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Stećak (Serbian Cyrillic: Стећак, pronounced [stěːtɕak]) or Stećci in plural form (Serbian Cyrillic: Стећци, pronounced [stěːtɕtsi]) is the name for monumental medieval tombstones, that lie scattered across Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the border parts of Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia. An estimated 60,000 are found within the borders of modern Bosnia and Herzegovina and the rest of 10,000 are found in what are today Croatia (4,400), Montenegro (3,500), and Serbia (2,100), at more than 3,300 odd sites with over 90% in poor condition.[1][2]

Appearing in the mid 12th century, with the first phase in the 13th century, the tombstones reached their peak in the 14th and 15th century, before disappearing during the Ottoman conquest of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the very early 16th century.[1] They were a common tradition amongst Bosnian, Catholic and Orthodox Church followers alike,[3] and are sometimes related to the Vlach,[4] or Croatian population,[5] but the original ethnic and religious affiliation is still undetermined.[6] The one of the best preserved collection of these tombstones is named Radimlja, west of Stolac in Bosnia and Herzegovina.[2]

Stećci were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016. It includes a selection of 4,000 stećci at 28 necropolises – of which 22 from Bosnia and Herzegovina, two from Croatia, three from Montenegro, and three from Serbia.[7]

Etymology

The word itself is a contracted form of the older word *stojećak, which is derived from the South Slavic verb stajati (engl. stand).[8] It literally means the "tall, standing thing".[9] In Herzegovina they are also called as mašeti / mašete (Italian massetto meaning "big rock", or Turkish meşhet/mešhed meaning "tombstone of a fallen hero"[nb 1]), in Central and Western Bosnia as mramori / mramorje / mramorovi (marble), while in Serbia and Montenegro as usađenik (implantation)[citation needed].On the stećci inscriptions they are called as bilig (mark), kamen bilig (stone mark), kâm / kami / kamen (stone), hram (shrine), zlamen (sign), kuća (house), raka (pit), greb/grob (grave).[10][9][11][12] In 1495 lectionary they are recorded as kamy (stone).[13][14]

Although under the name stećak is meant high monolithic standing stones (i.e. sanduk and sljemenjak form), in the 20th century the word stećak was accepted in science as general term, including for plate tombstones (i.e. ploče).[8][15] The original reference to the word stećak itself is uncertain and seems to be modern invention as it can only be traced from the note by Ivan Kukuljević Sakcinski from 1851,[16] dictionary by Vuk Karadžić from 1852[citation needed] (in the first edition from 1812 the term did not exist), although he contradicted himself as the commoners from Zagvozd called them starovirsko ("of the old faith"),[17] dictionary by Bogoslav Šulek from 1860 and so on,[18] while academic dictionaries mention it only from 1956/58.[19] It is considered that the term was usually used in East Herzegovina and in the area of Stari Vlah in Serbia.[17] Until the very early 20th century there was wandering in terminology, and some scholars proposed general terms like nadgrobni biljezi (gravestone markers) and mramorje (marble) to be more appropriate.[8]

The term stećak is uncommon in regional dialects and without etiological value,[9] and semantically incorrect and contradicting as it derives from the verb "to stand", while the chest-type to which it refers predominantly is laid down, while another sub-type of pillars and crosses is the one predominantly upright; this upright or standing sub-type does not amount even 5% of the overall number of stećci; in the original stećci inscriptions they are most often called as kami (meaning "stone" regardless of the form), thus some scholars proposed the term kamik (pl. kamici) for all forms of headstones, while stećak would mean only the upright sub-type.[20] The term kamik is more close to the original meaning and sometime is used instead of stećak in professional literature.[21]

The stećci area or cemetery folk names show respect and admiration for their dimensions, age or representations: Divsko groblje (Giants’ cemetery), Mašete (big stones), Mramori/Mramorje (marble blocks), Grčko groblje (Greek cemetery), Tursko groblje (Turkish cemetery), Kaursko groblje (Giaour’s cemetery).[22][7]

Characteristics[Appearing in the mid 12th century, with the first phase in the 13th century, the tombstones reached their peak in the 14th and 15th century, before disappearing during the Ottoman conquest of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the very early 16th century.[1] They were a common tradition amongst Bosnian, Catholic and Orthodox Church followers alike,[3] and are sometimes related to the Vlach,[4] or Croatian population,[5] but the original ethnic and religious affiliation is still undetermined.[6] The one of the best preserved collection of these tombstones is named Radimlja, west of Stolac in Bosnia and Herzegovina.[2]

