Intangible Cultural Heritage in Austria

Oral Traditions

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.

Classical horsemanship and the High School of the Spanish Riding School

Applicant: Spanische Hofreitschule - Bundesgestüt Piber Ges.ö.R., Mag. Erwin Klissenbauer
Province: Vienna

To this day, the Spanish Riding School communicates the high art of classical horsemanship by passing it down orally from one generation of horsemen and horsewomen to the next as well as displaying it publicly in equestrian performances. Young aspiring horsemen learn valuable lessons both from their more advanced peers, as well as from the stallions themselves.

Songs of the Lovara

Applicant: Ruzsa Nikolić-Lakatos
Province: Burgenland, Vienna

Songs are an important part of the Lovara’s cultural tradition. The history behind the name of this Roma group leads us back to their former occupation as “horse traders” (“Lovara”). Their songs are mostly about the family and community, yet the role of the individual and the former ways of life of the Lovara are also mirrored in them. These songs are like a reservoir for their language, as they contain phrases and metaphors typical of the Lovara, which have now (almost) become extinct in everyday life.

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.

The Dialect of Montafon

Applicant: MMag. Michael Kasper
Province: Vorarlberg

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 the Montafon Valley’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 at least 200 relic words, figures of speech, and grammatical peculiarities as well as an enormously broad inventory of phonemes that are almost entirely devoid of diphthongs. The Montafon dialect remains a central element of local identity and is used in everyday life. It is spoken in family settings, in school, at work, and at public functions, in the process being upheld and passed on from generation to generation.

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 Ötztal dialect

Applicant: Prof. Dr. Hans Haid, Ötztal-Archiv des Ötztaler Heimatvereins
Province: Tyrol

The Ötztal dialect (Oetz Valley, Tyrol), with its 900 years of unchanged tradition, represents the strongest of all components that make up the Ötztaler population’s local identity.

"Roman" - The language of the Romani people of Burgenland

Applicant: Barbara Schrammel i.V. Verein [spi:k] und Emmerich Gärtner-Horvath i.V. Verein Roma Service
Province: Burgenland

“Roman” is a variety of the Romani language, specific to the Romani people living in Burgenland and exclusively spoken in Austria. The history of the language Roman reaches back over 500 years and is still used in the prevalent media of the Romani people of Burgenland. It is mainly spoken in the intimate circle of the family, but also amongst friends and other members of its ethnic group.

Slovenian field and house names in Carinthia

Applicant: Vertreter der Bürgerinitiativen, Vinko Wieser
Province: Carinthia

Traditional Slovenian field and house names are key to understanding the economic, socio-historical and linguistic development of Carinthia and its surroundings. They form part of the cultural heritage of Carinthian Slovenes, as well as the German-speaking inhabitants of the region.

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.

Performing arts

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.

The Educational and Choral Tradition of the Vienna Boys’ Choir

Applicant: Musikwissenschaftliches Forschungszentrum Wiener Sängerknaben für den Verein; Prof. Gerald Wirth, Künstlerische Gesamtleitung, Präsident
Province: Vienna

The Vienna Boys’ Choir was established based on a decree issued by Emperor Maximilian in 1498. It was charged with performing music—above all sacred music—for the court. This original function is still fulfilled by the Vienna Boys’ Choir at Sunday morning mass at the Wiener Hofburgkapelle (the Vienna Court Chapel). The ca. 100 active Vienna Boys’ Choir members, aged between ten and fourteen, are divided into four choirs of approximately equal size, 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 sound.

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.

Christmas caroling in Heiligenblut

Applicant: Obmann Hans Schacher i.V. Rotte Hof Heiligenbluter Sternsinger
Province: Carinthia

The 16th century tradition of Christmas caroling in Heiligenblut (Carinthia) has been kept alive until today mostly in its original form. The star song (“Sternlied”) or the blessing of houses using the “CMB” saying (“Christus Mansionem Benedicat” – May Christ bless this house) which is written in chalk over the front door, are still fundamental elements of this tradition.

The “Landler“ of the Innviertel

Applicant: LEADER - Regionen Innviertel und Pramtal
Province: Upper Austria

The history of the dance is inseparably linked with the “Zechen” of the Innviertel. Originally, Zechen were entirely peasant confraternities that cultivated not only a form of conviviality but created their own special combination of dance (“Eicht”), music, poetry and song in a great artistic achievement called the Landler of the Innviertel. Its unique melody, an attached special yodel (“Almer”), as well as its slightly warped three-four rhythm makes the Landler of the Innviertel special within the Austrian “Ländler” family. With its numerous regional and individual manifestations it represents a cultural heritage that looks back on a tradition of over 250 years and is still handed down from one generation to the next.

Laßnitz Folk Plays

Applicant: Raphael Bacher, Mag. Alfred Baltzer
Province: Carinthia, Styria

The folk plays known as the Laßnitzer Volksschauspiele [Laßnitz Folk Plays] are performed at irregular, multi-year intervals in the Styrian community of Laßnitz. No one knows when these plays originated or who created them. Written versions have existed since the 19th century; before that, the plays had been handed down orally. All of these plays are themed on local customs and medieval beliefs pertaining to the Christian liturgies for Easter and Christmas. Out of an originally large number of plays, only five have been preserved. A special feature of the Laßnitzer Volksschauspiele is the importance of singing; the actors and actresses thus also need to have musical and vocal talent.

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.

Metnitzer Kinisingen – Epiphany caroling in Metnitz

Applicant: Direktor SR Siegmund Kogler
Province: Carinthia

The Metnitzer Kinisingen in the Metnitztal, a valley in Carinthia, would seem to date back to the 16th century; the first written mention of its lyrics, still sung today, is in a manuscript from 1724. Together with the three kings and the star-bearer, a group of singers (referred to as the “Rotte”) wanders through the entire Metnitztal, going from farmhouse to farmhouse, between New Year’s and 6 January (Epiphany or Three Kings’ Day), singing the 17 verses of the “Kinilied” (Song of the Three Kings). To go along with the singing, the kings and the star-bearer perform a special pantomime routine in which they move silently and according to precisely defined rules. In addition to the 17 verses, well-wishes for a good year are recited to the residents of each house. In lieu of money, the members of the Rotte are given food and drink following their performance, after which they sing one final song and move on.

