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Local Craftsmanship as Intangible Cultural Heritage

Categories: Local Craftsmanship

Nikšić

Nikšić

Wild landscape with the rocky mountains and forests surrounding Niksic are proven a favorable environment for the local farmers to develop various craftsmanship skills. Woodcarving was among them and especially of the traditional music instrument “gusle” that used to be a widespread trade but not any longer. However, playing gusle with traditional songs is still preserved both in Montenegro and in other parts of  Dinarides. 
The gusle consists of a wooden sound box, the maple being considered as the best material (therefore often the instrument is referred to as "gusle javorove" - maple gusle), covered with an animal skin and a neck with an intricately carved head. A bow is pulled over the strings (made of horsetail), creating a dramatic and sharp sound, expressive and difficult to master. The string is made of thirty horsehairs.
The instrument is held vertically between the knees, with the left hand fingers on the neck. The strings are never pressed to the neck, giving a harmonic and unique sound.. 

What shows that a person is good craftsperson is the design of the neck. In Montenegro, the main motive for the ornament is often a two-headed eagle – the same as the one on Montenegrin coat of arms. 
Other old crafts that could be found are shoe making and brace cauldron making, while wool processing and knitting used to be and still are preserved as a widespread craft among women. Warm and first class woolen socks, beanies and vests can be seen on the streets from diligent grandmas. 
Crafts in Niksic nowadays are focused on souvenirs, jewelry and gifts, people who are making them use natural materials, old traditional motives and techniques but the visitor should dig up the internet a little bit to get in touch with the makers. It will not be difficult because there are so many of them.

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