Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 11.COM 10.B.29

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Slovenia has nominated Škofja Loka passion play (No. 01203) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

In Škofja Loka, Slovenia, a traditional play performed as a procession takes place in the streets of the town’s medieval centre during Lent and Easter involving more than 900 local performers. The Škofja Loka passion play, based on the ancient works of a Capuchin monk, demonstrates 20 scenes of the stations of the cross and others from the Old Testament and New Testament. Performed in the dialect of the time it was written, the play takes place at a series of locations. In addition to the actors, 400 other volunteers from the community participate in the play’s production. Due to the complexity involved, the Škofja Loka passion play is only performed every six years. While it is considered to be an important part of local identity, the play also contributes to social cohesion giving residents involved an opportunity to connect with one another and feel like they are contributing to their community. Knowledge and skills associated with the practice are transmitted from older to younger generations by families who participate, and craftspeople assisting in the play’s production who host classes passing on know-how to others. The play is also included in the curricula of local schools.

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

R.1:   The file defines the element as a form of traditional theatre, enacting biblical scenes performed by large numbers of local people during Lent and Easter. The bearers and practitioners, their roles and responsibilities – including that of women and children – are well described. The file also outlines the social and cultural functions of the element in respect to common activities, enhancing self-esteem and visibility and connectivity amongst communities and across generations. The element provides a sense of cultural identity and common heritage. The submitting State confirms that the element is compatible with human rights instruments and the requirement of mutual respect, highlighting inclusive participation across ages, gender, professional and religious backgrounds and underlining values of tolerance and co-existence. Knowledge and skills related to the element are transmitted to new generations within families and local communities, music schools, and craft workshops;

R.2:   The file describes how inscription of the element would enhance awareness and visibility of heritage in other parts of the country and Europe. The element has already encouraged other ‘passion plays’ to be performed in Slovenia and beyond, suggesting that inscription may have a further positive effect on safeguarding similar cultural heritage elsewhere. This may in turn enhance respect within the regional, national and international community of passion plays and enhance dialogue, cultural diversity and human creativity in respect to multiple forms of presentations using drama, radio, music and art across generations of performers and experts;

R.3:   After a period in which it was almost impossible to perform the element in its entirety (1936-1999), its viability returned with State support and thanks to the efforts of the local people, groups and associations. The proposed safeguarding measures focus on strengthening transmission, promotion and education. Attention is given to transmission of the element to young people. The measures are consistent and aim to prevent the negative effects of tourism and over-commercialization, though this is also moderated because of spatial limits. Local people, groups and communities have been actively involved in planning and implementing these measures. The submitting State outlines its proposed support by providing a legal instrument, including the element in the national development framework, financing and supporting education;

R.4:   The nomination of the element was prepared with the active participation and support of professional institutions in the Škofja Loka region and elsewhere in Slovenia, as well as different associations, communities, groups and individuals concerned with the play. The attached evidence of consent is fully representative of these diverse communities and groups. The submitting State confirms that there are no restrictions or customary practices governing access to the element that need to be observed;

R.5:   The element was included in 2008 on the National Register of Living Cultural Heritage of Slovenia maintained and updated by the Ministry of Culture. The bearers that create, maintain and transmit the element actively participated in the process of its inclusion on the register.

  1. Inscribes Škofja Loka passion play on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Thanks the delegation of Slovenia for the clarifications provided to the Committee on the information included in the file concerning criterion R.5.