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Intangible cultural heritage

Traditions, knoweldge, craftsmanship techniques  
Photo: © UNESCO/James Muriuki

National Inventory

Since Austria ratified the Convention, the Austrian Commission for UNESCO has been entrusted with creating a National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Austria. Thanks to their unique qualities, each listed tradition contributes to cultural diversity beyond the nation’s borders and conveys the richness of Austria’s living cultural heritage in an understandable manner.  
Applications are accepted throughout the year. For more information on the application process and the criteria for inclusion, click here.

Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Austria

The Custom Tailoring of Men’s Full Evening Dress

The Custom Tailoring of Men’s Full Evening Dress

In Europe, the custom tailoring of men’s full evening dress looks back upon 300 years of history. The origins of this style of formal attire can be found in England, where the ‘frock’ was first worn by the working classes before also being adopted by young noblemen for informal occasions from the 1730s onwards. The production of such an ensemble requires a great deal of knowledge and skill on the part of the master tailor, and it takes around 100 hours of master craftsmanship to complete one.…
The Knowledge of Artisanal Millers

The Knowledge of Artisanal Millers

The knowledge of artisanal millers includes a great deal of practice and experience, experimentation, and technical knowledge about the processing of various grains into flour, coarse grit, wholegrain products, and oils. Working with traditional milling machines to produce milled products, such as milling with millstones, is now confined to just a few artisanal mills.
Manual Graphic Printing

Manual Graphic Printing

Manual graphic printing encompasses the techniques of relief printing, intaglio printing, planographic printing, screen printing, and mixtures thereof. The development of these techniques began during the Late Middle Ages with the spread of possibilities for replicating graphic media (print). Today, there are numerous methods for producing printed graphics. It is primarily artisans who still employ such manual techniques, thereby continuously safeguarding and further developing these crafts in…
Production of Bregenz Forest Juppen and Wearing of Women’s Traditional Dress

Production of Bregenz Forest Juppen and Wearing of Women’s Traditional Dress

The term Juppe is used to describe a typical traditional women’s costume from the Bregenz Forest which is worn in various ways. Glossy linen produced in the region is used to create the pleats. One of the features of this traditional costume, which is worn for festivities, is its elaborate design. This traditional dress is produced by local craftspeople in small workshops. The wearers and producers identify with the Juppe, which contributes to their regional identity.
Historical and Decorative Painting Techniques Using Traditional Materials

Historical and Decorative Painting Techniques Using Traditional Materials

The history of historical and decorative painting techniques using traditional materials reaches back to the era of cave painting, and the associated knowledge and skills are still practiced today. Producing and using the various materials and tools necessary for the execution of techniques involving lime, stencils, and sgraffito, together with appropriate choices in terms of colours and creative language, requires intensive training and a high degree of crafting skill.
Garnierspenzer, Hat, and Steppmieder

Garnierspenzer, Hat, and Steppmieder

Since around 1850, the Garnierspenzer (lit. ‘garnished spencer’) and Steppmieder (‘quilted bodice’) have featured in the festive traditional costumes of the Alpine regions of Pinzgau, Pongau, and Lungau in the province of Salzburg. These costumes stand out due to the elaborate design of the tops, the application of lavish silk flowers on the spencer, and the raised quilting on the bodice. These features take a high level of tailoring knowledge and experience to produce. They also contribute to…
Knowledge of Alpinism and Skills of Mountain and Ski Guides

Knowledge of Alpinism and Skills of Mountain and Ski Guides

The main features of the Steppmieder and Garnierspenzer costumes date back to the 17th century and reflect the bourgeois and courtly fashions of that era. Today, the entire costume encompasses eight elements that can be combined in various ways in accordance with the occasion; the skirt and top are separate pieces of clothing but can be connected with a silver hook, while the skirt itself is the element which remains consistent in this traditional dress. On Sundays, the costume is worn as…
Nativity Scene Traditions in Austria

