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Culture of Handicrafts

We would like to help you understand the term "Culture of handicrafts" by giving you a synopsis of the term "culture".

The word culture is taken from the Latin, cultura and means the care of the body, but primarily, the soul.  Later in context with cultivation, from colere, which means to farm, to inhabit, care for, honour - originally it meant to work diligently, the totality of human achievements.  This includes, on the one hand, physical objects like tools, but also the changes in the cultural landscape brought about by man, mental achievements as well as forms of social organisation.  The term culture is associated with the term civilisation and the work done by man.

In a narrower sense, we understand culture as pertaining to the following areas:  language, literature, religion and ethics, law, medicine, science, art and the management of regional resources.  Regional resources are human capital, nature capital, and the capital of man-made infrastructure.

Culture is not just artistic activities, but it shows in the way people do and manage things.  People understand cultural assets as being lasting works of mankind and cultural landscape is understood as the assets created by man in the past and present.  A term that is quite new is „taking into culture“.  This term means that existing things that have been cultivated are valorised.  In connection with regional resources it means taking the attitudes towards existing resources and positively changing how they are treated.  Taking into culture therefore means a deeper consciousness.

In order to achieve the desired results, a number of consciousness building measures, the development of creativity and the creation of economic examples in connection with taking regional resources into culture are necessary.  Therefore, cultural economy is of great importance to regional development.  While planning the Leader+ programme, the term „valorisation of natural and cultural heritage“ came up.  The term was new to many of the local action groups.  Looking at it more closely it means making the regional resources and the potential for employment derived from the regional resources, valuable.  

We would like to differentiate between the two terms, taking into culture and valorisation, for further implementations.  Valorisation, or adding value to something seems to refer more to economic aspects, while taking into culture addresses the intellectual, or attitudes of man.  Man‘s attitudes are the basis for what he does and therefore a decisive success factor for future employment.  Now we would like to look at this term in relation to handicraft culture.

In the sense that we talked about before, the term handicraft culture means the consciousness and relationship of man to the human resource, handicrafts, with the materials and tools available as well as cultivating tradition.  If the culture of handicrafts is to be developed, it means that influence on the attitudes of people, towards craftsmen / or craftspeople has to be improved or conversely, the image of handicrafts has to be improved for the rest of the population.  This also means that efforts should be made to develop the quality of the works offered, and high quality qualification measures must be set for the coming generations.  Taking into culture then, does not only involve public relations work and pretty speeches, but also concrete measures which will contribute to the improvement of quality and popularity on a permanent basis.   It is important to mention here that taking regional resources into culture only makes sense in relationship to other regions, if it holds benefits.

The resources mentioned, therefore show the beginnings of distinctiveness and respectively, regional solidarity.  In relation to the handicrafts in the Bregenzerwald, we can refer to the baroque master builders in an earlier prominent civilisation.  Culture has lost its meaning, and it is about time we develop it again, but this time, in a different way, namely, the way it is seen today.

250 years have passed since the civilisation of the baroque master builders.  Even so, the region has held on to certain abilities.  These have been influenced by the many craftsmen whose children grew up in the workshops and took over know-how, methods and skills, which have been further developed throughout the generations.  The Bregenzerwald is full of small and very small businesses, mostly family businesses with an average of 4 people working in them.  These businesses have learned how to trade independently and stay competitive over the generations.  This formed their self-will, self-reliance, and relationship to the product.

Florian Aicher and Renate Breuss called their book „eigen+sinnig“.  In English, eigensinnig means headstrong, but if you separate the words, it means self + witted.  With self they probably meant the self reliance or independence and uniqueness, and with witted maybe the sense, or feeling for the materials, how they treated their tools and how they treated each other.

Dial 4 to hear an excerpt from the book by Florian Aicher and Renate Breuss.  It is available in the Work Shop office and local bookstores.

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