Dalmatian intangible heritage

From the laces of Hvar to ojkavica and rere

Fascinated by the beauty of the Dalmatian landscape, you may not notice at first glance that it was here that a unique custom was transferred from one generation to the other and some customs are today an integral part of the UNESCO List of Intangible Heritage.

The skill of lace making from agave in the Benedictine monasteryof the town of Hvar on the island bearing the same name is unique in the world. Hard labour lies in the background of this beauty for threads have to be drawn from fresh agave leaves and then processed to perfection before being used. Besides lace making, this island also conceals the old custom of connecting six localities of its central part. It is the procession called “Za Križen” taking place before Easter and which has been confirming for five centuries the piety, religious and cultural identity of the inhabitants of this island, just as the feast of St. Vlach has been doing every year in Dubrovnik. The inhabitants of Dubrovnik and its surroundings, together with the representatives of government and local authorities, gather to celebrate their patron and protector who, according to belief, protected the city from its attackers for centuries.

In the central part of Dalmatian Zagora lies the city of Sinj, where the Sinj Alka has been taking place every August since 1717.It is a spectacular manifestation of knight’s equestrian competition and one of the most attractive manifestations in Croatia. Somewhat to the north of Sinj lies the picturesque town of Vrlika known for its impressive circle dance that is performed without music. In the Dalmatian Zagora region every occasion is a motive for singing which is performed by groups of shaky voices and this unusual manner of singing is recognized as rera, ganga or ojkavica, depending on the locality where the songs are sung. Dalmatian a-capella singing is also proof that songs have always been an integral part of life in Dalmatia. These Dalmatian groups sing traditional polyphonic singing without instruments which you will often hear in traditional restaurants and in the streets on the coast and islands.

Did you know?

Three years ago Croatia registered its 13thasset in the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. This time it was its Mediterranean food that covers Spain, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Morocco and Portugal.