Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 13.COM 10.b.7

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Bosnia and Herzegovina has nominated Picking of iva grass on Ozren mountain (No. 01289) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

On 11 September each year, the day of the beheading of St. John the Baptist, inhabitants of the villages around Ozren mountain go to Gostilij to pick iva grass. After hiking up the hills, villagers of all social, gender and age groups pick iva grass, both individually and in groups. Iva must be picked carefully and pickers need to find it among the higher grass; the process therefore usually takes a few hours. When the picking is done, they climb up Gostilij and assemble into smaller groups, many wearing Ozren folk costumes, to play, dance and sing traditional music. In the afternoon, Orthodox priests climb up to the peak of Gostilij where they consecrate the iva. Iva is consumed in different ways (as a tea, soaked in brandy, mixed with honey) both for its curative effect and preventively. While in the past the practice was exclusively related to folk medicine, nowadays its primary functions include hospitality and social integration, as well as helping to safeguard Ozren costumes, songs and dances that have been gradually disappearing. The practice is transmitted spontaneously within the family, as well as in primary schools. Several local associations also invite similar organizations from different regions to take part in the practice, leading to the inclusion of many practitioners from outside of Ozren.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1:   The picking of iva grass on Ozren mountain, originally carried out primarily for medicinal purposes, has served different social, cultural and integrating functions. Nowadays, it is a syncretic and inclusive festivity which local inhabitants consider as a significant part of their cultural heritage. Thanks to the engagement of schoolchildren, who do not attend classes on that day, the element is constantly transmitted from generation to generation. Iva grass products are used to prevent and heal illnesses and are also served to guests and used as symbolic gifts.

R.2:   The inscription could contribute to raising awareness of the diverse approaches to the relationship between human communities and their natural surroundings, the use of natural resources and sustainable tourism. The involvement, interaction and joint efforts of different associations and groups would highlight the importance and benefits of dialogue among communities. The diversity and distinct customs of the local people and non-residents attending the event testify to human creativity and build an atmosphere of sharing and respect.

R.3:   A local NGO – the Sokol Club – strives to protect the area from any negative effects stemming from tourism and excessive numbers of people arriving on the day. Together with other local organizations, they instruct pickers on how to pick the plants without threatening their survival and the ecological balance. The element will be documented and information disseminated through a permanent exhibition at the Museum of Doboj, systematic audiovisual documentation and school programmes. The declaration of Gostilij as a protected cultural landscape will ensure the lasting protection of the natural settings.

R.4:   The community-driven nomination process was led by local NGOs that regularly participate in the event and oversee its sustainable practice. These organizations also provided their free, prior and informed consent on behalf of the local community and provided extensive photographic and audiovisual documentation for the nomination as well as for safeguarding purposes.

R.5:   The element was included in 2011 in the Official List of ICH of the Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The inventory process is led by regional museums, which submit information to an expert commission of the Ministry of Education and Culture. Regional museums monitor the development of the elements inscribed and provide regular updates.

  1. Inscribes Picking of iva grass on Ozren mountain on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Recalls the Ethical Principles for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage and reminds the State Party that references to protecting the ‘authenticity’ of the element are not in the spirit of the Convention, as intangible cultural heritage constantly evolves in reaction to the changing needs of its practitioners;
  3. Further reminds the State Party to be aware of the possible negative effects of mass participation in the picking of iva grass and recommends that it develop a plan to enhance the ecological sustainability of the area and prevent the risks caused by the expected rise in tourism;
  4. Also reminds the State Party that updating is an important part of the inventorying process and invites it to include information in its next periodic report on the implementation of the Convention at the national level on the periodicity of updating of the Official List of ICH of the Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in accordance with Article 12.1 of the Convention.