Nov 26, 2012


Lampir according to Bosnian belief is a dead man, who was possessed by an evil spirit (Jinn) 7 or 40 days after his death, who in turn resurrected him in order to exit his burial place and terrorise the members of his family and various places and drink blood. He is described as a man without bones, inflated like a paunch, full of blood, ragged and hairy, with big eyes and nails; dressed in the clothes he was buried in or wearing a white cloth over his naked body. Bosnian name for vampire is lampir (lepir or lampijer) . Term coming from the folks name of the butterfly – lepir. The according Bosnian beliefs death man from grave,  who is become vampire, went to out in shape butterfly and fly.

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In Bosnian Posavina ethnological data reveal that people believed that the lampir had eyes of a goat or a goat which he used to hide once he came into contact with humans since they gave him away. Besides the form of a human he can also have various animal forms such as a cat, dog, pig, ox, horse, mouse, bat, etc. He exits the grave though a small hole since he has the ability to elongate himself, but once he gets out he becomes large and grotesque and he makes sounds by shouting in various voices. He appears always after midnight and walks around the graves and its immediate vicinity.

When a lampir goes around a house he is followed by the noise of ten sieves, sieving the ground. He often brings some dirt from his grave and offers to some inhabitants to smell it and then sneeze. If someone says "healthy" to that person than he won't turn into a vampire; if not then he will turn into one. There are a lot of documented stories about the lampir's nightly visits, this is one of them: around Prijedor there is a Muslim graveyard. Next to it there is a Christian house. When a religious student stopped by, the housewife told him the following: "For a couple of nights we have been disturbed by a vampire. In the late night hour he throws stones at the house so forcefully that the boards on the roof started to break. Two nights ago I went out to see who is throwing rocks at our house - but as soon as I stepped out there was an eerie silence and I didn't see anyone. And as soon as I went back into the house it started again. This continued until dawn. Then I visited the graveyard, looked at all the graves, and I spotted a hole in one of the graves. I placed a large stone onto it but it was in vain, because the vampire threw stones again last night."

The standard assumption that garlic and hawthorn are a sure defence mechanism against a vampire are not true in Bosnia which can be ascertained through the following story: "A woman by the name of Aćima died in a village called Stupari, and the people started to talk that Aćima started to return to her house after midnight. The inhabitants and her husband testified to this claim, then the villagers gathered around and dug up her grave and saw her peaking at them through one eye, then they put a hawthorn stake through her. The next night a member of Aćima's household got sick, that member claimed that Aćima came back again walked around the house not saying anything, and that she took three pieces of garlic with her before she left. The family and their neighbours dug up her grave again and they found her lying on her side and the three pieces of garlic were placed around her. They made a big fie around her and once they burned her they closed the grave again. Since then the lampir Aćima was never heard from again.

One of the more interesting beliefs of how one becomes a vampire was recorded in Vlasenica - that is if someone walks over a yarn. This happened to an ethnologist: "Two girls who were weaving a yarn asked me to go over a yarn once I stepped over it. I didn't want to but they were persistent because if I didn't a great evil would befall me. When I asked what could happen they answered that I should step over it again and that they would tell me. Once I did what they asked, they said that if I didn't step over it again that I would become a vampire once I died and if they were alive when that happened he would seek them out and kill them."


According to the claims of the author of the insert of the show "Galileo Mystery", in 1731 in a place Međeđa near Višegrad the earliest place of vampirism was recorded. It all began with a sudden death of 14 people. Since the deaths were not preceded by an illness the locals ascribed the deaths to vampirism. Allegedly in order to be certain of their claims, they dug up the graves a few days later and in them they found the bodies untouched! The insert didn't offer any concrete details which would substantiate this story from Međeđa, but the written documents about vampires from the time of Austro-Hungarian rule were shown which can now be found in the city archives of Vienna.

The German psychologist Sibel Balta researched these documents, she researched the mysteries connected to vampires for years. She explained that the documents refer to the Serbian village Kišeljevo and the Bosnian village Međeđa, in the 18th century a lot of unresolved murder mysteries occurred there. According to the available scriptures, Austro-Hungarian physicians paid more attention to the cases in Kišeljevo because of the king's decree, and because of the insistence of the villagers they dug up graves which were believed to hold vampires.

Balta further claims that the documents held incredible details. They say that the physicians exhumed the bodies which seemed untouched and unharmed. According to their report the skin of the bodies was pinkish in colour and in their mouths they found traces of blood. The physicians documented that the bodies seemed as if alive after death. Considering the fact that doctors of that time didn't have the means to explain what they saw, they came to the same conclusion as the locals that the deceased were the victims of vampires. They even approved the ritual of putting a hawthorn stake through their hearts, which was at that time considered as an effective cure against vampires.

