Lefkara laces or Lefkaritika
Inscribed in 2009 (4.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
- Lefkara laces or Lefkaritika
The tradition of lace-making in the village of Lefkara in southeastern Cyprus dates back to at least the fourteenth century. Influenced by indigenous craft, the embroidery of Venetian courtiers who ruled the country beginning in 1489, and ancient Greek and Byzantine geometric patterns, Lefkara lace is made by hand in designs combining four basic elements: the hemstitch, cut work, satin stitch fillings and needlepoint edgings. This combined art and social practice is still the primary occupation of women in the village who create distinctive tablecloths, napkins and show pieces while sitting together and talking in the narrow streets or on covered patios. Unique mastery of the craft is passed to young girls through years of informal exposure and then formal instruction by their mother or grandmother in applying cotton thread to linen. When she has learned her art thoroughly, the lace-maker uses her imagination to design work that embodies both tradition and her own personality. Testament to the ability to appreciate multiple influences and incorporate them into one’s own culture, lace-making is at the centre of daily life for women of Lefkara and a proud symbol of their identity.
Decision 4.COM 13.37
The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:
- R.1: Passed on from generation to generation over many years, the craft of Lefkaritika is sustained by its aesthetic and socio-economic values, providing women of Lefkara with an enviable sense of identity and continuity;
- R.2: Inscription of the element on the Representative List would contribute to raising awareness of the significance of traditional handicraft skills and the successful integration of diverse cultural influences and modern techniques;
- R.3: Efforts to safeguard the element will be carried out by governmental bodies and the communities concerned and will include such measures as creating an archive, organizing contests, establishing scholarships, research projects, a lacemaking school and a foundation;
- R.4: Community involvement is evident at all stages of the nomination, and signed consent letters are testimony of its free, prior and informed consent;
- R.5: Lefkaritika are included in the Heritage Archives of the Municipality of Lefkara and in the Archives of Oral Tradition of the Scientific Research Centre of Cyprus as well as at the National Heritage Index being created by experts at the Cyprus Research Centre.
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