Picking of iva grass on Ozren mountain

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Inscribed in 2018 (13.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Picking of iva grass on Ozren mountain

© Museum in Doboj, 2016


On 11 September each year, the day of the beheading of St. John the Baptist, inhabitants of the villages around Ozren mountain go to Gostilij to pick iva grass. After hiking up the hills, villagers of all social, gender and age groups pick iva grass, both individually and in groups. Iva must be picked carefully and pickers need to find it among the higher grass; the process therefore usually takes a few hours. When the picking is done, they climb up Gostilij and assemble into smaller groups, many wearing Ozren folk costumes, to play, dance and sing traditional music. In the afternoon, Orthodox priests climb up to the peak of Gostilij where they consecrate the iva. Iva is consumed in different ways (as a tea, soaked in brandy, mixed with honey) both for its curative effect and preventively. While in the past the practice was exclusively related to folk medicine, nowadays its primary functions include hospitality and social integration, as well as helping to safeguard Ozren costumes, songs and dances that have been gradually disappearing. The practice is transmitted spontaneously within the family, as well as in primary schools. Several local associations also invite similar organizations from different regions to take part in the practice, leading to the inclusion of many practitioners from outside of Ozren.


© Museum in Doboj, 2002


Konjic woodcarving

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Inscribed in 2017 (12.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Drawing a soul in texture of wood (Crtanje duše u teksturi drveta)

© 2014, Federal Ministry of Culture and Sport of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Konjic woodcarving is an artistic craft with a long tradition in the Konjic municipality. The woodcarvings – which include furniture, sophisticated interiors and small decorative objects – stand out for their recognizable hand-carved motifs and overall visual identity. The woodcarving is a constitutive part of the local community’s culture, a measure of the beauty and amenity of home interiors, and a tradition that forges a sense of community and belonging. The practice not only plays a very important role at the community level in Konjic, however, but also countrywide and in diaspora communities. It is an economically viable, socially inclusive and ecologically sustainable craft practised by different ethnic and confessional groups, which serves as an instrument of dialogue and cooperation. The craft is widespread among Konjic inhabitants, both as an occupation and as a hobby, and while the main bearers are trained craftspeople who work in woodcarving workshops, bearers who practise the craft at home are equally important. The owners of family-run woodcarving workshops are most responsible for safeguarding the element, training apprentice woodcarvers and popularizing the craft. Knowledge and skills are transmitted primarily through on-the-job training of novices in the practising workshops, as well as through intergenerational transmission within the family.


Friends having coffee in a home with hand-carved furniture in Konjic

Photograph: Adem Nikšić © Rukotvorine doo, Konjic, 2014



Zmijanje embroidery

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Inscribed in 2014 (9.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© 2013 by Museum of Republic of Srpska

© 2013 by Museum of Republic of Srpska


Zmijanje embroidery is a specific technique practised by the women of Zmijanje villages in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Traditionally, Zmijanje embroidery is used to decorate female costumes and household items, including wedding dresses, scarves, garments and bed linen. The main characteristic is the use of a deep blue thread, handmade with vegetable dyes, to embroider improvised geometrical shapes. The richness and variations of the embroidered designs determine the social status of the village women. Embroidery is usually performed among groups of women, who engage in needlework while singing and chatting. Each embroiderer adapts and reinvents the required knowledge and skills, as part of the process of transmission. The knowledge is conveyed orally and through practical work, mostly in formal educational environments. Students learn by watching experienced embroiderers combine pre-determined elements into numerous variations, and through regular and continuous practice. Zmijanje embroidery incorporates respect for diversity, creativity and non-verbal communication. It also has a sentimental and emotional value particularly for displaced populations, who use embroidered garments as an expression of national and local identity and pride. Embroidery ties together many elements of cultural heritage, such as music, rituals, oral traditions, handicrafts and symbolic expressions.

© 2013 by Museum of Republic of Srpska

© 2013 by Museum of Republic of Srpska

Bosnia and Herzegovina joined UNESCO on 02.06.1993

Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a mountainous country located in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Sarajevo. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost landlocked, except for the 20 kilometres (12 miles) of coastline on the Adriatic Sea surrounding the town of Neum.

National Commission for UNESCO
Président: Mr Sredoje Novic
Secretary-General: Ms Biljana Camur

National Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina for UNESCO
Ministry of Civil Affairs
Telephone: (387) 33.492.552 (SG); (387) 33.492.598;
Fax: (387) 33.492.632
E-mail:  biljana.camur(a)mcp.gov.ba (SG); jelena.vukovic(a)mcp.gov.ba;
Web site  www.mcp.gov.ba
Permanent Delegation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to UNESCO
Ambassade de Bosnie-Herzégovine
174, rue de Courcelles
75017 PARIS
E-mail: dl.bosnie-herzegovine(a)unesco-delegations.org  ;  amb.pariz(a)mvp.gov.ba
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