Blue-dyeing technique recognised as intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO

28.11.2018 - Press release

At its meeting in Port Louis, Mauritius, UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage inscribed the technique of indigo blue-dyeing (Blaudruck) in its list of intangible cultural heritage. Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic and Hungary had submitted a joint application for this technique to be recognised as heritage of humanity.

UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage comprises living cultural traditions and forms of expression that are practised in the world and handed down from generation to generation. Alongside dance, theatre, music, festivals or handicrafts, organ construction and organ music, for example, have been recognised as intangible heritage since 2017. Now blue-dyeing has been added to the list as a centuries-old technique for embellishing textiles.

Minister of State Müntefering issued the following statement:

Handicrafts have always shown that international exchange helps to further knowledge and skills. Blue-dyeing experts demonstrate this in their day-to-day work.

I am delighted that transnational cooperation between cultural organisations will be strengthened by today’s inscription of blue-dyeing in UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage. Once again, we see clearly how close our cultural ties are in Europe.

Background information

Indigo blue-dyeing is a method used to print on textiles such as linen, cotton or silk. This technique was widespread in Central Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries. Handicrafts like indigo blue dyeing that have been handed down for generations are an important cultural resource, which has been declining ever more in recent years.

In Germany, there are now only a few blue-dyeing workshops, most of which are old family-run firms that hand on specific knowledge and skills. In contrast to the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, which protects world-class culture and nature, the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage is concerned with raising awareness of the diversity of cultural forms of expression and how they are passed on to others.

Along with the other four countries, the Federal Foreign Office guided and supported this nomination. It attached particular importance to the fact that this was a joint nomination. That underlined the importance of indigo blue-dyeing as a shared traditional European craft.

The UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage is meeting in Port Louis, Mauritius, until 1 December.


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