Intangible Cultural Heritage in Austria

Sword dance of Dürrnberg

Applicant: Hermann Gfrerer i. V. Schwerttanz Verein der Dürrnberger Bergknappen
Province: Salzburg
Domain: Performing arts
Year of inclusion: 2011

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.

The dance contains a series of step sequences and complicated figures, whereby the sword is used as a connecting link between the performers. A traditional miner’s costume is worn and certain requisites and hallmarks of the profession are used. Until the closing of the salt refinery in 1989, the dance was performed every four years under the conduct of the salt refinery manager and the mine director. Nowadays, the society of former miners devotes itself to the continuous fostering of the sword dance.