The Bulgarian experience in inventorymaking

Bistritsa Babi, archaic polyphony, dances and rituals from the Shoplouk region

In Bulgaria, at the national level, the Ministry of Culture (National Folklore Committee) and the Institute of Folklore of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences carry the responsibility for the safeguarding, inventorying and promotion of the intangible cultural heritage. An inventorying project was conducted in 2001 and 2002. The inventory was made on two levels, national and regional-local according to the existing administrative divisions, and combined the territorial principle with classification according to ethnic and religious background as these two factors often coincided.

The main criteria for including an element in the inventory were authenticity, representativeness, artistic value, vitality, rootedness in tradition. The selected domains for classifying intangible cultural heritage were traditional rites and feasts, traditional singing and music playing, traditional dancing and children’s games, traditional narration, traditional crafts and traditional production of home-made objects or products and traditional medicine. A questionnaire established by experts was sent to communities both through administrative channels and through the network of local chitalishte (‘culture and community centers’), the collected data were analyzed by the experts and a first version of the inventory was elaborated and put online for comments. Upon integration of comments and additional field research, the final version of the inventory was published on paper and on the Internet. Today, the chitalishte network, coordinated by the Regional Cultural Policy Directorate with the Ministry of Culture, ensures to a large extent the transmission of knowledge and skills in the area of the intangible cultural heritage.