Tonight my mother was born
Her infant cry
filed our house
at the outskirts
bathed and so clean
I wrapped her
in a diaper
and laid her in a crab
from the corner I brought
into a small plastic trumpet
Made the black wooden horse rock
Translated by Charles Simic
A feather plucked from the tail
of the Fiery Hen
Let them rest peacefully in ice.
I’m never coming back
to my native mountains
I don’t give a damn about
forest clearings, mushrooms, wise weasels,
ditches full of last year’s snow.
I don’t care about wild pigeons.
I’m the Fiery Hen,
I sing at mid/day
lost in the crowd on the square.
My long pole is my home.
Lord, I’m so glad
to be so rich,
to be so ridiculous.
I see everything with my round eyes.
Oh I’m both dread and happy disposition,
conflagration over all things.
Under my fire/wing
lies the mad world.
I’m the fire that gives the Egg its shape.
I’m the fire that shapes.
I’m the fiery scold.
The first monster.
The queen of terror
on whose every feather
burns one living
Queen of dread.
Fear at mid/day,
panic and flutter.
Cramp and light.
Between tearing sounds
the one tearing sound.
The deaf and mute sign
on the frightened mouth.
drinks the slumbering
and blood that
Song to the lamb
Lamb indestructible lamb
You who loaded with crystal crossed mountain
Lamb from the most distant cave
Lamb who peed on the black stones
Yo-yo turning on the highest rock
Lamb with fleece of bones
In the deepest night
You who beat among the oldest trees
Lamb who remembers
Lamb grazing and browsing the human brain
Lamb who imagined the blue sky
Lamb of all the firmaments
Lamb who makes the open eyes open again
Lamb with deepest waters
In your burning eyes
Lamb indestructible lamb
Lamb of dark forest
With a wreath of needles in your fleece
Lamb of juniper bush
With a purple berry in your hoof
Lamb with snowballs of last year snow on your back
Lamb with white teeth O long-logged Lamb
Who will kill me
You dug for me tonight an appropriate grave
in the midst of the world
Where you’ll settle down finally settle down
The way your tongue settles down between my jaws
Accurately settles down
Disfigure me, Lord. Take pity on me.
Cover me with bumps. Reward me with boils.
In the fount of tears open a spring of pus mixed with blood.
Twist my mouth upside down. Give me a hump. Make me crooked.
Let moles burrow through my flesh. Let blood
circle my body. Let it be thus.
May all that breathes steal breath from me,
all that drinks quench its thirst in my cup.
Turn all vermin upon me.
Let my enemies gather around me
and rejoice, honoring You.
Disfigure me, Lord. Take pity on me.
Tie every guilt around my ankles.
Make me deaf with noise and delirium. Uphold me
above every tragedy.
Overpower me with dread and insomnia. tear me up.
Open the seven seals, let out the seven beasts.
Let each one graze my monstrous brain.
Set upon me every evil, every suffering,
every misery. Every time you threaten,
point you finger at me. Thus, thus, my Lord.
Let my enemies gather around me
And rejoice, honoring You.
behind my back
in the nonexistent room
Translated by Charles Simic
Any word is not your word;
isn’t yours the child’s voice
with throat of thunder,
neither the colour of tulip nor the southerly breeze.
That shield does not save you from your fear,
your armour does not prevent the entrance of arrows.
Sometimes, the light is scattered
leaving a confusing hollow
in the men’s eye.
When forests in untold lands
didn’t imagine their foliage,
when the sun was a point
with all the points turned on,
when the stars were fragments
from a single, incomprehensible and crazy star,
and the atom vibrated in insistence,
the scribe was already part of a memory
and though his eyes were not in spirit
nor bone, nor heat, nor weather,
in its inertia, life planned laughter of passion
and the darkroom of science.
Then, a man saw the chafing, the fissure,
the broken muscle for the simple dissolution
The spinning wheel
There is a logical claim
lost in the back of the wind,
a claim for space and science
in the infinite wisdom of the rocks.
As a crystalline nave,
time covers the beautiful nakedness of land,
and the ancestors’ sons paint themselves with colours
and dress with never seen mirrors.
And there are many other ways to flee.
There is a green weeping
caressing the calmness of the mountain,
From there comes the ore with his truth on his back.
Someone decomposed those seeds
and, believing himself wise, gave them a number,
and number and letter formed a strange parasite of paper
that does not quench our thirst of guests without gift.
The clearness rises from old philosophies still not written,
the stars know nothing of pigeons or creeds,
but the land has given flowers and insects,
and without counting us, wraps us, and we return to silence.
There are many other ways to flee.
Objects of great thinkers
with large brains and fortunes,
and prophets, magicians, monks and engineers.
Objects of useless footsteps, of invasions, of colonization,
of intrepid journeys around what or who,
of shapes and drawings, of forced changes,
and atomic rains that know nothing about core or atom.
Thus the land holding us is not thirst but is shelter,
However, the moaning rises in the desert
and the scream in the volcano.
Who will give me a clam and a bucket of sand?
Who will teach me how to know nothing?
And many other ways to flee.
In the most absurd manner,
mind plays to victory
I advance without knowing, groping,
forgetting that I think, that I breathe,
I omit the beginning and the reason for the dilemma.
Even when taking fate with temperance
obstacles arise, frequent friction,
with simple things, with such ease.
I fight to get voice,
for to plant jasmine flowers in the memory;
I do not mind the modesty,
I do not die by tumbling.
My desire knows no rest.
It is late when it warns that the feat
conspires, shakes up, fatigues,
tries to mute the light that shines
in the heat of a sincere food,
in the whisper of a child,
in front of the woman I love.
In the house, you dream with a chorus of joy,
with the brightness of the light that she lights,
with the children that rehearse juggling.
On the street, the ferocity never sings,
it revels in stalking, betrays,
and twirles the world.
There are no cardinal numbers in the cosmos,
so return is not defeat.
