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A study of Stecak Inscriptions by Mak Dizdar

Discussion in 'Christianity DIR' started by Djamila, Feb 4, 2007.

  1. Djamila

    Djamila Bosnjakinja

    Aug 18, 2006

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    Stecak are the tombstones, pictured above, created during the Medieval Age by followers of the Bosnian Church. The Bosnian Muslim people trace their heritage back to the Bosnian Church, a heretical form of Catholicism sometimes acknowledged as the first Protestant Church in the world.

    Mak Dizdar is one of the most noted Bosnian Muslim writers of his time. This is his study of some of the inscriptions on Stecak tombstones that inspired him.

    In the epitaph of Bogčin, son of Stipko Ugrinović, engraved on a stećak in Kotorac near Sarajevo, the horrible destiny of the youthful deceased is described with wonderful simplicity:​
    Young I departed from this world
    And I hath been my mother’s only

    Immeasurable is the sorrow ofa prisoner rotting in the mold and darkness of the Blagay prison, built under the walls of the court of the princes of Hum, on top of the hill of Hum, under which is the source of the wild, dark, blue river Buna. On one of its stones, the captive engraved, perhaps with his own nails, his sorrowful and silenced scream:​
    And this wrote Vrsan Kosarić
    A slave who has no joy

    Life is a miracle, and death is a puzzle that should be encountered as a mystery that clutches us inescapably. That is why the motif of death, as inevitability, is eternalized most frequently in stone. Worldly life has a gloom and a darkness; it becomes an absurdity to be escaped as soon as possible because it is the product of the principle of evil.

    An anonymous inscription from Gorica marked his grave in hope of a new, more shining life.​
    The burial scaffold I marked in darkness
    And left it wisely
    For the new times

    Ivan Maršić from western Hum, in simple words and without irony, records a bitter truth about human fate that he arrived at the end of his life, seeing it as a most precious experience and passing it on to posterity:​
    Long I lived on earth
    Eighty and eight years.
    And I hath not taken anything with me!

    One inhabitant of Lašva, in the vicinity of Travnik, said the same, only in an even quieter and deeper style:​
    And here lies Dragaj
    At the end –

    Radojica Bilić from the village of Staro, near Jajce, not without vanity, erected his grave stone in his lifetime, but his words about death carry a sincere suffering for the transient world and the sorrow others should be made aware of. ​
    I beg
    And aunts
    And sisters-in-law
    Come forward
    And mourn me…
    For you will be
    As I am
    And I shall not be
    As you are!

    An unidentified sufferer from Goražde on the Drina river mourns the wonders of this world, where man is only a temporary resident, foreigner, and traveler who learned that he traveled the roads under mysterious skies so that he could only, at the end of that short and dreamlike journey, grieve sincerely:​
    It is strange -
    To long for this world…

    The remote and deep––almost outside of time and space––sigh of Stipko Radosalić, who lived at the end of the fourteenth century in Premilovo Polje, reaches us from the darkness of the centuries and on through into future that is dug out for us as well hereafter, shaking all our senses and digging through all speculations of our mind:
    God, so long ago I lay down
    And I am to lie for mighty long…

    No one is spared the experience and the bitterness of the death hour, neither poor nor mighty. On the gravestone of Prince Tvrdisav Brsnić from Bujakovina stand engraved the words of simple truth and inevitable justice:​
    Honorable knight
    Arrived here destitute…

    A mild sorrow pervades an inscription from Svitava:
    I was born
    Into great joy,
    And I departed
    Into great sorrow.

    Not only irony, but also sarcasm can be found on the stećak of Juraj Ivanović from the middle course of the Neretva:​
    Herein is written, on the cross of Juraj:
    For all men to know
    How I gained wealth
    And how I died
    For it.

    The thought recorded on the stećak of Radosav Mrkšić is so severe that no gravestone can carry it without some blasphemy. It is the condemnation of death sent by somebody who embodies injustice, from a power that could only be an evil, dark, merciless god, and because of whom the following words may be sarcastically uttered:​
    I stood
    Praying to God,
    With no evil thought-
    And the thunder killed me!

    Sometimes, death also comes at the right time, as a consequence or reward, as redemption for somebody’s unjust act. Murder does not suit a just man; one is allowed to fight only in a just war, that is, the war against war, against evil. In self-defense, Dabiživ Drašković was punished at the moment he decided to participate in the spilling of blood, in which he should not have found himself. ​
    When I wanted to kill
    That is when I died…

    Life is entangled with thousands of traps and mysteries, and it is not easy to distinguish right from wrong. This makes the responsibility of judgment even greater and more difficult. If God, the highest judge, can err in judging the sins committed by human souls, then humans, worldly judges, are even more inclined to err when judging the gravity of an offence and determining crime and punishment. Therefore the role of worldly judges is more delicate. The mundane power is short-lived and temporary, and we shall all settle our accounts at the great court after our death. On the judicial stone chair in Hodovo, the ancient wisdom about this theme, that is, courts and judges, is expressed:​
    At this stone –
    To whom it belonged?
    To whom it now belongs?
    To whomever will it ever belong?