The Öblarner Krampusspiel – Krampus Play in Öblarn

Applicant: Ing. Gert Planitzer
Province: Styria

The Öblarner Krampusspiel belongs to the genre of sacred folk theater, which – above all during the 18th century, in the wake of Austria’s re-Catholicization – was part of the religious and moral instruction of the common people. The Öblarner Krampusspiel, as one of the last surviving Styrian folk theater traditions, is put on by amateur performers every year in early December, taking place both in farmhouses and as public performances on the market square. The scripts for the play’s individual figures – such as the Hunters, Lucifer and his retinue, the Smith, the “Habergoas” (a cheerful and naughty character with a billy goat’s head) and Death – are learned via a tradition that is largely oral in nature, only having been put to paper during the 1980s. The first written mention of the Krampusspiel in Öblarn was by Archduke Johann of Austria, who saw this play while a guest at the nearby palace Schloss Gstatt in 1816.

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.

The Erl Passion Play

Applicant: Passionspielverein Erl
Province: Tyrol

For the past 400 years, the traditional passion play, originating from the Christian Easter Drama, has been taking place at Erl every six years. Despite its international reputation and its many visitors, this traditional Christian play owes its survival particularly to the inhabitants of Erl, as they – rather than professional actors – take on the parts on stage. The 600 actors are recruited one year before the performance. Committee members make the round of the houses asking all residents of Erl whether they wish to undertake an unspecified part in the passion play. People of all ages ar e involved in the pr oject. Due to the religious background as well as the participants’ wish for continuity, changes in text, music and costumes are only cautiously made as part of the continuous development and updating of the performance.

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.

The Reither Nikolausspiel – St. Nicholas Play in Reith

Applicant: Johann Hechenblaikner im Auftrag der „Bundesmusikkapelle Reith im Alpbachtal“ und von Max Feichtner (Besitzer des Nikolausspiel-Manuskripts)
Province: Tyrol

The Reither Nikolausspiel is held every seven years in the village of Reith, which is situated in a Tyrolean valley called the Alpbachtal. The oldest reference to this folk theater tradition is from 1868, and the basis for today’s version was already put into writing by 1875. Until 1919, this fundamentally religious and pedagogical drama was performed in homes, with local lay-performers going from farm to farm in Reith playing individual scenes. The Reither Nikolausspiel consists of twelve scenes typical of this play’s North Tyrolean variants (these are referred to as “Bilder” – lit. “pictures,” an antiquated term for “scenes”), in which the poor’s defiance of the rich and powerful, and also the battle between good and evil, are portrayed.

The “Ruden“ dance in Sierning

Applicant: Rudenkomitee Sierning
Province: Upper Austria

Until the 20th century, the folk dance “Ländler” had been known as a “dance for all” throughout the Southern German-speaking areas and beyond. In Traunviertel, a region in the south-east of Upper Austria, a very particular manifestation of the Ländler has been handed down by the so-called “Ruden”. Ruden derives from “roti”, which is Old German for pack or herd. Aside from nursing traditions throughout the year, these Ruden – mostly peasant fellowships for young men – have cultivated polyphonic singing, an important prerequisite for performing the Traunviertler Landler which is at the core of the Ruden dance. For the past 200 years, a festivity named “Ruden Fair of Sierning” has been held on Shrove Tuesday, when the Ruden of the Traunviertel (dance groups of about four to eight couples) come together. Aside from the music, dance and song, particular attention is paid to the “Gstanzl” – rhymes eight lines – which are written anew year after year and serve as a moral corrective throughout the region due to their critical and mocking allusions to local, national and global socio-political events.

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.

Christmas caroling in Tyrol´s Villgraten Valley (Inner and Outer Villgraten)

Applicant: MMag. Robert Schmidhofer, Hermann Lanser
Province: Tyrol

Every year between Christmas and the Epiphany, the traditional Christmas caroling takes places in the Tyrolian Villgraten Valley. For two days, two groups wander from house to house to sing traditional New Year’s carols.

Traunkirchner Mordsgschicht – carnival singing in Traunkirchen

Applicant: Traunkirchner Mordsgschicht
Province: Upper Austria

The oldest written record of the Traunkirchner Mordsgschicht (Traunkirchen’s “murderously funny story”) is from 1912, although according to first-hand accounts by individuals living back then, this tradition actually goes back further. It is a narrative musical performance in the style of a “Moritat,” a form of cantastoria or bench song. Today, this tradition – originally practiced throughout the Salzkammergut region – can be found in this form only in Traunkirchen. On the final Sunday before Lent, the singers parade from inn to inn wearing top hats and tailcoats to present humorous moments from the village’s past year. The performers only accept food and drink or a meal together with the hosts as payment.

The Viennese Dudler

Applicant: Mag. Agnes Palmisano
Province: Vienna

Viennese-style yodeling is an important element of the local musical culture. Tootling is an important element of the Viennese singing culture. Its origins go back to the beginning of the 19th century, when Tyrolean singers’ societies toured European cities to introduce the population to the tradition of yodeling. In Vienna, yodeling was primarily developed in Ottakring and Hernals (16th and 17th Districts).

Viennese Tuning and Playing Technique for the Zither

Applicant: Cornelia Mayer, Univ. Ass. Mag. Katharina Pecher-Havers
Province: Upper Austria, Styria, Vienna

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. Playing together was conducive to social cohesion and cultural identity. And with the theme to the movie The Third Man, Viennese zither-tuning and playing technique became known the world over. Its tuning and technique are still used today in Vienna, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, and Styria.

