29.11.2011 -

Europe : New inscriptions of cultural elements on the Intangible Heritage Representative List

© by National Institute of Folk Culture - Ride of the Kings in the south-east of the Czech Republic, inscribed in 2011.

Meeting in Bali (Indonesia) from 22 to 29 November, the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage has just inscribed 9 cultural elements from Europe on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.


Leuven age set ritual repertoire (Belgium) 

The age sets of Leuven, Belgium, are a decade-long rite of passage for men who share the same year of birth. Men form their group at age forty and participate in social and cultural activities that culminate ten years later with a celebration around the city’s statue of the prophet Abraham. Each age set chooses its own medal, flag and uniform, and has a ‘godfather’ a decade older. The age set rituals provide participants and the entire city with a strong sense of identity.

Bećarac singing and playing from Eastern Croatia (Croatia)

Bećarac music is popular throughout eastern Croatia and deeply rooted in the cultures of Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem. Lead singers interchange vocal lines while creating, emulating and combining decasyllabic verses and shaping the melody, all the while accompanied by a group of singers and tambura band. Lead singers shape performances according to the context, often expressing thoughts and feelings otherwise inappropriate. Performances in informal situations or in contemporary festive events and celebrations last as long as the singers’ creativity and energy permits.

Nijemo Kolo, silent circle dance of the Dalmatian hinterland (Croatia)

Nijemo Kolo is a Dalmatian closed circle dance performed by communities in southern Croatia exclusively without music, although vocal or instrumental performances may precede or follow it. Male dancers lead female partners in energetic, spontaneous steps, seemingly without defined rules, that publicly test the female’s skills. Today, Nijemo Kolo is mostly danced by village performing groups at local shows, carnivals and churches on saint days or at regional and international festivals. It is transmitted from generation to generation, although increasingly this occurs through cultural clubs.

Tsiattista poetic duelling (Cyprus)

Tsiattista is a lively, impromptu oral poetry performed in Greek Cypriot dialect whereby one poet-singer attempts to outdo another with clever verses of rhyming couplets often performed to the accompaniment of the violin or lute. Poets have a ready wit, rich vocabulary and active imagination and are able to respond to an opponent by improvising new couplets on specific themes within very strict time constraints. It has traditionally been performed by men at weddings, fairs and other public celebrations but recently women have begun performing.

Ride of the Kings in the south-east of the Czech Republic

The Ride of the Kings is an annual procession associated with the Christian feast of Pentecost in four small towns in south-eastern Czech Republic. An entourage of chanters, pageboys, the King and his royal cavalcade parade through town dressed in traditional costumes and riding decorated horses, stopping along the way to chant rhymes that comment humorously on the character and conduct of spectators who in turn give monetary gifts for a good performance. The specific practices and responsibilities of the event are transmitted from generation to generation.

Equitation in the French tradition (France)

Equitation in the French tradition is a school of horseback riding that emphasizes harmonious relations between humans and horses. Practised throughout France and elsewhere, its most widely known community is the Cadre Noir of Saumur, based at the National School of Equitation. Here horsemen learn to combine human demands with respect for the horse’s body and mood. Riders desire to establish close relations with the horse and work towards achieving ‘lightness’. There is strong cooperation between generations and respect for the experience of older riders.

Fado, urban popular song of Portugal

A symbol of identity, Fado music is widely sung in Lisbon and represents a distinctly Portuguese multicultural synthesis of Afro-Brazilian music, local genres of song and dance, rural music, and urban song patterns of the early nineteenth century. Fado is typically performed by a solo male or female singer, accompanied by an acoustic guitar and the Portuguese “guitarra'', a pear-shaped twelve-stringed lute. It is performed professionally and informally in grass-root associations and often transmitted over successive generations within the same families.

Festivity of ‘la Mare de Déu de la Salut’ of Algemesí (Spain)

The Festivity of ‘la Mare de Déu de la Salut’ is a series of activities and performances celebrated every 7 and 8 September in Algemesí, Spain. These commence with ringing the bell of Basílica Menor de San Jaime followed by a parade. During the two days, almost 1,400 people participate in theatre, music, dance and performances organized in the historical areas of the city. All costumes, ornaments and accessories are handcrafted, and the dances and musical scores are passed by the townspeople from generation to generation.

Ceremonial Keşkek tradition (Turkey)

Keşkek is a traditional Turkish ceremonial wheat and meat dish prepared for wedding ceremonies, circumcisions and religious holidays. Women and men work together to prepare the dish in huge cauldrons, then serve it to the guests. Many community members participate in the various chores from selecting the wheat to saying blessings and prayers to carrying the wheat and to cooking it. The celebrations also include entertainment such as plays and musical performances. The cooking tradition is safeguarded and transmitted by master cooks to apprentices.


The Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage was adopted by UNESCO’s General Conference in 2003 and now includes 139 States Parties. Only those countries that have ratified the Convention are eligible to present items for inscription on the Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.

The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage comprises 24 UNESCO Member States, elected for a term of four years. Half the Committee is renewed every two years.

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