The Inventory Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in the Netherlands contains ICH of which the communities, groups or individuals involved have written a safeguarding plan. Those plans are reviewed by an independent review committee. Every three years an evaluation of the safeguarding takes place.


Frisian woodcarving is decorating wooden utensils with the chip carving technique. Characteristic are the geometric patterns like rosettes, stars and wicker patterns. The expression ‘Frisian’, to which this type of popular art owes its name, does not only refer to Friesland. It was done in the whole north of the Netherlands and the area around the former Zuiderzee. The woodcarver draws the patterns on wood, sometimes using carbon paper. A compass is indispensable for making rosettes and other circular shapes. Often lime wood is used, which is soft and pale, and does not have many knots. But rose wood, oak and tropical woods are suitable as well. The carvers of Frisian woodcarving use a small chisel and a small, sharp knife. With the chisel notches of a few millimetres depth are made in the wood. The knife is used to cut out patterns. Hence the name ‘chip carving’. There are well-known basic geometric patterns, allowing endless varieties. The technique is not very difficult to learn and not much room is needed. It does, however, take a lot of time and practice to really master the technique. The best way to learn is from an experienced carver. Objects that are often decorated are serving trays, (jewellery) boxes and trivets.



Most woodcarvers are individually active. Erno Korpershoek is one of them. The artist gives tours along his own collection. He is also busy putting down the history and the technique of chip carving.



Frisian woodcarving has a long tradition. The work was initially done to decorate objects in one’s own home. The technique has been exposed to influences from merchant shipping and fishery. The oldest existing objects with Frisian woodcarving date from the seventeenth century. The Rijksmuseum, the Frisian Museum and the Zuiderzeemuseum hold objects in their collection. There is a so-called mangelplank in the Rijksmuseum, in which the words: Grete Cornelis Anno 1654 were carved. The technique was not written down in the past, one copied what one had in the home. The carving technique was passed on, as common for popular art, in the practice of father to son. Because of industrialisation and mechanisation woodcarving had almost vanished, but around 1900 attempts were made to put woodcarving into the picture again. Trainings were set up here and there. Workers in the cities were stimulated to practice the popular art. A written manual was issued, that was snapped up by many. During the crisis of the thirties and during mobilisation much woodcarving was done. After World War II Frisian woodcarving went out of fashion, for almost everyone wanted a modern interior. Nowadays there are merely a few woodcarvers left. Most of them are older people, who first of all enjoy the carving. It does not concern decoration of the interior anymore, but rather the decoration of small objects.



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