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Montenegro, Croat Festival in Ancient Albanian Dress, Join UNESCO Heritage list

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UN’s culture organisation adds Montenegrin Croats’ Festival of St Tryphon and an Albanian traditional dress known as the xhubleta to its List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The Festival of St Tryphon and chain dance, all heritage of ethnic Croats in Montenegro’s Bay of Kotor, and an Albanian traditional dress known as thexhubleta, were added to UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity on Tuesday.

While the Albanian traditional dress was nominated by the Albanian Ministry of Culture, the St Tryphon festivity and dance were nominated by the Croatian Ministry of Culture and Media, in cooperation with the associations of Boka Croats in Croatia.

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Croatia’s Minister of Culture and Media, Nina Obuljen Korzinek, said UNESCO’s decision would save the heritage of Croats in the Bay of Kotor.

“This remarkable heritage is proof of the millennial presence of Croats in the Bay of Kotor. It is deeply rooted in people’s mentality and is an important part of their lives today,” Obuljen Korzinek told the media.

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“The promotion of the cultural heritage that Croats created for centuries in the Bay of Kotor must also be the link between Croatia and Montenegro,” she added.

In its decision, UNESCO said that Croats originating from the Bay of Kotor have formed tightly-knit communities in the Croatian towns of Rijeka, Zagreb, Pula, Dubrovnik and Split since the nineteenth century, where they celebrate St Tryphon’s feast every year.

On December 16, 2021, UNESCO added the Boka Navy folklore dance troupe to the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The Boka Navy is the backbone of the annual festivities of St Tryphon’s day, celebrated on February 3, and participates in the celebrations in the coastal towns of Kotor, Tivat and Herceg Novi.

On this day, the medieval “Kolo” dance is performed as a central event during the festivities, accompanied by musical orchestras.

The Boka Navy was included in the Register of Cultural Properties of Montenegro in 2013. while the former Montenegrin government nominated the organization for UNESCO’s list in 2017.

On November 29, Albania’s Minister of Culture, Elva Margariti, praised UNESCO’s decision to include Albanian traditional dress at the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Xhubleta is a traditional dress, mainly used by women in northern Albania and constructed by several strips of wool and with a bell shape. Albania submitted the request to UNESCO last year.

Xhubleta was once used in everyday life from the age of puberty, indicating the wearer’s social and economic status. However, its use and production have been decreasing over the past decades due to socio-political and economic reasons,” the UNESCO site notes.

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