then again energetically jumping from one leg to another, at the same time pulling his female partners along, publicly testing his skill, seemingly without defined rules, spontaneously, depending on his mood and desire for common vigorous and impressive movement in a circle when he joins with others into the kolo with long steps.

The common characteristic of the silent kolo is that it can be, although it does not have to be, a continuation of walking steps with singing. It is conducted entirely independently of vocal or instrumental performance. A musical or vocal performance may, however, precede or follow the silent kolo. The dance is performed spontaneously at carnivals, fairs and on holidays (feast days) and at weddings. Nowadays, it is mostly danced by village performing groups at local, regional or international folklore festivals and at local shows, carnivals or on the saint days of their parish church. It is still passed on from generation to generation, more and more through cultural clubs.

Klapa multipart singing of Dalmatia, southern Croatia:

Klapa singing is a multipart singing phenomenon of the urban Dalmatia. Originally, the term refers to the singing groups (4-10 male singers – klapa) that sing specific repertoire of Dalmatian klapa songs (klapska pjesma). The term “klapa” appeared in the mid-19th century in Dalmatia, initially denoting a group of friends. About the same time, group singing appeared to be later associated with the term.

The leader of the singing group is the highest voice – I. tenor, followed by several II. tenori, baritoni and basi voices. Multipart singing, a capella homophonic singing, oral tradition and simple music making are the main features of traditional klapa singing. Another important feature of the klapa is the ability to sing freely, without the help of the notation of tunes and their harmonisation. During the performance, singers stand in the recognizable setup, tight semi-circle, communicating occasionally by the hand gestures and moves of the singing leader – I. tenor. I. tenor starts the singing followed by the others in a specific manner (singing formulas) where II. tenori sing in parallel thirds, basi feature the major key functions and baritoni “fill” the harmony of the chords. Technically, klapa singers express their mood by means of open guttural, nasal, serenade-like sotto voce and falsetto singing, and usually in high-pitched tessitura. The main aim of the singers is to achieve the best possible blend of voices. Topics of klapa songs usually deal with love, familiar life situations, and the environment in which they live. Love, though, is the predominant theme.

Ojkanje singing:

Ojkanje singing, found in the Croatian regions of the Dalmatian hinterland, is performed by singers (male or female) using a distinctive voice-shaking technique created by the throat. Each song lasts as long as the lead singer can hold his or her breath. Melodies are based on limited, mostly chromatic, tonal scales, and the lyrics cover diverse themes ranging from love to current social issues and politics.

Ojkanje owes its survival to organized groups of local tradition bearers who continue to transmit the skills and knowledge, representing their villages at festivals in Croatia and around the world. Although Ojkanje is traditionally passed on orally, audio and video media and organized training within local folklore groups now play an increasing part in its transmission. However, the survival of individual voice-shaking techniques and numerous two-part forms depends greatly on talented, skilful singers and their capacity to perform and to pass on their knowledge to new generations.

Recent conflicts and rural to urban migration that reduced the population of the region and changes in ways of life have caused a sharp decrease in the number of performers, resulting in the loss of many archaic styles and genres of solo singing.

Mediterranean diet:

Countries: Cyprus, Croatia, Spain, Greece, Italy, Morocco, Portugal

The Mediterranean diet involves a set of skills, knowledge, rituals, symbols and traditions concerning crops, harvesting, fishing, animal husbandry, conservation, processing, cooking, and particularly the sharing and consumption of food. Eating together is the foundation of the cultural identity and continuity of communities throughout the Mediterranean basin. It is a moment of social exchange and communication, an affirmation and renewal of family, group or community identity. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes values of hospitality, neighbourliness, intercultural dialogue and creativity, and a way of life guided by respect for diversity. It plays a vital role in cultural spaces, festivals and celebrations, bringing together people of all ages, conditions and social classes. It includes the craftsmanship and production of traditional receptacles for the transport, preservation and consumption of food, including ceramic plates and glasses. Women play an important role in transmitting knowledge of the Mediterranean diet: they safeguard its techniques, respect seasonal rhythms and festive events, and transmit the values of the element to new generations. Markets also play a key role as spaces for cultivating and transmitting the Mediterranean diet during the daily practice of exchange, agreement and mutual respect.
Transmitted from generation to generation, particularly through families, the Mediterranean diet provides a sense of belonging and sharing and constitutes for those who live in the Mediterranean basin a marker of identity and a space for sharing and dialogue.
Inscription of the element on the Representative List could contribute to raising awareness of the significance of healthy and sustainable food related practices in other parts of the world, while encouraging intercultural dialogue, testifying to creativity and promoting respect for cultural, environmental and biological diversity.
Inscribed in 2013 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.


Ministry of cuture of Republic of Croatia -