Periodic reporting on the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

The Convention provides in Article 29 that States Parties shall submit to the Committee reports on the legislative, regulatory and other measures taken for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage in their territories. Current page presents the periodic reports and deadlines of a country: Croatia (see overview on all States Parties).

Periodic reporting on the implementation of the Convention allows States Parties to assess their implementation of the Convention, evaluate their capacities for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, report on their inventories of intangible cultural heritage and update the status of elements inscribed on the Representative List.

When elements are inscribed on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, the submitting State Party commits itself to take safeguarding measures aimed at strengthening the viability of the heritage concerned. Four years after inscription, the State Party reports to the Committee on the current situation of the element, the effectiveness of the safeguarding measures it has implemented, and the challenges it has encountered.


On the implementation of the Convention

Each State Party submits its periodic report to the Committee by 15 December of the sixth year following the year in which it deposited its instrument of ratification.

A report will be due by 15/12/2023

Report submitted in 2017 and to be examined by the Committee in 2018

Report submitted on 15/12/2011 and examined by the Committee in 2012

Overview

The central national body responsible for the safeguarding of cultural heritage, including intangible cultural heritage, is the Ministry of Culture and its Directorate for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, with 19 local safeguarding departments throughout Croatia. A dedicated Service for Movable and Intangible Cultural Heritage was established within the Directorate in 2004. Earlier, in 2002, a special Advisory Committee for Intangible Cultural Heritage was established within the same Ministry. The Committee is composed of seven experts from various scientific and expert institutions, who cover specific types of intangible heritage, with the purpose of encouraging its legal and practical safeguarding and promotion, both at the national and international levels. Alongside the ratification of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, these developments have contributed to the achievement of more effective and organized activities for safeguarding intangible heritage in the Republic of Croatia.
Training in the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage is provided primarily at universities and institutes. These include the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research, as well as the Departments for Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Zagreb and the University of Zadar, respectively. The Croatian Cultural Congress organizes courses and seminars for the further training and equipping of expert leaders of amateur cultural associations (choir directors, choreography directors, etc.) and include subjects relevant to the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage in their research and teaching activities. Museums (especially the Ethnographical Museums in Zagreb, Pazin and Split, the Museums of Slavonia Osijek, and the Centre for Intangible Culture at the Istrian Ethnographical Museum) and cultural centres also provide important training services.
These same institutions are responsible for the documentation of intangible cultural heritage, which is typically made available to visitors with advance notice. A Reference Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage is being established with the aim of bringing together all institutions in Croatia and cooperating institutions overseas that hold relevant documentation or scientific material and information. This will represent an extremely valuable resource for researchers, students, artists, teachers, tourism employees, local communities, cultural associations, tourist associations, local business-people etc.
The inventorying of intangible cultural heritage is conducted in the context of a comprehensive heritage inventory: the Register of Cultural Goods of the Republic of Croatia. The 1999 Act on the Protection and Preservation of Cultural Goods defines intangible cultural heritage as comprising ‘a variety of forms and phenomena of spiritual creativity’ transmitted inter-generationally or through other methods. The Register of Cultural Goods consists of three Lists: the List of Registered Cultural Goods (107 ICH elements); the List of Cultural Goods of National Significance; and the List of Cultural Goods under Preventive Protection (six intangible cultural heritage elements). The inscription procedure involves an initial application (usually by the local community and non-governmental organizations), an expert evaluation (the Committee for Intangible Cultural Heritage and various experts), followed by a formal decision by the Minister of Culture.
The criteria for inclusion are that: the element belongs to one or more categories of intangible heritage, according to Article 9 of the Act; the element is in accordance with international human rights instruments, requires mutual respect between communities and is in harmony with sustainable development; the community has identified the element as part of its cultural heritage; the element gives the community and individuals a sense of identity and continuity; the element is part of the community and is transmitted and constantly recreated; the element contributes to the diversity of the intangible cultural heritage in the Register, testifying to cultural diversity and human creativity; and the consent of the community concerned is accompanied by appropriate documentation and feasible safeguarding measures. Community and non-governmental organization participation is high. In evaluating elements for inclusion on the Register, the Committee consults closely with relevant communities and bearers also cooperate with experts in researching a particular element when it is submitted for entry on the Register. A range of stakeholders may be involved in describing intangible cultural heritage elements and, in addition, the final entry is usually checked by the community concerned before it is entered on the Register. Non-governmental organizations also provide detailed descriptions of the elements, often describing how they have changed over time and their significance for the community.
