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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

"Jauken" – A Traditional High-Flying Pigeon Sport with a Viennese Breed of High-Flying Pigeon

"Jauken" – A Traditional High-Flying Pigeon Sport with a Viennese Breed of High-Flying Pigeon

The term "Jauken" denotes the breeding, training, and competitive flying of the Vienna long-faced tumbler, a high-flying pigeon breed. The knowledge and practices relating to this tradition’s special form of pigeon breeding, keeping and caring for the animals, the applicable rules, and local dialect expressions are passed on from generation to generation through visits to breeders, at exhibitions, and within the breeders’ associations in Vienna and environs.
"Ladumtragen" – The Winemakers’ Guild Chest Procession in Mistelbach

"Ladumtragen" – The Winemakers’ Guild Chest Procession in Mistelbach

The Mistelbach Winemakers’ Guild (Mistelbacher Hauerzunft) was founded in 1698 as an interest group of independent winemakers. Its original purpose was to ensure the observation of rights and standards as well as to regulate both ethical and social matters within its community of members. The originals of this guild’s deed of foundation and other founding documents, seal, certificates, protocols, and membership books are kept in the "Hauerlade" [Winemakers’ Chest]. Since the establishment of the…
The Culture of the Viennese "Heuriger"

The Culture of the Viennese "Heuriger"

"Heuriger" culture encompasses social practices surrounding the Viennese "Heuriger" taverns, which are predominantly family-run businesses that are handed down from generation to generation. The Viennese "Heuriger" at the edge of town stands for congeniality ("Gemütlichkeit") and Viennese music. On the simple tables at a "Heuriger", one typically sees wineglasses and slices of bread with various spreads. While all "Heurige" share certain characteristics such as the free choice of opening times…
Quill Embroidery (Restoration, Further Development, and Use)

Quill Embroidery (Restoration, Further Development, and Use)

Quill embroidery is a special technique of ornamentation that was developed over 200 years ago and experienced its heyday during the 19th century. To this day, this special technique—which requires years of training and practice—is used in the production and restoration of traditional "Tracht" garments. The types of items that it decorates include women’s and men’s belts, handbags, broad and elaborately ornamented "Ranzen" belts (derived from money belts), and wallets.
Sweeping, Climbing, Roughcasting, and Burning Out Creosote in Chimneys

Sweeping, Climbing, Roughcasting, and Burning Out Creosote in Chimneys

Climbing ("Beschliefen" [slipping through/up] or "Besteigen" [climbing]), sweeping, and roughcasting chimneys as well as conducting controlled creosote burn-outs are manual working techniques practiced by chimney sweeps that were already in use by the 17th century and still see professional use today all across Austria. The working techniques of chimney sweeps are closely tied to social rituals that stand symbolically for good luck.
Local toponyms in the federal province of Tyrol

Local toponyms in the federal province of Tyrol

For over 2,000 years, local toponyms have facilitated orientation and communication for people living in Tyrol. The transmission of knowledge regarding names and locations is ensured via people’s presence in these locations, the work they do on land that supports their livelihoods, and their experiences as well as their maintenance of social relationships, as part of which such names are frequently mentioned. The approximately 120,000 place names used in Tyrol’s nearly 300 municipalities were…
The “Steyrer Kripperl” nativity play

The “Steyrer Kripperl” nativity play

The Steyrer Kripperl is one of the German-speaking world’s last remaining plays for rod puppets. It has been performed for over a century in a permanent location, the building known as the Innerberger Stadl, during the Christmas season by over 20 members of the association Heimatpflege Steyr. This practice involves orally passed down texts performed in the dialect spoken in Steyr and original rod puppets that are manipulated by hand.
Round Dancing on ice in Vienna

Round Dancing on ice in Vienna

Round dancing on ice is an on-ice version of ballroom dancing performed on Viennese ice skating rinks within a defined dancing circle. Anyone who possesses the necessary skills can participate, and there is no fixed set of rules. The various sequences of steps can be freely adapted to the rhythm of the music being played, and people dance in couples or in larger groups with alternating partners just like at a Viennese ballroom event.
Improvisatory theatre on the Tschauner-Bühne

