Three traditional customs from the area of Dinarides on new UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage

UNESCO has extended the list of intangible cultural heritage at the session of Intergovernmental Committee for Intangible Material Heritage at Port Louis, Mauritius, with 9 new elements. 

Three traditional customs from Dinarides Area have been listed on that prestige list: Međimurska popevka, a traditional folksong from North of Croatia, a custom of traditional picking of Iva Grass on Ozren Mountain in Bosnia and Herzegovina and “Suhozid” – an art of drystone walling.

Međimurska popevka is consisted of lyrics sang on melody and shaped into a song. Popevka is an identity of Međimurje people. Until 19th century they were performed “a capella”, often as a sad-melancholic melody of Međimurje farmers. As an inevitable part of today’s traditional culture of Međimurje, Međimurska popevka was registered in 2013 into the Registrar of Cultural Goods of Croatia.

Since 2013 the art of dry stonewalling is registered in the Registrar of Cultural Goods of Croatia, a dry stonewall structure made without tying components. “The art of building with dry technique concerns the know-how related to making stone constructions by stacking stones upon each other without using any other materials. The stability of the structure is ensured through the careful selection and placement of the stones, and dry stone structures have shaped numerous diverse landscapes from prehistory to today. Dry stone structures are always made in harmony with the environment, and the technique increases the relation between human beings and nature. The practice is passed down primarily through practical application to the particular conditions of each place”, states the rationale of the decision on UNESCO webpages. Today, this type of construction can be found in the coastal area of Dinarides.

Traditional custom of picking Iva grass on Ozren mountain the third element from Bosnia and Herzegovina on this representative list of intangible cultural heritage.

Picking Iva Grass is traditionally held on 11th September, when the Orthodox Christians mark the day of the beheading of St. John the Baptist. It is centuries long practice of picking Iva on this day, and as continuing believe on extraordinary medical power of Iva grass if it is picked on the day of beheading.

Picked Iva grass is used during the year as a tea, mixed with honey or soaked in brandy. The dwellers of that area use Iva grass in above mentioned methods when they are sick, but also preventively, and very often gifted as the most valuable gift. In the past, this custom was exclusively related to folk medicine. Today, besides its primary purpose, “picking Iva grass on Ozren mountain” it is an integrational element of local dwellers and imminently the guardian of traditional costumes, songs and dance.