Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 17.COM 7.b.4

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Croatia has nominated Festivity of Saint Tryphon and the Kolo (chain dance) of Saint Tryphon, traditions of Croats from Boka Kotorska (Bay of Kotor) who live in the Republic of Croatia (No. 01891) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The Festivity of Saint Tryphon and the Kolo (chain dance) of Saint Tryphon are centred around two main annual events: the Feast Day of St. Tryphon (3 February) and the Boka Nights. The Kolo, performed by members of the Boka Navy dressed in traditional uniform, is the most visible cultural aspect of the festivity. Bearers of this tradition meet throughout February and March in every city where the Boka Navy is situated. Known as Boka Nights, these gatherings present the cultural heritage of Boka Croats to the Croatian public. The festivity stems from the cult of Saint Tryphon. His remains were taken to Kotor in 809, and he has been worshipped as the patron saint of Kotor, the Diocese of Kotor, and the Boka Navy ever since. Members of the community are involved in the preparation and maintenance of costumes and learn about typical Boka recipes. Knowledge of the broader historical and cultural context of Boka Croats and their patron saint is also transmitted through exhibitions, public lectures, cultural evenings and events.

  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, a tradition of Boka Croats, has been practiced since 1873, and involves a religious recital to Saint Tryphon, as well as a chain dance performed afterwards. It is practiced during February and March each year. The bearers are Boka Croats, who gather in confraternities. The inclusion of young practitioners, in the role of the ‘Little Admiral’, represents the transmission of the element from generation to generation. Women participate in the element by preparing food for the communities, and wearing traditional dresses. The knowledge and skills related to the element are transmitted from older practitioners to younger ones, as well as through exhibitions and public events. The element serves to reinforce the community's connection with the sea and with naval traditions. The element carries a social function through dialogue and gatherings among members of confraternities during the celebration and its preparation.

R.2:   At the local level, inscription will encourage cultural minorities and immigrant communities to disseminate and recognize these traditions and other similar practices. At the national level, inscription will encourage the promotion of intangible cultural heritage and the implementation of the 2003 Convention by motivating confraternities in all regions of Croatia. It will also promote minority cultures. At the international level, inscription will draw more attention to this traditional element related to Mediterranean culture, and promote the symbolism and values associated with it. Inscription will also enhance research and documentation of the tradition, ensure better understanding and dialogue, and support diversity and cultural pluralism, especially between dispersed communities.

R.3:   Annual gatherings of Boka Croats in Croatia and public performances have contributed to the viability of the element. The communities concerned continue to hold regular meetings and gatherings of confraternity members and to recruit young members as part of the process of transmission. The communities have also endeavoured to research and document the histories of the element, promoting it through public lectures and exhibitions. The State Party has contributed to the safeguarding measures by allocating projects within research centres, promoting the element during international conferences, and documenting the element within the Register of Cultural Property. The file provides information on the proposed safeguarding measures, which include financial support, education and promoting the element through the media. The members of five confraternities of the Boka Navy 809, which include many bearers in Croatia, were involved in planning and implementing the proposed safeguarding measures.

R.4:   The intention to nominate the element to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity came from the Boka Croats themselves after they saw that the Ministry of Culture had successfully started implementing the 2003 Convention in Croatia. The communities have been involved in the nomination process since 2018. Performers, local bearers and representatives of the confraternities participated in discussions at round tables, public forums and symposiums, as well as in the preparation of the documentary film and collection of photographs. Accompanying the nomination is a set of free, prior and informed consent letters from individuals, NGOs and institutional representatives of all genders.

R.5:   The element was added to the Register of Cultural Property of Croatia – List of Protected Cultural Property on 13 July 2015. The register is maintained by the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia, Directorate for the Protection of Cultural Heritage. The representatives of the bearers and stakeholders of the element submitted the proposal to include the element on the register, which was endorsed by the Committee for Intangible Cultural Heritage. The register is updated at least once every five years.

  1. Decides to inscribe Festivity of Saint Tryphon and the Kolo (chain dance) of Saint Tryphon, traditions of Croats from Boka Kotorska (Bay of Kotor) who live in the Republic of Croatia 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 2020;
  3. 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;
  4. Encourages the State Party to share safeguarding experiences with other States Parties with similar elements.