UNESCO decides that Mastiha satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and with the participation of the community concerned, know-how of cultivating mastiha on the island of Chios is included in the national inventory of intangible cultural heritage maintained by the Modern Cultural Heritage Department of the Ministry of Education, Religious Affairs, Culture and Sport.
Mastiha is cultivated on the island of Chios from the aromatic resin mastiha, which is extracted from the shrub pistacia lentiscus. Mastiha has long been renowned for its numerous properties and its culture is a family occupation that requires laborious care throughout the year by men and women of all ages who participate on equal terms in the various stages.
How to? Men take care of the natural fertilization and pruning of the shrubs in winter, while from mid-June, women sweep, level and clean the ground around the trunk, so that the mastic can easily be recovered. From July, an incision is made in the skin of the bark and main branches with an iron tool. Once the mastic has solidified, women select the larger ‘tears’ first, wash them and place them in wooden boxes in a cool place. Older members of the community are responsible for transmitting the techniques for incision and harvesting the mastiha to younger generations. The culture of mastiha represents a comprehensive social event, around which networks of alliances and mutual help have been established. The communal practices are also an occasion for perpetuating collective memory through the narration of old tales and stories.
Apart from the above, in 1997, mastiha of Chios was awarded the label Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), by Regulation No. 123/1997 (L0224/24-1-97) of the European Union, and was inscribed on the List of Community PDO Products. Product protection is inseparable from its specific geographical environment, including natural and human factors and methods of cultivation and production.