Nativity Scene Traditions in Austria

The origins of the nativity scene tradition as a nationwide phenomenon can be traced back to Austria’s first display of this kind, which was set up in Innsbruck in 1609. In the following centuries, this spread throughout the country, and nativity scenes were displayed in churches, public spaces, and people’s houses. In the process, the various nativity scenes’ designs and the associated rituals blossomed into diverse local and regional characteristics. The nativity scene tradition encompasses…
Gautschen

Gautschen

At the end of a printer’s training, the Gautsch celebration takes place. The water baptism is the highlight of this celebration. In this tradition, the Kornuten (‘apprentices’) are grabbed and dunked into a vat of water in order to wash clean their ‘sins’ (from their time as apprentices). Afterwards, the graduating apprentices are ceremoniously released from their status and thus become journeymen*journeywomen. To confirm that they have been through this ceremony, the Gäutschlinge receive an…
South Bohemian Brass Band Music in Brand-Nagelberg

South Bohemian Brass Band Music in Brand-Nagelberg

South Bohemian brass band music in Brand-Nagelberg is a musical tradition formed through close musical exchange with Czech musicians. This transborder collaboration, which still exists today, also led to the genesis of a unique playing technique and contributed to the spread of the treasury of songs still widely performed today, such as the famous “South Bohemian Polka”. South Bohemian brass band music is formative for the musicians in Brand-Nagelberg and the people from this region.
The Traismauer Nativity Play

The Traismauer Nativity Play

The Traismauer Nativity Play dates back to the year 1810 and is now one of the last remaining rod puppet theatres in Austria. Up to 30 people are involved in the show, including a choir, vocal soloists, musicians, a host, and a director. Classic stories from the Bible are acted out using 42 wooden figures, and the performance also includes traditional love songs, socially critical songs, and guild songs.
Traditional Craftsmanship in Gmunden: Pottery Flaming

Traditional Craftsmanship in Gmunden: Pottery Flaming

The term ‘flaming’ (Flammen) denotes the application of a recognisable pattern to ceramic objects. Recurrent decorative elements could be found on pottery in the area around Gmunden as early as in 1600. The earliest pieces of pottery found in blue and white from this region date back to this period. They led to the development of a decorative technique that is typical today: the Geflammte (‘flamed’) or Gmundnerische Geschirr (‘Gmunden tableware’). Nowadays, the flamers pass on their knowledge…
Dry Stone Walling

Dry Stone Walling

The craft of dry stone walling has been documented in writing in Austria since the 12th century and is also reflected in relevant landscape paintings. Historically, this practice employed locally sourced stones and was brought to bear in a variety of (mostly agricultural) contexts, such as terraced vineyards, enclosures on Alpine meadows, stables and barns, forest roads, railway construction, etc. Today, dry stone walls still embody an important component of the cultural landscape and…
Anklöpfeln (Knocking on Doors) in Stans

Anklöpfeln (Knocking on Doors) in Stans

Anklöpfeln is a unique and dramaturgically structured tradition of knocking on doors which has been documented in the Tyrolean community of Stans since the mid-19th century. It takes place every 10 years on each Saturday during Advent, and involves various figures—such as High Priests, Bacchus, altar servers, donation collectors, and approx. 25 Levites—who move in a procession-like manner to visit certain farms and inns, where they perform their songs.
Bad Mitterndorf Saint Nicholas Play

Bad Mitterndorf Saint Nicholas Play

The Saint Nicholas Play in Bad Mitterndorf is presented each year on 5 December at various locations. The play is acted out in indoor spaces as well as in the form of a procession. The performance was originally held in farmhouses and inns, but since 1959 the event has been presented on Bad Mitterndorf’s main square, thus making it accessible to a wider audience. The Saint Nicholas Play is made up of various figures that form a procession between the performance venues.
“Odlatzbia Oröwen” in the Wiesenwienerwald

“Odlatzbia Oröwen” in the Wiesenwienerwald

While the wild service tree ("Sorbus torminalis") occurs in many parts of Europe, it is very rare today and found for the most part only in woods. In Lower Austria, where the tree is referred to as “Odlatzbia” (High German: "Adlitzbeere"), the knowledge and handicrafts surrounding the “queen of the wild fruit” are passed on from one generation to the next. “Odlatzbia Oröwen” is the culmination of the work process that extends from the planting of the tree to the destemming of its fruit.
The Amras “Matschgerer”

