Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 15.COM 8.B.34

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Italy and France have nominated The art of glass beads (no. 01591) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The art of glass beads is closely linked to the wealth of knowledge and mastery of a material (glass) and element (fire). The art covers specific knowledge and shared skills, reflects the use of specific traditional tools and processes, and includes various stages. In Italy, technical knowledge related to the production takes two forms: 1) a lume beads (with a blowtorch) and 2) da canna beads, made by sectioning, softening and polishing a hollow cane. In France, solid beads are made with a torch and the hot glass is rounded through rotation and gravity, or hollow beads are made either on a mandrel or by blowing into a hollow cane. The more complex production of murrines, common in both States, consists of assembling multicoloured glass canes around a core. The beads are then decorated and used in a wide variety of ways. In both States Parties, the practice is mainly transmitted informally in workshops, where apprentices acquire knowledge through observation, experimentation and practice under the supervision of expert craftspeople. Transmission can also occur through formal education in technical establishments. Gifts made with glass beads are used to mark certain events and social occasions, and the practice promotes social cohesion and dexterity in manual and craft work. Bearers and practitioners recognize themselves in a collective identity made up of shared memories and spaces.

  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.1:   The nomination file explains the specific characteristics and some differences between the element according to the practice in France and Italy. Overall, however, the file stresses the shared features of the work of the bearers, the exchange of skills and the creative impulses resulting from these exchanges. French and Italian bearers derive a sense of belonging from shared cultural values, innovations (for instance, copper and stainless steel mandrels), techniques borrowed from other geographical areas, and a special language that borrows words from other activities (for example, cooking and sewing). The craft also supports the professionalization and empowerment of women. The nomination file also pays attention to the recycling of the materials as a means of fostering creativity and contributing to sustainability.

R.2:   The nomination process itself established a new dialogue between the communities of the two submitting States. The inscription of the element would help raise public awareness about the importance of intangible cultural heritage in both States at the local level, based on the example of a practice that combines knowledge, manual skills and environmental awareness. At the international level, thanks to the existing exchanges and networks, the inscription would help consolidate, intensify and expand already established didactic workshops to other craft industries, thereby increasing the visibility of the know-how associated with several intangible practices.

R.3:   The viability of the element is ensured by the communities, groups and individuals concerned through its practice as well as through informal courses for individual bearers. The submitting States Parties have supported the viability of the element through the introduction of regional laws that foster craftsmanship and enable many bearers to start their own businesses. The viability of the element has also been ensured through the organization of courses, research and documentation, and by holding exhibitions. In particular, the nomination describes joint actions between the communities in both Italy and France, including the creation of a common multilingual website and an international festival. The communities, groups and individuals concerned were actively involved in the preparation of the safeguarding measures.

R.4:   The nomination file demonstrates that the communities, groups and individuals concerned have participated in the nomination process since 2013 through meetings, gatherings and the establishment of a steering committee for the multinational nomination in 2018. During the joint nomination process, they organized committee meetings on several occasions, discussing the inputs provided in those meetings and thematic working groups held in both States in the run-up to the nomination. The letters of consent attest to the wide consent of the relevant communities and institutions.

R.5:   In France, the element was included in the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2018. This inventory is updated when necessary by the Ministry of Culture, upon the community’s request. In Italy, the element was included in the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage Elements in 2019. This inventory, developed on the basis of inclusiveness and accessibility and maintained by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, is updated upon request. The file provides a clear explanation of the inventorying process, how the element was identified and defined, including how information was collected and processed with the active participation of the community of bearers.

  1. Decides to inscribe The art of glass beads on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;

  2. Commends the States Parties for a well-prepared file that can serve as a good example of how the inscription of an element on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity can contribute to ensuring the visibility and awareness of the significance of intangible cultural heritage in general, as well as of how the communities concerned can play an active role in safeguarding the element and throughout the whole nomination process;

  3. Reminds the States Parties that updating is an important part of the inventorying process and invites them to include detailed information in their next periodic report on the implementation of the Convention at the national level concerning the periodicity and mode of updating of the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage (France) and the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage Elements (Italy), in accordance with Article 12.1 of the Convention.