Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 16.COM 8.b.10

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Denmark (including the Faroe Islands), Finland (including Åland), Iceland, Norway and Sweden have nominated Nordic clinker boat traditions (no. 01686) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Nordic clinker boats are small, open, wooden boats between five and ten metres long. For almost two millennia, the people of the Nordic region (including the indigenous Sami peoples in Finland, Norway and Sweden and minority groups such as the Kvens in Norway, the Tornedalians in Sweden and the Swedish-speaking population in Finland) have been building clinker boats using the same basic techniques: thin planks are fastened to a backbone of the keel and stems, and the overlapping planks are fastened together with metal rivets, treenails or rope. The shell of the boat is strengthened with frames. Clinker boat builders emphasize the long time it takes to acquire the knowledge and skills for building traditional boats. In the past, it was common to start training with a master from a young age, and it would take up to ten years to learn the trade. A symbol of common Nordic coastal heritage, clinker boats were traditionally used for fishing and to transport materials and people. Today, they are primarily used in traditional festivities, regattas and sporting events, even though about a thousand persons make a full or partial living through the production, maintenance or use of clinker boats. Clinker boat traditions include social practices. For instance, once finished, boats may be ceremonially carried to the water where they are then given a name and wished good fortune; traditional songs may be sung during sailing and rowing.

  1. Considers 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 element is a Nordic region tradition of building clinker boats for various purposes and environments, while constantly adapting the design and techniques. Its bearers and practitioners are men and women, and also include some indigenous peoples or minority groups spread over a large area. They comprise: (a) professional and amateur builders; (b) individuals and organizations associated with museums, boatyards, dry docks and maritime groups; (c) related artisans, such as rope makers, blacksmiths, sawyers and sailmakers; and (d) the wider population that relates to and enjoys the element. Traditionally, knowledge was transmitted through apprenticeships, but transmission now includes formal training from public and private specialized boat-building institutions and schools. The element has drawn the interest and participation of an increasing number of women. The traditions associated with the element contribute to overall health, given the physical nature of the activities and its promotion among young people. It is an inclusive tradition that teaches respect for the environment.

R.2:  The nomination file offers a range of approaches and reflections regarding its contributions to the visibility and awareness of intangible cultural heritage and to encouraging dialogue and cultural diversity. These include cooperation between majority and indigenous or minority groups across five states, the transnational character of the practice and the first joint Nordic multinational file involving persons concerned with the element. Altogether the file illustrates respect for cultural diversity and the significance of human creativity manifested in the practice of the element, both of which would be highlighted by inscription.

R.3. The submitting States and its individuals, private organizations and voluntary associations construct, restore, maintain and operate clinker craft and encourage their use. Activities related to the transmission and safeguarding of the element include: (a) training in traditional boat building in vocational training centres; (b) outdoor activities with clinker boats in public schools and universities; and (c) nature courses carried out in collaboration with museums, maritime centres, non-governmental organizations and practitioners. The proposed safeguarding measures are largely focused on transmission of skills associated with the building of traditional clinker boats. The submitting States will continue to support, in part or in whole, the institutions, museums, non-governmental organizations, individuals and groups that implement programmes contributing to the viability of the element.

R.4:  The file outlines a coordinated effort to move toward nomination beginning with the Nordic Coastal Culture Festival in Husavik in Iceland in July 2011, where the idea of nomination and inscription was raised and was sustained in various forums. A working group comprising ten people from all countries and regions involved was established at an early stage to function as a coordinating unit and to interface at the local, national and regional levels. The idea was further elaborated in 2014 with work on the nomination commencing in 2015. This was followed by a series of regional meetings including Sami and Kven tradition bearers and community representatives. Forbundet KYSTEN (The Norwegian Coastal Federation) acted as a secretariat during the preparation of the nomination. Free, prior and informed consent is ascertained.

R.5:  The element was included between 2016 and 2019 in the various inventories of the submitting States. All of the inventories are administered by a corresponding State entity or a representative entity dealing with intangible cultural heritage. The inventories exist as open platforms, with accompanying websites or web-based Wiki inventories. Inventories are updated generally every two to three years. Updates on the element can be undertaken at any time, online, by email or at the request of the administering entity in collaboration with bearers and practitioners.

  1. Decides to inscribe Nordic clinker boat traditions on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Commends the States Parties for their collaboration in the preparation of the file that can serve as a good example of a multinational nomination for an element of living heritage that is practiced widely across society, including among indigenous peoples and minority groups.