With regard to promoting the function of intangible cultural heritage in society, the Ministry of Culture actively cooperates with other ministries to include intangible cultural heritage in local- and state-level strategic programmes and plans (culture and tourism, supporting craftsmanship, encouraging creativity and new ideas on traditional values and skills) with a view to ensuring their sustainability. This is also reflected in the 2011-2015 Strategy for the safeguarding and the sustainable commercial use of the cultural heritage of Croatia. This is designed to achieve more efficient and successful safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage elements while also encouraging and strengthening its commercial potential for development.
Many awareness-raising activities are organized (festivals, exhibitions, workshops, open days, education in schools and universities, research, media etc.) for the general public and schoolchildren in particular. The mass media have also played an important role in raising public awareness through newspapers and magazines, radio, television and websites. The national television company has a Section for Folk Culture, which makes documentaries about intangible cultural heritage and explains how the tradition fulfilled certain functions in the past and does so today. Local communities, associations, societies and individuals also put out a great deal of information on intangible cultural heritage on their own web pages and blogs.
As far as education is concerned, intangible cultural heritage is included in extra-curricular activities, including workshops on intangible heritage linked to the school’s local area (e.g. lace-making in Lepoglava). Children’s toy makers also organize workshops in cooperation with schools where children work alongside artisans. Programmes are offered by different governmental bodies, non-governmental organizations and experts, to promote traditional craftsmanship and arts in community centres and other regional centres spread across the country. These include programmes at Kumrovec Old Village Museum (making wooden toys and gingerbread), and various workshops on safeguarding programmes in different parts of Croatia (lace-making, ojkanje singing). Participation is open to the general public. The communities and bearers of intangible cultural heritage elements inscribed are involved in the direct transmission of knowledge (through workshops, lectures and individual work), the presentation of intangible cultural heritage (local events, exhibitions, participation in fairs, etc.), the documentation of practices (videos, photos), as well as the publication of various materials (leaflets, books and web pages). Educational workshop programmes are also provided in museums; these are based on permanent exhibitions as knowledge resources, presentations and demonstrations of traditional crafts in theme-oriented exhibitions (which require the input of an experienced artisan), and practical classes, again in the presence of traditional artisans.
Bilateral, sub-regional, regional and international cooperation takes the form of a number of agreements with neighbouring countries and institutions and non-governmental organizations which operate in them. These cover the exchange of experiences and the promotion of cooperation in safeguarding natural and cultural heritage. In terms of bi-lateral cooperation (communication, academic activities, exhibitions and performances) Croatia has hosted working visits by intangible cultural heritage experts from the Ministries of Culture of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Kosovo and an elected institution from the Republic of Slovenia. During these meetings, issues concerning the preparation of nomination forms and new knowledge and information from experiences of listing intangible cultural heritage were exchanged. Regional cooperation has also occurred through the participation of representatives from the Croatian Ministry of Culture in South-East European Experts’ Seminars on Intangible Cultural Heritage and active involvement in the category 2 centre for the South-East Europe region in Bulgaria.
Croatia reports here on nine elements inscribed on the Representative List, namely: the Annual carnival bell ringers’ pageant from the Kastav area (2009); the Festivity of Saint Blaise, the patron of Dubrovnik (2009); Lacemaking in Croatia (2009); the Procession Za Krizen (‘following the cross’) on the island of Hvar (2009); the Spring procession of Ljelje/Kraljice (queens) from Gorjani (2009); Traditional manufacturing of children’s wooden toys in Hrvatsko Zagorje (2009); Two-part singing and playing in the Istrian scale (2009); Gingerbread craft from Northern Croatia (2010); and the Sinjska Alka, a knights’ tournament in Sinj (2010).
One notable feature of intangible cultural heritage in Croatia is the central role played by associations of practitioners (including the Brotherhoods and the General Assembly of the Alka Company) in its safeguarding and continued viability. Such associations act in conjunction with local municipalities, museums, the Church and Benedictine convents, educational institutions, private businesses and tourist promotion organisations. Croatia’s intangible cultural heritage elements also demonstrate the impact of inscription. For instance, this has given greater social status to the gingerbread-making craft, which has further stimulated the bearers to work since the public has displayed an increasing interest in their products, range and sales outlets. In the case of the Kraljice from Gorjani, inscription has significantly increased the local community’s awareness of the value of this element of intangible cultural heritage and has increased residents’ participation in safeguarding the custom in their environment. There are, however, challenges. The viability of the lace-making tradition faces difficulties in terms of safeguarding its production (distinguishing poor copies from high-quality original lace products) and adequate market placement. Partial protection of lace products has been achieved by issuing a label of authenticity and displaying their geographical origin. The biggest problem facing the Kraljice element is that the Cultural Association, the tradition bearer, lacks adequate premises for practice and training purposes, and for storing and protecting their costumes and instruments, although the municipality of Gorjani has provided the use of a former mill that could be refurbished for this purpose.

