Vienna’s horses added to Unesco cultural list

The elegant horsemanship of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna has been added to the UN cultural agency's list of jewels that enrich the world's intangible cultural heritage.

Vienna's horses added to Unesco cultural list
Photo: Herbert Graf

Unesco said the practices and rituals of the world-renowned school in the Austrian capital that breeds its own Lipizzaner stallions “reflect the relationships of long standing between breeders, grooms, craftspeople, riders and horses” and ensure communities in the school have a “strong sense of identity”.

Elisabeth Gürtler, the director of the 450-year-old school, said it showed the “harmonious interaction between humans and animals on a daily basis”.

The ancient tradition of making kimchi — the sometimes fiery pickled greens that feature in many a meal in North as well as South Korea — was also among 15 new entries on Unesco's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The expert panel meeting in the Namibian capital Windhoek also chose to add the tugging rituals in the rice-farming cultures of East Asia and Southeast Asia to its prestigious list.

Marking the start of the agricultural cycle and often enacted to ensure a good harvest, two teams on either end of a rope try to tug it from the other.

Unlike the Western game of tug of war, the practice — which is popular in Cambodia, Philippines, Vietnam and South Korea — is non-competitive and is aimed at bringing the community together.

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Swiss-Austrian ‘avalanche danger management’ submitted to Unesco

The system by which Switzerland and Austria predicts and manages avalanche danger has been submitted to Unesco for potential inclusion on its ‘intangible heritage’ list.

Swiss-Austrian ‘avalanche danger management’ submitted to Unesco
Photo: SLF/Margherita Maggioni
The joint candidacy was lodged with Unesco on Friday, said the Swiss government in a statement
The threat of avalanches in Switzerland and Austria has given rise to a joint management system between the two countries based on a vast bank of historical data gathered over the centuries, it said. 
“This ancestral knowledge continually evolves combining historic practices with the most specialized techniques,” it said.
To prepare the candidacy, the Swiss federal culture office worked with both Swiss and Austrian bodies and experts including the Institute for the study of snow and avalanches (SLF) and the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC).
Unesco is expected to give its verdict in November 2018. 
Avalanche danger management was one of eight Swiss traditions approved by the Swiss government in 2014 for submission to Unesco’s ‘intangible heritage’ list, which, according to Unesco, refers to “practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and skills transmitted by communities from generation to generation”. 
Last year one of the eight, a wine festival held once every 20 years in Vevey called the Fête des Vignerons, was successfully granted Unesco status
Basel’s Fasnacht festival, the biggest carnival in Switzerland, was submitted for consideration last April, with a decision by Unesco expected this December.
In the next few years Switzerland also plans to submit to Unesco the traditions of yodelling, precision watchmaking, the alpine livestock season and Swiss typographic design.
In addition, Switzerland is also participating in another collaborative project to submit ‘the construction of dry-stone walls’ to the list along with Greece, Croatia, Spain, France, Italy, Slovenia and Cyprus.