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Crimean Tatar traditional ornament added to UNESCO heritage list

by Anastasiia LapatinaDecember 16, 2021 8:28 pm
A man stands near goods decorated with Örnek, the traditional ornament of Ukraine’s Crimean Tatar minority. The ornament was added to UNESCO’s intangible heritage list on Dec. 16, 2021. (

UNESCO added Örnek, the traditional ornament of Ukraine’s Crimean Tatar minority and its lore to the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, on Dec. 16.

“This is a clear victory for Ukraine. After all, it clearly shows that the culture of Crimea is extraordinary and needs to be protected,” said Ukraine’s Minister of Culture and Information Policy Oleksandr Tkachenko. 

He thanked his predecessor Yevhen Nyshchuk for kickstarting this advocacy initiative and the ministry’s current team for getting it done. 

Örnek is a collection of ornamental patterns of the Crimean Tatars, a Ukrainian ethnic minority native to Crimea. The ornament has been used to decorate various household objects, including clothes, fabrics, jewelry, furniture, architectural objects and tombstones. It is currently used in embroidery, pottery, engraving, jewelry, weaving, wood carving, wall painting and more. 

The ornament is an important element of self-identification for the Crimean Tatar nation and an integral part of the life of every Crimean Tatar family, according to the ministry. Örnek is also a means of transmitting cultural and historical knowledge from generation to generation. 

Common symbols narrated through Örnek are plants and trees, which symbolize people of different genders and generations, UNESCO says. 

A woman does embroidery using Örnek, the traditional ornament of Ukraine’s Crimean Tatar minority, which was added by UNESCO to its intangible heritage list on Dec. 16, 2021. (

Each symbol is rich in meaning. 

A rose, for example, symbolizes a married woman. A tulip stands for a young man, while a carnation portrays an older person, as well as wisdom and life experience. 

Örnek is the fourth Ukrainian item on UNESCO’s intangible heritage list, along with Cossack songs, Petrykivka decorative painting and Kosiv painted ceramics. 

Back in 2008, Ukraine ratified the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which UNESCO adopted in 2003. 

The Convention asserts that “intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation to generation, is constantly recreated by communities… and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity”.

It also requires each state party to take all the necessary measures to safeguard such heritage on its territory. 

Anastasiia Lapatina
Anastasiia Lapatina
National reporter

Anastasiia Lapatina is a national reporter at the Kyiv Independent. She previously worked in the same role at the Kyiv Post and has focused on politics and human rights, publishing stories about Crimea, Donbas, and Ukrainians in conflict zones such as Afghanistan, Syria, and Gaza. She’s currently finishing a BA in International Relations at the University of British Columbia in Canada.

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