Decisión del Comité intergubernamental: 15.COM 8.b.23

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 the Bay of Kotor who live in the Republic of Croatia (no. 01472) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Croats originating from Montenegro’s Bay of Kotor have formed tightly-knit communities in the Croatian towns of Rijeka, Zagreb, Pula, Dubrovnik and Split since the nineteenth century. Today, this minority group is known as Boka Croats and its traditions are centered on two main events: the Feast Day of St Tryphon, held annually on 3 February, and ‘Boka Nights’, held throughout February and March. These gatherings are a strong symbol of their identity and are meant to reconnect them with their maritime culture. Men dress in traditional sailors’ and officers’ uniforms. Before mass on the feast day, a young boy known as the Little Admiral – a role often passed down from father to son – memorizes and recites a long text. Afterwards, a chain dance is performed by members of the Boka Navy in traditional costumes. The dance’s twelve figures symbolize characteristics of life at sea. Bearers of the element are Boka Croats gathered into confraternities. Men perform roles in the ritual, while women prepare traditional food. The element celebrates a sense of belonging to the culture of Boka, as well as values of tolerance and dialogue. Gatherings are often intended to help specific community members, families or students.

  1. Considers that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criterion for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.5:   The element was inscribed in the Register of Cultural Goods of Croatia in 2015. The proposal was submitted and completed by representatives of the communities concerned. The inventory is updated at least once every five years by the Directorate for the Protection of Cultural Heritage at the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia.

  1. Further considers 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:   Though the nomination file presents a group of activities, practices and rituals, the description does not clearly identify the defining characteristics of the element. The materials presented include information regarding the relation of the element and of the communities concerned to the Bay of Kotor in the past. However, the file does not provide a sufficient explanation of the nature and the cultural and social functions of the element in the Republic of Croatia in the present day. Furthermore, the file does not demonstrate the relationship of the element with the communities concerned or the relationship among the different communities.

R.2:   The file does not demonstrate how the inscription of the element would contribute to ensuring the visibility of intangible cultural heritage in general. Instead, the information focuses on the visibility and awareness of the element itself, pointing out the importance of the element for identity at the local level. Furthermore, the information provided does not convincingly demonstrate that the inscription of the element would enable or encourage dialogue among the communities concerned. While the focus on the international aspects of the element is explained under criterion R.2, it is not sufficiently reflected in the other parts of the nomination, where only one particular community is highlighted.

R.3:   While the nomination proposes a wide range of safeguarding measures for the element, when it comes to the State Party’s support for such measures, the nomination only mentions the listing of the element on the National Register of Cultural Goods. A more concrete and detailed description of the government’s support is necessary to be able to assess the feasibility of the proposed safeguarding measures. Furthermore, the nomination file does not sufficiently demonstrate how the communities, groups or individuals concerned were involved in planning and implementing the safeguarding measures.

R.4:   The file describes a process that included brotherhoods and their leaders, followed by meetings with public experts. In 2018, internal discussions took place regarding letters of support as well as the preparation of the documentation. However, the information provided in the file is insufficient to comprehend the mechanisms and methodology of the work with the communities and how they participated throughout the nomination process. Though a large number of letters of consent are provided, they do not demonstrate the commitment of all the communities involved in the nomination.

  1. Decides to refer the nomination of Festivity of Saint Tryphon and the Kolo (chain dance) of Saint Tryphon, traditions of Croats from the Bay of Kotor who live in the Republic of Croatia to the submitting State Party;

  2. Encourages the State Party, when submitting nomination files in the future, to consider how the inscription of an element on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity would ensure that all communities, groups and individuals concerned are at the center of safeguarding efforts and how it would encourage dialogue;

  3. Recalls the importance of using vocabulary appropriate to the spirit of the Convention and of avoiding expressions such as ‘unique’ or ‘specific’.

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