Intangible Cultural Heritage

On the 27th November 2014, at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris, the organisation’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage included the know-how of cultivating the mastic tree on the Island of Chios on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity drawn up by UNESCO.

Intangible Cultural Heritage is the term used to designate the set of practices, knowledge, techniques and expressions, skills, instruments, objects, artefacts, as well as the cultural spaces associated therewith. Communities, groups and individuals recognise these as being a part of their cultural heritage. It is encountered essentially in oral traditions and expressions, the performing arts, social practices, rituals and festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe, and the know-how relating to traditional crafts.

Decision 9 COM 10.18 reflects the Commission’s reasoning about the element satisfying the five criteria:

  1. The knowledge associated with the cultivation and collection of mastic is passed down from generation to generation; it constitutes an important component of rural life for the inhabitants of Chios facilitating social cohesion and solidarity among them;
  2. Inscription of the element on the Representative List could contribute to the visibility of intangible cultural heritage related to ecological knowledge concerning the use of natural resources and to its importance for sustainable development;
  3. Various safeguarding measures are elaborated covering education, research and investigation for touristic development, aiming at economic sustainability of the know-how of cultivating mastic through the involvement of the bearers and the commitment of both governmental institutions and the private sector;
  4. The nomination was prepared with the participation of representative associations as well as practitioners of mastic cultivation who gave their free, prior and informed consent;
  5. With the participation of the community concerned, the element was included in the national inventory of intangible cultural heritage maintained by the Modern Cultural Heritage Department of the Ministry of Education, Religious Affairs, Culture and Sport.


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