Social Practices

Anklöpfeln (knocking on doors) in the Tyrolean Unterland

Applicant: Joch Weißbacher i. V. Oberauer Anklöpfler
Province: Tyrol

„Anklöpfeln“ (dialect for “to knock”) is a practice cultivated in the Tyrolean lower Inn valley. Here, a group of mostly male singers dress up as shepherds and visit the neighbouring houses on the three Thursdays before Christmas (“knocking nights”). The singers are invited into the homes and strike up several songs to herald the Christmas message of the birth of Jesus Christ.

“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.

Setup and visiting of traditional landscape nativity scenes in the Salzkammergut region

Applicant: Heimat- und Musealverein Ebensee
Province: Upper Austria

Traditional Landscape Cribs (German: Landschaftskrippen) are special Christmas Cribs which depict the nativity scene of the birth of Christ embedded in the regional landscape of the Salzkammergut. After emperor Joseph II. had issued a decree in 1782 prohibiting the exhibition of the formerly pompous Christmas Cribs, numerous inhabitants began to carve copies of the crib figures and array them in their private homes. Over time, the size of these Christmas cribs rose to room-filling “Landscape Cribs” including hundreds of carved figurines. Down to the present day, people from far and wide are invited to private homes during the Advent season to visit the broad range of individually arranged Landscape Cribs of the Salzkammergut.

Carnival in the Ausseerland region

Applicant: Bernhard Laimer, Maschkera-Gesellschaft
Province: Styria

Fasching [Carnival] in the Ausseerland region takes place from Fasching Sunday to Fasching Tuesday. Three main figures play significant roles in these festivities: Trommelweiber [Drumwives], Flinserl [Glitterers], and Pless (representing winter). The Trommelweiber, a manifestation of the gender role swaps common in Fasching festivities, accompany the Fasching procession—led by the Obertrommelweib and the rhythmic drumbeats of the Trommelweiber brass band. Flinserl and Pless appear on Fasching Tuesday. The sparkling Flinserl, with their magnificent costumes, join with the accompanying figures of the Zacherl to represent a specific regional Fasching formation, the historical origins of which have yet to be determined—although it is thought that they may be influenced by Venetian Carnival traditions. There are also masked figures (Maschkera) who proceed from tavern to tavern in small and large groups. Furthermore, all three days feature so-called “Fasching protocols” that are read aloud in various establishments that serve food and drink—with blunders, local politics, and local events from the old year satirised in rhymed and sung form and hand-drawn pictures to support these performances. Such Fasching protocols are presented by singers from the various villages in the Ausseerland region.

"Wampelerreiten" in Axams

Applicant: Daniel Klotz
Province: Tyrol

Wampelerreiten is a fixture of Fasching [Carnival] festivities in Axams and is held annually on the so-called “Nonsense Thursday” prior to Fasching Sunday. In focus here are the Wampeler from whom this tradition takes its name—young boys and men who wear voluminous white linen shirts stuffed full of hay. This gives the Wampeler their “Wampe”, a colloquial German term for a fat belly. Equipped with short red skirts worn over their pants, wide leather belts, and short wooden staffs, the Wampeler parade through the community in a bent-over posture. Their adversaries are the Reiter [Riders], who attempt to knock the Wampeler down and flip them onto their backs in order to dirty their white shirts. The sticks carried by the Wampeler help them to keep their balance and defend themselves from unfair frontal attacks. In the evening, after several rounds through the village, the best Wampeler (the one with the cleanest back) is determined at the village tavern. Axams’s Wampelerreiten event itself is accompanied by so-called Banden [gangs], who spend their fourth of four consecutive Thursday evenings moving from tavern to tavern costumed as traditional carnival figures and making music, dancing, and satirising local circumstances during their visits.

Mountain fires in Tyrol´s Ehrwald Basin

Applicant: Karlheinz Somweber, Erich Steiner, Martin Senftlechner, Gebhard Schatz, Ehrwald e.V
Province: Tyrol

Every year, the mountain fires at the Ehrwald Basin in Tyrol burn brightly around the summer solstice of June 21. Each participating group chooses a figure that is to be drawn, drafted according to the inclination of ground and built using different types of fuel. These figures, which are always topical and up-to-date, are not revealed before June 21.

Mining culture in Bleiberg

Applicant: Bergmännischer Kulturverein und Marktgemeinde Bad Bleiberg
Province: Carinthia

For centuries, coal mining constituted the economic basis of life for the inhabitants of Bad Bleiberg. Even though the mine in Bad Bleiberg (Carinthia) has been closed since 1992, numerous initiatives try hard to safeguard and transfer the traditions passed down by the “Knappenkultur”: the miners’ language, sloping tunnels, “Knappenspiel” (a form of theatre play performed in mines), “Ledersprung” and the Saint Barbara mass (both in honour of the miners’ patron). Traces of this culture can be found in house and field names, the performing arts and throughout society.

"Bloch-pulling" in Fiss

Applicant: Verein "Blochziehen Fiss": Obmann Christian Kofler, Obmannstellv. Thomas Wachter
Province: Tyrol

The “bloch-pulling” in Fiss (“bloch” is the long trunk of a stone pine) belongs to the largest carnival traditions in the Alpine region. It takes place every two years, the “bloch-pulling” of the adults taking turns with the children’s “bloch-pulling” (for six to fourteen-year-olds). At the end of autumn, the fetching of the “Bloch” tree occurs, where a magnificent stone pine is felled, guarded and placed on three sledges two days prior to the carnival procession. On the day of the procession, the participating figures assemble at the village centre and – at the command of the wagoner – the “Bloch” is put into motion by numerous masked persons. Witches and devils (“Schwoaftuifl”) attempt to hamper the moving of the “Bloch”. Playful elements are not only an essential detail, but also serve as entertainment for the spectators. Once the “Bloch” has arrived at the school house, it is then auctioned off.

The Rag Procession in Ebensee

Applicant: Johannes Scheck i. V. Verein Ebenseer Fasching
Province: Upper Austria

The annual rag procession in Ebensee is a carnival procession on Shrove Monday in and around Ebensee, whose exact beginning has not yet been identified. The participants, the so-called “rags”, dress up in old women’s clothes with rags sewed onto them. In addition, they wear a "rag hat" as well as an elaborately carved wooden mask.

