SummerIsHere Representative offices UK & Ireland Alka, licitars (traditional souvenir) and “ojkanje” (traditional singing) under the protection of UNESCO  

Alka, licitars (traditional souvenir) and “ojkanje” (traditional singing) under the protection of UNESCO

Alka, licitars (traditional souvenir) and “ojkanje” (traditional singing) under the protection of UNESCO
Sinjska Alka – a three hundred year old knights’ tournament in Sinj, and the honey making trade from the area of northern Croatia, have recently been included on the UNESCO’s representative list of non-material cultural heritage of mankind. At the same time, the musical expression known as ‘ojkanje’ was included on the UNESCO list of endangered non-material cultural heritage which needs urgent protection.

Sinjska Alka, the knights’ tournament in Sinj, has been held annually since 1717 in Cetinska krajina. During the competition the knights ride on horses in full gallop through the main street, aiming with their spears at an iron ring hanging on a rope. The name of the tournament comes from the word alka-ring, of Turkish origin, that reflects the historical co- existence and cultural mixture of the two civilizations.

The musical expression of ‘ojkanje’ is preformed by singers (male or female), using different techniques of voice shaking by a special way of singing “from the throat”. Each song lasts as long as the main singer’s breath. The melodies are based on the limited tonal spans, usually chromatic, with the range of intervals not corresponding to today’s frequencies, while the lyrics cover different themes from love to current social and political themes.

The skill of making products from honey appeared in certain European monasteries during the Middle Ages and when it arrived in the area of northern Croatia it became a craft.

The Licitar, an edible souvenir made from dough is shaped, baked, dried and then coloured by a multitude of edible colours. Every craftsman decorates the licitar in a different way, often with pictures, small mirrors and verses or messages. The most common shape of the licitar is a heart.

Along with Sinjska Alka, honey making trade and ojkanje, also found on the UNESCO list are Spanish flamenco, Bejing opera and acupuncture and Azerbajian and Iranian rugs.

At this moment Croatia has ten non-material cultural goods on the UNESCO list which is the most in Europe.

As many as seven Croatian items of non-material cultural heritage were included on the UNESCO representative list by the time of the meeting in Abu Dhabi in 2009: the Dubrovnik Festa Sv. Vlaha (Fiest of St Blaise-the patron of Dubrovnik); two-part singing in narrow intervals in Istria and Hrvatsko Primorje (coast of Northern Croatia), the making of traditional wooden toys from Croatian Zagorje, the annual spring procession of the Queen Ljelja from Gorjani, the procession of the cross (Za Križen) on the Island of Hvar, an annual carnival procession of the bell- ringers from Kastav and lacemaking in Croatia (Hvar, Pag Lepoglava).

There are currently 229 representatives of cultural non-material heritage coming from87 countries on UNESCO’s list. Listed are the skills and arts which promote the diversity of expressions of intangible cultural heritage, raise awareness about its importance, and by organising international cooperation help the protection of heritage which is disappearing despite the efforts of local communities to keep it alive.

Ministarstvo kulture

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