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Handcrafted glass know-how inscribed on UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage

Ministry of Education and Culture
Publication date 6.12.2023 14.54
Press release
Handmade glass production
Photo: Ella Tommila / Suomen lasimuseo

The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage has inscribed the knowledge, craft and skills of handmade glass production on the UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In Finland, the Ministry of Education and Culture is in charge of matters related to intangible cultural heritage and the Finnish Heritage Agency is responsible for implementing the Convention and coordinating the application processes.

The joint application of Finland and five other countries for the UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage was approved by a meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee in Botswana on 6 December 2023. The multinational application process was led by France and included Germany, Spain, the Czech Republic and Hungary in addition to Finland. In Finland, 17 operators in the glassmaking industry supported the nomination. The Finnish Glass Museum coordinated the application in collaboration with the Finnish Heritage Agency. 

“I am very happy that UNESCO has decided to recognise this valuable tradition and the entire profession. Finnish glass design is well known, and UNESCO's recognition will increase the global appreciation of the masters of this traditional skill and Finnish glass,” says Minister of Science and Culture Sari Multala.

The joint European application sought to safeguard the vitality of the rare profession and further strengthen international cooperation. Another objective was to increase consumers' appreciation of handmade glass. Not only does processing glass require handcrafting skills, which are living intangible cultural heritage, the glass items themselves are tangible heritage and design. 

20 years of UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

Living Heritage has been the theme for this year on the occasion of UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage celebrating its 20th anniversary. Finland has been a party to the Convention for ten years.  

The Finnish practices previously inscribed on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage are sauna tradition, Kaustinen folk fiddle playing and multinational Nordic liner boat tradition. The Finnish Heritage Agency implements the Convention in Finland, while the Ministry of Education and Culture is accountable for the implementation and for reporting on the Convention to UNESCO.
Intangible cultural heritage is listed as part of the Convention both nationally and internationally.

UNESCO maintains two intangible cultural heritage lists and a register of best practices. By the time of the currently ongoing UNESCO meeting, the lists contained 676 items from 140 countries. A further 55 applications are being processed this year.