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
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
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
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
Throughout their history, Slavic men’s costumes invariably have included some sort of vest or sleeveless upper garment. It is known among Eastern, Western and Southern Slavs, and the Serbs (belonging to the Southern Slavic branch) are certainly no exception. The vest, or jelek, has changed over the centuries, influenced by the cultures that shaped our history.
An eternal question, one that pops up very frequently in Serbian folk songs… Sorry, Madonna – before you, it was the Serbs who asked, “Who’s that girl?”
Five hundred years of Turkish presence in the Balkans left many indelible marks, tangible and spiritual, on our people. In material culture, there have been many garments that were influenced by, or borrowed from, Ottoman Turkish culture. Continue reading
The preparation of textile fibres and the production of fabrics engaged Serbian peasants for much of their year. While some tasks were performed by both men and women, it was the woman’s prerogative to produce threads and yarns from processed fibres using their spindle and distaffs, their preslice and their vretena. Continue reading