Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 17.COM 7.B.45

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Belarus has nominated Straw weaving in Belarus, art, craft and skills (No. 01889) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Straw weaving in Belarus emphasizes the spiritual value and symbolism of the material and the products. Various utensils (such as boxes and baskets), headgear, toys and accessories are made from straw. Some products have special meaning, such as the harvest wreaths or pawuks, complex diamond-shaped structures believed to protect the household from evil and diseases. The modern straw weaving art in Belarus is based on folk traditions and is continuously enriched by the creative achievements of individual experts who transmit their knowledge and skills online and through educational institutions, art studios, craft centres and festivals. Many experts inherited the knowledge and skills from their parents and grandparents. Some work as individual artisans, selling their straw products at fairs, festivals, exhibitions or traditional crafts boutiques, whereas others practise straw weaving as a hobby. The experts are primarily women, though men also participate, typically creating traditional products (such as containers, hats, ritual masks and sculptures) in the ancient spiral weaving technique.

  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:   Straw weaving in Belarus is a combination of knowledge, skills and artistic techniques for processing cereal straw to create items that serve as interior decorations. The bearers and practitioners of the element include individual masters who are active in this field. Many of the masters inherited the knowledge and skills from their parents and grandparents. Most master practitioners are women, and there are much fewer men. The knowledge and skills are passed down to younger generations informally as well as through various courses and workshops in institutions of formal and non-formal education. The element is an integral part of Belarusian culture and art, and is associated with the social history, character and spirituality of the people. It contributes to national and local identity and interest in local histories. It also serves to highlight the use of natural materials in an urban environment and the people's connections with the natural environment.

R.2:   At the local level, the promotion of straw weaving as an artistic practice will raise general awareness of this craft as part of intangible cultural heritage in Belarus and motivate young people to master, develop and preserve it. At the national level, inscription will attract the attention of authorities, NGOs and businesses, and encourage them to assess the role of intangible cultural heritage in the context of social, economic and cultural development. At the international level, inscription will help consolidate, intensify and expand existing measures and cooperation in the framework of international events, such as European Heritage Days, International Museum Day, festivals and craft fairs. It will also encourage dialogue between Belarusian artisans and their counterparts from other countries. The inscription will stimulate public interest in traditional knowledge and practices, which will contribute to its safeguarding and promote intercultural dialogue and cultural diversity.

R.3:   To ensure the viability of the element, bearers conduct various activities, such as transmitting knowledge and skills informally within families and participating in different straw weaving exhibitions and festivals held in the regions. Many masters create their works and educate children and young people in art schools and education centres. The State Party has supported such efforts by organizing exhibitions and festivals, while universities and regional folklore centres are involved in efforts to identify, study and promote the element. The proposed safeguarding measures fall under the following groups: (a) families, communities and associations; (b) government agencies and NGOs; and (c) mass media & communications. The file demonstrates that bearers participated in the process of preparing the proposed plan through meetings and that they expressed interest in implementing the proposed measures to develop and promote the craft.

R.4:   The initiative to inscribe the element on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity came from the artisan communities and associations and from individual straw weavers. Various experts and informational meetings were held to collect the necessary documents and letters of consent, and to discuss a plan for the safeguarding of the element. The communities, groups and individuals concerned participated actively in these meetings. The nomination file was finalized in February 2021 based on information gathered from different sources, including artisan communities, governmental and non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders. The file provides various letters of consent demonstrating the free, prior and informed consent of the communities. While some of these were unique letters, there were many standardized letters with the signatures of bearers and practitioners.

R.5:   The element is included on the State Register of Historical and Cultural Values of the Republic of Belarus and the National Inventory of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Belarus. The inventories are maintained by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Belarus and the Information and Analytical Department of the Belarusian State University of Culture and Arts. The inventories are updated annually. The monitoring of the elements is carried out by the National Inventory Office and Regional Centers of Folklore responsible for intangible cultural heritage in their territories. The initiative to include the element on the inventories came from various communities of artisans from different regions of Belarus, as well as several NGOs, such as the Belarusian Union of Masters and the Student Ethnographic Association.

  1. Decides to inscribe Straw weaving in Belarus, art, craft and skills on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Encourages the State Party, when submitting nomination files in the future, to avoid standardized letters of consent.