Greece

Transhumance, the seasonal droving of livestock along migratory routes in the Mediterranean and in the Alps

Transhumance, the seasonal droving of livestock along migratory routes in the Mediterranean and the Alps, is a form of pastoralism. Every year in spring and autumn, thousands of animals are driven by groups of herders together with their dogs and horses along steady routes between two geographical and climatic regions, from dawn to dusk. In many cases, the herders’ families also travel with the livestock. Two broad types of transhumance can be distinguished: horizontal transhumance, in plain or plateau regions; and vertical transhumance, typically in mountain regions. Transhumance shapes relations among people, animals and ecosystems. It involves shared rituals and social practices, caring for and breeding animals, managing land, forests and water resources, and dealing with natural hazards. Transhumant herders have in-depth knowledge of the environment, ecological balance and climate change, as this is one of the most sustainable, efficient livestock farming methods. They also possess special skills related to all kinds of handicraft and food production involved. Festivities during springtime and autumn mark the beginning and end of transhumance, when bearers share food, rituals and stories and introduce younger generations to the practice. Chief herders pass on their specific know-how to the younger generations through daily activities, ensuring the continued viability of the practice.

Return across the glacier after the first snow in September (Austria) Photograph: Mauro Gambicorti © Kulturverein Schnals

  Greece

Transhumance, the seasonal droving of livestock along migratory routes in the Mediterranean and in the Alps

multinational application of

AustriaGreece and Italy

Date of Inscription:

Inscribed in 2019 (14.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Byzantine chant

As a living art that has existed for more than 2000 years, the Byzantine chant is a significant cultural tradition and comprehensive music system forming part of the common musical traditions that developed in the Byzantine Empire. Highlighting and musically enhancing the liturgical texts of the Greek Orthodox Church, it is inextricably linked with spiritual life and religious worship. This vocal art is mainly focused on rendering the ecclesiastical text; arguably, the chant exists because of the word (‘logos’), since every aspect of the tradition serves to spread the sacred message. Passed on aurally across the generations, its main characteristics have remained over the centuries: it is exclusively vocal music; it is essentially monophonic; the chants are codified into an eight-mode or eight-tone system; and the chant employs different styles of rhythm to accentuate the desired syllables of specific words. Though the Psaltic Art has always been linked to the male voice, women chanters are common in nunneries and participate in parishes to some extent. In addition to its transmission in church, the Byzantine chant is flourishing due to the dedication of experts and non-experts alike – including musicians, choir members, composers, musicologists and scholars – who contribute to its study, performance and dissemination.

Father Nikolaos Lympouridis with his students, during their weekly Byzantine chant lesson at the School of Byzantine and Traditional Music of the Holy Metropolis of Lemesos, in Limassol, Cyprus Photograph: Mediazone/A.Polyniki © Cyprus National Commission for UNESCO, 2018

Media

  Greece

Byzantine chant

multinational application of

Cyprus и Greece

Date of Inscription:

Inscribed in 2019 (14.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Art of dry stone walling, knowledge and techniques

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
© Branko Orbanić, 2011

Media

  Greece

Art of dry stone walling, knowledge and techniques

multinational application of

CroatiaCyprusGreeceFranceItalySloveniaSpainSwitzerland

Date of Inscription:

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

Rebetiko

Rebetiko is a musical and cultural expression directly linked to song and dance that initially spread among the urban lower and working-class populations in the early twentieth century. Rebetiko songs are now a standardized repertoire in almost every social occasion involving music and dance. The element is performed in public and performers encourage audience participation. The practice is open to all and bearers could include any Greek or Greek-speaking person who enjoys this form of music and dance. Rebetiko songs contain invaluable references to the customs, practices and traditions of a particular way of life, but above all the practice is a living musical tradition with a strong symbolic, ideological and artistic character. Initially, transmission occurred exclusively orally, through the live performance of songs and the instruction of younger performers with older instrumentalists and singers. This non-formal method of learning is still important, but the recent spread of sound recordings, the mass media and cinema have reinforced other methods of transmission. In the past decade, Rebetiko has increasingly been taught in music schools, conservatories and universities, contributing to its wider dissemination, and the musicians and people who enjoy Rebetiko continue to play a key role in keeping the practice alive.

