Cultural Heritage of Boka Navy Kotor: a festive representation of a memory and cultural identity


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Inscribed in 2021 (16.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Ministry of Culture of Montenegro

Boka Navy is a traditional, non-governmental maritime organization founded in Kotor, Montenegro in 809. Its origin is linked to the arrival of the relics of St. Tryphon, the patron saint of the city of Kotor. Comprised of a community of seafarers with military, economic, educational and humanitarian functions, Boka Navy has played a memorial role for two centuries, preserving and promoting maritime history and tradition. Membership is voluntary and open to men, women and children of all ages. The organization is founded on the respect of human rights and of religious, national and cultural diversity. During formal celebrations, members wear colourful traditional uniforms, carry historic weapons and perform the traditional circle kolo dance. Boka Navy is the backbone of the annual St. Tryphon festivities, which take place from 13 January through 3 February and include a procession and a series of rituals in the cathedral. The external festivities begin with the Boka Navy’s traditional kolo circle dance and are followed by a procession carrying the relics of St. Tryphon through the main town squares and streets. Thousands of spectators attend the processions in the historic centre and observe the festive events. Hundreds of women, men and children also participate in preparations of the activities.