The Amras “Matschgerer”

According to sources, the custom of the Amras “Matschgerer”, celebrated each year during the carnival season, dates back to the 17th century. This tradition, which has its roots in the village community, has been preserved to the present day despite the annexation of Amras by Innsbruck, the provincial capital, and urban influences. At the centre of the custom is, aside from the processions, above all the performances of the masked figures called “Matschgerer” before small audiences, with certain…
The Vintner’s Crown and the guardian tree in Neustift am Walde

The Vintner’s Crown and the guardian tree in Neustift am Walde

The customs of the vintners in the Lower Austrian town of Neustift am Walde date back to the reign of Empress Maria Theresa (1740-1780). The Neustift Fair is held annually on the feast day of the village’s patron saint, St. Roch, in August. The centrepiece of the four-day event is the festive procession of the traditional Neustift Vintner’s Crown and the erection of the “Hüterbaum” (“guardian tree”) after the special Holy Mass.
Stinatz Wedding - Stinjačka svadba

Stinatz Wedding - Stinjačka svadba

When they settled in the Southern Burgenland town of Stinatz/Stinjaki in the 16th century, Croats brought specific elements with them that, influenced by regional characteristics as well, made the weddings in this town a testimony to transcultural relations. The wedding custom combines orally transmitted traditions, such as the Stinatz dialect and folk songs, with traditional handicraft techniques like the production of the local (wedding) costumes. This custom illustrates the identity of the…
Kneipp therapy as traditional knowledge and practice according to the theories of Sebastian Kneipp

Kneipp therapy as traditional knowledge and practice according to the theories of Sebastian Kneipp

The Kneipp therapy (also known as “Kneipping”) is a traditional curative method that promotes the prevention of illness and the preservation of health. It is aimed at stimulating circulation, strengthening the immune system, and improving the vegetative nervous system. Kneipp therapy is a holistic method and encompasses five foundational pillars: Exercise, Nutrition, Water, Plants, and Balance. Classic Kneipping consists of multiple affusions of water as well as additional therapies including…
The craft of bookbinding

The craft of bookbinding

The knowledge surrounding the art of bookbinding was developed and passed on by monks in medieval monasteries. The handwritten books and their book covers were often elaborately decorated with gems and gold work. With the invention of book printing in the 15th century, the handicraft of bookbinding established itself as an independent trade, and this craft continues to be practised up to the present day with traditional means.
The "Fuhr" on Lake Hallstatt

The "Fuhr" on Lake Hallstatt

The wooden, flat-bottomed boats called "Fuhren" have a long history on Lake Hallstatt as a means of transporting goods and people. As early as the 13th century, following the reopening of the salt mine in Hallstatt, shipping on the lake and on the Traun River became necessary in order to transport the salt. Today, only very few people still have a mastery of this type of navigation.
The art and craft of stonemasonry

The art and craft of stonemasonry

For millennia, stonemasons have been responsible for the creation of countless religious and secular buildings and pass on their knowledge surrounding the use and cutting of stone, a naturally occurring raw material. Still today, the workpieces produced by stonemasons shape the appearance of many cities and towns.
Ceremonial Marksmen in Upper Austria

Ceremonial Marksmen in Upper Austria

The traditions of Upper Austria’s ceremonial marksmen are diverse and characterised by various regionally specific elements such as traditional costumes, the "Schützentanz" [Marksmen’s Dance], and special marksmen’s terminology. The practices in which they engage follow the annual calendar’s sequence of religious and secular celebrations. Marksmen’s traditions are hence an important element of regional identity for the communities of people who practice them.
In d’Grean gehen – An Outing in the Greenery

In d’Grean gehen – An Outing in the Greenery

On Easter Monday, the northern Weinviertel region’s winemakers invite people to the various cellar lanes ("Kellertrift") for an “outing in the greenery” (referred to as "in d’Grean gehen" or "Grean geh") to enjoy food & drink. This particular type of outing, which is practised in several of this region’s communities, is characterised by regionally specific religious and secular elements.