The "Glöcklerlauf" in Ebensee

Applicant: Edi Promberger
Province: Upper Austria

The tradition of the “Glöcklerlauf” on January 5 (a specific type of race where participants carry large decorated caps made of paper on their heads) originated in Ebensee (Upper Austria) and spread throughout the whole Salzkammergut region around the Wolfgangsee (“Lake Wolfgang”) to Styria. Recent decades have shown increased interest in this tradition in large parts of Salzkammergut because the region’s potential as a tourist attraction has officially been acknowledged.

"Schemenlaufen", the carnival of Imst

Applicant: Die Gemeinschaft der Imster Fasnachtler, Obmann Uli Gstrein, Mag. Manfred Thurner
Province: Tyrol

The carnival of Imst (Tyrolian Upperland) is a form of carnival procession with 26 different sorts of masks that takes place every four years.

Nassereith Carnival - “Schellerlaufen“

Applicant: Obmann Spielmann Gerhard im Namen vom Fasnachtskomitee Nassereith für die Gemeinschaft der Nassereither Fasnacht
Province: Tyrol

The Nassereith Carnival, also known as “Schellerlaufen” since 1951, is a carnival tradition that has been taking place every three years in the village of Nassereith in Tyrol on a day between Epiphany (6 January) and Ash Wednesday. The procession forms the heart of the Nassereith Carnival, distinguishing itself through its colourfulness and the typical wooden masks. Part of it is the “Schellerlaufen”, performed according to precise rules that have been passed down from generation to generation together with the know-how involved in making the masks, costumes and other carnival accessories. Its organisation is handled by a carnival committee, first elected in 1923 and serving for s ix years.

Festive practices of the civic guards and militias of the district of Murau

Applicant: Obmann Rudolf Paschek für den Bezirksverband der Bürger- und Schützengarden des Bezirkes Murau
Province: Styria

The district of Murau in the Austrian province of Styria assembles five civic guards and militias whose origins can be traced back to the 17 th century. Several times a year, they participate as ceremonial guards in festive events and religious processions, thereby contributing to the solemnity of each occasion. Due to their traditional connection to the church, the guards sally forth at Corpus Christi and the feast of the community patron saint. They also serve as honour guards for jubilees, weddings and high-ranking visitors. They are characterised by their traditional uniforms, arms and a typical marching order.

Carrying out the Freiung at the annual "Maxlaun" market in Niederwölz

Applicant: Mag. Alfred Baltzer und Ing. Rudolf Paschek für den Arbeitskreis Volkskultur Murau
Province: Styria

The procession of the "Maxlaun" market revolves around the “Freiung”, symbol of the market privilege. The three-day market is held annually at Niederwölz in the district of Murau on the second weekend of October. Its name is derived from Maximilian, the church patron venerated on 12 October. In his honour citizens organise a parade to carry the “Freiung”, a festively decorated arm carved out of wood, painted black and holding a sword, to the market square along a traditional route. It symbolised the freedom of the market, unrestricted trading rights and public peace through a ban on carrying arms. Nowadays, the mayor chooses the bearer of the symbol who in turn appoints a person charged with ensuring passage through the crowd. The procession is accompanied by the local band and choir, the fire brigade and the men of the mountain rescue service.

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.

"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.

The Gauderfest in Zell am Ziller

Applicant: Tiroler Landestrachtenverband, Obmann Oswald Gredler
Province: Tyrol

Tyrol’s largest spring celebration arose from a “Kirchtag” or country fair. This folk celebration’s name refers to its traditional location, called “Gauderlehen.” The oldest known description of this celebration comes from 1862, although there also exist earlier notes in which reference is made to it. Once-important blood sports such as cow-baiting, cockfights and ram-baiting have by now been abandoned, with the action now centering instead on “Ranggeln” (a form of wrestling native to the Alps- see Hundstoaranggeln), with its contest for the winner’s title of "Hogmoar,” and a parade in traditional costumes. This parade is among Tyrol’s largest and always takes place on the first Sunday in May. At the Gauderfest, special attention is also given to young people: above all, the Saturday directly preceding the Gauderfest gives them the opportunity to show off their dancing abilities.

Confraternity of the Holy Sepulcher in Pfunds

Applicant: Heiliggrab-Bruderschaft Pfunds, Prof. Robert Klien
Province: Tyrol

Founded more than 500 years ago, the Fraternity of the Holy Sepulcher continues to uphold the tradition of setting up the Holy Sepulcher in the Liebfrauen Church at Pfunds on the Saturday before Palm Sunday as well as praying to the Eucharist continuously from Good Friday until Holy Saturday. It is a great honour to become a Brother of the Holy Sepulcher. This privilege is passed on from generation to generation without differentiating between hierarchy, education, social standing or wealth. The Fraternity of the Holy Sepulcher has always remained independent of the Catholic Church and the local government. It is made up of 12 groups, each consisting of 16 men, which also includes women and the young in their activities.


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).

Wreath Riding in Weitensfeld

Applicant: Max Strohmaier
Province: Carinthia

The tradition of Kranzelreiten [Wreath Riding] in Weitensfeld, practiced annually at Pentecost, is divided into two parts. On Whit Sunday, the wreath riders (Kranzelreiter) ride from house to house accompanied by singers who sing G’stanzl (humorous four-line dialect songs) about the events of the past year, and they utter a personalized cheer for the residents of each house, who provide them with food and drink in return. This ritual is also the invitation to the actual Kranzelreiten event, which follows on Whit Monday. It is a competition that begins with the riders racing their decorated horses, galloping three times between the upper market square and the market fountain to symbolise the vanquishment of the plague outbreak associated with the tradition’s origin. Afterwards, the focus turns to three runners, who race each other. The winning runner then rides the winning horse to the market square fountain and kisses the statue of the steinerne Jungfrau [Stone Virgin] that stands at its centre. As a prize, he receives the Virgin’s wreath (the Kranzel) and a silk scarf. The second-placed competitor receives a myrtle bouquet and a woollen scarf, and the competitor in last place receives a bunch of hog bristles and a calico scarf. Each winning runner then passes on his prizes to his girl of choice. Finally, they all dance a waltz known as the Jungfrauenkuss or Gurktalerwalzer, which concludes the Kranzelreiten event itself and kicks off the celebration that follows.

