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UNESCO Intangible Heritage – Falconry

photo:  (wikipedia.org, autor Reg McKenna)

The UNESCO World Heritage List comprises not only tangible cultural monuments, but also the so-called intangible heritage, i.e. traditions and habits from all over the world. 

The Czech Republic boasts several entries in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The Slovácko Verbuňk dance was the first selection to the list in 2005, followed by the Shrovetide masquerade processions in the Hlinecko Region, and by falconry in November 2010, which concerns another ten countries apart from the Czech Republic. The latest tradition figuring on the UNESCO List since 2011 is the Ride of the Kings in Vlčnov.


Falconry is a special but traditional way of hunting that makes use of trained predatory birds, especially falcons, hawks and eagles. It originated in the Near East in the second millennium BC from where it spread both eastwards and westwards. It was brought to the area of the Czech Republic by the Huns in the first half of the 5th century. Hunting with birds experienced its biggest boom from the 14th to 16th century. Since the 19th century, this formerly famous way of hunting has gradually been marginalised not only in Bohemia, but practically across all of Europe with the exception of Great Britain.

The economic significance of falconry was finally rediscovered in the second half of the 20th century when it was revived as a profession in the form of preventing undesirable flocks of birds entering the airspace of airports. Birds crashing into planes during taking off or landing could cause a catastrophe. 

Falconry is considered a deeply emphatic activity and falconers are well aware of the fact that their predators, as well as their prey, must be preserved for the future.

The nomination of falconry to the UNESCO List meant a new record in the number of countries that proposed it: Belgium, Czech Republic, France, South Korea, Mongolia, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Syria and Spain.
Author: Romana Kuncová
Added: 05.05.2012

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