I leave the shield, I take off the harness,
I drink thirst and I shake the thunder of the night.
facing the nature of things
Against forgetfulness, time in me
claims his share, his revenge;
warns that I have forgotten the great destiny
in the hands of a fleeting smile
or in the gaps that history undresses
at every cycle.
Against forgetfulness — like the flowers say —,
every touch was a foreigner vibration.
Perhaps desires are only in the present
and they paint a future with dreams
or with a hug that will redeem.
But then come the voices and lamentation,
Perhaps the cries are part of those dreams,
of that vibration that cannot be stopped.
In the wind of time, air, earth,
trees and rivers, all nature
weaves laws that numb piety,
all nature reject the forgiveness of the weak,
that sow the verbs of punishment,
that seek the fight.
Now, my hands deny the fencing,
condemn the weight of the sword
to a distant memory in space
and they do not want to think of the epic.
The loud story undresses
and who I was when I was not
wanted to win the battle of the righteous,
fighting the burning flames,
shine a light on the rationale,
Meanwhile, fate laughed like today,
with his eternal drunkenness.
Translated by author
Grozdana Lučić Lalić
I couldn’t tell you anything about me, my dear,
Except that through the open doors of my sorrow
dark travelers of the night enter freely.
I stand, welcoming them at my doorstep,
hoping one day you will come as well…
(from the poem Walls hungry for your love, by G. Lučić Lalić)
Yesterday we gathered, after so long, at a place hidden from mankind,
me and my friends: Love, Happiness, Sorrow and Loneliness.
– I know how to trick people, and once again I wanted to fool you,
but your pure heart defended you once again. I know how to change
people, but your soul doesn’t let me change you. Sometimes, I bring
goodness to people, but you… Never knew how to recognize the good.
You haven’t got but an ounce of common sense and you cannot stop
me. We aren’t best friends, you spend more time with others.
– I know how to fool people, too! Forgive me, for I have fooled you
as well, at least for a short while. I know how to change people, but you
are so stubborn, too set in your own ways. I know how to give myself
freely, but you keep looking for me in other forms. You don’t know
how to meet me half-way, to greet me, you simply don’t know what to
do with me. Sorrow and Loneliness are your best friends, and I won’t
spend my precious time on you anymore.
Sorrow was delighted:
– I know how to come when you least expect me, to reach you when
you aren’t hoping you’ll see me. I know how to make your every pore a
home. I spend most of your time with you, because you offer yourself
so freely, like no other in the whole world. You receive all the Danaans’
gifts I bring. I know how to kill, but I keep you alive so that I could live
too, for I endure inside you the most. I would gladly be your best friend,
you hardly break free from me as it is.
Loneliness looks at me, offended:
– I am your best friend, even though you betrayed me so many times
before. You left my side and went to people just to be hurt, and then
you would come back crawling, waiting for me to heal you, why you
squirmed with your open wounds. I directed your thoughts, taught
you not to fall again on the same spots, suckled you with the strength
for the new tomorrow, left you road sign all over, yet… Whenever I
would heal you, you would leave me again. You are not a loyal friend,
the others are much closer and so often fonder than me.
I kept quiet. I didn’t justify my actions; I didn’t even want to ex-
plain. I just whispered them your name. I opened the doors and bid
them farewell, sending them into the night.
I really missed my best friend. She would always arrive late, but
she was there even when I had hurt her, betrayed her, uncovered the
secrets we had shared… She was there whenever I was joyful, tearful
or on the run from the people. Nobody could understand me like she
did. She was by my side, unconditionally, in all the moments that were
the most precious to me. With utmost fear and the great respect, even
Love, Happiness, Sorrow and Loneliness gave way and retreated. Ac-
tually, she had this amazing power to birth them or annihilate them.
She didn’t say a thing, because she didn’t have to… Even now she
is by my side, my best and dearest friend – Silence. I told her naught
about you, I withheld your name… She understood…
Translated by Tihana Lalić
This is how Milos Bojovic titles himself. This is an odd title for some-
one that finished his “formal” art schooling over thirty years ago.
Born is Serbia in 1960, Milos completed his art studies at the Fine Arts
Academy in Serbia. However since then he has never stopped intense-
ly studying the techniques of the Old Masters. Milos is constantly
searching for and reading anything he can get his hands on that refers
to the Old Masters. Constantly seeking any arcane tip that will further
expand his skills. Using information found in his searching Milos has
learned many tips and tricks that enhance his already fantastic talent.
Milos has one of those talents that appear natural or God given. This
may me true but he daily works at improving his craft. It is rare to find
him without a pencil, charcoal or paint brush in hand.
Milos honed his talent throughout the streets and galleries of
Europe. Since then Milos has established many collections around
the world, and continues to explore the emotional boundaries of rep-
resentational expression in contemporary art culture. Milos is a master
of capturing character and imbuing life into his subjects. Whether it is
a portrait of an individual that looks to have a blood flowing under the
skin or a teacup that looks as if it could be lifted from the surface of the
canvas. Having full confidence in Milos talents and Abilities. Milos is
truly a passionate modern master.
Judged by the amounts of his works Milos Bojovic is a prolific painter.
But viewed through the prism of formal expression Bojovic’s works are
heterogeneous to the point that some of them are on the edge of being
controversial to each other.
On one side of the created opus, which artist Milos Bojovic realized
through twenty six years of his artistic work as immigrant, sit the per-
fect detailed paintings of everyday scenes from the life of animals as
well as the scenes of “still life”. On the other side are the paintings with
scenes of sadness, or the other ones representing a post-apocalyptic
toppled down civilization in which we live. This last group of paint-
ings anticipate the possibility of an unavoidable disastrous ending of a
utopian project to which mankind devoted itself once it became driven
by its globalist impulse. These paintings connect Milos Bojovic to the
small but important group of contemporary world artists already set in
the folder of art historians as “after the end of World art”.
