impiraresse venezia unesco

The Impiraresse: passion, tenacity, perseverance

The Impiraresse: passion, tenacity, perseverance

Picture of Monica Monti
Monica Monti

Thanks to 8 women, a profession that has deep feminine roots becomes “The Art of Glass Pearls” an intangible UNESCO ICH heritage.

We are in Veneto, especially in the popular Castello-Venice district, and already between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, women strung pearls, in the impirar dialect, near their homes.

The impiraresse usually gathered in small groups, during the summer, outside the door of their houses with their basket of beads divided by color in their lap and they filled the Venetian streets with their “sprotare” (chat), nursery rhymes and songs.

These women made long beaded necklaces which were then shipped all over the world, thus helping the family to integrate the family income and overcome poverty. It will be precisely in Venice that day after day a process of emancipation of women began and the first organization of impiraresse was formed, an art that is still perpetuated today together with the processing of lampwork pearls.

“In the Venetian territory, the art of glass beads accompanies our life and, in many families, there is a perlera, a perler, an impiraressa, a grinder, or a glass master,” says Cristina Bedin, president of the Committee for the Safeguarding of the Art of Venetian Glass Pearls, “Their gestures, memories, particular language (often linked to sewing and cooking), and the places dedicated to the art of glass beads imbue the daily life of the whole Venetian society.”

marisa convento venezia

With their passion, tenacity, and perseverance, Cristina Bedin together with 7 other women (Eliana Argine, Claudia Cottica, Maria Teresa Sega, Luisa Conventi, Cristina Bedin, Cristina Sfriso, Muriel Balensi, Marisa Convento) have drawn up the dossier and we can consider them “the fire propulsion” of a multinational candidacy which saw as protagonists on the one hand the Veneto Committee spokesperson for the whole community of holders and on the other the French Community of Perliers d’Art de France.

These women remind the whole world that we have the duty to protect the fruit of man’s ingenuity and creativity, and the widespread cultural heritage of knowledge and traditions. Only in this way can we deliver these noble arts to future generations.

Building, leaving a mark

Without Perlai or Perlere there would be no pearls;

without crushers or Impiraresse there would be no strands of pearls;

without millers there would be no finished and decorated pearls;

and without those who make pearls and with pearls there would be no need to pull the glass rod to work at lampwork.

This is why those who practice the art of glass beads are the real subject of the inscription in the representative list of the intangible heritage of Humanity.

We are all part of this living heritage, not the material object we work on.

Art is alive as long as it is practiced, safeguarded, and transmitted. Doing so is our duty and our and your right.

We are a community that identifies with the founding values of its culture.

Do you see the beauty and importance of this recognition? It is for us, but it is for everyone. Looking to the future. Especially now that every day seems uncertain and suspended.

We continue to work. It’s a journey that has just begun. (Ph Jelena Vesic at #BottegaCini)

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