However, Dr. Balta claims after researching vampires herself, today almost 300 years after Međeđa and Kišeljevo that the story of vampires hides a serial killer. To uncover clues and substantiate her claims Balta announced a visit to Bosnia.

( text copied from )

Nov 25, 2012

Bosnian cuisine in past

Hearth cooking. The round, metal object to the left is a sač used for baking on the hearth. Planinica, Bosnia, 1968.

Making trahana, a granular pasta eaten in soups. A specialty of Bosniaks in Bosnia (though Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Serbs will sometimes obtain some from them) and perceived as an ethnic marker. This is further demonstrated by the proverbs – „trahana, glavna hrana za godinu dana!“ (trahana, the major food for the year!) and "trahana, bošnjačka hrana!" ("trahana, Bosniaks food!") Planinica, Bosnia, 1968.
At the ritual supper following a hay-cutting be presented by the host to all his workers. Planinica, Bosnia, 1968.
Making pita, filo dough filled with meat, potatoes, apples, greens, cheese, squash, or whatever. Gornji Vakuf, Bosnia, 1968.

Bosnian Cook by Alija Lakišić

Thanks to him we have the first book containing valuable information about various kinds of Bosnian cooking with hundreds of recipes for savory dishes cakes and sweets. Alija Lakišić holds the view that Bosnian cooking represents the culinary art of the Bosnian people and those of Herzegovina, influenced by elements of their culture and containing much of the oriental way of life, so that in many ways it is a combination of the tastes of East and West.

Alija Lakišić has made a special study of the meals that used to be served in the local eating houses and households on special occasions. The number of courses differed, from a single dish (which means a meal for the poorest) to thirty in all. Formal suppers — in Bosnia the evening meal is the most important one — abound in different courses. The first written recipes and menues in Bosnia are contained in the documents compiled by Isa Beg-Ishaković in the second half of the 15th century, and later in a volume compiled by Gazi Husrev-Beg in 1531. Let us take a look at one of of these old menues: first, native brandy ( rakija) and savoury tit-bits served on a large platter before actually sitting down to the table. Then follows: a dish of onions, a broth of cabbage, boiled and roasted meats, meat pie, and finally pilaf. All these dishes were served with excellent Herzegovina and Dalmatian wines, to be followed up by rice pudding, baklava (a sweet made of raisms and ground walnuts steeped in syrup), small had and Turkish delight of various flavours.  At that time, feasts in Sarajevo and other larger towns in Bosnia always had at least twelve courses not counting minor ones served in between, which, if included, would bring the number of courses up to eighteen. Here is an example of one such evening meal with all its courses: ginger, broth (the Sarajevo or Beg variety), stuffed turkey, Sarajevo baklava, sorrel pie, cheese or meat pie, stuffed vine leaves, pilaf served with sour cream, pancakes, rice pudding, and, to finish, strong black coffee to be drunk while smoking a long oriental pipe or waterpipe (nargileh ).

The looking for some old woman who would reveal to him the secret of how to make the original Džandar baklava, a sweetmeat made of 24 layers of paper-thin pastry. It is very obvious that the old Bosniaks cared little or nothing for what we now call a "proper diet". They ate inordinately, their food was steeped in fat and their desserts were over-sweet. However, they took their time over their food, savoring every morsel. Lakišić has selected some of these old Bosnian recipes for our readers who can try their hand at them and then, we hope, thoroughly enjoy eating them.

Nov 24, 2012


 For 20 pieces: 550 gr. of fine flour, 100 gr. of coarse flour, 150 gr. of ground walnuts, 200 gr. butter, a little oil, one egg, 600 gr. of sugar, a lemon, vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Using 500 gr. of flour, a little oil, salt, tepid water and half an egg, knead a soft dough. Divide and add a little coarse flower until the dough has become firmer. The dough is then rolled out into paper thin sheets and left to dry. While the pastry sheets are drying, prepare the filling: 5 dkg of soft (fine) flour is mixed with half an egg and a little water, and then rubbed between the palms to form tiny grains about the size of rice. This is then slighty browned in hot fat and mixed with ground walnuts and fine sugar. Sometimes the sugar is omitted. ( In Travnik the fine dough crumbs are obtained by forcing the dough through a sieve). The pastry sheets are then placed on a greased round baking tin alternately with the filling and sprinkled with melted butter, until all the pastry has been used up. The uppermost sheet (in some places called duhak which means a bridal veil) must be thin and unblemished so that when baked the sweetmeat looks as attractive as possible. Finally, the baklava is cut into diamond- shaped pieces and baked in the oven, first moderate, then hotter, and lastly turned down again. The baklava is baked until it is a rich golden brown. Care should be taken not to over-bake it.