Bojovic’s creations of the animal’s world, as well as his still life, at
some points excide photography or hyperrealist execution. With these
the artist tends to reconstruct the structure of the real, painted object
into the macro details. He uses his palette in such a manner that he
recreates the texture of bark, skin, fur, fabric… His palette is here a tool
with which he creates the illusion of a third dimension in the painted
detail. His paint is here the sculptural element with which he re-con-
structs the living in order for it to be alive and live on in the paintings.
Bojovic’s genre motives are dominated by sadness, such as the
paintings Friends and Old man. These are executed in sfumato, a tech-
nique of displaced or nonexistent focus by which the artist emphasiz-
es a particular sentiment. Bojovic successfully avoids polemics on the
social moment and immortalizes sadness and blues at a universal level.
The artist then calls for the universal presence of these feelings in the
viewer. He aims to touch and impact the viewer with soul.
Bojovic is a visual story teller and he openly admits it. He summar-
izes his own tractate on painting almost in a slogan by saying, “What
words would do I say it with colours through paintings.” Yet the most
is “said” by the artist in his compositions which are not clear “rewrit-
ings” of reality or nature but are formulations of his thoughts and ex-
periences of the world. The painting Self Portrait, with incensory in
front of yole log, awakes hope. His work Angel states and foresees fear.
Recalling ichnographically the vision of the fresco of the White angel
from Mileseva monastery in Serbia, to which parishers had sent their
prayers through centuries, with soft irony in facing the opposite – the
agitated space of godless masses against the waste peace of the sky an-
gelized by ancient fresco motive – Bojovic points to the only way of
salvation, to the love of God. Similarly but with less drama in telling
the story, Bojovic executes his painting Diversity, in which a fairytale
kind of gathering of emigrants takes place under the lighthouse. This
representation is more of a presentiment than the reality.
Confronting the mentioned artistic models to one another is what
makes inner life of the artist Milos Bojovic. As much as his heterogen-
eousness represents one prevailing model over the other, it also repre-
sents the change of shifts of the artist as a “warrior-veteran” from aes-
thetic combats. He relieves himself while drawing notes through the
scenes of nature, in order not to forget the technique and technological
process of expressing himself, before he heads into a “new battle” –
into the execution of the next painting in which he will again rise up
with result of his spiritual warring. Such is the result with the painting
Bison, in which the animals – whose natural colour is the artist’s fa-
vourite tone – paradoxically goes through an artistic change: through
the coloristic scheme of the totem pole native tribes of western Canada
on one side, and the vangogian formulation of almost cubist masses.
We accept these bison as more alive than the real bison of the prairie.
With this painting the artist commemorates about sixty five million
bison killed by white hunters on this continent in only 150 years. The
artist saw the sad images of the slaughtered animals and presented
them in a monumental gothic cathedral build of light.
These are the secrets of the artistic approach of Milos Bojovic to a
white canvas. His approach makes his art cross many boundaries.
Museum activities of Serbs in Canada is a subject that has not been in-
teresting to the broader range of our public in Canada or in Serbia. The
care for the Serbian cultural heritage, through time and through places
where Serbs lived, has slowly developed, then disappeared due to wars
and economic crises, only to be re-established in the changed and
adapted format. This rhythm could be better monitored in the mother
country, where the museum activity is stronger, better expressed, and
then more strongly researched. In the Diaspora, the story is quite dif-
ferent. This paper will explore the definition of cultural heritage and
museums, followed by cultural activities and documentation efforts
among the Serbian communities in Canada. Significant achievements
and individuals who have fought for these successes will be examined.
Furthermore, an objective picture of the current state of Serbian cul-
tural heritage will be presented, illustrating it through its expression
and individuals who maintain it alive through their creativity. Finally,
this paper will explore ways in which the care for the cultural heritage,
through the museum activities, may continue, expand and establish
itself in this region.
Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage
The tangible cultural heritage includes outstanding buildings, secular
and religious, monuments and material works of art. This definition is
recognizable and acceptable to the public, and almost all our collect-
ive attention is focused on care of such expressions of Serbian cultural
heritage. Since there are more examples of such material cultural herit-
age present in Serbia, we often forget the presence and importance of
our intangible cultural treasure. Such form of Serbian culture is more
widespread and more often practiced due to historical circumstances
of settlers living in isolation from the mother country
Serbian material culture in diaspora, Canada specifically, is more
or less confined to the sacral architecture which, except for a few ex-
amples, is newer, but it is extremely important and visually impressive.
The oldest Serbian Orthodox municipality in Ontario was established
in 1913 in Hamilton, and the first temple, the church of St. Nicholas,
was built in 1917. The church no longer exists, and the temple was
moved to a new location on Barton Street. The oldest Serbian Church
in Canada is the church of the Holy Trinity in Regina (Saskatchewan)
from 1915. In addition to religious buildings, the facilities for the social
life of communities were springing up, which were often more func-
tional than aesthetic feats of architecture. Their value is priceless for
all the communities in which they the epicenters of the spiritual and
UNESCO defines intangible cultural heritage as a “human input,
expression, skill or performance, as well as the object, artifact, instru-
ment, or an area that is connected with it, that communities, groups
and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heri-
tage. In accordance with paragraph 2 of this Article, the intangible
cultural heritage can be: 1. the language, speech, oral tradition, oral
literature or other oral expression; 2. performing arts; 3. custom, ritual
and festivity; 4. knowledge or skills related to nature and the uni-
verse; 5. knowledge and skills related to the cult and the famous city
and 6. traditional craft or skill.” (http://www.kultura.gov.rs/docs/stra
nematerijalnog% 20kulturnog 20nasledja% 20% (Paris% 202003) .pdf)
So, now that the definition of intangible cultural heritage is clear,
the expression of that same culture, which surrounds us every day,
should be examined. The Serbian public is aware that life in the Dias-
pora implies the existence of dominant, foreign culture, in which we, as a
minority, are trying to maintain our own cultural identity. In this effort,
we follow the creative impulse in a few dominant cultural expressions;
1. performing arts such as folklore dance and choral singing, 2. culinary
arts, 3. social and religious festivals or collective gatherings, 4. folk art in
the form of souvenirs, or family bequests, 5. theatrical activity to a lesser
degree, and 6. fine arts and the written word which are on a rise. Most
of these aforementioned dominant cultural expressions belong to the
intangible cultural heritage. Therefore, the conclusion offers itself that
the more intense cultural expression of Serbs in Canada is the intangible
form of cultural heritage, which we as a minority in a dominant foreign
culture conscientiously support and maintain.