On Urgent Safeguarding List elements

Reports on each element inscribed on the Urgent Safeguarding List are submitted by the State Party on 15 December of the fourth year following the year in which the element was inscribed, and every fourth year thereafter.

Ojkanje singing, inscribed in 2010

To access the description of this element, the original nomination file (form, consent of communities, photos and video) and the decision of inscription, please consult dedicated webpage.

A report will be due by 15/12/2022

Report submitted in 2018 and to be examined by the Committee in 2019

Report submitted on 15/12/2014 and examined by the Committee in 2015

Overview

Ojkanje singing is a type of traditional vocal music performed by at least two singers and characterized by a distinctive voice-shaking technique achieved ‘from the throat’. Practiced in the Dinaric region of the Dalmatian hinterland, this free beat singing style is a popular practice in the local community and individual tradition bearers are respected members of their communities. Ojkanje owes its survival to organized groups of local tradition bearers who continue to transmit the skills and knowledge, representing their villages at various festivals in Croatia. This musical idiom remains an important factor in shaping the cultural identity of the local communities.

Effectiveness of the safeguarding plan

Under the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture and with the active participation of cultural associations and bearers, the following safeguarding measures that aim to revitalise and safeguard Ojkanje singing have been implemented: (i) research and documentation of the element in close collaboration between practitioners and other stakeholders; (ii) identification of and support to tradition bearers for the transmission of their knowledge to young people; (iii) enhancement of oral transmission methods with audio and video recordings; (iv) promotion of Ojkanje singing through new regional and local festivals, exhibitions, public meetings, interactive media and public performances by organized music and dance and informal groups; (v) support to Ojkanje singing through state- and local government-led development and cultural programmes; (vi) teaching of Ojkanje singing as an extra-curricular subject in a primary school; (vii) and the preparation of a television documentary on the element. Some local tourism offices have also organized festivals and performances by traditional singers, especially for foreign tourists.

The report shows some evidence of a reinvigoration of informal transmission from elders to youth and through organized dance groups in Dalmatian villages. According to the report submitted by the State Party, implementation of the safeguarding measures have led to greater recognition and respect from local communities for the practice of Ojkanje singing and its surviving bearers, whose performances act as teaching models for young people; provision of several different forms of transmission; and increased involvement of all recorded bearers and cultural associations in knowledge transmission. The report notes a significant increase of interest among young people in learning Ojkanje singing and safeguarding the tradition. Quality and range of documentation, particularly with audio and video recordings of the practice, has also improved. Furthermore, a substantial increase in the allocation of public funds has been observed at the local level to subsidise safeguarding activities. It should be noted that, in addition to state funding, promotional events and performances also receive funds from local and regional self-government units, donations, sponsorship and tourism associations.

Community participation

Bearers, associations and local music and dance groups are central to ensuring the continued practice and transmission of this element. Individual tradition bearers are celebrated in their communities and active in transmitting the element. The key to sustaining this tradition are the activities of the cultural associations which present traditional Ojkanje singing, who are supported by the attribution of adequate financial resources. These associations provide learning opportunities from older, more experienced singers and through various media (audio and video recordings). The enthusiasm of the tradition bearers is a very important factor in safeguarding Ojkanje singing and it is reported that they often use their personal resources to finance activities. Although the present report was compiled by the Conservation Department of the Ministry of Culture in five of the cities, it was prepared with the full support of local communities, administrations and competent institutions. All known bearers (mostly through cultural clubs) helped to compile the data and supply details by email to the aforementioned Department.

Viability and current risks

In the past, Ojkanje singing was solely learnt through intergenerational oral transmission and constituted a vehicle for communication, narration and transmission of oral history and culture. Nowadays, tradition bearers are mainly elderly and the homogenized lifestyle prevailing in rural regions acts as an impediment to young people learning this form of singing. Furthermore, former functions of this type of singing have been transformed, with presentation and performance becoming the main focus. Formal or semi-formal performances have mostly replaced the traditional improvised genre. As stated in the report, associations and communities continue to safeguard the practice of Ojkanje singing by adapting it to modern lifestyles and providing organised ways of transmission. However, increasing loss of the social function of the element where Ojkanje used to be sung in many contexts regarding family and community life, continues to hinder transmission of the practice to new generations.

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