No other instrument is as intertwined with the history of Rebetiko as the bouzouki is
Photograph: Lia Koniari © Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports, 2016

Media

  Greece

Rebetiko

Date of Inscription:

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

Momoeria, New Year’s celebration in eight villages of Kozani area, West Macedonia, Greece

From December 25 to January 5 in Kozani (north-western Greece), dancers, actors and musicians can be seen performing in village streets and visiting people’s homes to celebrate the coming of the new year. The Momoeria dancers, a group made up of 30 male performers, are a special focus. They represent the priests of Momos (god of laughter and satire) or commanders of Alexander the Great wearing helmets, pleated skirts, traditional shoes and brandishing sticks dancing under their leader’s command to convince the powers of nature not to endanger the livelihood of villagers. Actors surround the dancers performing a well-known satirical play featuring characters like an old man and the devil (this can vary among villages) who the audience is invited to tease creating a fun atmopshere. Instruments like the bagpipe play in the background. The practice is mainly to wish the community prosperity in the year ahead, including healthy offspring and good harvests but now also encourages the sustainable management of natural resources. Festivities culminate in the town square with everyone singing and dancing around a fire until morning. Transmitted informally from older to younger generations, it symbolizes part of the community’s cultural identity and helps to build social integration.

© Kostas Alexandridis, 2014
© Kostas Alexandridis, 2014

Media

  Greece

Momoeria, New Year’s celebration in eight villages of Kozani area, West Macedonia, Greece

Date of Inscription:

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

Tinian marble craftsmanship

The art of marble-carving is an expression of the cultural identity of Tinos. Marble craftspeople possess empirical knowledge of the composition and structure of marble-bearing rock, the properties of each kind of marble, and the manipulation of its veins. Marble-carving workshops produce a range of traditional motifs, patterns and symbols such as cypresses, flowers, birds and ships. These draw from and perpetuate a shared symbolic system of religious, magical and oral traditions. Motifs on buildings, road signs, churches and cemeteries ensure propitiation and deflect evil influences, while those engraved on everyday marble vessels and fanlights emphasize fertility and prosperity. Craftspeople sometimes form teams to carry out large projects and individual masters occasionally work alone undertaking minor commissions. Transmission follows longstanding traditions. Workshop apprentices start with menial tasks, such as arranging the master’s tools and cleaning the workshop, before graduating to learning the craft and drawing. Each master supervises and mentors one or two apprentices, usually family members. Once they complete their training and earn the title of master craftsperson, apprentices are presented with a small chest containing a set of tools. Almost one quarter are now women, representing a significant shift in the tradition of marble craftsmanship, which until recently was a male-only activity.

Media

  Greece

Tinian marble craftsmanship

Date of Inscription:

Inscribed in 2015 (10.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Know-how of cultivating mastic on the island of Chios

Mastic is cultivated on the island of Chios from the aromatic resin mastiha, which is extracted from the shrub pistacia lentiscus. Mastic has long been renowned for its numerous properties and its culture is a family occupation that requires laborious care throughout the year by men and women of all ages who participate on equal terms in the various stages. Men take care of the natural fertilization and pruning of the shrubs in winter, while from mid-June, women sweep, level and clean the ground around the trunk, so that the mastic can easily be recovered. From July, an incision is made in the skin of the bark and main branches with an iron tool. Once the mastic has solidified, women select the larger ‘tears’ first, wash them and place them in wooden boxes in a cool place. Older members of the community are responsible for transmitting the techniques for incision and harvesting the mastiha to younger generations. The culture of mastic represents a comprehensive social event, around which networks of alliances and mutual help have been established. The communal practices are also an occasion for perpetuating collective memory through the narration of old tales and stories.

Media

  Greece

Know-how of cultivating mastic on the island of Chios

Date of Inscription:

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

Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet involves a set of skills, knowledge, rituals, symbols and traditions concerning crops, harvesting, fishing, animal husbandry, conservation, processing, cooking, and particularly the sharing and consumption of food. Eating together is the foundation of the cultural identity and continuity of communities throughout the Mediterranean basin. It is a moment of social exchange and communication, an affirmation and renewal of family, group or community identity. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes values of hospitality, neighbourliness, intercultural dialogue and creativity, and a way of life guided by respect for diversity. It plays a vital role in cultural spaces, festivals and celebrations, bringing together people of all ages, conditions and social classes. It includes the craftsmanship and production of traditional receptacles for the transport, preservation and consumption of food, including ceramic plates and glasses. Women play an important role in transmitting knowledge of the Mediterranean diet: they safeguard its techniques, respect seasonal rhythms and festive events, and transmit the values of the element to new generations. Markets also play a key role as spaces for cultivating and transmitting the Mediterranean diet during the daily practice of exchange, agreement and mutual respect.

Media

  Greece

Mediterranean diet

multinational application of

CyprusCroatiaSpainGreeceItalyMoroccoPortugal

Date of Inscription:

Inscribed in 2013 (8.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity