Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 10.COM 10.B.9

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Bosnia and Herzegovina has nominated Konjic woodcarving (No. 01102) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Woodcarving is an artistic craft with a long tradition in the area of Konjic. Workshops produce heirloom furniture, home décor and other products using production techniques noted for their hand-carved motifs and visual identity. The carving process begins by drawing the patterns on a piece of wood followed by a chipping process which involves cutting the wood surface along the drawn lines by hitting special chisels with a hammer. The wood is then decorated with typical designs ranging from particular geometric patterns to stylistic floral motifs, known collectively as the Bosnian-Konjic style. These woodcarvings have become an important part of the cultural identity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Today, woodcarving workshops produce three main types of products: reproductions of hand-carved furniture such as stools, armoires, tables, desks and wall panels; smaller decorative objects, such as serving trays and wooden boxes; and furniture that blends traditional motifs with other design forms. The bearers are skilled craftspeople who work in woodcarving workshops and those making smaller woodcarving objects at home. Transmission of knowledge and skills occurs through formal training in workshops or informally among household members. Direct and indirect employment opportunities created by woodcarving have created sustainable opportunities for many young people allowing them to stay in Konjic.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria:

R.1:   Concentrated in several woodcarving workshops, and transmitted primarily in families and through on-the-job training, Konjic woodcarving is an engine of sustainable development, a marker of traditional interior design and a symbol of identity and continuity of the local community;

R.2:   Inscription of the element could contribute to inter-ethnic dialogue, intergenerational cooperation, gender equality, visibility of traditional craftsmanship in today’s world and its potential place, and respect for the creativity and diversity that it embodies, thus raising awareness of the significance of intangible cultural heritage at large;

R.4:   The nomination was initiated by a governmental body and enthusiastically endorsed by the community concerned; its representatives and stakeholders – notably owners of family-run workshops, non-governmental organizations, local and State officials – provided their free, prior and informed consent to the nomination;

R.5:   The inclusion of the element since 2012 in a preliminary open List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is kept in the Federation Ministry of Culture and Sports, is demonstrated by the provided documentation.

  1. Further decides that the information included in the file is not sufficient to allow the Committee to determine whether the following criterion is satisfied:

R.3:   By focusing on the products of woodcarving, employing a top-down and conservationist approach, and relying throughout on notions of ‘original’ and ‘authentic’ form, the nomination insufficiently demonstrates the suitability and adequacy of the proposed safeguarding measures for enhancing the viability of the element, including the measures put forward to mitigate unintended consequences of inscription; in parallel, the involvement of bearers and various segments of local community in their planning and implementation is also insufficiently elaborated.

  1. Decides to refer the nomination of Konjic woodcarving to the State Party for further information and invites it to resubmit the nomination to the Committee for examination during a following cycle;
  2. Commends the State Party for proposing an element that highlights an innovative utilization of traditional woodcarving and hence demonstrates the creativity embedded in intangible cultural heritage;
  3. Reminds the State Party, if it wishes to resubmit the nomination, that support of the element’s economic value and use for employment should not take precedence over traditional skills and knowledge as constituting components of intangible cultural heritage;
  4. Further reminds the State Party, should it wish to resubmit the nomination, that terms such as ‘authentic’, ‘original’, ‘unique’, ‘extraordinary’, ‘true’ and ‘universal’ are not consistent with the spirit of the Convention.