Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 11.COM 10.B.28

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Slovakia and Czechia have nominated Puppetry in Slovakia and Czechia (No. 01202) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Puppet theatre for communities in Slovakia and Czechia is not only a popular form of traditional entertainment but also a way of conveying a vision of the world, and an educational tool with messages on moral values. The puppets, whose characters are real or imaginary, are mostly made of wood and animated using various methods. Initial bearers of the practice were families of travelling puppeteers whose works later absorbed local influences in language and themes using namely comical figures with distinct characteristics. Puppet theatre is an integral part of Slovak and Czech local theatre and literary tradition. It also plays an important role in socialization, helping performers to develop as creative thinkers and learn about cooperation, communication and to strengthen their sense of identity in society. Featuring with other traditional rituals and festive events like feast days, markets and fairs, puppet shows today come in many different forms but still draw from tradition. Practice bearers include performers, playwrights, puppet and costume makers, as well as stage designers. Skills are transmitted by imitation and practice within performer communities, while in Slovakia also transmission takes place in traditional puppetry dynasties, as well as through workshops run by not-for-profit organizations and music and arts schools.

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

R.1:   This element is presented as an integral part of Slovak and Czech theatrical and literary traditions. It conveys a vision of the world and a humanist message with ethical standards, illustrated by various puppet characters. It is an important socialization vehicle, particularly for children, and incorporates knowledge and skills related to the tradition of dramaturgy, stage art and craftsmanship. The bearers of the element include performers, playwrights and woodcarvers whose skills are transmitted through informal and non-formal education. The element contributes to mutual respect among communities concerned. While some of the puppet characters have been stereotyping and, therefore, may not have promoted understanding, the file asserts that the current repertoire is fully compliant;

R.2:   The file indicates that inscription would promote interest in intangible cultural heritage in general (including in other puppetry elements already inscribed and in the creative, dynamic exchanges with literature, film and crafts, since the element is inspired by creation of works in these areas). The element already fosters communication within communities, both through its method and the values it communicates. The puppetry communities of the two countries have maintained a cooperative relationship and continue to perform together at international festivals, demonstrating their commitment to continue dialogue and creative effort in transmitting the element;

R.3:   The file indicates that the bearers of the element, through their practice, lie at the centre of past and current efforts to ensure its viability, with the support of the submitting States. It is argued that the format of performances (with their limited numbers of participants) will continue to protect the element from adverse risks following inscription. However, regular monitoring is proposed, as well as promotional measures. A permanent Czech-Slovak coordination platform is suggested to this end. The proposed safeguarding measures benefit from the support and involvement of the submitting States and communities concerned;

R.4:   The communities, groups and individuals concerned through their representatives, associations and collaborating institutions from both submitting States actively participated in the nomination process. They gave their free, prior and informed consent to the nomination. Extensive documentation has been provided to this effect. There are no customary practices that would prevent access to the element;

R.5:   The element has been registered in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Slovakia (coordinated by the Slovak Intangible Cultural Heritage Centre) since 2013, and in the List of Intangible Properties of Traditional and Folk Culture of the Czechia (maintained by the Ministry of Culture) since 2014. The element has been included in these inventories with the active participation of communities, groups and non-governmental organizations concerned, the file provides information on the inventory updating mechanisms.

  1. Inscribes Puppetry in Slovakia and Czechia on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Thanks the delegations of Slovakia and Czechia for the clarifications provided to the Committee on the information included in the file concerning criterion R.5.