Zlakusa pottery making Inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

On December 16th 2020, at its 15th regular session, UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage adopted the Decision on the Inscription of "Zlakusa Pottery" in the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Zlakusa pottery is the fourth element of Serbia’s intangible cultural heritage to be included in the Representative List, and the first from the domain of craft knowledge and skills.

The Nomination File by which Zlakusa pottery was proposed for inscription in the 2019-2020 cycle was prepared by the Center for Intangible Cultural Heritage at the Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade, based on the decision of the National Committee for Intangible Cultural Heritage and the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia. The nomination was prepared in cooperation with the proponents of the element, the Open Air Museum “Staro selo” Sirogojno and the Zlakusa Potters’ Association, and with support by the local self-government, cultural institutions and educational institutions involved in the preservation of the traditional skill of making ceramic vessels on a hand wheel (“vitlo”).

The Decision recaps that the production of Zlakusa pottery refers to the knowledge and skills related to the production of vessels for thermal processing of food, which are used in households and restaurants throughout Serbia, and are made of clay and calcite excavated in the immediate vicinity of the village of Zlakusa in Western Serbia. The knowledge and craft skills are mainly passed on within the community, most often within the families, through direct participation and working together with experienced artisans; they represent an important expression of the identity of its bearers.

The Republic of Serbia entered the following entries in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity: “Family slava” (Saint Patron’s Day) in 2014, “Traditional folk dance – kolo”, an element from the domain of performing practices, in 2017, and “Singing to the accompaniment of the gusle”, a part of traditional oral creativity, in 2018.

Photographs provided by: Center for ICH