Intangible Cultural Heritage in Austria

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.


The Lake Constance Radhaube in lamé lace

Applicant: Michael Selb, Trachtengruppe Feldkirch
Province: Vorarlberg

The Lake Constance Radhaube, a wheel-shaped bonnet, is unique due to its ornaments, which are made of gold and silver thread of equal quality on either side. The bonnet is typically worn in combination with traditional (Austrian) dress (“Tracht”) on festive occasions such as dance performances or festivals.


Three-step Alpine transhumance in the Bregenz Forest

Applicant: Michael Moosbrugger i.V. Verein zur Förderung der Bregenzerwälder Käsekultur
Province: Vorarlberg

Due to the fact that the amount of non-silo fodder from the in-house production of the farm yards in the Bregenz Forest does not suffice for the livestock all year-round, the local farmers apply a well-tried agricultural practice called the “three-step-agriculture”. As part of this seasonal cycle of the three-step-agriculture, (part of) the family drives the livestock from the farmyard, first to the “Vorsäß” (a low mountain pasture) in late spring and then to the alp at the beginning of July.


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.


Storytelling in Montafon

Applicant: Dr. MMag. Edith Hessenberger, MMag. Michael Kasper, Bürgermeister Rudi Lerch
Province: Vorarlberg

In Montafon, a mountain valley in the Austrian province of Vorarlberg, narrative communities have originated from the locals’ daily communication. The contents, moral concepts and patterns of their local legends and tales date back to the 19th and 20th century. Today, this tradition of storytelling is still an integral element of the local community, cherished both on a daily basis as well as on special occasions. Numerous cultural initiatives and tradition bearers in Montafon actively contribute to the collection and preservation of this local narrative tradition, which as well has been of interest to researchers since the 19th century.


Falconry

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.


Bonfire Sunday

Applicant: Mag. Hanno Platzgummer i.V. Funkenzunft Oberdorf
Province: Vorarlberg

The celebration of Bonfire Sunday (“Funkensonntag“), a holiday on the first Sunday after Ash Wednesday, is commonplace throughout the whole of Vorarlberg. Each community organizes its own bonfire (“Funken”). Vorarlberg’s largest city, Dornbirn, is famous for having several bonfires, which are arranged by a variety of bonfire guilds.


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


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.


Applicant: MMag. Michael Kasper
Province: Vorarlberg


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.


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).


Disc flinging

Applicant: Thomas Gamon, MMag. Michael Kasper
Province: Vorarlberg

Disc flinging (Scheibenschlagen) is practiced in several Vorarlberg communities on the first Sunday of Lent. Special discs made of alder or birch are mounted on 70-to-100 cm long hazel branches, made to glow in the so-called Vorfeuer (preliminary fire), and then shot off of the branches with the help of a small, tilted wooden bench. In a successful shot, the glowing disc traces a luminous arc through the dark night sky. Each shooter attempts to shoot his disc as far and/or as accurately as possible. As they shoot, statements are called out that mention specific people from the community by name- honoring them, making fun of them, or even exposing secret romantic liaisons. Disc flingers can often be young men, teens and schoolchildren, but are above all members of groups such as so-called fire guilds (Funkenzünfte).


"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.


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


Field names in Vorarlberg

Applicant: Mag. Dieter Petras, Thomas Gamon und BM Mag. Harald Sonderegger
Province: Vorarlberg

Due to the fact that large distances often separate the farmland from villages and farm yards, it used to be very important to specify the exact location when finalising contracts, constructing path descriptions and calculating the contributions. Over hundreds of years, these field names formed a natural part of the rural realities of life. Only during the profound agricultural restructuring which occurred after the Second World War (mainly in the 1960s) did many of these farmland names become obsolete and threatened by extinction.


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.