Jan 31, 2013

Bosnian cuisine: Krompiruša

A Bosnian favorite, krompiruša, or potato pie, is a carb lovers’ delight. Truly tasty, it’s also wonderfully simple to make.

400 g potatoes
700 g flower
1 dl oil

To make the dough or jufka, mix the flower with warm water and salt, and roll into 4 balls. Oil them well and let them stand while you prepare the filling. To make the filling, peel the potatoes and boil half-way, then place in cold water. Cut the potatoes into cubes and add some oil, salt and pepper.

Spread out the dough with your hands, cut off the thick ends. Place one fourth of the filling at one end of the dough you’ve spread out, then roll it up together with the filling and place it into a square, greased baking pan. Make sure to always use the same quantity of filling with each piece of dough, and always spread out the dough equally thin or thick. Bake at 200 C° for 12 minutes.

Jan 28, 2013

Bosniaks - Illyrians



Bosnian historian prof.dr.Enver Imamović, believes than the modern-day Bosniaks do not continue the lineage of any Slavic tribe, but rather of an ancient Illyrian tribe called Posen. He gives a serious reference to support his statement and adduces the ancient Greek historian Appain of Alexandria (c. 95 – 165 C.E) who mentions an Illyrian tribe named Posen as living on the territories of modern-day Bosnia and Hercegovina. Mr.Imamović corroborates that the term Posen is nothing else but a corrupted form of the Illyrian term Bosen. Thus, mr. Imamović concludes that when talking about modern-day Bosniaks and the ancient Illyrian Posens we are talking about „one and the same people with the same name and a historic continuity of 2,000 years“.
To support his theory of the Illyrian ancestry of the Bosniaks, mr.Imamović mentions that the very name Bosnia is pre-Slavic and that it was existent long before the Serb and Croat tribes moved to the Balkan. Thus, he mentions that„already in the Roman time Bosnia was called approximately Bassania“.

Bosniaks are Illyrians

Prof. dr. Enver Imamović in his book “Historija bosanske vojske” ("The history of the Bosnian army") describes at length the Bosnian Illyrians, their military and social system. For this text the most important part of the book is the one that describes the vast density of Illyrians in Bosnia before the advent of the Romans and the Slavs:

After they had conquered the coastal tribes the Romans headed inland. At that time Bosnia was inhabited by numerous Illyrian tribes. They were considered as particularly brave and warlike by the surrounding tribes. The north-western part of Bosnia was inhabited by Japodi, east of them, between the rivers Vrbas and Bosna, were the Mezeji and in the central Podrinje there were Dindari. Desetijati inhabited central Bosnia, Dalmati western Bosnia and Ardijejci southern Herzegovina and the Adriatic coast.

Nakon što su pokorili obalna plemena Rimljani su krenuli u unutrašnjost zemlje. U to doba Bosna i Hercegovina je bila naseljena brojnim ilirskim plemenima. Ona su od okolnih plemena smatrana izuzetno hrabrim i ratobornim. Sjeverozapadnu Bosnu naseljavali su Japodi. Istočno do njih, između rijeka Vrbasa i Bosne, živjeli su Mezeji a u srednjem Podrinju Dindari. Desitijati su naseljavali srednju Bosnu, Dalmati zapadnu, a Ardijejci južnu Hercegovinu i primorje.

According to prof. dr. Enver Imamović and academician Muhamed Filipović, the Bosniak people are direct descendants of Illyrians which can be easily confirmed through various analyses especially historical but also religious.
It has long been regarded that the Albanians are the only direct descendants of the Illyrians, however the things that mr. Imamović and mr. Filipović have brought forth in their historical analysis's and papers confirmed the findings of the Swiss institute IGENEA. Namely, the experts of the institute came to a conclusion that only 20% of the Albanians have the Illyrian gene on the other hand 40% of the Bosnians have the gene as well.
When the Slavs arrived in the Balkans they performed genocide over the Illyrians, it is believed that 4 million of them were killed, and the survivors had to forcefully assimilate into the community of the Slavs.

