The Slovenia Times

Pletna latest addition to Slovenia's intangible cultural heritage


Building and handling Pletna boats is a skill passed on from one generation to another and an established local tradition popular among visitors of the Bled lakeside resort.

The Bled island was a pilgrimage site already in the 12th century, with locals setting up piers and transporting people to the island. Even back then, they used boats they built themselves.

In the 18th century Habsburg dominions ruler Maria Theresa granted local farmers the rights to perform lake transports as a source of some extra money.

This typical Bled activity has stayed alive until today due to the development of tourism, with the shape of the Pletna boat changing over time.

The current form was designed by the locals at the turn of the 19th century, based on similar boats which were used on central European lakes.

After the First World War, an awning was added to the boat to shelter visitors from the sun and rain.

The Pletna boat used to be shorter but today the 8-metre vessel can transport up to 18 passengers. The boat's skipper or Pletnar rows and steers the boat with two oars, whose length amounts to 3 metre, while standing.

Only a few master craftsmen from Bled are still building Pletna boats, with every one of these vessels being an original. The lifespan for the boats is up to 50 years if they are being regularly maintained.

According to the Culture Ministry, the Pletna transport is key for preserving the local environment and the fragile Lake Bled ecosystem.

Apart from that, building and handling those boats have become the local community's trademark and part of its identity.

According to the head of the Pletna Bled boating association Gregor Pazlar, there are currently 23 Pletna skippers. They were the ones who initiated the process of entering the local tradition in the intangible cultural heritage register.

"The Pletna activities and skill are something special, since those boats are representative of Lake Bled. It's an activity that can be found only here," said Pazlar. Four years ago Pletna skippers already registered the Pletna trademark and name.

The Slovenian intangible cultural heritage register currently includes 72 units and 200 intangible cultural heritage holders.

Apart from the skill of building and rowing Pletna boats, another addition is mobile beekeeping, which stands for transporting bees in their hives to make a better use of bee pasture.

Yet another, addition, the Prekmurje dialect is part of the Pannonian dialect group, consisting of three subdialects - the Goričko, Ravensko and Dolinsko ones.

Until the standardisation of the Slovenian literary norm in the 19th century, the Prekmurje dialect used to be a regional literary variant of Slovenian.


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