The practice of these dominant expressions, such as folklore dan-
cing, choral singing, culinary arts, social gatherings and festivals have
all been centered around Serbian Orthodox Church and its parishes all
over Canada. It seems that as soon as a community is established, the
social gatherings and festivals are observed mimicking cultural frame-
work from mother country. Community then builds a temple and
identifies leaders, initiates folklore section, Sunday school, language
school, group of women who organize and supply festivities with deli-
cacies from the national cuisine. Due to this pattern, such intangible
traditions surfaced as the most dominant.
Then there is journalism, which flourished in the period 1930-
1945 through political news articles, analysis and essays in the Voice
of Canada, later the Voice of Canadian Serbs, and Pravda from To-
ronto. In the period between 1954 and 1985 already strong writing and
publishing activities become most intense through the work of Avala
Printing Publishing Co., from Windsor. Finally, in the mid 1990s the
written heritage is channelled and diversified through the opening
of several weekly newspapers in Toronto, such as; weekly Newspaper
(Toronto); monthly Easterly and Messenger (both church newspaper
in Toronto) Umbrella (Vancouver), Letter (Kitchener), Tesla Magazine
(Toronto), followed by monthly bilingual newspaper Voice of Can-
adian Serbs, also from Toronto, bilingual magazine for literature and
culture People Talk (Toronto) and the Canadian Srbobran (Hamilton),
Serbia (Hamilton) and others.
The literary activity in the Canadian diaspora was intense in earlier
periods (1934-1983) and most publicized through newspaper Voice of
Canadian Serbs, where the prominent names such as Desanka Maksi-
movic, Milos Crnjanski, Slobodan Jovanovic appeared as well as many
other notable authors. By moving the Voice to Toronto in mid-1980s
and the establishment of Serbian National Academy of Canada there,
the literary activity becomes even more intense through organizing
literary evenings, book club meeting, bringing famous Serbian writ-
ers to lecture and interact. Since the mid-1990s, few writers from the
former Yugoslavia populate Canadian cities and continue creating and
publishing in Serbian language, and the number of literary enthusiasts
who maintain the production of self published poetry and prose grows.
Visual art is also on the rise due to the influx of many talented
Serbian immigrants to Canada, who continue to create, initiate mutual
cooperation and exhibiting more in local and less in the Serbian owned
galleries. Of course, this brief overview is a general picture of Serb-
ian creative impulses in the material cultural expression in the last 50
years, and deserves a more detailed review in another work. For the
sake of illustration, here are mentioned only the most visible and the
easily recognizable examples to our public.
Educational and documentational are contrasting cultural im-
pulses the previous creative ones. Many will, by the term ‘education-
al’ immediately think of religious education and Serbian language
schools which exist and work consistently for a hundred years in all
Serbian communities in Canada. The best example is Hamilton, where
the church of St. Nicholas on Beach Rd, was consecrated on 19 Decem-
ber 1917. and a religious and Serbian language school started working
almost at the same time. In the past seventy years, schools all across
Canada competed in educational category through cultural programs
offered at Serbian Day at Niagara Falls, organized by the Serbian Na-
tional Defense, Drazha Day in Bimbrook and Winona, and Diocesan
Days at Serbian monastery in Milton. Tremendous achievement in
preserving Serbian language and Orthodox religion among the Serbs
in Canada, claim the schools of Serbian language and religion are the
churches in Hamilton, Toronto and Windsor, numbering hundreds of
students. The only school that has hundreds of students today is the
Serbian school “St Sava” in Kitchener, which operates within the Can-
adian system of primary and secondary schools for different ethnic
groups. It is also notable the ten-year long operation of Dr. Radomir
Baturan’s private school of Serbian language in Toronto, which opened
classrooms in smaller neighboring towns and organized regular sum-
mer and winter camps. Numerous educational programs and activities
in choral singing, folklore, music, theater, painting icons, visual arts,
traditional handicrafts and cuisine were always well attended, great-
ly successful and very valuable in safeguarding the cultural heritage.
An excellent example in choral singing education is the first children’s
choir in Canada founded at St. George Serbian Orthodox Church in Ni-
agara Falls early as the mid 1950s. A few years later in Toronto the first
children’s choir, the first children’s folk group, the first children’s tam-
buritza orchestra were organized at the church of St. Sava. Over time,
these activities have varied in intensity and distribution in different
Serbian communities across Canada, given the public interest and /or
the existence of teachers and instructors. Culturally most active com-
munities since the end of World War II were: Windsor, Toronto, Ham-
ilton and Sudbury which, through their own efforts, were successfully
showing the Serbian culture to other more dominant communities.
Documentation impulse of the Serbian community reflects a very
strong need to store, at first the family articles of sentimental value, but
also the storage of the archives many athletic, humanitarian, cultural
and religious organizations and societies that existed, have been extin-
guished and re-established over time. There exists a necessity for an
organized approach to documentation of life and activities of a century
long of existence of Serbs on the territory of Canada. This organized
and defined process of documenting the lives of people in the com-
munity falls under the museum activity.