"Lichtbratl"-Monday in Bad Ischl

Applicant: Hannes Heide, Bürgermeister der Stadtgemeinde Bad Ischl
Province: Upper Austria

Every year on the Monday after Michaelmas (29 September), the “Lichtbratlmontag” (“Monday of the lighting roast”) is celebrated in Bad Ischl. It derives from an old custom, where the master used to treat his workers to a roast, as artificial lighting had to be used again from that day onwards. Today, this “Lichtbratlmontag” is a festive gathering for all jubilarians from the age of 50 upwards with milestone birthdays, who were either born or reside in Bad Ischl.

“Liebstatt” Sunday in Gmunden

Applicant: Trachtenverein „Traunseer“ Gmunden, Obmann Franz Wolfsgruber
Province: Upper Austria

The origin of this tradition is viewed to lie with the Corpus Christi Brotherhood, which was reestablished in Gmunden in 1641, existed into the 18th century, and had as its mission the enrichment of the town’s religious life. Once each year, on the fourth Sunday in Lent, this brotherhood held a gathering at which a vow to be loyal to the faith and to brotherly love, called the “Liab’státt’n” (confirmation of love), was renewed. Over the course of time, this transformed into a demonstration of love. Today, the “Liebstattsonntag” in Gmunden is still held every year on the fourth Sunday in Lent. Gmunden’s traditional costume associations meet at 9:00 a.m. and proceed as a group to the town parish church. After this, a parade forms with its own band and marches to the square in front of the town hall. Following a brief greeting and an explanation of the tradition, the associations’ members give gifts of decorated gingerbread hearts to the townspeople and guests.

"Mullen" and "Matschgern" in the MARTHA villages

Applicant: Martin Kapferer i.V. Gemeinschaft der Muller und Matschgerer der Stadtteile Mühlau und Arzl bzw. der Dörfer Rum, Thaur und Absam
Province: Tyrol

“Mullen” and “Matschgern” (derives from “mask”/ “to mask”) is a century-old tradition, which is carried out on the night of Shrove Tuesday in the MARTHA villages north of Innsbruck. Each figure has a role allocated, the witches being precursors, other figures like the mirror-“tuxer” simply impressing with their imposing appearance, while others act as constables. The climax of the hustle and bustle is the so-called “Mullen” or “Abmullen”, a form of testimony of honour, where the bearer of the custom chooses a person from the audience to rub his shoulders and give him a little smack on the back.

The Carnival Run of Murau

Applicant: Mag. Alfred Baltzer und Ing. Rudolf Paschek, i.V. Arbeitskreis Volkskultur Murau
Province: Styria

This exhausting and elaborate procession and “Heische” tradition (a custom of asking for alms) takes place in regular intervals of two to five years on a certain day of the year - typically on Carnival Monday - in several villages in the district of Murau. The equipment of the carnival runners commemorates the former clothing of threshers, while the appearance and the number of carnival runners as well as their accompanying figures show slight regional differences. The participating groups and figures move either by vehicle or by foot from yard to yard and have to overcome obstacles before being allowed to enter. These typically comprise either overcoming a tightened chain (Speng) or accepting a challenge for a duel.

´The The Vineyard Guards´ Procession in Perchtoldsdorf

Applicant: Christian Neumayer i.V. für die Weinhüter; Franz Distl i.V. für den Weinbauverein der Marktgemeinde Perchtoldsdorf
Province: Lower Austria

The Vineyard Guards´ Procession has remained a constant element of the Perchtoldsdorfer wine growers’ annual traditions, even though the profession of guardian became obsolete and died out in the 1970s.

Perlaggen in Tyrol

Applicant: : Institut für "ALPENLÄNDISCHE TRADITIONSKARTENSPIELE -Watten, Bieten,Gilten und Perlaggen", Telfs - NOAFLHAUS, Hubert Auer (Vorstand), Telfs. Bernhard Moll, Imst und Peter Blaas, Mieming.
Province: Tyrol

Perlåggen is a card game that is nowadays played above all Tyrol. Two teams, usually consisting of two individuals each, attempt to communicate via secret verbal and nonverbal signals and win as many points as possible in the process. The game is played with 33 German-suited cards (Acorns, leafs, bells, hearts), of which up to eight—depending on the region and the situation—are designated Perlågg and thus given a special function. Fibbing and fooling one’s opponents are important elements of this game, which also involves the lingo known as Perlågger-Latein or Kårter-Sprech. This contains a number of words for certain moves, for special cards, and of praise or rebuke for other players’ actions. Perlåggen is played by people of all ages, classes, and genders, and games take place particularly at inns and in private homes. Local tournaments are held every year, and the past few years have also seen an all-Tyrol Perlåggen championship held, the location of which alternates between South and North Tyrol.

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).

Sacramental Guards in Tyrol

Applicant: Karl Wurzer
Province: Tyrol

The Sacramental Guards in Tyrol were founded about 500 years ago based on the Spanish model of the Corpus Christi Confraternities. Their original duty of guarding and honouring the Eucharist at processions still stands. Over the course of their history, the Sacramental Guards in Tyrol were dissolved several times, yet their tradition was successfully upheld in the villages in Thaur, Hall, Volders and Schwaz. Only at selected ecclesiastical and secular occasions the four Sacramental Guards appear together, dressed in their historical attire and arms. The guards also accompany private ceremonies, such as weddings or funerals, and take on social and cultural duties within their communities.

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.

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.

