Dec 16, 2013


Nenad M. Đorđević an independent researcher of ancient cultures and mythology on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, believes that tombstones historically don't belong to the church of Bosnia, as the most dominant religious institution during the middle ages in Bosnia, nor to the catholic or orthodox church. He claims that the origin of the tombstones is much older than Middle Ages and that it spans into the period from Neolith and the beginning of the bronze era, between 7000 and 3500 years BCE.

According to Mr. Đorđević today's hypothesis about medieval origins of the tombstones is based solely on partial historical and archaeological data which were available to the academic stipend during the first few centuries after WWII. With regard to the theory about Bogomil and Patarene origin of the tombstones, it is not based on historical or scientific facts, since the followers of Bogomil religion generally rejected wealth and feudal exploitation of state government.
Bogomils also categorically refused the Orthodox Church and its hierarchy, its temples, sacraments and holiness performed by priests. Numerous reports sent to the pope spoke of this; like the one written by one of the four grand inquisitors, which were declared to be saints by the Roman church, Capistran (Giovanni de Capistrano), also known as an expert in heresy. In his letter to pope Callixtus III 04.07.1455 he wrote: "Bosnian Bogomil's (krstjani, Bošnjani) are not members of the Eastern Church, on the contrary, they would much rather die in their unbelief than accept the faith of Rašan (Serbs)."
In a similar sense they rejected all material objects which were used by the orthodox during their prayers and they condemned the use of icons, especially the cross, and the worship of relics or saints. Bogomils and Patarens were mostly religious preachers, indifferent to worldly affairs. Mass production of tens of thousands of monolith tombstones with rich decorative motifs is in total contradiction with the modest religious doctrine of the Bogomils and Patarens.
Bogomils had a similar aversion towards the Catholic Church. Pope John XXII writes on July 18th 1319 to Mladen Šubić ".that the land of Bošnjani is so tainted by the lack of faith, that the churches are neglected, priesthood is uprooted, Christ's sacred objects are scornfully trampled, there is no respect towards the cross, the sacrament of communion life is not upheld, on the contrary christening is to some only known as a noun, even though it is the basis of the Christian religion."
As an interesting fact we should mention that the Bogomil movement appeared in Bosnia before the 12th century, as some historians have postulated, and it spread from this land further west. Dominican Anselmo from Alessandria in Italy, who lived and worked during the 13th century, in one of his writings mentions that "the heretics were first located in Bosnia from where they spread their doctrine towards Lombardi, then further towards France, where it arrived in Orleans in 1022 and Arras in 1025 (A.Dondaine, Le Tractatus de hereticis d`Alexandrie, Arch. Fr. Praedic, XX, Rome 1950., p. 308-324.)

Because of the aforementioned facts we can conclude that tombstones are not a privilege of the church of Bosnia, or even less of orthodox or catholic Christianity, but that they had their ancient origin as a sacral motif of the cult of fertility and cult of the dead. Namely, from 70 000 registered tombstones, only 5000 have decorative motifs. From those 5000 decorated tombstones only 438 have as their main decorative element different types of crosses. This means that the most important religious symbol which is potentially subject to various churches, together with other variants of tombstones in the form of a cross, doesn't represent even 20% of decorated tombstones. The question that spontaneously rises from these facts is: how is it possible that the most representative symbol of both, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church only encompasses such a small number of tombstones? If with previous facts we add that most of the crosses on the tombstones are of pagan origin in a form of a swastika or anthropomorphic shape, then there can only be one logical conclusion - tombstones are not an exclusive privilege of medieval churches and cultures. Even though there are numerous proofs that tombstones were used as gravestones for catholic and orthodox Christians, and there are even some indications that a discrete number of tombstones were manufactured during the middle ages, reuse of numerous tombstones during the middle ages cannot be excluded in advance.

Ancient symbols of Illyrian cults

When we analyse the motifs on numerous tombstones we notice that the most dominant symbols are depictions of crosses, swords, axes, hands, crescent moon, circles, etc. which in essence represent the symbols of the astral cult and the cult of fertility. As we all know the crescent moon and the cross are not original Christian symbol but symbols of Islam. Namely, the cross originated from a swastika, ancient symbol of sun and fertility, while the crescent moon belongs to the cult of the goddess Mother or goddess of moon. The circle motif comes from the cult of sun which is analogous to the Illyrian practice of carrying staffs which had a disc or circle on top of it. A raised hand is a classic ancient symbol of supreme gods along the Mediterranean belt and it symbolises demonstration of divine power and strength. Sword and axe as weapons also have their origin in ancient times and they represent weapons which symbolised courage, strength and power. Among the Illyrian tribes numerous axes were known to have two blades which can visually represent the symbol of a moon i.e. the phase of rising and the phase of falling moon which again fully forms a circle which can symbolise a full moon.

