Intangible Cultural Heritage in Austria

The Schleuniger dance in Abersee

Applicant: Matthias Beinsteiner
Province: Upper Austria, Salzburg

The Schleuniger – old manuscripts also refer to it as the Schleiniger – is a form of music and dance found exclusively in the Salzkammergut region. A special local variant of the Schleuniger can be found around the Wolfgangsee (also known by its older name of Abersee), which is to say: in the communities of Abersee, Strobl, St. Wolfgang and St. Gilgen. With a duration of ten to twelve minutes, this so-called Aberseer Schleuniger is a very long and complex dance, a fact that strongly influences the vocal and instrumental parts and the choreography. The marked rhythmic element of the Schleuniger consists in stamping steps and leaps by the dancers, and – even more importantly – in the group’s hand-clapping in the middle section of the dance. In the area around the Wolfgangsee, the Schleuniger is played and danced mostly at weddings. Depending on the wedding guests and lead dancer, this dance can proceed in various manners – but its basic structures (jumps, chain-form, singing and clapping) remain in place.

“Aperschnalzen” in the historic Rupertiwinkel area

Applicant: Ing. Ernst Müller, Ehrenobmann Schnalzergruppe Wals
Province: Salzburg

“Aperschnalzen” refers to a more than 200-year-old tradition practised in the Rupertiwinkel area which includes several villages on both sides of the border rivers Saalach and Salzach in Bavaria (Germany) and Salzburg (Austria). Between St. Stephen’s Day (26th of December) and Shrove Tuesday, the “Passen” (groups of nine members) crack their whips during their meetings in order to produce a certain beat. In addition to their performances at festive events, they participate in contests at community level and compete for the annual Rupertigau prize.

Specialities of individual pharmacies

Applicant: Kurapotheke Bad Ischl, Mag. Manfred Heimo Hrovat
Province: Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Vienna

Specialities of individual pharmacies have been part of local traditions for a long time and include knowledge on nature, cures and healing that had formerly been passed down orally, and have since been documented in recipe books. The making of these products requires certain special instruments, pharmaceutical resources and skills. Austrian pharmacists consider this transferred knowledge as part of their cultural heritage.

Sword dance of Dürrnberg

Applicant: Hermann Gfrerer i. V. Schwerttanz Verein der Dürrnberger Bergknappen
Province: Salzburg

The sword dance of Dürrnberg has been performed for the past 500 years and is closely linked to the salt refinery and mining industry of Salzburg. This round and chain dance, originally rooted in the medieval tradition of artisans and guild dances, was primarily exercised by miners at guild festivals and other great days. Until today, the sword dance is only performed at special occasions.

Experiential Knowledge Concerning Avalanche Risk Management

Applicant: Alpinarium und Gemeinde Galtür, Lawinenkommission Gargellen, Montafoner Museen, Österreichischer Alpenverein, Österreichischer Berg- und Schiführerverband
Province: Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg

The natural environment of the Alps forces its inhabitants to pay a great deal of attention to the highly complex phenomenon of the avalanche. Since the very beginning of human beings’ presence in the Alpine region, it has been necessary to acquire knowledge about avalanches in order to survive there. To this day, avalanches cannot be perfectly predicted or fully assessed by scientific means. Therefore, having experiential knowledge of how to deal with the associated risks is all the more important. Some of this experiential knowledge is site-specific and gets passed on by alpine organisations, within families, and/or by schools. In earlier times, such knowledge was acquired through close observation of nature and the painful learning process that avalanche disasters entailed. And for many hundreds of years, this experiential knowledge was conveyed and handed down orally from generation to generation. Since the beginning of the 20th century, and especially since the 1950s, such knowledge has been supplemented by scientific research. This has made it possible to successively improve the protection of inhabited areas and transport routes over the course of time, and today, knowledge about dealing with avalanche risks is taught and/or applied in the contexts of general safety, education, technology, and rescue services by local and super-regional communities.


Applicant: HR Dr. Harald Barsch, Österreichischer Falknerbund und Zentralstelle Österreichischer Falknervereine (ZÖF)
Province: Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Vienna

Falconry is the art of hunting with birds. In a strict sense, the term “falconry” is understood as hunting with specially trained falcons. However, hawks, sparrow hawks and eagles have also been introduced to the discipline. Falconry also allows for the breeding of birds of prey.

"Perchten" in Gastein

Applicant: Andreas Mühlberger i.V. Verein Gasteiner Perchten
Province: Salzburg

The tradition of the „Perchten“ in Gastein takes us back in time to the historic “carnival runs” during the Renaissance and the Rococo. The “Perchten run” takes place every four years between New Year’s Day and the Epiphany in the region of Bad Gastein and Bad Hofgastein. Amongst the circa 140 different figures that participate in the run, there are around 30 cap wearers (“Kappenträger”) with impressive headdresses, some of which are several meters high. These cap wearers bring blessings and good wishes to the audience by way of short dances and a bow at the command of the “Perchten” captain.