The Basic Functions of the Museum
Museums are centers for conservation, study and reflection on herit-
age and culture. Today museums are defined as institutions which are
not oriented to profit, are in the service of society and its development,
are open to the public, which collect, conserve, research and exhibit,
for purposes of study, education and enjoyment of the material evi-
dence of human being and his/ her environment. They maintain a link
with the past, which returns the value of the material traces of our
ancestors and, thus, play a key role encouraging social cohesion. The
main purpose of the museum is to protect and preserve the heritage
as a whole. It also carries out scientific studies needed to understand
and determine its purpose and type. But the educational mission of a
museum, regardless of its nature, is as important as its scientific work.
(see more at http://icom.museum/the-vision/museum-definition/)
The basic functions of the museum are: 1. storage – collection and
protection of heritage, conservation of articles from destruction, dam-
age and theft; 2. scientific functions – facilitating and performing sci-
entific research (history, art history, archeology, biology, chemistry,
documentation); 3. exhibiting function – the presentation of the arte-
facts to the public, thus enabling access to the collection; 4. animating
(1) During the preparation of the previous issue 27/28 of the magazine “People
Talk”, the Editorial Board has omitted to indicate the name of the author
of this text which was published in Serbian language. We are publishing
the same text in English for the current issue and thereby confirm the
authorship of Tanja Zec-O’Neill for this article. The Editorial Board
apologizes to Tanja Zec-O’Neill for the previous error.
Mirko N. Dumanović
The fundamental symbols that characterize the origin and nature of a
medieval European state are far better encapsulated through an analy-
sis of its art forms than one of its legislative proceedings. Some of the
strongest of these basic national attributes can be found in a nation’s
coins and can give valuable insight into its political, culture, economic,
and military history and traditions.
Of early medieval Balkan societies, it was only Serbs, along with
Bulgars and the Byzantine Empire, that took part in the creation of
their own metal currencies. While this practice would become far
more standardized in the periods to follow, some Balkan societies
would wait as long as the early twentieth century before fully engaging
Throughout the middle Ages, several distinct Serbian states were
formed. Some coexisted during similar time frames, while others
existed exclusively on their own. Among the longest lasting and most
influential of these states were: Duklja (Zeta), Travunija, Hum and
Zahumjle, Paganija, Raska, Bosnia and Srem. Byzantine coins were
used and present in many of these territories; a common regional
phenomenon considering the long held dominance of the Byzantine
Empire throughout most of the Balkan Peninsula.
Historically it was assumed that the smelting of domestic metal
currency began in Serbia during the reign of its first king, Stefan II Ne-
manja, sometime in the very early 13th century. Recent research sug-
gests that the process of making a unique domestic currency did not
begin until the reign of his son, Stefan Radoslav, somewhere between
1227 and 1234.
Looking towards to the Byzantine Empire for example, King Rado-
slav of Raska began the creation of the first silver and copper coins.
These early coins were concave in shape, had text in Greek (rather than
in Serbian, which was still literarily young at the time), and remain
today only in incredibly small quantities. Interestingly, they are also
the only medieval Serbian coins ever made from materials besides
silver alone, namely copper and gold. A high regional abundance of
silver ores forced subsequent monarchs through this transition.
Depending on the state in question and time period, Serbian coins
throughout the middle ages went by two different names: the Dinar
and the Perper. The former has its origins from the old Roman coin,
the “Denarius”, meaning “Tenth”, whilst the perper is of Byzantine
origin. While the dinar remains a traded currency to this day, the
perper ceased to be produced with the dissolution of the Kingdom of
Montenegro in 1918.
Records tell us that King Stefan Uros Dragutin, in 1276, near an
old mining town in what is now northern Montenegro, produced an
unusually pretty silver coin that resembled the Venetian Matapan (a
form of Venetian currency). As more of these Serbian “Matapans”
entered production and circulation, they quickly became a popular
coin, seeing trade all throughout the Mediterranean, and as far away
as mainland Spain.
The usage of these coins became so widespread, so as to cause one
of history’s earliest negative demand shocks to competing currencies.
Venice, which was a dominant trading Republic of the time, was espe-
cially unsatisfied with this arrangement, and in a bid to eliminate Serb-
ian coins from the international market, decreed their use illegal and
undertook significant measures to see the destruction of these coins.
This early Serbian currency posed enough of a nuisance, even threat, to
the Venetian authority that it receives mention even in Dante’s “Divine
“And Portugal should be held in blame, with Norway and the Ra-
scian who laid his eyes on Venetian coins and forged his own ill-fame.”
(Dante Alighieri, Paradise, Canto XIX, Eagle speaking)
It is of particular interest that Dante placed this detail in the realm
Legend has it that the source of many early Rascian coins, the town
of Mojkovac, got its name from an amalgamation of three words:
“Moj” meaning “My”, “Kovani” meaning “forged”, and “Novac” mean-
ing “coins”. While never truly verified, the likelihood that this is the
authentic origin is rather high, especially considering the close prox-
imity of several old silver mines and mints. Indeed, the practice of
naming location based on their service to the king is not exclusive to
this location. The monastery “Naupare” in central Serbia was once the
king’s own treasury and money vault. On way to combat enemies in
the area, it is said that Czar Lazar (1329-1389) looked in the direction of
the monastery and proclaimed that “they [the enemy] have arrived ‘Na
um pare’, ‘to our money’”.
Although early ventures into domestic minting were very conserv-
ative, borrowing heavily from Byzantine and Venetian models, later
Serbian coins would be shaped (literally) to best suit the needs and
demands of the domestic economy and authority. Rulers and Saints
were the most common depictions on these coins, while accompany-
ing texts were done in a variety of languages including Latin, Italian,
Greek, and old Serbian.
