Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) is present in the daily life of people, including all forms of their activity. As elements or phenomena of this heritage, the following can be listed: the knowledge of training in various crafts, techniques of crafts and learning, performing arts such as songs, dances, and melodies created by the people, spoken folklore such as poems, proverbs, tales, legends, traditions and customs, folk games, rituals, traditional cooking, as well as language as a means of transmitting the information. “Intangible Cultural Heritage” also means practices, representations, expressions, and knowledge – as well as the tools, objects, artifacts, and cultural spaces that accompany them, where communities, groups, and when in case, individuals, accept them as an integral part of their cultural heritage This heritage, handed down from generation to generation, has been continuously recreated by communities and groups in the function of the environment, interaction with nature and their history. It gives them a sense of identity and continuity, thus helping to foster respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.
Intangible Cultural Heritage includes phenomena that are preserved, and alive, but also in constant change, preserving their essence in the dynamics of social developments from one generation to another. This heritage takes many forms and can take on characteristics from the neighboring village or from across the state border. It gains its strength from communities, which through it transmits knowledge, skills, and practices. It is the communities themselves that determine its value and importance.
According to the “Convention for the Protection of the Intangible Cultural Heritage”, UNESCO, Paris-2003, this heritage appears especially in the following areas:
a) oral traditions and expressions, including language as a vector of intangible cultural heritage;
b) performing arts ;
c) social practices, rituals, and festive events;
d) knowledge and practices related to nature and the universe;
e) learning about traditional crafts.
Currently, 180 countries have ratified this Convention. Its purpose is to promote the identification and preservation of Intangible Cultural Heritage, the studying, preservation, and transmission between generations.
Albania ratified this Convention with Law No. 9490, dated 13.3.2006 “On the ratification of the Convention for the preservation of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Paris 2003”. The Ministry of Culture is responsible for its compliance and implementation in the Republic of Albania, in cooperation with a multisectoral network of operators and institutions in the field.
Information about the Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)
This register is a tool that can be used to identify, describe and transmit knowledge about ICH. It may include widely spread traditions and knowledge and customs of smaller local groups.
The register materialized on this page offers the opportunity to collect new information about Albanian ICH. Being interactive, it offers different communities an opportunity to preserve and promote their heritage. At the same time, it is an opportunity to protect the cultural diversity of Albanian ICH. The register is a living document that is constantly filled and updated. The work we have begun is only in the beginning stages, as this kind of legacy is endless and constantly evolving.
The elements, which have become part of this registry, have been collected by the communities, starting from July 2021 and now the inventory contains over 90 elements!
This corpus of elements was created within the project “Community-based Albanian ICH register, with the aim of preservation and transmission to future generations”, (2020-2022), in the 3 starting districts of Shkodër, Korçë, and Gjirokastër.
The elements included are part of the National Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage and must be updated every 5 years.
According to the Convention, UNESCO maintains two specific lists, as well as a register of good practices for the protection of ICH at the world level. The purpose of the lists and register is to preserve and promote ICH as well as to spread best practices between countries.
One of the elements of this inventory, Albanian Iso-polyphony was registered in UNESCO’s “Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” in November 2008.
The second element of the Albanian ICH that is running for this list, whose file was submitted to UNESCO in 2021, is “K’cimi i Tropoja”
Another national application presented to UNESCO by Albania in 2021 is “Xhubleta as a technology and craft knowledge and forms of its use”, an element that is running for the “List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Protection”.
As for 2022, the file has just been presented: “Transhumance – seasonal movement of herds”, within the application with the group of partner states of Spain, France, Italy, Austria, Greece, etc.
In the preparation stage is the dossier “The Great Weather – Rites of Spring”, rituals of the Arbëresh community of Italy, which are also found in Albania. This file is planned to be presented to UNESCO in a joint application by Italy and Albania.