Among the ancient Bosniaks (Illyrians) the axe was without a doubt a symbol of the goddess of moon. In support of this claim the legend about the punished son can serve the purpose, namely the son raised his axe on his mother and god punished him immediately by killing him and carrying his body, with the hand still raised holding an axe, onto the moon's surface in order to warn people during a full moon that they need to respect the woman i.e. mother. Illyrian warriors were especially known by wearing their war axe with which they caused mortal fear in their enemies. Probably because of the above mentioned the axe became a symbol of divine protection of the house and family among the Bosnian people, precisely the characteristic which was traditionally prescribed to the goddess Mother or the goddess of the moon. Images of ancient axes on the facades of Bosnian houses could be seen until the Second World War along eastern Bosnia and around Sarajevo. Among the Bosnian Christians a cross regularly replaced an axe.

Dec 9, 2013


Cultural anthropology which combines a few special disciplines such as ethnology, archaeology or linguistics, gives us a perfect insight into the history and heritage of a certain people, and it tries, fairly successfully, to show in a logical sense the evolutionary trend present throughout history among a certain people. Influences are, of course, socially multifaceted, and so with the cultural the religious influence was supplemented and the circle would be complete.  
If we wish to monitor carefully that evolutionary sequence of events then we surely must reach out to mythology, its fantastic creatures and legends, mostly for the fact that mythology is the most archaic form of art which for the first time showed mankind's limitless imagination.  Inhabiting nature and the world around them with highly unusual and different beings and appearances, mankind first of all showed their social nature, but also the need to express its intimate fears, hopes, aspirations and frustrations. The tendency to express oneself in the best possible way resulted in the appearance of various stories, legends, drawings and sculptures about a different world where the principles of good and evil are highly accentuated, and what is more important, where they show their meaning and efficiency. Through those mediums we come across information about classic frustration with everyday life to which people were subject to in the old days as well as today. That's why mythology as a discipline always suggests that there is no one answer but that there are many.
Consistency of mythological legends is evident in various segments of a society in its entirety, even though it might not be so visible at first glance. Some of its parts, smaller or larger segments, are so incorporated in everyday life that no one pays attention to them, nor is their deeper meaning analysed. In more recent past mythology was present in social memory mostly when one wanted to achieve a political goal, which is always connected with nationalism and genocidal ideas, which we could witness during the end of the last century when the militant politics of Serbia specifically and deliberately used the historic event, defeat by the Ottomans at Kosovo, to start their military invasion on neighbouring republics which had catastrophic circumstances, such as the genocide in Srebrenica but also in other cities in BiH.
When we want to study the mythology of Bosnia and Herzegovina but also of the entire former Yugoslavia we have to start from the historical fact that southern Slavs don't exist. There are only people of southern Europe which use Slavic languages, but those people are not of Slavic descent but Illyrian, especially the people from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, which was proven a couple of times with the analysis of genetic origin. The mistake that historians made in their estimate of the origin of a certain people based solely on their language is catastrophic and, as we have witnessed, historically tragic. According to that theory todays Mexicans should be Spaniards, Brazilians or Portuguese, etc.  
One of the studies on genetic origin of the inhabitants of former Yugoslav republics was implemented in cooperation with: Institute for Anthropological research in Zagreb, Medical University in Skopje, Clinical centre in Belgrade, Estonian Bio-centre at the Tart University, Medical University in Priština, Medical Faculty in Tuzla, Clinical hospital "Bijeli Brijeg" in Tuzla, Health centre in Zagreb and Medical school in Edinburgh - Scotland. For the results to be as close to reality in the field, the tests were gathered in all cities of the former Yugoslav republic.
The results showed that the most dominant were the haplogroup's on the territory of former Yugoslavia: 1lb, R1a, R1b and E3bl. Haplogroup l1b or so called "Illyrian gene" was the most widespread in all countries of former Yugoslavia, and the most interesting fact is that the group l1b was present even in 70% in Herzegovina, Dalmatia and other islands.  In Bosnia this group was present in 52, 20% while the Slavic group R1 on the entire territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina was present only in 24,60% of the cases.
Precisely those facts correspond with the ever present confusion of scientific circles, especially after genetic analysis, did the arrival of Slavic tribes to the Balkans really ever took place? There are indications which gain more authenticity, that such an event never took place, but that the Illyrians, after a difficult and long occupation by the Roman empire, created a pretty intelligent plan of survival and preservation through assimilation of languages of neighbouring Slavic countries in order to ensure some sort of peace and possibility for survival through a turbulent history.   
Many segments of Illyrian religion are still present today in all countries that made up the former Yugoslav republic such as the snake cult, belief in stars-guardians of souls, cult of fertility, and solar and lunar cults, worship of water through the cult of god Bindu, belief in spellbound eyes, the name spellbound (Urok) is an Illyrian word, etc.