Montenegro welcomes addition of Boka Navy to UNESCO heritage list


Members of the Boka navy during the celebration of Saint Tryphon in Kotor. Photo: Government of Montenegro

Montenegro welcomed the decision to add the traditional maritime heritage organization Boka Navy to UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage on Thursday.

Boka Navy is a folk dance troupe from the coastal town of Kotor with roots dating back to the town’s medieval maritime traditions.

Montenegro’s Ambassador to France, Ivan Ivanisevic, hailed a historic decision for Montenegro, as it was the first time that a property from Montenegro had been inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

“For centuries, members of the Boka navy have kept this tradition. It is a source of pride for all those who have passed on their tradition to new generations, â€said Ivanisevic.

According to UNESCO data, Boka Navy is a traditional maritime organization that encompasses a series of activities associated with the transport of the remains of St Tryphon to Kotor in 809.

The maritime organization is the backbone of the annual Saint Tryphon festivities, celebrated on February 3, and it participates in the celebrations in the coastal towns of Kotor, Tivat and Herceg Novi.

On this day, the medieval circle dance “Kolo†is performed as a central event during the festivities, accompanied by musical orchestras.

Membership in Boka Navy is voluntary and each year during the Admiralty Celebration Session, Boka Navy selects a boy aged 7 to 12 to act as Young Admiral, the youngest member of the detachment: this represents a symbol of renewal and sustainability. The traditional uniform with trophy weapons is also an integral part of the whole element.

“This [UNESCO] decision will certainly contribute significantly to the development and enhancement of the Navy and its promotion in the world, as well as the promotion of the city of Kotor and Montenegro â€, said Navy Admiral Antun Sbutega, to the media.

Boka Navy was entered in the Register of Cultural Goods of Montenegro in 2013. The former Montenegrin government named the organization to the UNESCO list in 2017.

Meanwhile, Croatia nominated the feast of Saint Tryphon and the traditional dance of the Croats of the Bay of Kotor for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Last December, however, UNESCO concluded that Croatia had failed to provide an explanation of the current cultural and social functions of Boka’s naval tradition in Croatia.


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