"Taubenschießen" in Altaussee

Applicant: Gerhard Wimmer, Taubenschützenverein Altaussee-Schneiderwirt
Province: Styria

Taubenschießen [lit. “pigeon shooting”] in Altaussee is a social sport involving at least three shooters. Members of the Taubenschützenverein [Pigeon Shooters’ Association] meet at the inn Schneiderwirt, the site of a shooting range constructed around a giant pendulum. The projectile to be “shot”—or, more to the point, released—is an approximately 2 kg wooden pigeon with an iron beak that hangs from an 8 m chain made of steel wire links. The tail of the pigeon attaches to a string—which the marksman, with as steady a hand as possible, has to bring into line with the chain and the middle of the target. When the marksman lets go of the string, the ensuing pendulum motion sends the pigeon swinging towards the target, in which it lodges itself thanks to its iron beak. The Zieler [target attendant] then records the shot’s result on the edge of the target and swings the pigeon back to the Aufigeber [server], who hands the pigeon to the next marksman.

"Schleicherlaufen" in Telfs

Applicant: Fasnachtkomitee Telfs, Obmann Dr. Stephan Opperer
Province: Tyrol

Approximately 500 men participate actively in the “Telfer Schleicherlaufen“ tradition (an event with costumes and dance that centers around Shrove Tuesday); a number of chronicles report that many families have participated in this tradition for generations. The participants (all male) come together every five years to form new groups. Many people in Telf (Tyrol) are in close contact with each other during the preparations for Shrove Tuesday due to creating costumes and piecing together jewelry.

Nebenleitung-Association for Mutual Assistance in Fire Emergencies

Applicant: Verein für gegenseitige Hilfeleistung bei Brandfällen ,Nebenleistung', Obmann Johann Wimmer
Province: Lower Austria

This association is the self-help organization of the community of St. Oswald in the Yspertal (Lower Austria). This association supports the region’s inhabitants either financially or by other means after fire emergencies. In short, the organization is an “ancillary service“.

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.

The Ram Procession to Obermauern

Applicant: Bürgermeister Ing. Dietmar Ruggenthaler (Gemeinde Virgen), Bürgermeister Anton Steiner (Gemeinde Prägraten)
Province: Tyrol

The Ram Procession originated during the Thirty Years’ War when the inhabitants of the two East Tyrolean villages Virgen and Prägraten first embarked upon a pilgrimage with a ram to give thanks for the end of a devastating plague epidemic. To this day, the pilgrimage still takes place every first Saturday after Easter, the so-called “White Saturday”. On a alternating basis, the pilgrims from either Virgen or Prägraten bring along with them a festively decorated white ram to the pilgrimage chapel Maria Schnee; following Holy Mass, this animal is raffled off in front of the chapel.

Viennese coffee house culture

Applicant: Klub der Wiener Kaffeehausbesitzer, Klubobmann KommR Maximilian K. Platzer
Province: Vienna

The tradition of the Viennese coffee house culture goes back to the end of the 17th century and is given distinction to by a very specific atmosphere. Typical for Viennese coffee houses are marble tables, on which the coffee is served, Thonet chairs, boxes (loges), newspaper tables and interior design details in the style of Historicism. Guests can choose from the selection of meals and drinks from early morning at 6am until midnight, while sometimes also enjoying readings and musical soirées. The coffee houses are a place “where time and space are consumed, but only the coffee is found on the bill.”

The Niglo Procession in Windischgarsten

Applicant: Jörg Strohmann i.V. Obmann des Heimat- und Museumsvereins Windischgarsten, beauftragtes Mitglied des Trachtenvereins d’Garstnertaler
Province: Upper Austria

The Niglo Procession on the eve of St. Nicholas’ Day (6 December) is a regular annual occurrence during Advent. About 30 persons participate, amongst them the night guard, the “Niglo” husband (a man in urban clothing) and the “Niglo” wife (a young woman in a white dress and a crown), several “Nigeln” (Krampuses with nymphs dressed up in fur, with clamps and rods hanging from their bodies), some angels, the devil, St. Nicholas and several supporting characters.

The Firecracker Shooters of Wirling

Applicant: Matthias Plamberger i.V. Verein Traditionsschützen Wirling
Province: Upper Austria

The traditional shooting club of Wirling is probably the only one in Austria which is authorised to carry out the consuetudinary firecracker shooting. The main purpose of the shooters is to participate in religious and secular celebrations, such as weddings, ecclesiastic festivities, processions as well as the shooting on the Twelve Nights after Christmas. The specially-constructed firecracker cannon is placed on higher grounds and, depending on the occasion, fired at exactly the appointed time. Before shooting the next firecracker, it is important to wait until the end of the echo produced by the bang, as this may last up to twelve seconds.

Zacchaeus singing in Zirl

Applicant: Marktgemeinde Zirl
Province: Tyrol

Zacchaeus singing in Zirl is an annual fair tradition that takes place on the third Sunday in October starting at 4:30 a.m. Apart from the time of day, a special feature is above all the connection of religious and secular practice. Every year, around 200 people gather on the square in front of the church and sing the Zachäuslied (“Song of Zacchaeus”) along with the church choir and a group of wind players; this song was written during the 18th century by a sacristant from Zirl and has to do with repentance and penitence. Starting at the church, they proceed together to the next square in the village. There, the Zachäuslied is heard once more before the secular part of the fair begins. Musicians play, and people dance in the streets. Scouting groups and members of church youth groups offer doughnut-like pastries, which they make together the evening before. Zacchaeus singing contributes to a sense of community, with many individuals and associations involved in preparing for it. The
tradition in and of itself thus functions as a unifying element in this steadily growing town near Innsbruck, bringing together new arrivals with the people who grew up there.

Practices concerning nature

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.


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.

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.

Salzkammergut bird-catching

Applicant: Salzkammergutverband der Vogelfreunde, Obmann Alfred Riezinger
Province: Upper Austria

The tradition of catching birds in Salzkammergut involves the capture of individual local woodland birds in autumn, and the woodland bird exhibition on the last Sunday before “Kathrein” (a religious holiday on November 25). This show features birds that stand out because of their colour, physical integrity and their flawless condition. It also provides information on their keeping in aviaries after the bird catching season. The birds are fed with local food that is collected throughout the year. Apart from decoys, all birds are set free again in springtime.