Local healing knowledge in the Pinzgau region

Applicant: TEH Verein, Obfrau Theresia Harrer, GF Mag. Karin Buchart
Province: Salzburg

The accumulated knowledge of cures and their practical application in Pinzgau (Salzburg) was first documented in writing in the course of a 2005 survey. A specific list holds details of the indications and effects of 106 different cures. Remedies such as pitch, arnica or amber are available locally and constitute an important element of the region’s cultural context. The healing knowledge of Pinzgauer men and women has traditionally been handed down as oral know-how and comprises a variety of cures, indications, effects and active ingredients, which are passed on according to the “master-pupil principle”. For a recipe to be passed down, its effectiveness must have proven successful over centuries.

Making and Wearing of the "Linz Goldhaube"

Applicant: Martina Pühringer, Oberösterreichische Goldhaubengemeinschaft
Province: Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg

The version of the Goldhaube [Golden Cap] native to Linz is a gold-embroidered piece of headwear that represents the most materially valuable element of Upper Austria’s traditional festive costume for women, and it has been worn since the beginning of the 19th century. The production of a Goldhaube requires between 250 and 300 hours of work as well as manual skills and essential knowledge of old handcrafting techniques, which are upheld and passed on by Goldhaube groups in collaboration with producers of traditional costumes. To make a Goldhaube, a ca. 16 x 116 cm ribbon of golden fabric is embroidered with numerous decorative, shiny ornaments. The pattern is up to the embroiderer herself, while the shape of the Goldhaube is determined by a wire frame that is the same throughout Upper Austria, as well as in neighbouring Lower Austria, Salzburg, and Bavaria. Goldhauben are passed on within families and worn together with traditional festive garb (consisting of a full-length silk dress, traditional accessories, prayer book, shoulder scarf, glovettes, and a pearl pouch) on secular and sacred occasions, for example on Sundays on which traditional costumes are typically worn, at harvest festivals, and at wedding anniversary celebrations.

Production of Traditionally Hand-Crafted Terrazzo

Applicant: Ing. Gabriele Pia Stuhlberger
Province: Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Vienna

Terrazzo is a long-lived, heavy-duty, and low-maintenance type of flooring that can be decorated in a broad diversity of patterns. 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 densely by hand. Next, the terrazzo chips are geprackt [beaten], rolled with an iron terrazzo roller, and smoothed out by hand several times in order to ensure their even distribution. Once the material has cured, several rounds of wet grinding alternate with the application of a grout formulated by the terrazzo makers themselves. This process renders every terrazzo floor a unique, handmade creation, and the craftspeople who make it favour regionally extracted raw materials and do without chemical additives.


Applicant: Salzburger Rangglerverband, Landesobmann Hans Bernsteiner
Province: Salzburg

“Hundstoaranggeln” (a type of physical competition or form of wrestling match) is probably the oldest sport found in the Alps. It has its roots in the 14th century and takes place at the “Hoher Hundstein” in Pinzgau (Salzburg).

Bobbin lace-making in Salzburg

Applicant: Christian Vötter - Verein TAURISKA & Monika Thonhauser
Province: Salzburg

Lace-making dates back to the Renaissance. Lace was used not only to protect fabric edges from fraying, but also for decorative purposes. Brisk demand turned lace-making in Salzburg into an industry of trans-regional importance which developed a style entirely of its own. At the height of its popularity between 1600 and 1800, bobbin lace was an important source of income for many families. Following near-oblivion, the craft was rediscovered in the mid-20th century and has since been taught and handed down in special courses.

Charcoal burning

Applicant: Peter Wieser, Vorstandsmitglied im Europäischen Köhlerverein und Sprecher der österreichischen Köhler
Province: Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Vienna

Charcoal burning ("Köhlerei") is a traditional craftsmanship derived from rural life, which primarily serves the manufacturing of wood charcoal. Hermetically sealed wood is heated up by way of dry distillation and carbonised across a period of several weeks, turning it thereby into preferably pure carbon.

Telling fairy tales

Applicant: Helmut Wittmann
Province: Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Vienna

Storytelling is the art of entertaining people in a playful and intellectual way by recounting fairy tales. For centuries, fairy tales, sagas and stories have been handed down orally. In the past, people recounted stories while working; today legends and tales are told through narrating societies, cultural initiatives, schools and kindergartens. These stories reflect the graphic power of local events, conditions and characteristics. Furthermore, their common theme centers on the art of informing people about fundamental experiences in a playful and intellectual way. Fairy tales and sagas transmit the essence of the individual’s - as well as the community’s collective - cultural identity far better than any type of formal instruction.