NAME: Illyrian

EVOLVED FROM: Danubian / Yamnaya

COUNTRY: Albania / Croatia / Bosnia and Hercegovina / Romania / Greece / Turkey

REGION: Dalmatia, Bosnia/Hercegovina


LANDMARKS: Adriatic Sea / Balkan Peninsula

SITES: Gmunden / Oberzeiring / Koman

CENTERS: Glasinac / Skodra

AGE: Neolithic / Bronze / Iron

DATES: BC 2000 /BC 15th – 12th c / BC 1000 / BC 900 / BC 8th c / BC 5th c / BC 393 / BC 359 / BC 310 / BC 3rd / AD 168

DEITIES: Galatea

SIGNATURE: tumulus / villages / hillforts / tattoos / horse breeders / sea raiders / lembi



Jan 17, 2013

Bosnian amulets

Among the Bosnian people there were always those individuals whose supernatural powers were known to many. One of the most famous Bosnian magicians, whose knowledge came from ancient Arabic teachings, was Hadži-beg Rizvanbegović, the captain of Stolac, who lived during the end of 17th and beginning of the 18th century. According to legend he was an educated man who was very lively who showed interest for astronomy and the occult in his early age. At that time in his travels to Istanbul the captain of Stolac came across the Ottoman translations of the old Persian books of magic which helped him open the door to the supernatural.

The occult power that he gained practicing the ancient rituals allowed him to influence the people around him and the astrological practice allowed him to see into the future. How successful he was is shown by one of the tales that say that he accurately predicted the date of his death. In his town, Hutovo, it was said that he had a secret chamber in the tower where he would go to be alone in order to write magic and magical squares and to call forth the Jinn.

The power that he enjoyed, both the magical and military, made him the most controversial person of the time. The old scriptures describe him as a rigid man, very shrewd and often arrogant. And as it always happens with great wizards, his fame didn't die with him but it spread through many folk tales and legends from which one is still active today and that is that on the ruins of his town there are no snakes to be found anywhere. Namely, all of them go around the ruined city of mystical powers.

Besides Hadži-bega Rizvanbegovića the occult history of Bosnia mentions Mujo Hrnjica, a very charismatic and almost pagan character, with whom many stories and legends are identified. When his life is analysed in more detail we get the full picture of the hero of pagan Bosnia, long before the appearance of monotheism. All legends claim that Mujo was in contact with fairies, supernatural beings. The name Gorska vila is often mentioned which is also called his stepmother and whose milk made Mujo a big and strong warrior. His occult power is best described by folk songs where his communication and the benefit from it is described. It is also believed that Mujo carried with him all his life, until death, an amulet made out of nine beads of wheat sown into a red bag on the right side of his body.

It is interesting to note that the same amulet which alluded to Mujo Hrnjica was carried by numerous soldiers coming from North-Western part of Bosnia during the last war (1992-1995) when Serbia and Montenegro undertook genocide and an aggression on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Historian and an archaeologist prof. dr. Enver Imamović, professor at the Faculty of Philosophy in Sarajevo, confirmed to the author of the book "Zapisi i Hamajlije" by the journalist Ahmed Bosnić, that talismans and amulets are an inseparable part of Bosnian tradition and that they are equally liked by both the Christians and the Muslims.

In the past decades- dr. Enver Imamović claims- that no house, i.e. no family could go without an amulet or talisman . They were carried by villagers, merchants, civil servants but also royalty and caesarean employees, soldiers and generals.... Everyone carried amulets and talismans, but their power and influence was dependant on those who made them, because the level of spiritual education of the creators of amulets was diverse.

Probably the most famous amulet in BIH was the shirt-amulet of Husein-Captain Gradaščević, better known as the Bosnian dragon, to whom a skilful Imam wrote various verses of the Qur'an on his linen shirt, chapters, magical squares and circles. The property of this amulet was that the wearer of the amulet is protected from all sorts of weapons. Since the construction of such an amulet was cumbersome it was very valuable and expensive.

