The Stećci (singular: Stećak), are monumental medieval tombstones that lie scattered across the former Yugoslavian republics of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia. An estimated 60,000 are found within the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the rest of 10,000 are found in Croatia, Serbia, and Montenegro. Appearing in the 12th century, the stećci reached their peak in the late 14th to 15th centuries, before dying away during the Ottoman occupation.
Their most remarkable feature is their decorative motifs, many of which remain enigmatic to this day. Spirals, arcades, rosettes, vine leaves and grapes, suns and crescent moons are among the images that appear. Figural motifs include processions of deer, dancing the kolo, hunting and, most famously, the image of the man with his right hand raised, perhaps in a gesture of fealty.
Although its origins are within the Bosnian Church, all evidence points to the fact that stećci were erected in due time by adherents of the Orthodox, Catholic and Islamic faith alike. Today many stećci are displayed in the garden of the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo.
On November 2, 2009, the government ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro agreed to nominate the stećci as their shared cultural heritage to the UN World Heritage List.
Some historians have argued that the Bosnian Church was related to Bogomils of Bulgaria or other dualist groups. Others have asserted that the church was actually founded by Franciscan monks from the Catholic Church. However, Marian Wenzel, the world's leading authority on the art and artifacts of medieval Bosnia and Herzegovina, concluded that the stećci tombstones were a common tradition amongst Catholic, Orthodox and Bosnian Church followers alike. Wenzel's conclusion supported other historians' claims that the stećci reflect a regional cultural phenomenon rather than belonging to a particular faith.
- The most famous and decorated stećak is from Zgošća near Kakanj in Bosnia and Herzegovina, from 15th century. Although it has no engraved writing, since it was immaculately decorated, it is suggested that it belonged to King Stjepan II Kotromanić.
- Vlatko Vuković's grave lies marked near the village of Boljuni near Stolac, Bosnia and Herzegovina, from late 14th century. Inscription on the grave was written in Bosnian Cyrillic Script (bosančica or bosanica) in ikavian dialect.
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- ↑ 1.0 1.1 http://www.reuters.com/article/lifestyleMolt/idUSTRE5A13MK20091102
- ↑ http://www.balkantravellers.com/en/read/article/1554
- ↑ Fine, John. The Bosnian Church: Its Place in State and Society from the Thirteenth to the Fifteenth Century: A New Interpretation. London: SAQI, The Bosnian Institute, 2007. ISBN 0863565034
- ↑ http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2002/mar/05/arts.guardianobituaries
- ↑ http://www.bosnia.org.uk/bosrep/report_format.cfm?articleid=874&reportid=153
- ↑ http://books.google.com/books?id=QDFVUDmAIqIC&pg=PA486
- ↑ (Croatian)http://www.post.ba/download/boljuni.pdf JEZIK BOLJUNSKIH NATPISA