- Takes note that Czechia has nominated Handmade production of Christmas tree decorations from blown glass beads (No. 01375) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:
The handmade production of Christmas tree decorations from blown glass beads is a traditional practice connected with glass production in North Bohemia, where blown glass beads have been produced since the late eighteenth century. Originally, they were primarily used for jewellery production and embroidery on folk costumes, but since the mid-nineteenth century, when decorating Christmas trees became more common, the beads have been used for handmade decorations. The bearers include blowers and threaders who work at home on commission, along with the parent factory, which performs the function of the commission merchant, employs in-house silverers and acts as the distributor of the products to the market. The beads are produced by blowing a previously heated glass tube inserted into a brass mould. The tubes are then shaped into a string of beads, which are silvered, coloured and decorated by hand, cut by hand into shorter pieces or individual beads and threaded on wires to form unique decorations of many forms and colours for decorating Christmas trees. As well as providing bearers with a source of income, the practice strengthens family relations and encourages intergenerational relationships. The production process has not changed much over the past hundred years and related knowhow and skills are still transmitted through hands-on experience.
- Decides 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.3: The submitting State has demonstrated how the viability of the element is being ensured through a variety of safeguarding measures, ranging from inventorying initiatives to exhibitions and awareness-raising actions. In this regard, a parent factory is presented as the main institution responsible for the transmission and promotion of the element, including for the monitoring of the element after inscription. The file demonstrates the State’s commitment to supporting the safeguarding of the element, including through the provision of financial resources and the development of a policy framework.
R.5: Since 2015, the element has been included in the Regional List of Intangible Elements of Traditional Folk Culture of Liberecký Region and the National List of Intangible Elements of Traditional Folk Culture of the Czech Republic, which are maintained and updated on a yearly basis by the Council of the Liberecký Region and the Ministry of Culture, respectively. The element was identified with the participation of the communities concerned, in conformity with Article 11 of the Convention.
- Further decides that the information included in the file is not sufficient to allow the Committee to determine whether the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity are satisfied:
R.1: The handmade production of Christmas tree decorations from blown glass beads constitutes a marker of identity, a medium of intergenerational transmission of knowledge and a source of income in the rural communities of two regions in Czechia. However, the description of the element makes frequent reference to a ‘parent factory’, which is presented as the main intermediary between practitioners and the wider public, without any explanation of the relations between the tradition bearers and the factory. The file fails to present the nature and function of this factory, which raises severe concerns as to the risk of a monopoly of the practice by one entity, which would be contrary to the definition of intangible cultural heritage in the Convention and its objectives, as it would constitute a restrictive measure preventing other practitioners from engaging in the practice of the element.
R.2: The inscription of the element could enhance the visibility of glass craftsmanship while also highlighting human creativity. However, the nomination places a heavy emphasis on the commercial and business aspects of the practice, which is reinforced by the prominent roles given to the media and advertising sectors in the file for the visibility of craft products on the market, to the detriment of the promotion of the social and cultural functions of the element. Furthermore, the file does not demonstrate how the inscription would contribute to the visibility of intangible cultural heritage in general.
R.4: While the file states that practitioners have participated in the preparation of the nomination, it provides insufficient information to understand their exact role in the process, as their participation seems to have been achieved at all times through a parent factory as the main broker. The expressions of free, prior and informed consent consist of a single standard letter only, signed by seven individuals, which was considered as insufficient to demonstrate community consent given the vast community of bearers and practitioners described in the rest of the file. In addition, no consent from the parent factory was provided, whereas it is presented as a key stakeholder throughout the nomination process.
- Decides to refer the nomination of Handmade production of Christmas tree decorations from blown glass beads to the submitting State Party and invites it to resubmit the nomination to the Committee for examination during a following cycle.