As Husein-Captain Gradaščević was remembered in history as the defender of Bosnia from the Turks, the folk belief was that mere mention of his name had magical and protective powers. The gate of the old castle in Gradačac where the captain resided served as a motif for the amulet among the folk. Namely, on white tissues, the women would sow the picture of the door on which there was a sword and a mace, while they repeated a magical formula over and over again: "Benefactor of the people, for the defence of the people Husein-captain". Such an amulet was apparently small and a poor version of the shirt-amulet for which it was believed that it protected the wearer from any and every weapon and evil.

Jan 12, 2013

A war baby tells her story 20 years after onset of the Sarajevo siege

LONDON, United Kingdom, April 18 (UNHCR) Dressed in skinny jeans and a blazer, she looks every inch the fashionable young Londoner. But Lejla Damon is no regular 19-year-old. "I was born on Christmas Day," she says with a flick of her glossy brown hair, fixing me with her green-eyed stare. "It was in 1992, in the main hospital in Sarajevo," she continues.
"My mum was a Bosniak; she'd been held for some time in a concentration camp where she had been raped repeatedly by a Serb soldier." Nine months later, the woman gave birth to a girl. "She absolutely hated me. She thought I was evil . . . and that I would grow up to be like the men who abused her. She wanted absolutely nothing to do with me," Lejla reveals.
It was an inauspicious start to her life, coinciding with the onset of the siege of the Bosnia and Herzegovina capital, Sarajevo, and descent into Europe's deadliest conflict since the Second World War. When it was over almost four years later, the former Yugoslavia had disintegrated while almost 200,000 people were dead and 2.7 million forcibly displaced.
Even before the first shots were fired in Bosnia, BBC journalist Dan Damon was working in Slovenia covering the 10-day war of independence in June 1991 and its aftermath, together with his photographer wife Sian. The following year, the couple managed to steal their way into Sarajevo, where for seven days Dan was the only Western TV reporter in the city.
The couple were determined to remain in Sarajevo, even staying as guests of Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic and in the rooms of UN military commander General Philippe Morillon, when he was absent from the city. Under constant artillery, rocket, mortar and sniper fire, the city's 400,000 inhabitants struggled to find food, medicine and water, and thousands of civilians were killed and wounded.
Dan and Sian were reporting from a hospital when they met Lejla's mother, who told them she did not want to keep her child. Aware that what they were doing was illegal, they took the decision with her mother's consent to take the baby out of the country to safety. They called her Lejla, after a Bosnian diplomat who had helped them. "They saw that it was a horrible situation for the baby to be in and they didn't want to just leave me there," Lejla explains. "Obviously it wasn't the most legitimate exit."
The couple were no strangers to risk, but the effort to smuggle her out of the country in an armoured van, the falsified documents and the years locked in legal battle to adopt her were as tough as anything they had faced in their careers. Eventually they won custody and, at the age of three, their refugee daughter began her life in the United Kingdom.
Growing up in the UK, Lejla was aware of her origins and has twice visited the country of her birth. Last year she went to Sarajevo with her parents for a trip that included a meeting with President Bakir Izetbegović. Despite not speaking the language, she has a strong connection to the country: "I feel extremely relaxed in Sarajevo, but it is very strange because I saw the hospital where I was born and so many graves. You can see the progress, but it's disappointing there is so much progress still to be made."
She does not dwell on what might have happened if Dan and Sian had not found her in Sarajevo. "I've had a very nice life, I've had a good education, I've had fun and I've done all the things children are meant to do when they're younger. I've been very grateful to my parents," she confides.
But Lejla has clearly given much thought to tracing her birth mother. "I don't know whether it would be for the best, especially for someone in her situation. I don't want to bring up things that aren't very pleasant at all. I was conceived through something that's so horrible and a violation of humanity," Lejla says. "If she said, 'No, I don't want to see her,' I think it would knock me. And I don't think I'm quite ready for that."
Living with such a past has, at times, set her apart from her peers. "It's really strange because people my age have no idea where Bosnia is, they don't know much about the war because they may have just been born when it happened . . . I see the same attitude towards refugees and asylum-seekers. I think sometimes people are too narrow-minded," she comments.
"You never get stories by refugees from their point of view and sometimes I feel they do get put down and criticized, which is not fair. Even people my age are very dismissive of refugees. I say, 'so do you dismiss me?,' and they say, 'no, but you're different.' I find it worrying that people are so ignorant."
Lejla says she is inspired by the work that UNHCR does. "I've always been aware of it even in my parents' photos from Bosnia, the UNHCR logo was in the background." Between 1992 and 1996, UNHCR coordinated the longest-running humanitarian airlift in history. Some 160,000 tonnes of food, medicine and other goods were delivered to Sarajevo in more than 12,000 flights. The airlift also evacuated more than 1,100 civilians in need of urgent medical care.
The UN refugee agency is still helping tens of thousands of victims of the conflict. Meanwhile, an international conference in Sarajevo next week hopes to raise up to 500 million euros to fund housing solutions for many of the remaining refugees, internally displaced and returnees.
Now studying for a degree in advertising, Lejla is eloquent and passionate about politics and world affairs. She hopes one day to become a war photographer like her mother. Despite some years of teenage rebellion, Lejla obviously idolizes Dan and Sian.
The couple went on to adopt two more children and Dan still regularly reports from conflict zones, most recently covering attacks by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. "I want to see the world, and not just the nice bits, and I want to help. That's definitely my parents' influence." Already planning her next visit to Bosnia, it is difficult to imagine a better outcome for this Christmas Day war baby.