Improvisatory theatre on the Tschauner-Bühne

The Tschauner-Bühne, known as Europe’s last remaining stage devoted to improvisatory theatre, is located in Vienna’s 16th district. Every day from June to September, this open-air venue hosts what are effectively world premières. While its improvised plays are based on rough models (some of them centuries old), it is the actors who develop their actual roles and dialogues on their own through their interactions with each other onstage as well as with the audience. This makes every single…
Traditions of the miners and iron smelters along the Steirische Eisenstraße (Styrian Iron Route)

Traditions of the miners and iron smelters along the Steirische Eisenstraße (Styrian Iron Route)

The cultural heritage of mine workers, who have their own special dances and songs as well as their own traditional costumes for holidays and celebrations, developed over many centuries along the Steirische Eisenstraße (Styria’s segment of the Central European Iron Trail). This heritage lives on today in the still-active mining region near Styria’s Erzberg (Ore Mountain) and reflects the region’s identity. Present-day practices centre on the feast day of St. Barbara (patron saint of miners),…
Candlemas singing in southern Lower Austria

Candlemas singing in southern Lower Austria

Candlemas singing is a cadging custom practiced in the night between 1 and 2 February (Candlemas) in around 20 communities in southern Lower Austria; in each of these communities, one or more groups of singers go from house to house, bringing their felicitations. The house residents thank them afterwards with food and drink and/or monetary donations, which in many places now go to charitable causes. A Candlemas feast is then held during the following few days.
Flag-throwing in Neckenmarkt

Flag-throwing in Neckenmarkt

Flag-throwing in Neckenmarkt is a centuries-old practice carried out above all on the Tag der Fahne [“Flag Day”] and on Umgangssonntag (the Sunday after Corpus Christi), but also to mark other celebrations, in the community of Neckenmarkt. Knowledge concerning its conduct (spoken formulas, flag-throwing technique, role distribution, etc.) is passed on from one generation to the next within the Burschenschaft [local fraternity] responsible for the practice as well as within the general community.
Traditions of the Untergailtaler Kirchtag and traditional costumes in the Untergailtal / Zilski Žegen in Ziljska Noša

Traditions of the Untergailtaler Kirchtag and traditional costumes in the Untergailtal / Zilski Žegen in Ziljska Noša

The type of kermesse fair that take place annually between May to October in numerous communities of the Lower Gail Valley is known as the Untergailtaler Kirchtag / Ziljski žegen. These fairs consist of three main elements: the traditions of going to church, the horseback game Kufenstechen / štehvanje, štehvanje and the Lindentanz / prvi rej [Linden Dance]; the body of relevant autochthonic songs; and the valley’s traditional costumes (Untergailtaler Tracht / Ziljska noša) that are worn by young…
The cattle offering on Saint George’s day

The cattle offering on Saint George’s day

The cattle offering (Viehumtragen) is a votive custom that has been practiced on 23 April (St. George’s Day) at the parish of St. Georgen in the Pinzgau region since time immemorial, being handed down from generation to generation. In this practice, carried out immediately prior to the beginning of the summer alpine pasture season, the agrarian populace (referred to as the Viehleut, lit. “livestock people”) asks St. George for good fortune (Reim) for their cattle by placing selected animal…
Meadow irrigation in Tyrol

Meadow irrigation in Tyrol

This submission deals with a centuries-old method of irrigating inner-Alpine dry areas. Water is diverted from a brook into the "Hauptwaal" [main canal], through which it flows downhill at a shallow angle to reach the land that requires irrigation. Today, this simple but efficient method of irrigating agricultural land is still practiced by nine cooperatives in eight municipalities of Tyrol’s Oberland region.
Cathedral workshops in Austria (St. Stephan in Vienna and the Mariendom in Linz)

Cathedral workshops in Austria (St. Stephan in Vienna and the Mariendom in Linz)

For centuries, the cathedral workshops ("Dombauhütten") of St. Stephan in Vienna and the Mariendom in Linz have been places where the restoration and maintenance techniques relevant to historical structures as well as social practices and rituals are handed down from generation to generation. In this way, such workshops contribute to the sustained and deep-reaching maintenance of their respective cathedrals as well as guarantee that traditional craftsmanship techniques are preserved and passed…
The Goldbeater’s craft (Gold, silver, and metal beaters)

The Goldbeater’s craft (Gold, silver, and metal beaters)