The minting of coins in medieval Serbia was first set to written law
as part of a much larger codex in 1354. This codex is one of the earliest
attempts at a universal and an all-encompassing list of laws in Europe
following the collapse of the Western Roman state. Casually translat-
ed, the first law pertaining to the smelting of coins stated: “Those in-
volved in the minting of coins in the dukedoms and lands that belong
to the Czar may only
The creator of the aforementioned law codex, and the most notable
of medieval Serbian autarchs, Stefan Dušan, holds particular import-
ance to the evolution of Serbian currency. Throughout his reign as
king (1331-1346) and later as Czar (1346-1355) the production of currency
in Serbia would surpass even that of its strongest neighbors. Whether
in terms of number, variety, or aesthetic beauty, this period in the de-
velopment and production of medieval Serbian coins is regarded as the
greatest. The minting of domestic money was continued in Serbia by
subsequent leaders right up until the fall of the despotate in 1459.
Following the Turkish conquest of the Serbian state in the 15 th cen-
tury, the production of domestic currency ceased. Instead, Ottoman
currency prevailed, and remained as the sole legal tender of Serbian
lands until well into the later half of the 19 th century.
The First Modern Dinar
Following Serbia’s defacto independence in the early 19th century, and
in the time preceding the foundation of a single national currency, a
wide variety of European and Turkish coins were used in domestic
commerce. Records indicate that at least 43 different forms of foreign
currencies were employed in Serbia, 10 of which were gold, 28 silver,
and 5 copper. At a conference held in 1868, in the city of Kragujevac, it
was decided that a new, exclusively Serbian currency would be formed.
These early coins were minted in Vienna, Austria and came in copper
divisions of 1, 5, and 10 “para”. They featured the image of prince Mi-
hajlo Obrenovic; the head of state at the time. What makes these early
Serbian coins especially unique and collectible is the appearance of an
occasional spelling mistake. Some coins, of the 1 Para denomination,
featured on their obverse side the correct phrase “Obrenovic III Serb-
ian King”, while others featured the same phrase with an incorrect
spelling of the word “Serbian”.
The “dinar” was chosen as the national monetary unit while the
“Para” was designated a subunit, in much the same way as the cent
to the dollar. The name “dinar” was chosen for its obvious historical
significance to medieval Serbian states. This position was advocated by
the minister of foreign affairs, Cedomir Mijatovic, who is consequently
regarded as the godfather of the early dinar. The first silver dinars were
minted in 1875, whilst the first gold domestic coins were minted four
years later, in 1879, and came in denominations of 10 and 20 dinars.
The 20 dinar coin was nicknamed the “Miland’or”, after king Milan
Obrenovic, Mihajlo’s successor. The 5 and 10 Para coins were also col-
loquially (and respectively) nicknamed “Marijash”, and ”Gosh”.
The last coins to include the image of a head of the Obrenovic dy-
nasty were minted in 1897. They featured the image of King Alexan-
der I Obrenovic and came in 1 and 2 dinar denominations. A violent
change in dynasties in 1903 brought with it a change in the appearance
of the domestic currency. From 1904, onward to the dissolution of the
Kingdom of Serbia in 1918, all domestic coins were minted with the
image of the successor king, Peter Karadordje.
In 1904, a silver 5 dinar coin was minted in celebration of the 100
year anniversary of the First Serbian Uprising. The obverse of the coin
featured King Peter I (the reigning monarch) and Karadordje Petrovic
(leader of the 1804 rebellion against the Ottoman).
Silver coins minted in the image of King Peter I continued to be
made until 1915. The last Kingdom of Serbia coins were minted in 1917,
one year prior to the establishment of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats,
and Slovenes. This marks the end of a violent and tumultuous chapter
in the history of the Serbian nation and its national currencies.
George Leonard Zaklan
Dragan Zaklan was a shepherd boy who arrived in Vancouver in the
year 1911. He was born in Lika, Korenica, (Military Region) in 1893. At
that time Lika was within the territory of Croatia, a region under the
jurisdiction of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, whose Habsburg dy-
nasty emanated from Vienna and Budapest.
Most of the South Slavs were orthodox Serbs (orthodox Christians).
Tragically, the South Slavs became a splintered society. The Austrian
dynasty pursued a standard imperial policy of encouraging dissension
within their conquered lands. They coerced (rewarded or punished)
orthodox Serbs to force a change of their faith. Their newly catholi-
cized adherents (Ustasha) were nurtured to become intolerant and
often vicious attacking those who chose to continue their orthodox
faith. The Ustasha organization was universally regarded as brutal.
By way of background, the people of Military Region (Vojna Kra-
jina) were given special designation by the Habsburg emperor Leo-
pold. They were invited, en mass, to settle this military frontier in
order to defend the region from Ottoman Moslem banditry and in-
cursions. As reward, they were granted special status by the emperor.
Their language, laws, religion were thus guaranteed. Their added role
was to provide the Empire with professional soldiers. These soldiers
were more less trained ’shock’ troops. When the battle reached critical
stage, these troops were expected to turn defeat into victory. They had
a well-deserved reputation. They had achieved a military legacy. In-
terestingly, many of my American relatives had made the military life
Both quality of life and security under the Habsburgs, were de-
manding and affected stability. They were also referred to as ‘granicars’
(monitors of the frontier).
Although Dad’s village was located close to the birthplace of Nikola
Tesla (One of the most significant intellects of the modern world), yet
Dad, as so many of his villagers, was deliberately denied the benefits of
educational enlightenment. Regardless, this region produced a pleth-
ora high profile alumni. In addition to Tesla, there was the famous
Field Marshal Borojevic (Top strategist of WW1, General Bogdanovic
(Napoleon’s opponent), Many generals (some with the Zaklan name –
the list also included doctors, statesmen and educators.
As an illiterate shepherd boy, dad found passage to New York and
the entrained to Chicago to join his brothers Tode and Mican, both of
whom had found work building new railway lines. Theirs was a typical
story working as navies in building the new nation’s transportation,
all the while sending remittances to their homeland families. They did
not forget their roots
By the 1913. Dad’s two brothers, Tode and Mican, returned to
Serbia, where they were immediately involved in the Balkan Wars.
