In recent years, the interest in traditional forms of craft has increased. This is evident in areas where the social value of crafting activities is related to the notions of cultural diversity, the central role of traditional knowledge to drive social change and the creativity these activities involve as factors of human development. Another force that is driving the developments regarding the revival of crafting activities in developing areas of the world is related to current socioeconomic global challenges, as well as the particularly harsh circumstances the communities in many places of Latin America, Asia and Africa face. Poverty, illiteracy, discriminations, cultural and territorial uprooting, no access to health services, unemployment or lack of appropriate work conditions, lack of access to technology and more. Under such difficult circumstances, crafting remains one of the most powerful and historic activities that people continue to perform worldwide.

In the past, the products of craft were often seen by researchers of the Western culture as results of “minor arts” compared to the works that come from “beaux arts” end aimed to aesthetically please audiences. In this sense, handicrafts were mostly seen under a utilitarian functional lens. More classifications also exist that categorise handicrafts based on the techniques used, the materials for their creation and the function or intended use of the crafts themselves.

For instance, following materials’ classification, handicrafts can include:

  • Ceramic/glass crafts: pottery, azulejos, porcelain, earthenware, stoneware, glass beadmaking and more
  • Fabric/textile crafts: needlework, lace-making, embroidery, knitting, weaving, crochet, quilting, patchwork and more
  • Leather crafts: leather carving, leather crafting and more
  • Flower crafts: bouquet, ikebana and more
  • Paper crafts: origami, paper embossing, calligraphy, papercutting, papier-mache and more
  • Wood crafts: marquetry, wood carving, carpentry, wood burning, cabinet making and more
  • Stone crafts: stone carving, mosaics, flintknapping and more
  • Metal crafts: clock making, knife making, jewelry making, tinsmith and more.

Whichever classification is deployed, there is a wealth of materials, tools, skills, processes, and functions that comes along with the living heritage of handicrafts and has been officially recognised by the UNESCO’s convention of Paris on Intangible Cultural Heritage. Based on the convention, “traditional craftsmanship is perhaps the most tangible manifestation of intangible cultural heritage” and “any efforts to safeguard traditional craftsmanship must focus not on preserving craft objects – no matter how beautiful, precious, rare or important they might be – but on creating conditions that will encourage artisans to continue to produce crafts of all kinds, and to transmit their skills and knowledge to others”.

As such, the current project seeks to re-establish the missing connections between existing museum collections of crafted artefacts and the narratives around them in order to enhance the transmission of knowledge about the living heritage of craft and hence its viability for the present and future.



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Ruskin, J. and Morris, W. “Crafts: History & Types”, History of Arts and Crafts Movement, available at:

UNESCO. (2003), Traditional Craftsmanship, available at:

UNESCO. Dive into Intangible Cultural Heritage!, available at:

Wikipedia. “Handicraft”, Wikipedia, available at: