Crafts as a cultural heritage

The intangible cultural heritage of crafts

Throughout the ages, crafts skills have been transferred from one skilled person to another. The living heritage of crafts refers equally to the skills and know-how of making crafts using various materials found in our environment, as to building houses or restoring furniture. Many people engage in crafts as a hobby for their own enjoyment, while for many others it is an occupation and a way of making a living. Of course, various crafts skills are needed in many professions.

The National Board of Antiquities is responsible for the implementation of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Finland. The spirit of the convention requires that communities play a central role in identifying and defining intangible cultural heritage. That is why its realization in Finland is carried out by a network of organizations, while highlighting the participation of communities and interest groups. The first such ring to be established was the crafts ring, which is leading the implementation of the convention in the crafts sector.

Nordic organizational operators within the field of intangible cultural heritage, including the Finnish Crafts Organization Taito, have built a collaborative Nordic wiki platform for sharing the best practices for fostering such traditions.

The wiki platform Nordic Safeguarding Practices was launched in the autumn of 2017:

Crafts ring

Finland accepted the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2013. The objective of the convention is to promote the identification and fostering of intangible cultural heritage in Finland. Such heritage includes, for example, crafts skills, oral culture, performance arts, social customs and rituals and festive traditions.

Groups of intangible cultural heritage supporters, composed of diversified networks of interested parties, play a key role in its national implementation. The group acts as a coordinating body and a hub, where those responsible for practising, transferring, education, research, documentation and storage of each sector’s heritage can meet. It can, for example, invoke nationwide discussion, organize seminars and events and create new partnerships and projects. It also plays a role in the country-specific cataloguing of intangible cultural heritage.

Examples relating to crafts have been collected at  Elävän perinnön wikiluettelo.

The members of the crafts ring coordinated by the Finnish Crafts Organization Taito include:

The National Board of Antiquities, the University of Helsinki, Helsinki Adult Education Centre, Modus ry, the Craft Museum of Finland, the Ikaalinen Institute of Crafts and Design, University of Helsinki / Craft Science, Sami Duodji Association, Design Museum, Restaurointikilta (the Restoration Guild), the Finnish Association of Designers Ornamo, Rakennusperinteen Ystävät (Friends of Finnish Building Traditions), the Martha Organization, the Tyyne-Kerttu Virkki Foundation, Punomo, Tekstiilikulttuuriseura (Society of Textile Culture) and crafts researchers, The Friends of Finnish Handicraft,  Tavastia Education Consortium, Brage Association and The Finnish Glass Museum.

Furture information:

  • Leena Marsio, The Finnish Heritage Agency, leena.marsio(at), tel. +358 295 33 6017
  • Kikka Jelisejeff, The Finnish Crafts Organization, kikka.jelisejeff(at), puh. +358 40 7523 662