Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 5.COM 5.4

The Committee,

  1. Takes note that Croatia has nominated Ojkanje singing for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, described as follows:

Ojkanje two-part singing, found in the Croatian regions of the Dalmatian hinterland, is performed by two or more singers (male or female) using a distinctive voice-shaking technique created by the throat. Each song lasts as long as the lead singer can hold his or her breath. Melodies are based on limited, mostly chromatic, tonal scales, and the lyrics cover diverse themes ranging from love to current social issues and politics. Ojkanje owes its survival to organized groups of local tradition bearers who continue to transmit the skills and knowledge, representing their villages at festivals in Croatia and around the world. Although Ojkanje is traditionally passed on orally, audio and video media and organized training within local folklore groups now play an increasing part in its transmission. However, the survival of individual voice-shaking techniques and numerous two-part forms depends greatly on talented, skilful singers and their capacity to perform and to pass on their knowledge to new generations. Recent conflicts and rural to urban migration that reduced the population of the region and changes in ways of life have caused a sharp decrease in the number of performers, resulting in the loss of many archaic styles and genres of solo singing.

  1. Decides that from the information provided in Nomination File 00320, Ojkanje singing satisfies the criteria for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, as follows:

U.1:   Ojkanje singing is a constantly changing and ever-renewing form of sung poetry, recognized by its communities as the most important part of their intangible heritage and an inseparable part of their cultural life;

U.2:   Nevertheless, changing social contexts and a history of ‘festivalization’ have both contributed to interruptions in the chain of traditional transmission and disruptions in the continuity of singing styles, and a lack of interest in Ojkanje singing among young people places it in a situation of serious endangerment;

U.3:   Safeguarding measures emphasize the reinforcement and reinvigoration of traditional means of transmitting Ojkanje singing from older to younger generations, complemented by research, documentation and international exchange among countries where similar singing genres are found;

U.4:   The participation of local communities in the nomination process and their readiness to cooperate in transmission programmes and documentation efforts is evident from the nomination, which also includes their free, prior and informed consent;

U.5:   Ojkanje singing was included in 2009 in the Register of Cultural Goods of the Republic of Croatia, maintained by the Ministry of Culture.

  1. Inscribes Ojkanje singing on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding;
  2. Thanks the submitting State for the attention it has provided to Ojkanje singing and commends the State and the communities concerned for their shared commitment to ensure its future safeguarding;
  3. Emphasizes the importance of strengthening traditional modes of transmission and encouraging performance in the many contexts of family and community life in which Ojkanje was formerly sung;
  4. Encourages other States and communities with similar forms of singing to collaborate actively in the opportunities for international exchange that are proposed by the submitting State.