Art of dry stone walling, knowledge and techniques

Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, France, Italy, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland

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

© Mira Audiovisual Vidéo édition / Postproduction, 2017

The art of dry stone walling concerns the knowhow related to making stone constructions by stacking stones upon each other, without using any other materials except sometimes dry soil. Dry stone structures are spread across most rural areas – mainly in steep terrains – both inside and outside inhabited spaces, though they are not unknown in urban areas. The stability of the structures is ensured through the careful selection and placement of the stones, and dry-stone structures have shaped numerous, diverse landscapes, forming various modes of dwelling, farming and husbandry. Such structures testify to the methods and practices used by people from prehistory to today to organize their living and working space by optimizing local natural and human resources. They play a vital role in preventing landslides, floods and avalanches, and in combating erosion and desertification of the land, enhancing biodiversity and creating adequate microclimatic conditions for agriculture. The bearers and practitioners include the rural communities where the element is deeply rooted, as well as professionals in the construction business. Dry stone structures are always made in perfect harmony with the environment and the technique exemplifies a harmonious relationship between human beings and nature. The practice is passed down primarily through practical application adapted to the particular conditions of each place.

© Branko Orbanić, 2011


Bobbin lacemaking in Slovenia


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

© B.Dovečer/Ž.Emeršič/A.Hefferle/ M.Lapajne/A.Otovčević/M.Pevec/ T.Prinčič/N.Valentinčič Furlan/B.Zrinšek

Bobbin lacemaking in Slovenia is a handicraft skill of making lace by crossing and twisting thread wound on special wooden sticks known as bobbins. Using locally recognizable patterns with local names, bobbin lacemakers make lace in bands or in finished shapes. The bobbin lacemaking process follows a specific pattern: a drawing on paper is attached to a cylinder pillow in a wicker basket or on a wooden base. The lace is used to adorn clothing and fashion accessories, church and home textiles and representative spaces, but bobbin lacemaking also serves as an inspiration for artistic creations in fields such as the contemporary visual arts, design, architecture and culinary design. It is the creative expression of all those involved in the process, including the pattern designer and the bobbin lacemaker. Bobbin lacemaking has notable therapeutic functions, and is an ecologically clean and sustainability-oriented activity. There are around 120 bobbin lacemaking societies, sections and groups in Slovenia today, which include trained bobbin lacemakers and those who are still learning. Bearers mostly comprise women, and the knowledge and skills related to the practice are most frequently passed down from grandmothers to grandchildren: the socializing of female bobbin lacemakers in neighbourhood communities is also key for transmitting related knowledge and skills.

© Mestni Muzej Idrija, 1992


Door-to-door rounds of Kurenti


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

Door-to-door rounds of Kurenti

© Denis del Bianchi, 2015

Door-to-door-rounds-of-Kurenti- © Denis del Bianchi, 2015
Door-to-door rounds of Kurenti is a Shrovetide custom practised from Candlemas (2 February) to Ash Wednesday. Kurenti practise their rounds through villages and nowadays also through the town of Ptuj. Groups consisting of Kurenti and one or more devils run from house to house, form a circle in the yard and jump around the owners. According to their beliefs, the noisy bell-ringing and brandishing of the wooden stick chase everything evil away and bring happiness to those they visit. Men, women and children are actively involved in all activities associated with the custom. Kurenti normally form groups, and some establish associations. One important bearer is the Federation of Kurenti Associations, which acts as the umbrella organization. The practice helps strengthen interpersonal bonds and is key to the regional identity of the communities concerned. Kindergartens and elementary schools assist in the safeguarding process, and some formal education courses and informal workshops help maintain respect for the practice. Related knowledge and skills are most commonly transmitted within the family, but youngsters also learn from elderly members of the groups they are part of and schools and museums play an important role by organizing activities, workshops and contests.

Feathered Korants, Markovci

© Andrej Brence, 2009


Škofja Loka passion play


Inscribed in 2016 (11.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© 2015, by Marjan Cerar

© 2015, by Marjan Cerar

In Škofja Loka, Slovenia, a folk play performed as a procession takes place in the streets of the town’s medieval centre during Lent and Easter involving more than 900 local performers. The Škofja Loka Passion Play, based on the ancient works of a Capuchin monk, demonstrates 20 scenes of the stations of the cross and others from the Old Testament and New Testament. Performed in the dialect of the time it was written, the play takes place at a series of locations. In addition to the actors, 400 other volunteers from the community participate in the play’s production. Due to the complexity involved, the Škofja Loka Passion Play is only performed every six years. While it is considered to be an important part of local identity, the play also contributes to social cohesion giving residents involved an opportunity to connnect with one other and feel like they are contributing to their community. Knowledge and skills associated with the practice of the play are transmitted from older to younger generations by families who participate, and craftspeople assisting in the play’s production who host classes passing on know-how to others. The Passion Play is also included in the curricula of local schools.

©Jure Nastran, 2015

©Jure Nastran, 2015

Republic of Slovenia joined UNESCO on 27.05.1992

Republic of Slovenia is a country in southern Central Europe, located at the crossroads of main European cultural and trade routes. It is bordered by Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Hungary to the northeast, Croatia to the south and southeast, and the Adriatic Sea to the south west. It covers 20,273 km².

National Commission for UNESCO

President: Prof. Dr. Radovan Stanislav Pejovnik

Secretary-General: Ms Marjutka Hafner

Deputy Secretary-General: Mr Gasper Hrastelj

Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology

Kotnikova ulica 38 1000 LJUBLJANA SLOVENIA

Telephone (+386 1) 478 47 99

Fax (386 1) 478 46 60

E-mail marjutka.hafner(a); gasper.hrastelj(a);


Web site
Permanent Delegation to UNESCO

H. E. Mrs Veronika Stabej – Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Slovenia to France, Permanent Delegate (20/12/2010)

28, rue du Bois le Vent 75016 Paris


E-mail dl.slovenie(a)unesco-delegations.orgvpa(a)

read more …