Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 15.COM 8.B.19

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Bosnia and Herzegovina has nominated Grass mowing competition custom in Kupres (no. 01512) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The most important social event in the Kupres municipality is the annual mowing competition that takes place in July at a specific meadow called Strljanica, which is also the local name for the custom. The contest involves the manual mowing of grass using a scythe and is judged by the time, effort and amount mown as cutting grass at that altitude requires strength and a special technique. The top three mowers are recognized, with the chief mower treated as a leader who ensures the successful mowing of all the fields to gather hay for the cattle; agriculture and cattle breeding are essential parts of the area’s economy. Men, starting from the age of eighteen, are traditionally the competitors, with the element being transmitted within families from father to son. Women rake the grass and prepare food for guests. Other elements linked to the competition include national costumes, the forging of scythes and the preparation of cattle for competition. All ethnic and religious groups and individuals in Kupres are free to participate, with the custom being considered as a foundation of the area’s cultural identity, regardless of people’s background. The bearers themselves and the Kupres Mowers Association are most responsible for safeguarding the element.

  1. Considers that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.2:   The nomination file demonstrates that the inscription of the mowing competition custom in Kupres would further raise awareness among the local population of the values the element carries in terms of the overall life and development of their local community and area. It would also raise awareness of other elements of intangible cultural heritage that could provide new safeguarding ideas. The file demonstrates how people from different ethnic groups and religious affiliations as well as from various professions can jointly partake in such an event. The participants share common values that support respect for the nature surrounding them, as well as for the specific qualities of their historical and cultural environment and their community. The entire local community’s openness to introducing contemporary contents and planning various new activities shows that intangible cultural heritage can be managed in a sustainable way, despite the threat of various external effects.

R.4:   The nomination states that the idea of preparing the nomination file was initially developed in the period 2014 to 2016, when more activities at the local level took place. The nomination further states that, along with compilation of photographs, video-recordings and a bibliography, a large amount of work was done to compile oral histories and to put together the textual part of the nomination. The bearers themselves took part in all the stages of drafting the nomination and in all the sections.

  1. Further considers that, on the basis of the information included in the file and the information provided by the submitting State through the dialogue process, the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity are satisfied:

R.1:   The grass mowing competition custom in Kupres is an annual social event attended by the entire local community, visiting members of the diaspora community, maintaining a connection with their homeland, and residents of the wider Kupres region. The element, along with other traditional skills such as the production of folk costumes and scythes, is transmitted within the family as well as through non-governmental organizations. All constituent peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina participate in the competition, thus developing a sense of mutual respect. Over the years, the memories of the participants become local traditional stories, local products are exchanged, and families gather for the celebrations. All residents get involved, regardless of their social background, which strengthens cohesion within the entire community.

R.3:   As the entire local community takes part in the custom, including individuals of all ages and genders, the viability of the element is ensured through the transmission of skills, values and knowledge within families as well as within the community through various activities. The nomination proposes a variety of safeguarding measures, including the establishment of a museum dedicated to safeguarding the element. The file states that the bearers and the local community were involved in planning the future safeguarding measures and that they will continue to uphold the custom and the majority of the other related practices, including exhibitions, seminars, courses, and the direct transmission of related knowledge and skills. The International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts’ (CIOFF) International Folklore Festival – a side event organized as part of the all-day programme accompanying the grass mowing competition – is intended to contribute to the visibility and accessibility of the custom.

R.5:   The element was included in the open preliminary list of intangible cultural heritage in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2011. This list is updated periodically by the Federal Ministry of Culture and Sports in cooperation with the competent cantonal ministries and cultural institutions involved in the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage at the local level and which continuously monitor the status of the elements. The entry of new elements on the list can be initiated by local communities or the bearers themselves.

  1. Decides to inscribe Grass mowing competition custom in Kupres on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;

  2. Invites the State Party to pay special attention to the threat of excessive tourism presented by the international festival, as well as to reconsider whether a festival of this kind can be seen as a tool for safeguarding the grass mowing competition custom in line with the understanding of safeguarding set out in the Convention.