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.