Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 17.COM 7.b.26

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Serbia has nominated Social practices and knowledge related to the preparation and use of the traditional plum spirit – šljivovica (No. 01882) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Šljivovica is a traditional plum spirit. The element includes the complex knowledge and skills to prepare the drink in a home environment as well as its use in everyday and ritual practices. The preparation has multiple stages involving families and communities. Plums are usually grown on family farms and harvested in the fall. They are brewed for 20 to 30 days, then distilled in handmade copper vessels, to produce a mild brandy. A second distillation creates a stronger brandy. The last phase is aging in a barrel, usually made of oak, for at least a year. On festive occasions and during family celebrations, šljivovica accompanies toasts expressing wishes for health and well-being. It is also an important part of traditional medicine, with medicinal herbs or fruits added to obtain cold and pain remedies or antiseptics. In winter, mulled brandy is consumed. The practice is generally transmitted within families and communities, with younger members acquiring knowledge over time through gradual involvement in different stages of the šljivovica preparation and use. Women also assign great importance to the transmission of knowledge and skills related to rituals, traditional medicine and gastronomy. Related artisanal knowledge, such as the manufacture of copper vessels, is transmitted in workshops.

  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 involves the knowledge and skills required to prepare plum brandy in a home environment and its use in everyday and ritual practices. The element also includes the knowledge necessary to create the tools that constitute an integral part of the practice. The bearers and practitioners include families and local communities that prepare šljivovica in home environments, individuals and groups involved in the production of the items used to prepare šljivovica, bearers with knowledge relating to the use of šljivovica in traditional medicine and those working in distilleries that professionally produce šljivovica. The knowledge and skills are transmitted within families, with younger members acquiring knowledge from older generations. Associations and organizations are also established to transmit knowledge and skills. The element plays a key role in developing a sense of belonging among respective groups. Šljivovica is a marker of the traditional culture and identity of the communities and individuals, and is used in wedding rituals, important social events, birthdays and funerary rituals.

R.2:   At the local level, inscription will encourage the preservation of traditional crafts associated with this element and motivate young people to safeguard and preserve knowledge and skills inherited from previous generations. At the national level, inscription would increase the visibility of intangible cultural heritage in general while drawing public attention to intangible cultural heritage elements on the National Register of Serbia and to elements that have been identified but not yet registered. At the international level, inscription will encourage countries where these practices exist to submit joint nominations and inspire the bearers of similar elements around the world to recognize and register their heritage in this domain. Inscription will also encourage networking among craftsmen, families and associations, and foster dialogue among various categories of users, including those with gastronomic and tourist needs.

R.3:   The file provides information about past and current safeguarding measures in the form of local, regional and national promotional events (fairs, festivals and contests) organized by local communities, institutions, tourist organizations, NGOs and associations. The State Party supports the safeguarding efforts by including the element in the activity programmes of national cultural and research organizations, organizing national and international presentations supporting research and exhibitions, and organizing occasional trainings for the producers of fruit and other brandies. The proposed safeguarding measures include studying customs, organizing exhibitions, awareness-raising, implementing education programmes to preserve related knowledge and skills, and promoting traditional crafts. The role of communities in planning and implementing the proposed measures are explained in the file, and local communities, groups and individuals who hold knowledge of the element will be directly involved in seminars, workshops, educational activities and other efforts.

R.4:   The file explains that communities have been actively involved throughout the process of preparing and drafting the nomination. Direct communication and discussions involving local stakeholders and experts made it possible to acquire relevant information and define the local features of the element. The active participation of the community is reflected in their involvement in collecting documentation and providing photos and video materials. Groups and individuals supported the nomination with signed letters of consent, which were provided with the nomination file. Interviews were conducted with individual stakeholders to document the preparation processes, family and intergenerational ties among individuals involved in the process, as well as the changes taking place under modern circumstances.

R.5:   The element was included on the National Register of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Serbia on 15 October 2015. The inventory is maintained by the Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage, Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade. The element was identified and defined by the National Museum Čačak, a regional institution responsible for the study and management of cultural heritage in central Serbia. This was done with the cooperation of various communities and institutions. The Center for Intangible Cultural Heritage at the Ethnographic Museum updates the information and documentation on the inscribed elements at least once every five years.

  1. Decides to inscribe Social practices and knowledge related to the preparation and use of the traditional plum spirit – šljivovica on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.