Intangible Cultural Heritage in Austria

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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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.


Falconry

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.


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.


Applicant: Ing. Gabriele Pia Stuhlberger
Province: Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Vienna


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.


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.


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.


"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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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).


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.


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.


"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.


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.


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.


Applicant: Waltraud Luegger
Province: Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Vienna


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


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.


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.