Transhumance – the driving of sheep in the Oetztal Alps

Applicant: Kulturverein Schnals; Verein Pro Vita Alpina Österreich
Province: Tyrol

The transhumance in the Oetztal Alps is a special form of sheep driving hikes. These hikes go over the peaks of Timmelsjoch (2494m), the Hochjoch (2885m) and the Niederjoch (3017m) and are the only cross-border transhumance in the Alps that leads across glaciers. They not only cross climatic but also national borders. Every year in early summer, around 5,000 to 5,500 sheep from South Tyrol are led to the Oetztal pastures and back again in autumn.

Knowledge of timber rafting on the Upper Drava

Applicant: Oberdrautaler Flößer (Verein)
Province: Carinthia

Up into the 20th century, the river Drava served Carinthia as an important west-east transport route. Specifically, it served sawmills and, from the 17th century onward, cellulose factories, for which reason it became known as the “Carinthian Wood Road.” The earliest documentation of freight transport on the Drava is from 1209. From Upper Carinthia, logs and sawn wood, iron products, and other goods were transported downriver using timber rafts. These rafts were tied together using “Wieden” (twisted hazel branches) as well as ring hooks made of iron. They were 21.5 m long, 4.5 m wide, they usually featured two rudders at the front and one in back, and were piloted by two men. The knowledge of this technique of raft lashing and piloting continues to be passed down to younger generations to this day, with six villages each building one such raft each; these rafts are then piloted down the last remaining free-flowing stretch of the Drava in Austria.

The knowledge of hazel spruce as tone wood

Applicant: Kassian Erhart, Verein Forum Haselfichte
Province: Tyrol

Due to its genetically-encoded hazel growth, the hazel spruce (“Haselfichte”) can mostly be found in the forests of the Alps at an altitude of 1,200 meters above sea level. Only very few experts are able to identify this quality of wood on an upright tree. The hazel spruce is clearly identifiable by removing a small piece of bark from the part of the tree where small, longitudinal furrows run down its trunk. The hazel spruce has always been used for the construction of instruments, as its specific characteristics satisfy the high demands in wood quality.

Knowledge concerning the breeding of Lipizzan horses

Applicant: SHS/Bundesgestüt Piber
Province: Styria

Across all of Europe, Lipizzans represent the only parade horse that has been raised in the traditional way since the Renaissance. The Lipizzans’ preservation is based on extensive knowledge about breeding, caring for, and training these horses, knowledge that has been passed on from generation to generation in a largely oral manner. The bearers of this knowledge in Austria are the employees of the federal stud farm in Piber, who have been breeding Lipizzans for the Spanish Riding School in Vienna since 1920. All of this stud’s employees come from the environs of Piber and feel a strong connection to the Lipizzan breed, an affinity that has sometimes even given rise to special vocabulary describing the horses—as in the common reference to their “Roman noses.” The Gstütler [stud farmers] receive years of training by experienced hands, years spent in direct contact with the horses. The basis for passing on the relevant knowledge consists in daily visits to all of the stalls and daily meetings of the employees, with the breeding herd inspected and discussed together on a continual basis. Alongside running the stud farm itself, international exchange with other Lipizzan studs is essential, since a clear “breeder’s eye” can only be maintained in constant contact with past and ongoing developments.

Knowledge concerning the locations, harvesting, and processing the spotted gentian

Applicant: Gemeinde Galtür, Bürgermeister LR Anton Mattle
Province: Tyrol

The knowledge of where to find and how to harvest and process the spotted gentian (gentian punctata) has been passed on for centuries among the people of Galtür in Tyrol. Most of the time, the entire local population is involved in the process of digging up and harvesting the valuable root as well as its further processing into Gentian schnapps. Until today, lots are drawn at the annual parish fair to decide which families will take part in the extraction of the roots and the making of the schnapps. Since the 17th century, local regulations for root collection as well as general nature conservation rules have sustainably safeguarded the survival of this rare type of Gentian.

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.

Traditional Craftsmanship

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.

Blueprint in Burgenland

Applicant: Joseph Koó
Province: Burgenland

Blueprint in Burgenland involves the dyeing of fabric with the help of a special type of printing technique called “Reservedrucktechnik” (resist printing). Traditionally, wood patterns and paste are used to apply the requested design onto the fabric, which is subsequently dyed indigo. It is said that textile printing was probably discovered by chance and can now be traced back for centuries in countries such as Hungary, Turkey, the Czech Republic or Egypt.

Production of the Molln Jew’s harp

Applicant: Andreas Rußmann
Province: Upper Austria

The Jew’s harp (German: “Maultrommel”) is a small musical instrument consisting of a metal frame and a steel tongue or reed. The player presses the instrument between his or her teeth and plucks the flexible steel reed, which vibrates and uses its player’s head as a resonance chamber. The Jew’s harp is thought to be of Asian origin, although finds in castle ruins and artistic depictions in frescos and paintings make it clear that it was also common in Medieval Europe. The existence of a Jew’s harp makers’ guild in Molln is documented as early as the 17th century. While 33 master makers were active around 1800, there are now only three family businesses still in existence today. Jew’s harps’ production consists of three main steps: the creation and bending of the frame, the stamping out and installation of the spring in the frame, and the fitting of the frame and shaping of the spring. Depending on the standard of quality that a Jew’s harp is intended to meet, production is done either completely by hand or with the help of machines.

The gunsmith´s craft in Ferlach

Applicant: Kulturring Ferlach, Dipl. Ing. Rainer Adamik
Province: Carinthia

The gunsmith´s crafts in Ferlach (Carinthia) are based on specialist work. The shaper works on the wood of the gun shaft and the engraver on the surface of the metal parts, while the gunsmith himself assembles the different parts, depending on the use of the object. When orders from the general public decreased during the 19th century, the gunsmiths started to mainly focus on the production of hunting weapons.

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.

