Guide to the UNESCO Cities of Craft and Folk Art

by Jules on July 13, 2013

As part of the UNESCO Creative Cities initiative, these cities have been appointed Cities of Craft and Folk Art.

To date, five cities have joined to respected UNESCO network thanks to their long lasting traditions in arts and crafts. These cities are also noted for their training centers, education and promotion of local and authentic craft and folk art

Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

The very first UNESCO City of Craft and Folk Art was Santa Fe in the state of New Mexico in the USA. Through the centuries, locals have exchanged and traded goods and ideas. This deep rooted practice made Santa Fe the perfect choice for the UNESCO honour. The city has a strong art and folk heritage within its ancient trade fairs, the Camino Real and the Santa Fe Trail. The city also holds a Design Week and the International Folk Art Market to promote local artists and crafters.

Aswan, Egypt

In the south of Egypt lies Aswan, the UNESCO City of Craft and Folk Art in 2005. With roots dating back to the times of the Pharaohs, Aswan was actually named Swno, which means “market”. The city has gone to great lengths to preserve the rich heritage of its folk art. The local scene has evolved into a contemporary hub with the superb craftwork at the center.  Local works typically includes Nubian art and each year, the International Symposium for Sculpture is held in Aswan to showcase sculptural works of the Pharaoh era.

Kanazawa, Japan

Traditional Japanese crafts are the mainstay of Kanazawa, located in the central north of Japan. The castle town was founded in 1583 and was chosen as the UNESCO City of Craft and Folk Art for 2009. Although the city is best known for its peaceful nature since inception, it has developed a craft scene around the traditional samurai culture.

Icheon, South Korea

The city of Icheon was selected as the 2010 City of Crafts and Folk Art thanks to its successful aim of marrying culture and crafts together with tourism. The outstanding tradition and crafts in the city has been praised by UNESCO. In fact Icheon is considered to the centerpoint of the craft industry in South Korea. Located in Gyeonggi Province, Icheon specialises in sculptures and ceramics, as well as lacquer and ink work pieces.

Hangzhou, China

The fifth and current city to host the prestigious City of Craft and Folk Art is Hangzhou in eastern China. Dubbed the ‘Cradle of Handicrafts’, Hangzhou has carefully nurtured its arts and crafts scene over the centuries. The city also has 8 items that are recognised nationally by the Chinese National Intangible Cultural Heritage. The city is committed to the ongoing promotion of its local crafts, through both local participation and also through private partnerships with training and research centers.

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