Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 18.COM 8.B.29

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Czechia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary and Spain have nominated Knowledge, craft and skills of handmade glass production (No. 01961) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Traditional handmade glass production entails shaping and decorating hot and cold glass to produce hollow glass objects, flat glass and crown glass. It is characterised by the high degree of craftsmanship inherent to the work and by strong team values due to the need to respect the previous steps performed by other glassmakers. Most practitioners work in small or medium-sized glassworks or studios. Each glassworks develops techniques unique to its catalogue and references. Similarly, each practitioner develops his or her own style, even when creating identical pieces. Production in traditional glassworks is based on the division of tasks, with glassmakers traditionally working in teams according to their respective specialisation. Individual work is also common, particularly in cold-glass techniques and jewellery creation. The knowledge and skills related to handmade glass production are transmitted within families or through apprenticeships in glassworks. The practice is also transmitted through formal training, such as in vocational schools, high schools, colleges and universities. The characteristics of handmade glass production generate a strong sense of belonging, respect and solidarity among practitioners. The centuries-old practice has also shaped specific terminologies, festive cultures and religious functions that still retain important cultural and social meanings to this day.

  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:   Handmade glass production has certain specificities across the submitting states, but there are many common traits and steps in the production process. Practitioners either work in small or medium-sized glassworks or individually, but the work is mainly characterized by a division of tasks between novices and highly skilled craftspersons. Transmission occurs through the accumulation of practical and tacit knowledge over the course of years. The element’s informal and formal transmission modes are detailed in relation to the different submitting States. Community members experience a great sense of belonging and are accustomed to working in teams and networks, fostering social cohesion. The element’s cultural functions, such as festive or religious aspects, also vary across the submitting states.

R.2:   Locally, inscription would underscore the link between tangible and intangible cultural heritage, highlighting the importance of collaboration for the viability of living heritage and the role of living heritage in ensuring environmental sustainability. The resources necessary for the production of glass are handled with care with a view towards ecological sustainability, and the end products encourage sustainable consumption. At the national level, the skills required for the manual creation of everyday objects would become more visible, synergies between different types of crafts would be highlighted, and more safeguarding activities would be undertaken. Internationally, inscription would demonstrate how transnational cooperation positively impacts visibility and awareness of intangible cultural heritage, and how collaboration in international networks of specialized museums, educational institutions, collectors and experts benefits visibility. Inscription would also underscore the diversity of this element and emphasize its role in sustaining livelihoods in the submitting States.

R.3:   The past and current safeguarding measures include ensuring the viability of the element through close-knit practice-oriented international and national networks, people-to-people exchanges, practice in each other’s workshops, professional meetings, and technical and practical courses. The file also calls attention to the community museums and galleries that coordinate trainings, exhibitions, gatherings and conferences. The proposed measures take into account unintended results that might come with inscription. They include: (a) encouraging transmission by supporting a broad spectrum of glassmaking crafts; (b) collecting, documenting and conserving related knowledge, and making it accessible; (c) raising awareness about and popularizing handmade glass production; (d) strengthening community spirit and cohesion; and (e) developing international cooperation and joint projects. State support also includes supporting educational and promotional efforts.

R.4:   Community participation in the multinational nomination started with two meetings in 2018 and 2019, involving representatives from Czechia, Finland, Germany and Spain. France and Hungary joined the group of submitting States, and a series of online meetings were held. A draft text and safeguarding measures were discussed and revised wherever necessary. The file details how every submitting State shaped its own process of community participation, with inventorying activities, virtual and in-person meetings, information campaigns and editing efforts, among others. Consent letters attest to the free, prior and informed consent of relevant communities. The element does not have any customary practices restricting access to it besides the general ‘tricks of the trade’.

R.5:   Evidence of inclusion in the national inventories of intangible cultural heritage is provided for each submitting State, including information about the responsible bodies, reference numbers and date of inclusion. The process of identifying and defining the element in each country is elaborated upon, as is the frequency and the means of updating of the inventories.

  1. Decides to inscribe Knowledge, craft and skills of handmade glass production on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Commends the States Parties for providing a good quality video that features the voices of the communities concerned as well as for the initiative of creating an international website to promote the element;
  3. Further commends the State Parties for promoting the active role of museums in safeguarding the element.