Decisión del Comité intergubernamental: 16.COM 8.B.25

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Montenegro has nominated Cultural Heritage of Boka Navy Kotor: a festive representation of a memory and cultural identity (no. 01727) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Boka Navy is a traditional, non-governmental maritime organization founded in Kotor, Montenegro in 809. Its origin is linked to the arrival of the relics of St. Tryphon, the patron saint of the city of Kotor. Comprised of a community of seafarers with military, economic, educational and humanitarian functions, Boka Navy has played a memorial role for two centuries, preserving and promoting maritime history and tradition. Membership is voluntary and open to men, women and children of all ages. The organization is founded on the respect of human rights and of religious, national and cultural diversity. During formal celebrations, members wear colourful traditional uniforms, carry historic weapons and perform the traditional circle kolo dance. Boka Navy is the backbone of the annual St. Tryphon festivities, which take place from 13 January through 3 February and include a procession and a series of rituals in the cathedral. The external festivities begin with the Boka Navy’s traditional kolo circle dance and are followed by a procession carrying the relics of St. Tryphon through the main town squares and streets. Thousands of spectators attend the processions in the historic centre and observe the festive events. Hundreds of women, men and children also participate in preparations of the activities.

  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 element is named for an organization and its associated festive ceremonies which involve the religious heritage of St. Tryphon and the performance of six mandated celebrations with traditional uniforms, weapons and the performance of a kolo dance. The element entails the transmission of maritime and spiritual symbols, ancient music and seafaring knowledge across generations. Its bearers include 203 members of the Boka Navy Kotor, artisans, marching bands and people who identify with the cult of the patron saint of Kotor. Knowledge and skills are transmitted from generation to generation within families, and children may be motivated to start practicing from an early age. The Boka Navy also has several committees to train young members and organizes exhibitions, conferences and publications. The element plays a role in maintaining the social and cultural identity of Boka Bay and Montenegro as a whole, while promoting kinship, friendship and neighbourhood ties. The element does not conflict with human rights instruments.

R.2:  At the local and national levels, inscription will increase publications about the element and draw attention from the media and from people interested in academic cultural studies. Younger generations will be encouraged to take interest in preserving and passing on the tradition. Inscription will also promote interaction and exchanges about good safeguarding practices between different regions. Internationally, it will encourage communities in their efforts to safeguard and transmit intangible cultural heritage. Intercultural dialogue will be fostered, and the element will inspire artists, musicians, writers and scientists, thereby promoting human creativity.

R.3:  The nomination indicates that the safeguarding measures currently in place make it possible to ensure the viability of the element. The nomination also states that Boka Navy refuses to take part in events that have exclusively tourist or commercial purposes, which is a self-initiated measure for the safeguarding of its cultural values. According to the nomination, a dedicated team will be formed to supervise the implementation of the defined safeguarding activities and to ensure wider social and political support. The proposed safeguarding measures are the result of discussions between the Boka Navy Kotor Board, the Ministry of Culture, the National Commission for UNESCO, the Department for Cultural Heritage, the Maritime Museum and the municipal authorities and clergy.

R.4:  The file demonstrates wide participation in a process coordinated by the Ministry of Culture and involving experts from cultural institutions and Boka Navy representatives. The draft nomination file was presented to representatives of local and State authorities, non-governmental organizations, cultural institutions and interested individuals. During this time, their free, prior and informed consent was established. Respect for customary practices was also established as the statutes of Boka Navy regulate access and can be consulted.

R.5:  In 2013, the element was included in a Register of Cultural Properties of Montenegro (Book of Intangible Cultural Properties), overseen by the Administration for the Protection of Cultural Properties. The Register is regularly updated with new inscriptions. However, the periodicity of registrations is dependent on the willingness of local communities to initiate such processes.

  1. Decides to inscribe Cultural Heritage of Boka Navy Kotor: a festive representation of a memory and cultural identity on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Commends the State Party for the submission of an improved file following the decision of the Committee to refer the element in 2019 and further commends the State Party for its first inscription;
  3. Recalls the importance of using vocabulary appropriate to the spirit of the Convention and of avoiding expressions such as ‘cultural property’;
  4. Reminds the State Party of the importance of ensuring the most active possible participation of the communities concerned in the formulation of the safeguarding measures;
  5. Encourages the State Party to share safeguarding experiences with other States Parties with similar elements.