AP PHOTOS: Czech glassblowers keep Christmas tradition alive

PONIKLA, Czech Republic (AP) — 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.

12 PHOTOS
Czech glassblowers keep Christmas tradition alive
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Czech glassblowers keep Christmas tradition alive
In this picture taken on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, a traditional worker makes Christmas decorations from small blown glass beads 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. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
In this picture taken on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, 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. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
In this picture taken on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, a worker adjusts the shop display of traditional blown glass 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. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
In this picture taken on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, 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. 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. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
In this picture taken on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, a worker colours small blown glass beads 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. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
In this picture taken on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, a worker makes small glass blown 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. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
In this picture taken on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, 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. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
In this picture taken on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, traditional glass Christmas decorations are displayed in a shop window 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 all made from glass beads blown and painted by hand. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
In this picture taken on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, a traditional worker colours 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. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
In this picture taken on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, 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. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
In this picture taken on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, small blown glass beads are placed to dry during the manufacturing process to make traditional 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. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
In this picture taken on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, a traditional worker hand paints 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. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
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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.

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