 If the baklava is very thick, the upper layers are sometimes lifted off during the baking and then put back again so that the middle does not go "sad". While the pastry is in the oven, make a thick syrup out of 1 litre of water and the sugar, later adding lemon juice and vanilla. This is then poured over the pastry until the latter can absorb no more. While the sweet is still hot it should be covered up and left to stand overnight.

Nov 18, 2012


Stećak is monumental tombstone of medevial Bosnia, sometimes called kam, marble, bilig... An estimated 66,00 are found within the borders Bosnia and Herzegovina, usually grouped in the cemeteries. The most famous is Radimlja, located in Stolac. Appearing in the 7th century, the Stećci reached their peak in the late 14-th to 15th centuries. Spiral, arcades, rosettes, vine leaves and grapes, suns and crescent moons, deer, dancing the kolo, hunting and most famously the image of the man with his right hand raised, are among the decorative motifs that appear on Stećci. The Stećci have been nominated to the UNESCO World Heritage List as Joint Cultural Heritage by the four countries in the 2009.

Nov 17, 2012

Mythological World of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Stuhe: in the past it was believed that stuhe or zduhači were male witches. They possessed magical powers and they were clairvoyant. They usually helped people by performing various miracles and protecting some place from ill weather. They usually moved at night. Amongst the people there are a lot of tales about fights between stuha when there was a fight between the good ones and the bad ones. The most famous zduhači in Bosnia and Herzegovina were  Gaibija and Suljo Aganović from Foča.

Mythological World of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Soul or Duša: according to belief a man should never be woken abruptly because his soul leaves his body while he sleeps and travels around the world without any limitations. There is a similar belief amongst the Bosniaks about witches, they can also travel in the same manner with their physical bodies while they are asleep. When a witch falls asleep her soul exits through her mouth and wanders off to do evil to other humans. Her body then becomes blue and cold, her mouth stretches and her lips blacken. Before dawn her soul returns in a form of a bumble bee and enters her mouth at which moment she awakes abruptly from this mystic state.

It is believed that the souls of children haven't yet completely merged with the body and that their souls wander the world almost every time they fall asleep. Because of this reason mothers who want to move their child while it is sleeping, call the child by its name, or she lightly pulls its nose, wanting to alarm the soul about what is happening at that moment. Immediately the soul returns to the body. Otherwise, if the soul isn't warned, it is believed that the child can get ill or have serious psychological consequences.
Today in Bosnia and Herzegovina it is believed that a dying man's soul can not leave his body until his family and his neighbours "ne halale" (forgive him for his sins).

Mythological World of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Angels or Meleki: it is believed among the people that there are two angels, one of them is blind and the other one is deaf, which are sent by Allah to stir up the clouds and the storm to places where Allah wishes to punish the people because of some sin. If the blind one hears the prayer from the mosque he will immediately redirect the clouds and save that place from the storms. It is further believed that the Šejtan wants to hinder him in his intent and that a fierce fight between them arises. According to the legends when the angel swings his sword towards the Šejtan a lightning flashes in the sky.

When a baby is smiling it is believed that it has seen an angel. The angels are considered to be the protectors of babies because of the baby's purity and impeccability. It is believed that babies are actually angels until the moment when they learn to speak because then they can utter the bad words along with the good ones and so they lose their gracious ability.

Mythological World of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sheitan or Šejtani: they are demonic creatures that are similar to the Jinn. They are less powerful than the Jinn, because when a Šejtan enters a human, the human starts enjoying vices, impurity, lies or theft; but when a Jinn enters a human being, then the person suffers mental illnesses. Šejtan are easily frightened and they run away from humans as soon as the following words are uttered: "In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful".

A Bosnian legend claims that that the Šejtan was present when the first man, Adam, was created. Namely, when God created the human body, He left it lifeless for three years. Each day the Šejtan would come and observe the human body and he would batter his fingers on the body. When he would reach the human's head, he would batter it to and say: "This head won't be empty". At the passing of the third year Allah gave life to the human and it rose to life. Allah warned the human immediately about the Šejtan and told him not to speak to the first creature that approaches him and not to tell him his name. In the beginning Adam resisted the Šejtan's advances, but after some time he gave in to the Šejtan's blandishment and questions and he started a conversation with the Šejtan. The cunning Šejtan jumped on his left shoulder and exclaimed that he will remain there forever since they are now friends. As soon as God saw what had happened he sent an angel to land on to Adam's right shoulder to stop the Šejtan from influencing the human to do evil all the time.
In Bosnia against the Šejtan there is a saying: "Šejtanu nalet te bilo!"