Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 10.COM 10.b.17

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Greece has nominated Tinian marble craftsmanship (No. 01103) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The art of marble-carving is an expression of the cultural identity of Tinos. Marble‑craftspeople possess empirical knowledge of the composition and structure of marble-bearing rock, the properties of each kind of marble, and the manipulation of its veins. Marble-carving workshops produce a range of traditional motifs, patterns and symbols such as cypresses, flowers, birds and ships. These draw from and perpetuate a shared symbolic system of religious, magical and oral traditions. Motifs on buildings, road signs, churches and cemeteries ensure propitiation and deflect evil influences, while those engraved on everyday marble vessels and fanlights emphasize fertility and prosperity. Craftspeople sometimes form teams to carry out large projects and individual masters occasionally work alone undertaking minor commissions. Transmission follows longstanding traditions. Workshop apprentices start with menial tasks, such as arranging the master’s tools and cleaning the workshop, before graduating to learning the craft and drawing. Each master supervises and mentors one or two apprentices, usually family members. Once they complete their training and earn the title of master craftsperson, apprentices are presented with a small chest containing a set of tools. Almost one‑quarter are now women, representing a significant shift in the tradition of marble‑craftsmanship, which until recently was a male-only activity.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria:

R.1:   Tinian marble craftsmanship is based on the master-apprentice model of transmission and corresponding hierarchical organization of marble-crafting workshops; the island of Tinos is known as a centre of artisanal expertise in Greece and beyond, while for the local communities the craftsmanship represents a strong link to their history, natural environment and cultural identity;

R.2:   Inscription of the element would contribute to the visibility of craftsmanship heritage to enrich knowledge about cultural diversity in the south-east European region and indicate how creativity evolves within traditional norms; it would also point at lasting interaction between two religious groups and reveal a connection between the area’s natural resources and its intangible and tangible heritage, thus contributing to increasing the visibility of intangible cultural heritage in general and awareness of its significance;

R.3:   Complementing a spectrum of existing safeguarding measures, new measures aim at furthering transmission, protection, documentation and research, and address the issue of possible unintended over-commercialization; the activities are concentrated in several municipal museums and a marbling school, which maintain close connections with the community of bearers and practitioners;

R.4:   The nomination file is the result of contributions by the local community of craftspeople, local authorities, municipal museums, a marbling school and individual experts; in addition to the description of how the nomination process has developed, evidence of their participation is presented in the appended video, as well as in their free, prior and informed consent to the nomination;

R.5:   Following a broad consultation with the practising community, the element was included in 2013 in the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which is updated by the Ministry of Culture at least once every five years.

  1. Inscribes Tinian marble craftsmanship on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Commends the State Party for the accompanying video that can serve as a model that enables viewers to know various bearers and to learn about their ideas, identification with marbling and practices;
  3. Encourages the State Party, while implementing the safeguarding measures, to keep focusing on know-how and transmission to future generations by ways of non-formal and formal education, and to avoid a product-oriented approach.