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Government confirms the nomination of Lipizzaner horses for entry on the UNESCO List

On Tuesday, 10 March 2020, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia confirmed the nomination of Lipizzaner horses for entry on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The nomination illustrates the common European heritage and places it in the international context

The nomination illustrates the common European heritage and places it in the international context | Author Dean Dubokovič, STO

The Government tasked the Ministry of Culture with all the activities and coordination of the procedures, and vested with power of attorney the Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia in Paris and the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Slovenia to UNESCO to sign the nomination form, and instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to submit the nomination to the UNESCO Secretariat in Paris no later than 31 March 2020.

The multinational intangible heritage of the tradition of breeding Lipizzaner horses brings together eight countries, all parties to the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, namely Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. The nomination illustrates the common European heritage and places it in the international context. The countries have joined together to present a range of cultural practices and social significance associated with the rearing of the well known breed of horses. The project has been launched on the initiative of state stud farms involved in the breeding of Lipizzaner horses, which has been in the exclusive UNESCO cultural domain and carried out according to the UNESCO rules since 2018. Representatives of the states, experts in intangible heritage, those in charge and communities are part of an international group that prepared the nomination after a series of meetings in almost all the countries.

The nomination demonstrates the existence and importance of an element of intangible heritage as a body of know-how, practices and skills related to the rearing of Lipizzaner horses. An element that is historically founded in the context of the former Habsburg Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire has led, over centuries, to the development of social practices and cultural expressions which are still part of the rituals, celebrations and modern equestrian sport. The primary purpose of rearing these horses, based on carefully documented experience and knowledge of the evolution of the breed, is linked to classical dressage and equestrian sports, with which all participating countries identify. In some countries it has also been extended to the daily lives of village communities where Lipizzaner horses were working horses. The horses appear in numerous events and celebrations and have an important symbolic role. The increasing role of Lipizzaner horses is linked to sustainable tourism and equine therapy and an important aspect of all these activities is the special relationship between human and horse. The nomination highlights the significant role of those in charge at state stud farms, as well as the role of private breeders and local communities that are closely linked to Lipizzaner horses. At the same time, it calls for common action to preserve the intangible cultural heritage element in the future, with an emphasis on cultural content.

The nomination is based on the Operational Directives for the implementation of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which specify the format of the nomination form and supporting documents, the pre-defined criteria for entry, procedures and timeline. It is drafted in English as the official language of UNESCO, and its working title is "Lipizzan Horse Breeding Traditions". The deadline for submission is 31 March 2020, whereby it will be officially accepted in the evaluation cycle 2020-2021. Based on the opinion of the evaluation body, the Intergovernmental Panel on the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage is expected to take a decision on the nomination at its meeting in November 2021.

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