Straw weaving in Belarus, art, craft and skills
Inscribed in 2022 (17.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Belarusian straw weaving emphasizes the spiritual value and symbolism of the material and the products. Various utensils (such as boxes and baskets), headgear, toys and accessories are made from straw. Some products have special meaning, such as the harvest wreaths or pawuks, complex diamond-shaped structures believed to protect the household from evil and diseases. The modern straw weaving art in Belarus is based on folk traditions and is continuously enriched by the creative achievements of individual experts who transmit their knowledge and skills online and through educational institutions, art studios, craft centres and festivals. Many experts inherited the knowledge and skills from their parents and grandparents. Some work as individual artisans, selling their straw products at fairs, festivals, exhibitions or traditional crafts boutiques, whereas others practise straw weaving as a hobby. The experts are primarily women, though men also participate, typically creating traditional products (such as containers, hats, ritual masks and sculptures) in the ancient spiral weaving technique.