Both sustained serious injuries. Like so many of their countrymen,
they had become part of a huge migration to the newly industrializing,
America. New York, Chicago, Cleveland was a typical destination on
Many returned to their home in Military Region, relating their
new experiences. With their ‘windfall’ monies, they made impressive
purchases, thus triggering significant excitement amongst the more
It was not long before dad joined this exodus. Later, via New York
and Chicago, (a major Yugoslav destination, he came to Vancouver in
1913. A year later, the First War began.
Dad had enlisted in the Canadian Army but was subsequently re-
jected because he was classified as an “alien” since he was still an Aus-
trian by citizenship. He was accepted into the Vancouver Department
but again he was suspended because he was categorized an “alien”. He
then found work at the huge sugar refinery in Vancouver. He enjoyed
his Vancouver bachelor life.
In l929, Mom arrived in Vancouver. Mom was from Zumberak,
a widow and she joined her married older sister, Tonika, who had a
boarding house and Mom came to help. There she met Dad, an eligible
bachelor. There was a chemistry and they decided to marry.
Life on the farm in Surrey
Purely, by chance, Dad had acquired, sight unseen, some Surrey prop-
erty. At that time, Surrey’s population was sparse. Roads were few,
trails were common. There was one local rail line connecting Van-
couver to Chilliwack and it passed through Surrey. When transpor-
tation is weak, distance is indeed greater. No one could have guessed
the forthcoming developmental changes. Upon first seeing this remote
and empty property, Mom immediately began to persuade Dad to
build and move. She wanted to raise her children on a farm. That was
important to her. Dad was reluctant, Mom was determined and the
rest ‘was history’. Dad was a Licanien, as such preferred social inter-
action, fine clothes, a little whiskey, some gambling and urban condi-
tions. His interest in gardening, milking cows, fencing, hay meadows,
tending chickens did not fit in with his ‘hero-conceptual’ background.
But Mom made certain that he had ample opportunity to visit his Van-
couver friends, to dress well and to frequent good restaurants. It was a
So our family went on to enjoy continual residence on this farm
property for a century. We were amongst the first to arrive and to look
as if we would be the last to depart. We were witness to extraordinary
sociological changes – in every field. Surrey was transformed from a
primitive, isolated subsistence farming, and a sprinkling of Aborig-
ines, to the current modern urbanization. Our property value went
from the initial ten dollars and acre to the current three million. (Some
change can be attributed to inflation- but mostly the rule of supply/
Our road, (132 St.), initially called Roebuck, had had a huge number
of Jugoslavs. They were compatible, worked well together, socialized
and helped each other when larger project required many hands.
Yugoslavs had been subordinated residents within the Austro-
Hungarian Empires. Imperial policy did not encourage subservients
to receive education or be decision makers or to be enlightened. (For
special reasons, Nikola Tesla was a unique exception). Dad’s villagers
clearly demonstrated inherent ability, yet rarely had access to schools.
As an example, Dad never attended any school of any kind. Mom had
four years and attended only during the warmer seasons. Yet they
seem to have possessed enough ‘village smarts’ to survive quite well.
Interestingly, my continual educational involvement never seemed to
interfere with my relationship with them. They seemed to adjust read-
ily to my academic/social changes.
Most domestic social conversations tended to deal with family,
friends, farming, community, childhood memories, and ‘old country’
reminiscences. Since the skill level of the immigrant was marginal as
was their academic, they often were the last to be hired, the first to lose
their jobs while receiving a modest pay. But because they were perse-
vering and diligent workers, they usually remained on job.
Mostly, this social group shared subordinated social roles -serving
foreign empires – so they tended to be somewhat paranoid toward au-
thority. Some of our Surrey neighbours were English. (This country
had been conquered by them and their people tended to receive better
jobs, have finer homes and enjoyed a superior life style). They were
Surrey’s gauleiters. Consequently, many had an ambivalent attitude
toward them. On one hand, there was a measure of subservience. On
the other, suspicion. The English were referred to a ‘chuvars’ (someone
who invigilates and informs. But it was in school, that the immigrant
began to establish a stronger role. They tended to have few problems
with competing. Our genetics were qualitative; we learned to be suc-
cessfully competitive. Some of Surrey’s finest students were of Balkan
stock. Of course, their strong work ethic helped.
Surrey was an empty frontier. The roads were dirt and gravel, open
ditches. The neighbours were distant. Electricity, tap water, furnaces,
indoor plumbing were just beginning to appear. Schools were distant.
Teachers were marginal, a paucity of libraries, and three small high
schools that served the needs of the entire municipality. Social con-
ditions were such that little education beyond elementary school was
considered meaningful. One needed neither Shakespeare nor algebra
to split wood, milk cows or to hoe the garden.
Dad’s (Dan Zaklan’s) family was amongst the first of our com-
munity’s Yugoslav settlers. Some thirty families settled, largely along
The memorials built to fallen Russian volunteers in the Serbian – Turkish War in 1876, in Aleksinac and its surroundings
In 1876, Serbia and Montenegro declared war on Turkey in order to
liberate the Serbian regions that were still under Ottoman rule.A large
number of volunteers came to help Serbia. They were from various
countries: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Norway, Great Britain, France,
Greece, Montenegro, Italy, followed by Serbs from the former Aus-
tro-Hungarian Empire, but by far the largest number of volunteers
arrived from Russia.
The invitation, which was printed on the occasion of the conse-
cration of the monument to the Russian volunteers on Rujevica near
Aleksinac 1880, states:
“The main leader of Russian volunteers in 1876, Mihail Grigorijević
Černjajev, has the honor to humbly ask ………………………….. to
dignify the unveiling of the monument to his countrymen who have
fallen in battles for the independence of Serbia.
Three thousand volunteers, it is true, could not outweigh the scales
of victory in the war in 1876 on the side of their brethren; but in the
valleys of the Timok, Morava, Ibar and Drina and the peaks of Alek-
sinac and Đunis more than half of them testified with their blood the
sacrifice to the full commitment to the Serbian fraternal issues and
their love to the Serbs.
