AP PHOTOS: 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.