Jan 8, 2013

Bosnian love poems


„Ej, Fatima, gromom izgojrela,
Što se primi mekije' kolača
Da hi pečeš, gromom izgojrela!
Što ćeš luga na sač nabačila,
Da te fata iz svog srca tuga!“
Kad Fatima sače podignula,
Sama sobom o tli udarila.
Ja sam došla Fatimu razgovoriti,
Kada Fata u mutvaku sjedi.
Šti bi medom kolače polila?
To hi Fata suzam' natopila!

O Fatima, may the thunder strike you,
For you  tried to make sweet pastry,
To bake it, may the thunder strike you!
What was the use of putting wood in the stove,
That sorrow might seize your heart!“
When Fatima took out the pan,
She threw it to the ground.
I came to talk with Fatima,
And Fatima was sitting in the kitchen.
What need to put honey on the pastry?
Fata has drowned it with her tears!
(Almasa Zvizdić, Gacko, May 20, 1935)

Je li rano, je l' svanulo davno,
Mogu l' stići kud sam naumijo?
Pod Zagorje, pod Čengić dvore,
Đe boluje Čengić Smajilaga?
Više glave dva mu svjetla gore,
Niže nogu dvi' ga ljube dvore.
Mlađa plače, starija se smije.
„Što se smiješ, moja vjerna ljubo?
Što se smiješ? Umrijeću sada.“
„Umri, umri, da se udam mlada!
Ostaće mi češalj i pomada“.

„Ostaće mi češalj i pomada.“
„Češalj podaj tvojoj drugarici!
Češalj podaj tvojoj drugarici,
A pomadu tvom draganu mladu!


Is it early, did dawn break long ago?
Can I arrive where I want to go?
To Zagorje, to the castle of Čengić,
Where Smajilaga Čengić lies ill?
At his head two candles are burning,
And at his feet his two wives attend him.
The younger is weeping, and the elder is smiling.
„why do you smile, my true love?
Why do you smile? I am dying now.“
„Die, die, that I may marry while I'm young.
My comb and powder will still be mine.“
Stanzas one to five inclusive are the same as above.
„My comb and powder will still be mine.“
„Give the comb to your friend,
Give the comb to your friend,
And the powder to young young lover!“
(Zejnil Sinanović, Bihać, April 1, 1935.)

