Leskovac and its surroundings have been part of the Serbian state since its emergence in the early middle ages. From the rule of an unnamed Serbian Prince, whom Constantine Porphyrogenitos describes as being a vassal of “Emperor Heraclitus, when Bulgaria was under the Romaion” (i.e. before the establishment of a Bulgarian state). The Leskovac district, then known as Dubočica, was under the rule of the Vlastimirović princes through the 8th to 10h centuries, and under Stefan Nemanja, it became part of the state of Raška in the 12th century.
My mother, who was born and raised in Knin, but went to university in Split, sang the melodic songs of the Adriatic to me. A favourite that she sang with great sentiment began with:
Daleko mi je biser Jadrana, Daleko mi je moj rodni kraj…
Far from me is the pearl of the Adriatic, Far from me is the land of my birth… Continue reading
My interest in costume comes from a variety of angles. One of those is the physical origin of the threads, yarns and fabrics from which they’re made. There are historic, cultural and even biogeographical reasons for the various raw materials any culture uses, and the Serbs have their own story, too.
Nicknamed “the Chameleons of the Balkans”, the Cincari or Aromani are perhaps one of the smallest, yet most influential ethnic groups that has lived among the Serbs. Continue reading
People often ask why I am so intent on preserving costume pieces and helping others learn more about them. One of the major reasons I do so is because costume pieces are tangible pieces of the past, and in that sense, tangible evidence of the existence of a people. Continue reading
Quick! Think of a Serbian folk song. A traditional one. Now, I’m guessing that at least half of you thought of a song that involved a shepherd or shepherdess, a flock of sheep, or something pastoral like that. This is how deeply rooted the idyllic shepherd’s life is in Serbian culture. Continue reading
East of the Southern Morava, in villages and towns on the Stara Planina mountain range, is the land known as the Šopluk. From the southern Vlasina district to the Zaglavak and Budžak districts in the north, we find preserved some of the oldest aspects of folk culture, especially in costume. Continue reading
Although this blog’s primary focus is costume and the textile material culture of the Serbs, I do hope to address other aspects of folk life, traditions and customs. Previous posts have shown easter customs and tools for the processing of wool; this time, I’d like to look at a specific type of wood carving, the kepčija.
There’s a Serbian folk song that says “jelek, anterija i opanci, po tome se znaju Srbijanci” – “jelek (vest), anterija (jacket) and opanci (shoes), this is what Serbians are known for”. In a specific sense, i.e. the styles of these, this is very true; in a general sense, not so much. The garments are the result of centuries of foreign influences. But what about those shoes? Continue reading