Jew's harp playing in Austria

Applicant: Obmann Dr. Franz Kumpl für den Österreichischen Maultrommelverein
Province: Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Vienna

The Jew’s harp is one of the oldest musical instruments in the world, particularly common among the Asian Turkic peoples and in Europe. Made from a variety of materials including metal and bamboo, it produces a drone effect. Over time centres of production and unique styles have emerged and, each of which has grown historically and became embedded in the regional folk culture. Since the medieval times Molln in Upper Austria is such a centre, where they even established a guild of jew’s harp makers. Historically, the instrument played a key role in courtship and in convivial musical entertainment. In Austria, a style of play predominates where the player uses two to four instruments, differently tuned, either as a solo instrument or in a duet or trio, and mostly in combination with other instruments.

Austrian Sign Language

Applicant: Helene Jarmer, Präsidentin des Österreichischen Gehörlosenbundes
Province: Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Vienna

The Austrian Sign Language forms the social and cultural foundation of the Austrian sign language community. It is the mother tongue of the deaf people in Austria and thus reflects an important part of their identity . Since 2005, the Austrian Sign Language has been recognised as a language in its own right, yet many of its users still consider themselves as a linguistic and cultural minority in Austria. The Austrian Sign Language is mostly used by deaf persons and occasionally learned by hearing persons as an additional language. It is used in all regions of Austria with variances in local dialects and correspondingly different vocabulary. The first Sign Language School was founded in V ienna already in 1779. Since then, the language has been cultivated and handed down in schools, associations and families of deaf persons. Additionally, it is passed on in the form of poetry, theatre and performing arts.

The Austrian folk dance movement

Applicant: Dr. Helmut Jeglitsch, Vorsitzender der Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Österreichischer Volkstanz
Province: Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Vienna

The Austrian folk dance movement is rooted in the research and collecting activity of a few persons at the end of the 19th century. It has borrowed much from rural traditions, despite the fact that these elements have mostly become indistinguishable. Concurrently to the systematisation and chronicling of the various dances, a concentration and alignment towards Austrian peculiarities was begun. Yet, instead of simply collecting and safeguarding the dances for posterity, they are increasingly taught and thus saved from extinction.

Austrian scythe-forging

Applicant: Sensenverein Österreich - Hansjörg Rinner
Province: Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Vienna

Prior to the mechanization of agriculture, the scythe was one of the most important harvesting implements worldwide. And even after the introduction of combine harvester and similar machinery, it remained important for small farms and thus for regional food production until well into the 20th century. Favorable economic and geographic conditions (iron ore deposits, wood and water) meant that as early as pre-industrial times, Austria came to produce a surplus of scythes, and the specialized knowledge accumulated over centuries of scythe production made the type known as the “blue scythe” a successful Austrian export. With the advent of mechanized harvesting techniques, however, scythe production in Austria began to stagnate. Of the 215 scythe forging manufactories that existed in Austria around 1900, only two producers have survived to the present day.

The “Tresterer“ dance of Pinzgau as practiced by the folklore association Salzburg Alpinia

Applicant: GTEV ALPINIA Salzburg vertreten durch Erwin Laubichler
Province: Salzburg

The “Tresterer” dance of Pinzgau is a special, regional manifestation of the Schönperchtenlaufen, a procession of masks. On the 5th of January – the night before Epiphany – this circular dance consisting of jumping and stomping is performed at dusk at farms surrounding the provincial capital of Salzburg. A visit by the “Tresterer” dancers and musicians comes unannounced and is understood as an honour and as a good omen for the upcoming year. It is reciprocated by a small donation. The leader of the group introduces the meaning of the tradition by dancing a typical move. The dancers are partly accompanied by musicians.

Ratschen during Holy Week

Applicant: Franz Ederer
Province: Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Vienna

Ratschen (ratcheting) is a noisemaking tradition that is practiced in many parts of Austria in various forms during the day preceding Easter. A central element is the so-called Ratsche (ratchet), a mechanical percussion instrument made of wood, the sound of which is meant to replace the tooling of the silent church bells from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday. In the most common form of ratcheting, children go through the community at various times, making noise and chanting according to an established sequence. The chant can vary from region to region and are either passed on from older children to younger ones or taught by an adult supervisor. The most common chant is the so-called "Eng´lisher Gruß", or Angels´ Greeting: "We ratchet, we ratchet the Angels´ Greeting, that every Catholic Christian must pray. Get down, get down, get down on your knees, say three `Our Father´ and an ´Ave Marie´." Following this ratcheting, the children are rewarded with money, sweets, or Easter Eggs in the so-calles "Absammeln" (collection).