Reverse glass painting in Sandl

Applicant: Norbert Pölz, Johann Pum, Elisabeth Traxl, Elsa Stelzmüller
Province: Upper Austria

With the migration of Northern Bohemian glassmakers, the craft of reverse glass painting arrived in the district Mühlviertel ar ound 1760. It is a r egion that is along with the Southern part of Bohemia and the Waldviertel district in neighbouring Lower Austria, still renowned for its fine glass pr oducts. Reverse glass paintings wer e handcrafted at glass kilns and homes around Sandl in order to be sold at fairs and shrines, transported in back-baskets by carriers across the countries of the Habsburg Monarchy. The paintings typically use few but bright colours and carry the decorative Sandl Rose in the corners. With cheap art prints spreading and small-scale glassworks closing down, the art of reverse glass painting was almost forgotten after 1940. Yet today, one full-time and a number of part-time painters can be found upholding the tradition in Sandl.

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.

Basket- making - weaving with willow, straw and split wood

Applicant: Stainzer Korbflechter und Besenbinder aus dem Blaurackenverei LEiV, Kulturverein Gniebing/Weißenbach, Korbflechter aus Fruttendorf-Gießelsdorf
Province: Styria

Basket-weaving from materials found in nature has been an important part of everyday life for thousands of years. The baskets, woven and sewn from willow, straw and split wood, were used for carrying and holding. In many parts of Austria, basket weaving used to be an important home industry. An extensive knowledge and large range of weaving techniques have been preserved in the region of South-Eastern Styria. After collecting and drying their materials throughout the year, weavers and interested novices meet there in order to exchange their know-how and pass on traditional craft techniques as well as their knowledge of the materials.

Bread- making in the Lesach Valley

Applicant: Lesachtaler Mühlenverein und Kulturvereine Liesing, Mario Lugger und Hans Guggenberger
Province: Carinthia

The tradition of bread making in the Lesach Valley (Carinthia), especially in the communities of Maria Luggau and Liesing, includes grain cultivation and extraction (in a specific mountain farming region), the most important facts on mill construction, particular idioms and sayings, rituals (e.g. to draw three crosses before cutting bread, to place a palm cross in the field), the annual mill festival in Maria Luggau and the local village and bread festival.

Blueprint in the Mühlviertel region

Applicant: Maria und Karl Wagner – Mühlviertler Blaudruck auf Leinen
Province: Upper Austria

The highly complex and time-consuming process of indigo printing technique became established during the 19th century in the northern region of Upper Austrian known as the Mühlviertel. Regional craftsmen and craftswomen went abroad to learn the new technique “on the road”. Karl Wagner, founder of the blueprint firm Blaudruckerei Wagner in Upper Austria, was one of them. This family-owned business is currently being run by its fourth generation of family members. Wagner’s great collection of handmade wooden patterns exhibits a broad variety of designs inspired by regional flora, and to this day, Blaudruckerei Wagner applies these designs to regionally produced linen.

Oven and stove masonry in Burgenland

Applicant: Dr. Susanna Steiger-Moser i.V. Museum für Baukultur Neutal
Province: Burgenland

The villages Neutal, Ritzing and Sigless (Burgenland) have a strong tradition of oven and stove craftwork. Even in families without direct links to this sector, the identification with these handicrafts is very strong.

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.

Pitch extraction in Lower Austria

Applicant: Ernst Schagl i.V. Arbeitsgemeinschaft niederösterreichische Pecherstraße
Province: Lower Austria

The craftsmanship of “Pecherei“ has been practised for many centuries as a way of extracting resins (pitch) from pine trees. Here, the bole is injured on a superficial level as a way of activating the resinosis. The obtained resin, the so-called tar (“pech”), is processed in refineries and boiling-houses where it is turned into turpentine oil and colophony. These intermediate products used to form the basis of the industrial fabrication of paper, lacquer, paint, soap and many other products.

Distillation of pitch oil in the eastern Mühlviertel region

Applicant: Dorfgemeinschaft Elz, Obmann Hermann Sandner
Province: Upper Austria

In the eastern part of the Mühlviertel, pitch oil (resinous oil) is still produced using so-called pitch oil stones and used as a traditional remedy. Cut to size ages ago, they are typically granite stones with furrows similar to leaf veins chiseled across their slightly slanted surface. Resinous pinewood is then piled onto the stone, covered with earth and lit. After about two hours pitch oil starts to flow in the furrows. This method of making pitch oil continues to be used by a few families, mostly in order to preserve the traditional knowledge of pitch oil and its uses. Widely used in early folk medicine, pitch oil today is today confined to hou sehold applications.

Forging in Ybbsitz

Applicant: Bgm. Josef Hofmarcher i.V. Marktgemeinde Ybbsitz
Province: Lower Austria

Metal forging has a very long history in Ybbsitz (Lower Austria). Certain forging dynasties, known as the “black dukes” (Schwarze Grafen) due to their skills and their outstanding wealth, have 200 year-old family traditions. The blacksmith shop of the Welser family has been within the family for 15 generations, for example.

Pocket knife-making in Trattenbach

Applicant: Kulturverein Heimatpflege Ternberg - Trattenbach
Province: Upper Austria

The Trattenbach pocket knife, a foldable knife that consists of a blade and a lathed wooden handle, has been hand-produced in Trattenbach for nearly 600 years. Many people carry this knife on their persons as a constant companion that gets used for all sorts of things. Frequent functions include as a knife for snacks or for carving, for harvesting mushrooms, as a souvenir, as a promotional item, as a keychain, or for Messerln, a game of skill in which two players compete against each other by allowing a half-opened knife to fall onto a wooden surface from a height of 50 cm (the object being to have the knife’s blade penetrate and remain standing in the wood). Since 1682, Trattenbach’s cutlers have been recognized as an independent guild. Making this knife requires detailed knowledge of the materials involved as well as experience in working with steel, wood, and water power. Today, there are two businesses left that produce the Trattenbach pocket knives by hand. Knowledge about their production is passed on via in-house written instructions and orally, and at least one of these producers’ continuation into the next generation is assured.

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.