The Malta Independent 16 May 2022, Monday

The ‘ftira’ to be submitted as part of the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list

Tuesday, 26 March 2019, 17:13 Last update: about 4 years ago

The Maltese government, through the Culture Directorate, will be submitting the ftira (flattened sourdough bread) and its culinary art as the first local element to be part of the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list.

In 2017, Parliament approved that Malta ratifies the UNESCO convention on intangible cultural heritage. Through this ratification, Malta can now propose intangible elements from our culture to be submitted for UNESCO's consideration for them to be part of the world's heritage.


"Our work will not stop with the submission of Malta's application to the UNESCO board, it will definitely intensify in the coming months, where we will see a number of initiatives which will keep broadening and strengthening this important element from our local culture. This is all part of this Government's strategy, where through a number of specific initiatives, we further strengthen and promote our culture on an international and national level. Such recognition will lead to more national pride with regard to our intangible cultural heritage, whilst the ever-increasing number of tourists will be able to experience more our culture's different facets," said Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Owen Bonnici.

For the process to be initiated, a National Intangible Cultural Heritage Board was appointed to receive nominations from the local communities and a National Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory was created. Seven elements have been included in this inventory to-date.

From these seven, it was decided that the ftira and its Maltese culinary art-which is definitely one of the main elements which represents our national identity-will be submitted for UNESCO's consideration to form a part of this global list, which can lead to prestigious recognition and even for this art to be protected and to be given the impetus it deserves.

The process required the involvement of those who work in this field, meaning bakers, especially those who still bake the ftira in an artisanal manner. The general public's support has also been sought, as for a nomination to be submitted there must be the public's involvement and approval for the element in question to represent our country to form part of the world's heritage.

This element has been chosen as UNESCO stresses that the community must put the nomination forward. The interest shown by the community and bakers that have a link to it surpassed all other nominations.

Minister Bonnici  concluded his speech by encouraging organisations and the local community to cherish our local intangible heritage, so that in the coming years more elements from our cultural heritage are nominated for UNESCO's consideration. 

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