Ceremonial marksmen´s guards in Salzburg

Applicant: Herbert Handlechner i.V. Landesverband der Salzburger Schützen
Province: Salzburg

Shooting clubs are an important component of Salzburg traditions. Even though the actual shooting equipment used differs from place to place (it ranges from traditional wooden weapons to different types of canons or fireworks (“Prangerstutzen”)), club activities are quite constant across different communities.

"Samsontragen" in the Lungau region and in Murau

Applicant: Gauverband der Lungauer Heimat- und Brauchtumsvereinigungen, Gauobmann Eduard Fuchsberger
Province: Salzburg, Styria

In Austria, the tradition of “Samsontragen“ can only be found in the Lungau region (Salzburg) and in two communities in the adjacent federal province of Styria. These regions, however, consider this tradition, which attracts innumerable guests every year, to be a firm part of their annual rites.

Performance Practice at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre

Applicant: Salzburger Marionettentheater
Province: Salzburg

In many countries, marionette theatre is a tradition that goes back thousands of years and is considered the most highly developed form of puppetry. The Salzburg Marionette Theatre has been devoting itself to this art form since 1913. In order to achieve the most natural motions possible, theatre founder Anton Aicher invented a specific type of horizontal control bar, still in use today, that is occasionally compared to a harp. The puppeteers grasp the strings attached to this bar as they perform in order to make their puppets move, thus creating the specific “notes” that give rise to their figures’ individual characters. This technique has been taught to all puppeteers trained at this theatre over the past 100 years. In addition to passing on the necessary performing techniques, it is also essential to convey the manual skills that go into carving the puppets, costuming them, and moving them. The original stock character of Salzburg’s marionette theatre tradition is the Salzburger Kasperl, who is modelled after a humorous rural figure from the remote Lungau region that was originally put onstage by an itinerant puppeteer around 1700. Today’s Salzburg Marionette Theatre stands out for being the only such theatre in the world devoted to the performance of operas.

"Silent Night" - the Christmas carol

Applicant: MMag. Michael Neureiter i.V. Stille-Nacht-Gesellschaft
Province: Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Vienna

The song “Silent Night! Holy Night!” was composed in 1818 and has since become a focal point in peoples’ Christmas celebrations, both in the trusted circle of family and friends as well as ecclesiastic festivities, particularly the Christmas Mass. For many, “Silent Night” is the mother of all Christmas carols.

Vereindigte zu Tamsweg

Applicant: Die Vereinigten zu Tamsweg, Kommissär Dr. Raimund Schiefer
Province: Salzburg

The Vereinigte (Union) zu Tamsweg was founded in 1738 by craftsmen from Lungau and has been maintained by workers ever since, thereby making it the oldest existing union in the area around the market town of Tamsweg (Salzburg). Members attend funerals, accompany church processions and hold the “Vereinigtenoktav”, a week-long festival celebrated every year between January 1 and the first Saturday after Ash Wednesday. In addition to members of the Tamsweg Union, members of confraternities from other federal states attend these festivities.

Gilding and Faux Painting

Applicant: Waltraud Luegger
Province: Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Vienna

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 gilding and oil gilding. The faux-painting of non-gilded surfaces is referred to as Staffieren or Fassmalerei, terms which also encompass the addition of colour to sculptures and relief art as well as to picture and mirror frames, church altars, furniture, and interiors in general. This includes marbelizing, wood imitation, and porcelain imitation. Knowledge of the complex techniques involved is for the most part passed on orally, and mastering such work takes several years. The heyday of gilding and faux painting was during the baroque and rococo eras, and in the art nouveau and art deco periods, as well, these techniques were in high demand. From the second half of the 20th century, interest in such work greatly declined; gilding has all but disappeared in contemporary architecture, for which less and less craftspeople still practice and pass on these techniques.

Knowledge of traditional seed cultivation and production

Applicant: Verein ARCHE NOAH
Province: Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Vienna

Every culture has developed specific species and varieties of edible plants, with the associated knowledge and techniques being adapted to its dietary habits and the growing conditions at hand. By means of targeted planting, care, selection, usage and multiplication, farmers and gardeners have given rise to an enormous degree of diversity. The knowledge of seed planting, seed harvesting, selection, cleaning and storage was and continues to be passed on from generation to generation both in families and in communities. Farm and local varieties, which are ideally adapted to regional conditions, not only constitute the basis of families’, communities’ and regions’ nutrition, but also provide for common identities within such groups. It follows, then, that varieties of certain agricultural plants such as rye (e.g. Lungauer Tauernroggen), beets (e.g. Wildschönauer Krautingerrübe) and maize (e.g. Vorarlberger Riebelmais) are directly associated with local products and/or dishes.