Stećci were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016. It includes a selection of 4,000 stećci at 28 necropolises – of which 22 from Bosnia and Herzegovina, two from Croatia, three from Montenegro, and three from Serbia.[7]

The word itself is a contracted form of the older word *stojećak, which is derived from the South Slavic verb stajati (engl. stand).[8] It literally means the "tall, standing thing".[9] In Herzegovina they are also called as mašeti / mašete (Italian massetto meaning "big rock", or Turkish meşhet/mešhed meaning "tombstone of a fallen hero"[nb 1]), in Central and Western Bosnia as mramori / mramorje / mramorovi (marble), while in Serbia and Montenegro as usađenik (implantation)[citation needed].On the stećci inscriptions they are called as bilig (mark), kamen bilig (stone mark), kâm / kami / kamen (stone), hram (shrine), zlamen (sign), kuća (house), raka (pit), greb/grob (grave).[10][9][11][12] In 1495 lectionary they are recorded as kamy (stone).[13][14]

Although under the name stećak is meant high monolithic standing stones (i.e. sanduk and sljemenjak form), in the 20th century the word stećak was accepted in science as general term, including for plate tombstones (i.e. ploče).[8][15] The original reference to the word stećak itself is uncertain and seems to be modern invention as it can only be traced from the note by Ivan Kukuljević Sakcinski from 1851,[16] dictionary by Vuk Karadžić from 1852[citation needed] (in the first edition from 1812 the term did not exist), although he contradicted himself as the commoners from Zagvozd called them starovirsko ("of the old faith"),[17] dictionary by Bogoslav Šulek from 1860 and so on,[18] while academic dictionaries mention it only from 1956/58.[19] It is considered that the term was usually used in East Herzegovina and in the area of Stari Vlah in Serbia.[17] Until the very early 20th century there was wandering in terminology, and some scholars proposed general terms like nadgrobni biljezi (gravestone markers) and mramorje (marble) to be more appropriate.[8]

The term stećak is uncommon in regional dialects and without etiological value,[9] and semantically incorrect and contradicting as it derives from the verb "to stand", while the chest-type to which it refers predomin

Although under the name stećak is meant high monolithic standing stones (i.e. sanduk and sljemenjak form), in the 20th century the word stećak was accepted in science as general term, including for plate tombstones (i.e. ploče).[8][15] The original reference to the word stećak itself is uncertain and seems to be modern invention as it can only be traced from the note by Ivan Kukuljević Sakcinski from 1851,[16] dictionary by Vuk Karadžić from 1852[citation needed] (in the first edition from 1812 the term did not exist), although he contradicted himself as the commoners from Zagvozd called them starovirsko ("of the old faith"),[17] dictionary by Bogoslav Šulek from 1860 and so on,[18] while academic dictionaries mention it only from 1956/58.[19] It is considered that the term was usually used in East Herzegovina and in the area of Stari Vlah in Serbia.[17] Until the very early 20th century there was wandering in terminology, and some scholars proposed general terms like nadgrobni biljezi (gravestone markers) and mramorje (marble) to be more appropriate.[8]

The term stećak is uncommon in regional dialects and without etiological value,[9] and semantically incorrect and contradicting as it derives from the verb "to stand", while the chest-type to which it refers predominantly is laid down, while another sub-type of pillars and crosses is the one predominantly upright; this upright or standing sub-type does not amount even 5% of the overall number of stećci; in the original stećci inscriptions they are most often called as kami (meaning "stone" regardless of the form), thus some scholars proposed the term kamik (pl. kamici) for all forms of headstones, while stećak would mean only the upright sub-type.[20] The term kamik is more close to the original meaning and sometime is used instead of stećak in professional literature.[21]

The stećci area or cemetery folk names show respect and admiration for their dimensions, age or representations: Divsko groblje (Giants’ cemetery), Mašete (big stones), Mramori/Mramorje (marble blocks), Grčko groblje (Greek cemetery), Tursko groblje (Turkish cemetery), Kaursko groblje (Giaour’s cemetery).[22][7]

They are characteristic for the territory of present-day Herzegovina, central Bosnia, Podrinje and Dalmatia (especially South of river Cetina), and some minor parts of Montenegro, Kosovo and Western Serbia, Posavina and Northwestern Bosnia.[23]

