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Bobbin lace making becomes UNESCO's intangible heritage

Ljubljana/Port Louis, 29 November - Slovenia's bobbin lace making, a traditional lace-making technique using special wooden sticks - bobbins, has made it to the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage.

Bobbin lace making.
Photo: Tina Kosec/STA

The decision was taken on Thursday by the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, as it is meeting in Port Luis, Mauritius, the Slovenian Culture Ministry said in a release.

Slovenia formally nominated this special technique of making delicate lace in March 2017. The tradition is especially strong in the north-west, around Idrija, Cerkno and Škofja Loka.

In recent years, it has been revived and turned into a popular activity, with 120 associations and groups dedicated to lace making around Slovenia.

In Idrija, there is for instance a bobbin lace making school and the town also organises an annual festival dedicated to this craft.

In 2016, bobbin lace making was declared cultural heritage of national importance, which is also a condition for nominations with UNESCO.

The nomination file was prepared by a number of institutions such as the Slovenian Ethnographic Museum and other museums from Idrija, Ljubljana and Škofja Loka, as well as associations and groups involved in bobbin lace making.

The ministry considers the listing a special recognition of this art which has been handed down from generation to generation, binding children, adults and the elderly.

Bobbin lace making used to be an important economic activity, for which reason it has survived, the ministry said.

Nowadays its role has changed to become a favourite pastime for retired women, children and youth, with men usually helping with making bobbin lace-making tools.

It is moreover an inspiration for fashion designers, industrial designers, contemporary visual artists and architects, and is used for plate decorating.

The elements of the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity, the list of intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding and the registry of best practices are deemed as significant bastions of humanity's intangible heritage, the highest honour for intangible heritage in the world.

The lists were established in 2008 when the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage took effect. Slovenia ratified it in 2008 and set up the national registry of intangible cultural heritage the same year, which currently contains 66 units.

Slovenia's other entries on the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage are the door-to-door rounds of Kurents, a traditional Slovenian carnival costume, (since December 2017), the Škofja Loka Passion, the mass staging of an early 18th-century play (since December 2016), and since yesterday, dry stone walling, the ancient building method used in Slovenia, Cyprus, Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, Switzerland, France and Spain.

© STA, 2018