Gold leaf is produced by means of a centuries-old handcrafting technique that, in today’s Austria, is practiced by only two remaining goldbeating workshops (which are located in Vienna and in Schwechat). The process they follow expands this valuable precious metal’s surface area so that its symbolic character can be transferred to as large a surface as possible. The knowledge one needs in order to work with this handcrafting technique is handed down from one generation to the next within the…
Larch resin harvesting

Larch resin harvesting

The process by which larch resin and/or larch resin balsam is extracted is a tree-friendly one. First, a tap hole is drilled into a resin pocket in a tree’s trunk; this hole is then stopped with a larch wood plug until the harvest (which generally takes place at two-year intervals). In Carinthia’s Gurk, Metnitz, and Görtschitz Valleys, as well as around the Styrian municipality of Neumarkt, larch resin harvesting is done by resin workers as well as by farmers and foresters. The techniques used…
The Paver’s trade

The Paver’s trade

The paver’s trade is a sustainable form of craftsmanship that has for centuries involved manual labour but nonetheless continued to develop as technology has advanced. The paver’s trade became its own occupation quite early on, and in today’s Austria, it is a regulated occupation in which historical crafting knowledge is passed on to the next generation both orally and through actual practice.
The Dialect of Montafon

The Dialect of Montafon

The Montafon dialect ("Muntafunerisch") represents a special case among Austrian’s German dialects. Embedded in Vorarlberg’s landscape of Alemannic-Swabian dialects, it is distinguished by its retention of so-called relic words. The presence of such words can be explained by this area’s settlement history: around 1300 CE, the Rhaeto-Romanic language was superseded here due to the immigration of the Walser people, but today there still remain around 200 relic words, figures of speech, and…
The Educational and Choral Tradition of the Vienna Boys’ Choir

The Educational and Choral Tradition of the Vienna Boys’ Choir

The original function of the Vienna Boys’ Choir was to perform music—above all sacred music—for the Imperial court. The choir still performs this function today at Sunday morning mass at the Wiener Hofburgkapelle (Vienna Court Chapel). The ca. 100 active Vienna Boys’ Choir members, aged between ten and fourteen, are divided into four choirs (one of which consists of girls). Their artistic tradition is distinguished by a special kind of technical training and the passing on of their typical choir…
Viennese Tuning and Playing Technique for the Zither

Viennese Tuning and Playing Technique for the Zither

Both the stringing and the playing technique associated with the Viennese tuning of the zither arose in mid-19th-century Vienna and were first described in Carl Ignaz Umlauf’s zither treatise of 1859. Viennese zither-tuning and playing technique quickly spread, and with the numerous zither treatises and associations that arose, the Viennese zither eventually became an instrument with a widespread presence among members of the working class. Its tuning and playing technique are still used today…
The Viennese Waltz – Played, Danced, and Sung

The Viennese Waltz – Played, Danced, and Sung

The Viennese waltz is a component of numerous rituals in the life of Austrian society: the strains of the The Blue Danube mark the first moments of the new year, Viennese balls are opened with a waltz preceded by the traditional proclamation “Alles Walzer”, and in many regions of the country, the ”bride’s waltz” is an element of wedding celebrations that goes without saying. The special techniques and mode of interpretation associated with the Viennese waltz are passed on in choirs as well as in…
Production of Traditionally Hand-Crafted Terrazzo

Production of Traditionally Hand-Crafted Terrazzo

Terrazzo is a long-lived, heavy-duty, and low-maintenance type of flooring that can be decorated in a broad diversity of patterns and is produced without chemical additives. To create a terrazzo floor, shovels are used for the portion-by-portion application of a cementitious binding material, onto which—depending on the variety of terrazzo to be produced—stones of ca. 10–22 mm diameter are spread by hand. Next, the terrazzo chips are beaten ("geprackt"), rolled with an iron terrazzo roller, and…
Gilding & Faux Painting

Gilding & Faux Painting

Gilding and faux painting have been practiced since ancient times in order to make objects appear as if made from solid gold or other materials. There are various techniques for doing so, such as poliment and oil gilding. Faux painting (known as "Staffieren" or, in former times, as "Fassmalerei") denotes the painting and decorative embedding of non-gilded surfaces. This includes marbelising, wood imitation, and porcelain imitation. Knowledge of the complex techniques is for the most part passed…