U gori se zelen bajrak vija,
Pod njim leži ranjen bajraktare.
Na njemu se bijeli košulja,
Baš ko gruda u planini snjega.
Nit' ga pere majka ni sestrica,
Ni jubovca skoro dovedena.
Kiša pere, žarko sunce suši.
Njem dolazi siv zelen sokole,
Pa mu nosi u kljunu vodice,
I pod krilom bijele pogače.
„ A Boga ti, siv zelen sokole,
Kakvo sam ti dobro učinijo,
Pa mi nosiš u kljunu vodice,
I pod krilom bijele pogače?
Blago meni o' sad pa do vijeka,
Ka' sam takog steko prijateja,
Da odleti mome pustu dvoru,
Je li moja u životu majka,
Je li mi se juba preudala.
Da j' odveće, još dalje doleće!“
Majka ti je svijet preminula,
Tvoje seke basamake jube
„Ovud nam je Ale odhodijo!“
Ljuba ti se mamom pomamila,
Prodala ti doru iz ahara
Za bjelilo i za bakamilo.
Na ljubu ti svati navalili,
Ljuba tvoja hoće da se vodi.“
Kad se Ale u nevoji nađe,
Ode Ale gorom i planinom.


On the mountain a green banner waves.
Beneath it lies a wounded warrior.
His shirt is gleaming white,
Even as a ball of snow on the mountainside.
Neither his mother nor his sister tend him,
Nor his newly-wed bride.
The rain washes hid; the warm sun dries him.
A light-gray falcon visits him
And brings him water in its beak
And white cakes under its wings.
„By heaven, light-gray falcon,
What kind deed did I do for you,
That you bring me water in your beak
And cakes under your wing?
Blessed am I for all time,
To have gained such a friend!
Let him fly to my deserted castle,
To see whether my mother is still alive,
Whether my true love has married another.
If he is an even better friend, he will fly still farther.“
Your mother has departed from this world,
And your sisters kiss the steps, saying:
„ This is where Ale trod when he went away“,
And your true love hast lost her reason.
She has sold your horse from the stable
For powder and rouge.
The wedding guests have come for your true love.
Your true love wants to be led away.“
When Ale found himself in trouble,
He fled to the mountains.


Konja kuje Meho momče mlado
Nasred polja pod jelom zelenom.
Gledala ga vila iz oblaka. Gledala ga, pa mu govorila:
„Ne kuj konja, Meho momče mlado,
Ne kuj konja, a ne s' rosi, mlado,
Jerbo ti se Zlato preudalo.“
Kad to čuo Meho momče mlado,
Pusti konja u zelenu travu,
Pa on ide svom bijelu dvoru.
S rafa skida sedefli tamburu,
I oblači gospodsko odijelo,
Pa on ide Zlati pod prozore.
Tanko kuca, jasno popijeva,
I u svaku Zlatu pripijeva:
„Moje Zlato, kome si mi dato?
Moja vilo, uz kog si se knila?
Moje srebro, uz kog si mi leglo?“
Kad to čula u odaji Zlata,
Rukama je u džam udarila,
Vas je prozor na cestu sasula.


Young Meho was shoeing his horse
Under a green pine tree in the field.
A vila watched him from a cloud.
She watched him and then said to him:
„Do not shoe your horse; do not perspire from laor, young man,
For your Zlata has married another.“
When young Meho heard that,
He let his horse go into the green field,
And he went to his white house.
From its peg he took his mother-of-pearl tambura,
And put on his best suit.
Then he went to Zlata's window.
Lightly he strummed and loudly he sang,
And ever he sang of Zlata:
„O Zlata mine, to whom are you given?
My vila, with whom have you...
Silver treasure mine, with whom have you lain?“
When Zlata heard that from her room,
She struck the window with her hands
And hurled it to the street.

(Hajrija Šaković, Gacko, April 22, 1935.)