Stećci are described as horizontal and vertical tombstones, made of stone, with a flat or gable-top surface, with or without a pedestal.[24][23] The common classification was established by Dmitrij Sergejevski in 1952, who divided them into recumbent stećci and standing stećci.[25] The systematization of stećci is not currently complete. According to Šefik Bešlagić, there are seven main shapes: slab, chest, chest with pedestal, ridge/gable, ridge/gable with pedestal, pillar, and cross;[20] while according to Lovrenović, there are nine types in Radimlja: slab, slab with pedestal, chest, chest with pedestal, tall chest, tall chest with pedestal, sarcophagus (i.e. ridge/gable), sarcophagus with pedestal, cruciform.[25]

For instance, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to UNESCO, "about 40,000 chests, 13,000 slabs, 5,500 gabled tombstones, 2,500 pillars/obelisks, 300 cruciform tombstones and about 300 tombstones of indetermin

Stećci are described as horizontal and vertical tombstones, made of stone, with a flat or gable-top surface, with or without a pedestal.[24][23] The common classification was established by Dmitrij Sergejevski in 1952, who divided them into recumbent stećci and standing stećci.[25] The systematization of stećci is not currently complete. According to Šefik Bešlagić, there are seven main shapes: slab, chest, chest with pedestal, ridge/gable, ridge/gable with pedestal, pillar, and cross;[20] while according to Lovrenović, there are nine types in Radimlja: slab, slab with pedestal, chest, chest with pedestal, tall chest, tall chest with pedestal, sarcophagus (i.e. ridge/gable), sarcophagus with pedestal, cruciform.[25]

For instance, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to UNESCO, "about 40,000 chests, 13,000 slabs, 5,500 gabled tombstones, 2,500 pillars/obelisks, 300 cruciform tombstones and about 300 tombstones of indeterminate shape have been identified. Of these, more than 5,000 bear carved decorations".[12]

The chronology established by Marian Wenzel assumes they developed from the plate headstones, the oldest one dating back to 1220 (the first were probably erected sometime in the mid-12th century[1]), the monumental ones emerged somewhere around 1360, those with visual representations around 1435–1477, and that total production ended circa 1505.[26][27] However, some consider that it lasted until the late 16th century, with rare examples that continued until the 18th century.[28] Stećci in the form of chest (sanduk) and ridge/saddle-roofed (sljemenjak) do not seem to have appeared before the middle or the end of the 14th century (1353-1477[29]), while the remaining two basic forms - the upright pillar (stup) and cross (krstača / križina), no earlier than mid-15th century. In the case of the latter, upright or standing forms could be influenced by the nišan - the upright monolithic stones on top of the Muslim (Turkish) graves, which had already emerged by the end of the 14th century in conquered parts of Macedonia and Serbia.[23][30] This form is predominantly found in Serbia and Eastern Bosnia.[28]

The initial stage of their development, which included simple recumbent plates or slabs isn't specific for the region, but it is of broad West Mediterranean origin, and as such the term stećak (implying the chest and ridge form) is misleading for all tombstone forms. The slabs were typical for a kind of burial in the West Mediterranean world of the 14th and 15th centuries, which had a special method of production and ornamentation in the Balkans, customized according to the stonemasonry skills and microenvironment.[31][32] The dated monuments indicate they were initially made by/for the feudal nobility,[citation needed] while later this tradition was embraced and adopted by the indigenous Vlachs who have almost exclusively built them from the mid-15th century on.[33][34]

— Some translated examples of inscriptions.[35][36]

A fraction of stećci (384[37]) bear inscriptions, mostly in Cyrillic, some in Glagolitic and Latin script. The language has some archaic phrases, characterized by Ikavian while toward the end by Ijekavian yat reflex.[38] The inscriptions can be roughly divided into those of: religious phrase, description of heroic death, information of the deceased, information of the deceased's relatives and circumstances of death, information with only a personal name (sometimes with smith-pupil name), and a moral (or religious) lesson.[39] The last are mostly brazen reminders of wisdom and mortality, relay a dread of death, more anxiety than peace.[35]

