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Dec 07, 2018 12:28 PM IST | Economy

Czech glassblowers keep Christmas tradition alive

A small family business in a mountainous village in northern Czech Republic says it's the last place in the world where traditional Christmas decorations from blown glass beads are made.

Fewer than two dozen glass workers working from their homes keep alive the tradition, which dates to the mid-19th century in the village of Ponikla.

The beads are all blown and painted by hand, with help from simple machines. They're a product of the thriving glass industry in the region, and were originally mostly used to decorate folk costumes in Germany, Austria and elsewhere.

After a Japanese competitor copied the production process in the early 20th century, local bead makers found a new use for them in Christmas decorations.

The delicate bead decorations from the Rautis company are today exported to several European countries and the United States.

The Czech Republic has nominated the tradition for inclusion in the UNESCO's List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

A traditional worker makes small blown glass beads for Christmas decorations in the village of Ponikla, Czech Republic. The small family business in a mountainous village in northern Czech Republic is the last place in the world where traditional Christmas decorations are made from glass beads blown and painted by hand. Wednesday, November 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
A traditional worker makes small blown glass beads for Christmas decorations in the village of Ponikla, Czech Republic. The small family business in a mountainous village in northern Czech Republic is the last place in the world where traditional Christmas decorations are made from glass beads blown and painted by hand. Wednesday, November 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Hundreds of small blown glass beads are placed in a box, as part of the manufacturing process for Christmas decorations, in the village of Ponikla, Czech Republic. Wednesday, November 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Hundreds of small blown glass beads are placed in a box, as part of the manufacturing process for Christmas decorations, in the village of Ponikla, Czech Republic. Wednesday, November 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
A worker makes small glass blown beads for Christmas decorations in the village of Ponikla, Czech Republic. Wednesday, November 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
A worker makes small glass blown beads for Christmas decorations in the village of Ponikla, Czech Republic. Wednesday, November 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
A worker colours small blown glass beads in the village of Ponikla, Czech Republic. Wednesday, November 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
A worker colours small blown glass beads in the village of Ponikla, Czech Republic. Wednesday, November 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
A traditional worker colours small blown glass beads for Christmas decorations in the village of Ponikla, Czech Republic. Wednesday, November 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
A traditional worker colours small blown glass beads for Christmas decorations in the village of Ponikla, Czech Republic. Wednesday, November 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Small blown glass beads are placed to dry during the manufacturing process to make traditional Christmas decorations in the village of Ponikla, Czech Republic. Wednesday, November 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Small blown glass beads are placed to dry during the manufacturing process to make traditional Christmas decorations in the village of Ponikla, Czech Republic. Wednesday, November 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
A traditional worker hand paints small blown glass beads for Christmas decorations in the village of Ponikla, Czech Republic. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
A traditional worker hand paints small blown glass beads for Christmas decorations in the village of Ponikla, Czech Republic. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
A worker adjusts the shop display of traditional blown glass Christmas decorations in the village of Ponikla, Czech Republic. Wednesday, November 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
A worker adjusts the shop display of traditional blown glass Christmas decorations in the village of Ponikla, Czech Republic. Wednesday, November 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Traditional glass Christmas decorations are displayed in a shop window in the village of Ponikla, Czech Republic. Wednesday, November 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Traditional glass Christmas decorations are displayed in a shop window in the village of Ponikla, Czech Republic. Wednesday, November 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
A traditional worker makes Christmas decorations from small blown glass beads in the village of Ponikla, Czech Republic. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
A traditional worker makes Christmas decorations from small blown glass beads in the village of Ponikla, Czech Republic. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Marek Kulhavy blows small glass beads in the village of Ponikla, Czech Republic. Wednesday, November 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Marek Kulhavy blows small glass beads in the village of Ponikla, Czech Republic. Wednesday, November 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Marek Kulhavy blows small glass beads in the village of Ponikla, Czech Republic. A small family business in a mountainous village in northern Czech Republic is the last place where traditional Christmas decorations from blown glass beads are made. Wednesday, November 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Marek Kulhavy blows small glass beads in the village of Ponikla, Czech Republic. A small family business in a mountainous village in northern Czech Republic is the last place where traditional Christmas decorations from blown glass beads are made. Wednesday, November 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
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