Intangible Maritime Cultural Heritage
Maritime cultural heritage transcends the limits of the underwater realm, and includes intangible as well as tangible cultural elements. Traditional crafts, which are directly related to the sea and its people, are such an intangible element as they are transmitted from one generation to another. Crafts such as shipbuilding produce vessels, which are tangible artefacts and direct results of the craft.
Although some suggest studying such crafts via Maritime Ethnography, the level of complexity and convergence of intangible and tangible elements provides the necessary basis to consider them as part of the Intangible Maritime Cultural Heritage. Maritime professions are classic examples of this merging: tangible and intangible heritage is represented in vessels, tools and human activities, all taking place in an aquatic environment.
Project Aims and Objectives
Why would one begin a project on traditional maritime professions? These professions are the core of what can call Intangible Maritime Cultural Heritage. They go beyond the scope of Maritime Ethnography and Archaeology, as they have an important social impact since they have influenced local societies and their economy. They are still being practiced and have undeniably contributed to the formation of Cypriot maritime tradition from the 18th century onwards. The fluctuations in local economy over the years combined with industrial and building development of coastal towns have imposed tremendous stress on the survival of these practitioners, which are dying out. They possess a wealth of knowledge which will cease to exist as they have nobody to transmit it to, increasing the existing vulnerability related to intangible cultural elements.
As previously mentioned, the project will function as a Cultural Heritage preservation effort. It also addresses a significant research gap, as nobody has recorded these professions extensively while considering them as connected, within a local maritime community. These communities included both locals and foreigners from the Greece, Asia Minor and the Middle East, who shared ideas and enriched each craft as attested in the tangible of intangible elements in question.
Establishing this website as a means of communication and knowledge dissemination will reflect the common, shared heritage which we seek to preserve. It is further hoped that it will function as an educational and research platform, following the positive example of many other groups and organisations.
- Documentation of traditional maritime professions
- recording of traditions and customs related to the above-mentioned professions (e.g. legends and stories, festivals, activities, superstitions)
- creation of an archive of oral tradition solely dedicated to maritime professions and activities.
- Explore and present the evolution of maritime professions and activities across time and space
- Dultural heritage preservation, targeting professions which are currently dying out (e.g. shipbuilding)
- Development of educational programmes, activities and supplementary material for both children and adults
- Dissemination of project results (website, publications, educational workshops).
Maritime traditional crafts and professions
The sea has been known to give life to human settlements since thousands of years ago. Modern settlements are no different, and vessels provide mariners access to it. The temperamental sea, the creatures lurking in the deep, tempests and storms, the bounty she can provide, are just some of the thoughts crossing our minds when merely looking at her. These thoughts, rooted in cultures around the world, expressed in folk songs, stories and traditions, illustrate the strong impact the sea has to humans.
The team is recording the following maritime crafts and professions, along with folk songs, stories and traditions related to them: fishing, sponge diving, shipbuilding, caulking, making sails for vessels, making fishing nets. Click on the links to visit their respective page for more information, and if you know further details on any of the subjects, feel free to contact us via the form.