The most remarkable feature is their decorative motifs roughly divided in six groups which complement each other: social symbols, religious symbols, images of posthumous kolo, figural images, clear ornaments, and unclassified motifs (mostly symbolic, geometrical, or damaged).[40]A fraction of stećci (384[37]) bear inscriptions, mostly in Cyrillic, some in Glagolitic and Latin script. The language has some archaic phrases, characterized by Ikavian while toward the end by Ijekavian yat reflex.[38] The inscriptions can be roughly divided into those of: religious phrase, description of heroic death, information of the deceased, information of the deceased's relatives and circumstances of death, information with only a personal name (sometimes with smith-pupil name), and a moral (or religious) lesson.[39] The last are mostly brazen reminders of wisdom and mortality, relay a dread of death, more anxiety than peace.[35]

The

The most remarkable feature is their decorative motifs roughly divided in six groups which complement each other: social symbols, religious symbols, images of posthumous kolo, figural images, clear ornaments, and unclassified motifs (mostly symbolic, geometrical, or damaged).[40] Many of them remain enigmatic to this day; spirals, arcades, rosettes, vine leaves and grapes, lilium, stars (often six-pointed) and crescent Moons are among the images that appear. Figural images include processions of deer, horse, dancing the kolo, hunting, chivalric tournaments, and, most famously, the image of the man with his right hand raised, perhaps in a gesture of fealty.[27][41]

A series of visual representations on the tombstones can not be simplistically interpreted as real scenes from the life, and symbolic explanation is still considered by the scholarship.[42] The shield on the tombstones, usually with the crossbar, crescent and star, cannot be a coat of arms, neither the lilium which is stylized is used in the heraldic sense. On one stećak is displayed tied lion and above him winged dragon. Already in 1979, historian Hadžijahić noted that the horsemen are not riding with reins, yet (if are not hunting) their hands are free and pointed to the sky, implying possible cult significance.[43] In 1985, Maja Miletić noted the symbolic and religious character of the stećak scenes.[44] All the "life scenes" are considered to be part of ceremonial.[45] Several scholars concluded that the motifs, as well the tradition of a posthumous indigenous cult,[46] show the continuity of old Balkan pre-Christian symbolism from prehistoric time and the autochthonous Romanized Illyrian[citation needed] (i.e. Vlachian) tribes.[47] Alojz Benac noted that the displays of a sole horse with a snake, as well a sole deer with a bird, symbolize the soul of the deceased going to the otherworld, which representations are resembling those found on Iapydes artefacts.[48] The Illyrian god Medaurus is described as riding on horseback and carrying a lance.[49]

Of all the animals, the deer is the most represented, and mostly is found on stećci in Herzegovina.[50] According to Dragoslav Srejović, the spread of Christianity did not cause the disappearance of old cult and belief in sacred deer.[51] Wenzel considered that it led the deceased to the underworld.[42] Historian Šefik Bešlagić synthesized the representations of deer: sometimes accompanied by a bird (often on the back or horns), cross or lilium, frequently are shown series of deer or doe, as well with a bow and arrow, dog and hunter(s) with a spear or sword (often on a horse). It is displayed in hunting scenes, as well some kolo processions led by a man who is riding a deer.[52] There scenes where deer calmly approach the hunter, or deer with enormous size and sparse horns.[44] Most of the depictions of "deer hunting" are facing west, which had the symbolic meaning for death and the otherworld. In the numerous hunting scenes, in only one a deer is wounded (the stećak has some anomalies), indicating an unrealistic meaning. In the Roman and Parthian-Sasanian art, hunted animals are mortally wounded, and the deer is only one of many, while on stećci is the only hunted animal.[53]

Two stećci with motifs of kolo

The motifs of kolo (in total 132[54]) procession along with a deer, and its specific direction of dancing, although not always easily identifiable, show it is a mortal dance compared to cheerful dance. From Iapydes urns, up to present-day women in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro, remorseful dances are played in the westward[42] direction toward sunset. In Eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina so-called Ljeljenovo kolo,[nb 2] with ljeljen local name for jelen (deer) implying jelenovo kolo, is danced by making the gate of the raised hand and ringleader of these gates tries to pull all kolo dancers through them until the kolo is entangled, after that, playing in the opposite direction, until the kolo is unravelled. Its origin is in mortuary ritual guiding the soul to another world and the meaning of the renewal of life.[45]