Gorom jašu kićeni svatovi.
Gorica him s lista progovara:
„Kud idete, kićeni svatovi,
Kud idete i konje morite?
Kad je bila na umoru mlada,
Svojoj majci vako govorila:
„Mila majko, kad mi svati dojdu,
Dobro moje svate dočekajte!
Sve him konje u podrume svež'te,
A svatove u gornje ahare,
Dragog moga u šikli odaju,
Đe no mu je zlato bolovalo,
I đe no je dušu ispustila!
Svakom svatu podaj limunatu,
Mome dragom grku limunatu,
Ko kad mu je grko i čemerno!
Svate ćeš mi, mati, nadariti,
Svakom svatu po boščaluk podaj,
Mome dragom dvanaes boščaluka!
Nek s' oporavlja dvanes godin' dana,
Nek s' oporavlja, nek mene spominje!
Ako bi ga smrca prevarila,
Kopajte mu kabur krajem moga!
Viž' glave mu ružu posadite,
Meni malu, a njemu golemu!
Ja sam žensko, pa je žalos mala,
On je junak, golema je žalos.
On je junak u majke jedinjak.
Njega majka u želju rodila,
A u njegi boljoj odgojila.
Ja sam mlada deveta u majke.
Istina je tu žalosti nema.
Ipak će me ožaliti majka.
Dosta sam joj ja hajirli bila.
Kako me je porodila majka,
Moj je babo kulu napravijo,
A prozore srmom okovao“.

The wedding guests are riding along the mountainside,
And the leaves on the mountain speak to them:
„Whither are you going, wedding guests?
Whither are you going? Whither urge you your horses?
The young bride has died.
When she was on her deathbed,
She spoke thus to her mother:
„Mother, dear, when my wedding guests come,
Entertain them well.
Tie their horses in the stable,
And lead the guests to the upper chambers,
But take my beloved to the richly dight room,
Where his treasure lay dying,
And where she breathed her last.
Give each guest sweet lemonade,
But give my beloved unsweetened lemonade,
As his lot is bitter and sorrowful.
You will give gifts to the wedding guests,
To each guest a gold-embroidered suit,
But twelve to my beloved.
Let him bedeck himself for twelve years,
Let him bedeck himself and think of me.
And if death should quietly overtake him,
Dig his grave next to mine.
Plant a rosebush above his head,
A small one for me and a large one for him,
For I am a woman, and the sorrow is less;
But he is a hero, and the sorrow is mighty.
His mother bore him with rejoicing,
And brought him up with tenderness.
But I am young and the ninth daughter of my mother.
Truly there is not such sorrow here.
Yet my mother will mourn for me,
For I have brought her much happiness.
When my mother bore me,
My father built a house
And gilded the windows with silver.“

(Almasa Zvizdić. Gacko, April 23, 1935)

Bosnian epic: Weddings and Rescues

The two preceding sections have concered themselves with ornamental details in the Digenis Akritas and in Bosnian epic. They show, I believe, a close relationship between the two epic traditions. The number of such details could be multiplied, and the number of traditions could be broadened to include other Near Eastern and Middle Eastern traditional epics. Other parallels in the story elements and in their structure can be adduced as well.
Songs of bride stealing and of rescue from captivity are the warp and woof of many oral epic traditions. In essence, of course, they are merely two sides of the same coin. The hero sets out to obtain something; in one case he wishes to capture a maiden; in the other wishes to free.
Sometimes there is a double wedding in the Bosniak songs, in which the hero gains two wives, as in „The Wedding of Ćejvanović Meho“. Here one wife is gained without any opposition, whereas the other must be fought for. There are frequent conversions in these songs but they are on the part of the bride, never on that of the bridegroom. Moreover, the pursuers are always worsted, killed, or put to flight.
Similarly, in a rescue song there is never any ambivalence. The pursuers overcome the captors, never come to terms with them. There are many instances of brothers rescuing a sister. This is especially true in the Bosniak tradition, in which the famed brothers Mujo and Halil Hrnijica  often set out in pursuit of their much sought-after sister.