The monument was erected in the center of the difficult struggle
The consecration of the monument and the memorial to fallen sol-
diers are going to be conducted by His Holiness Metropolitan with
hierarchs and higher priesthood on 8 November this year, at 9 o’clock
in the morning.
In Aleksinac” (1)
This document, which was created less than three years from the
above mentioned event, shows that a large number of Russian volun-
teers sacrificed their lives in the struggle for freedom and independ-
ence of Serbia. Most of them died in the valley of the South Morava
River, in the vicinity of Aleksinac and in its surroundings because this
was the place where the greatest battles were fought in the First Serb-
ian-Turkish war in 1876. These battles include the battle of Šumatovac,
Gornji Adrovac and Đunis.
Among the casualties were Russian volunteers who died of the
gained wounds in Jagodina and Paracin hospitals. Their names are in-
scribed in church protocols of the deceased in Jagodina and Paracin
churches and they are published here for the first time. (2)
The protocol of the deceased at the church of Sv. Archangel Mi-
chael in Jagodina, no 13 and 14 ,which is kept in the Historical Archives
of Jagodina the following persons were listed:
1. Dimitrije Bogdanov, captain, Odesa, 35., 20.09.1876.
2. Belovecki Roman soldier, Odesa, 29, 09.29.1876.
3. Nikola Nijenovič, soldier, Pirpos, 10.22.1876.
4. Petar Moloc, soldier, Rid, 23, 22.10.1876.
5. Nikifor Suprinov, soldier, 32, 23.10.1876.
6. Jakov Tetirovski, soldier, village Šepiljče, ujezd Radomirskoja, Kiev,
7. Jevrem Gubankov, soldier, Zagubljanje, 25, 26.10.1876.
8. Vertljevič Sakharov, lieutenant, 26/10/1876.
9. Mihail Jovančetič, soldier, 28.g. Grodoslavljanska governorate,
10. Simeon Petrovich, soldier, Vitevska governorate, 30, 11.06.1876.
11. Rivers Ivanov, soldier, 35, 13.11.18786.
12. Vasilije Parelenov, soldier, 38 g , 11.16.1876.
13. Nikola Rayevski, soldier, Nizhny Novgorod governorate,
14. Aleksandar Averujnov, soldier, 26.11.1876.
15. Radovan Devjatski, Cossack, 47, 14.01.1877.
The protocol of the deceased at the St. Trinity Church in Paraćin, no. 12
held by the Municipal Assembly of Paracin lists the following persons:
1. Konstantin N. Bogdanov, captain, Kazan, 32, 08.22.1876.
2. Nikolaj Čirkunov, lieutenant, Odesa, 28, 21.09.1876.
3. Paul Nikolaevich Oryahovo, Captain, Moscow, 32, 05.10.1876.
4. N. Čerkunov, soldier, 30 21/09/1876.
5. Pavle Orekov soldier Moscow, 30, 04.10.1876.
6. Aleksandar Mantorov, soldier, 10.09.1876.
7. Ivan Banderenko, soldier, 10.19.1876.
8. Kemkin Petrov, soldier, 20.10.1876.
9. In addition to Petrov Veselov, soldier, Moscow, 11.07.1876.
At the end of a Serbian – Turkish wars many memorials were built in
their glory and in glory to all other Russian volunteers who were killed.
These memorials are the subject of this paper.
The monument to Russian volunteersat Majevica (Brdjanka) near
The monument to Russian volunteers at higher Rujevica was unveiled
on 8 (20) November, 1880. Today, there is a park called Brdjanka sur-
rounding the monument. The monument was built in the redoubt
(trench) no. 4. It was named “Aleksinc redoubt”.
“This monument was built at the height Rujevica near Aleksinca of
beautiful stone that was found in Ozren near Aleksinac spa.The monu-
ment is a pyramid-shaped and it is 12 meters high, decorated on top
with crosses made of white marble on all four sides, and at the bottom
(the socle), there are four marble boards with inscriptions in Serbian
and Russian language.” (3)
The marble slabs on the socle are incripted with the following text
(the east in Serbian, and the west side in the Russian language):
“The monument to the fallen Russian volunteers
who came in 1876 to help the Serbs during their
unequal struggle against the Turkish Empire”
“No one has greater love than this one,
To lay their soul for friends”
There is following text on the marble slabs on the socle in the southern
and northern side “Built by their compatriots in 1880.” (the south side
is incripted in Serbian, and the north side in the Russian language.)
The monument was built on the basis of the project designed by en-
gineer František (Francis) dutting Heinrich (1828-1896),the Czech who
upon arrival to Serbia in 1878, received the Orthodox faith in 1891 and
he was given a new name – Radovan.
A large number of citizens from all over Serbia responded to the
invitation of General Chernyayev to attend the consecration of the
monument responded to Thousands of guests came to Aleksinac to
attend the consecration of the monument. The representative of His
Highness Prince was his adjutant, Major G. Aleksandar Simonovic
and the representative of His Majesty the Russian Emperor Aleksndar
was his minister resident in Belgrade, Mr Persiani with his secretary,
The representative of the government was Minister of Education,
Mr Stojan Novakovic, on behalf of the Armed Forces, the military
deputation led by General Belimarković and Colonel Bogicevic at-
tended the ceremony. The representative of the Serbian Learned Soci-
ety was Mr Milan Milicevic; the representative of the High School was
Mr Milan Kujundzic.
(1) Miodrag Spirić, The history of Aleksinac and its surroundings III,
Aleksinac 2006.p. 70.
(2) Ninoslav Stojanovic , a historian from Jagodina, delivered the information
about the deceased to the author
(3) The Celebration of monument consecration at Rujevica near Aleksinac on 8
November 1880 to the killed Russian volunteers in the Serbian-Turkish war
in 1876,Belgrade 1881III