  • ^ a b Musli, Emir (23 November 2014). "Čiji su naši stećci?" (in Bosnian). Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  • ^ a b Walasek, Helen (2002). "Marian Wenzel 18 December 1932 - 6 January 2002". Bosnian Institute.
  • ^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 52, 72, 176, 307.
  • ^ Ante Cuvalo, The A to Z of Bosnia and Herzegovina; Scarecrow Press, 2010, ISBN 1461671787, p. 229.
  • ^ a b Trako 2011, p. 71–72, 73–74.
  • ^ a b c d "Examination of nominations of cultural properties to the World Heritage List". UNESCO. 2016. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  • ^ a b c Kužić 1999, p. 176.
  • ^ a b c Buturovic 2016, p. 114.
  • ^ a b Trako 2011, p. 72.
  • ^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 59–60.
  • ^ a b "Stećaks - Mediaeval Tombstones (Bosnia and Herzegovina)". UNESCO. 18 April 2011. Archived from the original on 20 August 2016. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  • ^ Kužić 2001, p. 272.
  • ^ Bulog 2007, p. 390.
  • ^ a b c d Mužić 2009, p. 322.
  • ^ Kužić 2001, p. 269.
  • ^ a b Kužić 2001, p. 268.
  • ^ Kužić 2001, p. 270.
  • ^ Kužić 2001, p. 267.
  • ^ a b Kužić 2001, p. 271–273.
  • ^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 60.
  • ^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 59.
  • ^ a b c d Cebotarev 1996, p. 321.
  • ^ Milošević 1991, p. 6, 61.
  • ^ a b c Lovrenović 2013, p. 62.
  • ^ Milošević 1991, p. 6.
  • ^ a b c d e f Cebotarev 1996, p. 322.
  • ^ a b c Purgarić-Kužić 1995, p. 244.
  • ^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 176.
  • ^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 69–71.
  • ^ Milošević 1991, p. 6–7.
  • ^ a b Mužić 2009, p. 326.
  • ^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 72, 176.
  • ^ a b c Buturovic 2016, p. 118.
  • ^ a b Buturovic 2016, p. 121.
  • ^ Purgarić-Kužić 1995, p. 249.
  • ^ Trako 2011, p. 73.
  • ^ Purgarić-Kužić 1995, p. 248.
  • ^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 371.
  • ^ a b Lovrenović 2013, p. 369.
  • ^ Lovrenović 2014, p. 73–122.
  • ^ a b c Purgarić-Kužić 1995, p. 251.
  • ^ Mužić 2009, p. 328.
  • ^ a b Mužić 2009, p. 329.
  • ^ a b c Mužić 2009, p. 334.
  • ^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 61.
  • ^ Mužić 2009, p. 329–335.
  • ^ Mužić 2009, p. 332–333.
  • ^ Mužić 2009, p. 333.
  • ^ a b Mužić 2009, p. 332.
  • ^ Mužić 2009, p. 331.
  • ^ Mužić 2009, p. 328–329.
  • ^ Mužić 2009, p. 336.
  • ^ Lovrenović 2014, p. 91.
  • ^ Mužić 2009, p. 335.
  • ^ Mužić 2009, p. 331–332.
  • ^ Lovrenović 2014, p. 80–81.
  • ^ Purgarić-Kužić 1995, p. 250.
  • ^ Milošević 1991, p. 42.
  • ^ Lovrenović 2014, p. 81.
  • ^ Lovrenović 2014, p. 86.
  • ^ a b c Purgarić-Kužić 1995, p. 247.
  • ^ a b Purgarić-Kužić 1995, p. 245.
  • ^ Mužić 2009, p. 327, 336.
  • ^ a b Lovrenović 2013, p. 372.
  • ^ a b c Milošević 1991, p. 40.
  • ^ Milošević 2013, p. 91.
  • ^ Milošević 1991, p. 61.
  • ^ a b Cebotarev 1996, p. 323.
  • ^ a b c d Milošević 1991, p. 7.
  • ^ Zorić 1984, p. 208.
  • ^ Zorić 1984, p. 207–211.
  • ^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 42–43.
  • ^ a b c d e

    Umoljani, Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Umoljani, Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Dugopolje, Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Morine, Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Neum, Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Neum, Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Neum, Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Velimlje, Montenegro

  • Cetinje, Montenegro

  • Klenak, Montenegro

  • Mramorje, Serbia

    Mramorje, Serbia

  • Somewhere in Dalmatia, Croatia

  • Somewhere in Dalmatia, Croatia

  • Notes

    1. ^ Turkish word meşhed means a monument erected to Islamic dead martyr şehid. The issue with the derivation is that ste
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