Inscribed in 2017 (12.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Cultural Practices Associated to the 1st of March comprise traditions transmitted since ancient
times to celebrate the beginning of spring. The main practice consists of making, offering and wearing a red and white thread, which is then untied when the first blossom tree, swallow or stork is seen. A few other local practices also form part of a larger spring celebration, such as purification actions in Moldova. The artefact is considered to provide symbolic protection against perils such as capricious weather, with the practice ensuring a safe passage from winter to spring for individuals, groups and communities. All members of the communities concerned participate, irrespective of their age, and the practice contributes to social cohesion, intergenerational exchange and interaction with nature, fostering diversity and creativity. Informal education is the most frequent means of transmission: in rural areas, young girls are taught how to make the thread by older women, while in urban areas apprentices learn from teachers, craftspeople and through informal education. Another occasion for transmission is provided by Martenitsa/Martinka/Mărţişor workshops organized by ethnographic museums. The communities concerned are actively involved in efforts to inventory, research, document and promote the element, and numerous cultural projects geared at its safeguarding are underway.
Inscribed in 2016 (11.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
In the past, wall carpets produced by weavers in communities of Romania and the Republic of Moldova were used not only as decorative features and sources of insulation but also as part of a bride’s dowry. A variety of techniques were needed to produce the pieces with impressive motifs. Certain patterns also indicated where the weaver was from. The carpets had additional roles in community practices, such as at funerals where they symbolized a passage for the soul to the hereafter. They were also displayed at international exhibitions as markers of national identity. These days, wall carpets are mainly appreciated as works of art for public and private spaces and exhibited at city festivals and ceremonies. Techniques have changed from vertical or horizontal looms practised in some parts, to tight picking (thread by thread) and other forms with weavers now able to work from home. In villages, girls learn the art form from their mother or grandmother, while in cities craft centers, associations and colleges, as well as museums provide classes. Viewed as an expression of creativity and identity marker, wall carpet craftsmanship is also considered as a tool to unite groups in society of different ages and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Inscribed in 2015 (10.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Lad’s dances are a genre of men’s folk dance in Romania practised in community life on festive occasions, such as weddings and holidays, as well as during stage performances. Each community has its own variants, all of which display virtuosity and harmonious combinations of movement and rhythm. A special role is assigned to the dance leader and coordinator who trains and integrates group members, while the second leader is selected for his skills as a performer and leads the dance. Dancers group themselves into groups of boys and men aged 5 to 70, which may include Romanian, Hungarian and Roma dancers. This aspect contributes to intercultural dialogue and provides a context for learning more about cultural diversity, by witnessing, for example, local performers dancing at regional events or by observing choreographic styles of different ethnic groups. All community members are bearers and practitioners of the element, and taking part in the dance, be it as performers or spectators, enhances social cohesion. Lad’s dances provide an opportunity for young men to strengthen their social status in traditional communities, particularly among girls and their families in anticipation of marriage.
Inscribed in 2013 (8.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Each year before Christmas, groups of young men gather in villages throughout Romania and the Republic of Moldova to prepare for the ritual of Colindat. On Christmas Eve, they go from house to house performing festive songs. Afterwards, the hosts offer the singers ritual gifts and money. The songs have an epic content, which is adapted to each host’s individual circumstances. Ritual performers also sing special, auspicious songs for unmarried girls and dance with them – a practice said to help them find a husband within the next year. Colindat is sometimes performed in costume, with instrumental accompaniment and choreography. Groups of young men (traditionally unmarried) are the main bearers and practitioners of the element; experienced men, often former group leaders, are responsible for the group’s training. The ritual songs are learned at daily rehearsals from the time the group is formed until Christmas Eve. In some areas, children are allowed to attend these rehearsals in order to learn the repertoire. As well as conveying the season’s greetings, this cultural heritage plays an important role in preserving social identity and ensuring cohesion.
Inscribed in 2012 (7.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Horezu ceramics are a unique traditional craft. Handmade in the northern part of Vâlcea County, Romania, they reflect generations of knowledge and craftsmanship. Men and women generally divide the fabrication processes. Men select and extract the earth, which is then cleaned, cut, watered, kneaded, trampled and mixed – transforming it into a clay body from which the potters of Horezu produce a red pottery. The potters then shape each object with a special finger technique requiring concentration, strength and agility. Each person has his own method of shaping, but everyone respects the sequence of operations. The women decorate the objects using specific techniques and tools to draw traditional motifs. Their skill in combining decoration and colour defines the personality and uniqueness of these ceramics. The colours are vivid shades of dark brown, red, green, blue and ‘Horezu ivory’. The object is then fired. The potters use traditional tools: a mixer for cleaning the earth, a potter’s wheel and comb for shaping, a hollowed-out bull’s horn and a fine wire-tipped stick for decoration, and a wood-burning stove for firing. The craft is transmitted through families, in workshops from master to apprentice, and at fairs and exhibitions. The element gives the community a sense of identity, while maintaining a social function in everyday existence.
Inscribed in 2009 (4.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Known by various names throughout Romania, the ”doina” is a lyrical, solemn chant that is improvised and spontaneous. As the essence of Romanian folklore, until 1900 it was the only musical genre in many regions of the country. Technically, the doina can be sung in any context (outdoors, at home, at work or during wakes), and is always performed solo, with or without instrumental accompaniment (which might include the traditional straight flute, bagpipes and even improvised instruments). There are several regional variants. The doina has a wide-ranging expressive and thematic palette that spans joy, sadness, solitude, social conflicts, brigand attacks, love and so on. Expressing as it does the personal qualities, emotions and virtuosity of the creator-performer, the doina also plays an important social role by providing a cathartic outlet that strengthens solidarity. It has also given rise to other artistic genres (dances). Today, the doina is under threat locally because of a break in the line of transmission from parent to child. Although some fifteen people have been identified as representatives of the various types of doina, an environment conducive to performance and transmission must be restored in order to ensure that this important feature of Romania’s intangible cultural heritage continues to flourish.
Inscribed in 2008 (3.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (originally proclaimed in 2005)
Performed in the Olt region of southern Romania, the Căluş ritual dance also formed part of the cultural heritage of the Vlachs of Bulgaria and Serbia. Although the oldest documented music used in this dance dates from the seventeenth century, the ritual probably derived from ancient purification and fertility rites using the symbol of the horse, which was worshipped as an embodiment of the sun. The ritual’s name derives from the Căluş, the wooden part of the horse’s bridle. The Căluş ritual features a series of games, skits, songs and dances, and was enacted by all-male Căluşari dancers to the accompaniment of two violins and an accordion. Young men used to be initiated into the ritual by a vataf (master) who had inherited the knowledge of descântece (magic charms) and the dance steps from his predecessor. Groups of Căluşari dancers, sporting colourful hats, embroidered shirts and trousers adorned with small jingling bells, perform complex dances, which combine stamping, clicking of the heels, leaping and swinging of the legs. According to tradition, groups of dancing and chanting Căluşari, who were thought to be endowed with magical healing powers, went from house to house, promising good health and prosperity to villagers. Until today, Căluşari meet to celebrate their dancing and musical prowess on Whit Sunday. Testifying the rich cultural diversity of Romania, the Căluş ritual is also widely promoted at folklore festivals, such as the Caracal festival in the region of Olt, turning it into a veritable national symbol.