Stećak (Cyrillic: Стећак, [stetɕak]; plural: Stećci,
Стећци, [stetɕtsi]) is the name for monumental medieval
tombstones that lie scattered across Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the
border parts of Croatia,
Montenegro and Serbia. An estimated 60,000
are found within the borders of modern
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina and the
rest of 10,000 are found in what are today
Croatia (4,400), Montenegro
Serbia (2,100), at more than 3,300 odd sites with over
90% in poor condition.
Appearing in the mid 12th century, with the first phase in the 13th
century, the tombstones reached their peak in the 14th and 15th
century, before disappearing during the Ottoman occupation in the very
early 16th century. They were a common tradition amongst Bosnian,
Catholic and Orthodox Church followers alike, and are often related
to the autochthonous Vlach population, however the original ethnic
and religious affiliation is still undetermined. The epitaphs on
them are mostly written in extinct
Bosnian Cyrillic alphabet. The one
of largest collection of these tombstones is named Radimlja, west of
Stolac in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Stećci were inscribed as a
World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site in 2016. It
includes a selection of 4,000 stećci at 28 necropolises – of which
22 from Bosnia and Herzegovina, two from Croatia, three from
Montenegro, and three from Serbia.
3.2 Ethnic origin
5 Notable Stećci
8 See also
10 Further reading
11 External links
The word itself is a contracted form of the older word *stojećak,
which is derived from the South Slavic verb stajati (engl. stand).
It literally means the "tall, standing thing". In Herzegovina they
are also called as mašeti / mašete (Italian massetto meaning "big
rock", or Turkish meşhet/mešhed meaning "tombstone of a fallen
hero"[nb 1]), in Central and Western Bosnia as mramori / mramorje /
mramorovi (marble), while in
Montenegro as usađenik
(implantation). On the stećci inscriptions they are called as bilig
(mark), kamen bilig (stone mark), kâm / kami / kamen (stone), hram
(shrine), zlamen (sign), kuća (house), raka (pit), greb/grob
(grave). In 1495 lectionary they are recorded as kamy
Although under the name stećak is meant high monolithic standing
stones (i.e. sanduk and sljemenjak form), in the 20th century the word
stećak was accepted in science as general term, including for plate
tombstones (i.e. ploče). The original reference to the word
stećak itself is uncertain and seems to be modern invention as it can
only be traced from the note by
Ivan Kukuljević Sakcinski
Ivan Kukuljević Sakcinski from
1851, dictionary by
Vuk Karadžić from 1852 (in the first edition
from 1812 the term did not exist), although he contradicted himself as
the commoners from
Zagvozd called them starovirsko ("of the old
faith"), dictionary by
Bogoslav Šulek from 1860 and so on,
while academic dictionaries mention it only from 1956/58. It is
considered that the term was usually used in
East Herzegovina and in
the area of Stari Vlah in Serbia. Until the very early 20th
century there was wandering in terminology, and some scholars proposed
general terms like nadgrobni biljezi (gravestone markers) and mramorje
(marble) to be more appropriate.
The term stećak is uncommon in regional dialects and without
etiological value, and semantically incorrect and contradicting as
it derives from the verb "to stand", while the chest-type to which it
refers predominantly is laid down, while another sub-type of pillars
and crosses is the one predominantly upright; this upright or standing
sub-type does not amount even 5% of the overall number of stećci; in
the original stećci inscriptions they are most often called as kami
(meaning "stone" regardless of the form), thus some scholars proposed
the term kamik (pl. kamici) for all forms of headstones, while stećak
would mean only the upright sub-type. The term kamik is more close
to the original meaning and sometime is used instead of stećak in
The stećci area or cemetery folk names show respect and admiration
for their dimensions, age or representations: Divsko groblje
(Giants’ cemetery), Mašete (big stones), Mramori/Mramorje (marble
blocks), Grčko groblje (Greek cemetery), Tursko groblje (Turkish
cemetery), Kaursko groblje (Giaour’s cemetery).
They are characteristic for the territory of present-day Hercegovina,
Dalmatia (especially South of river
Cetina), and some minor parts of Montenegro,
Kosovo and Western
Posavina and Northwestern Bosnia.
Stećci are described as stone, monolithic, horizontal and vertical
tombstones prismatic shape with flat or gable-top surface, with or
without pedestal. The common classification was established by
Dmitrij Sergejevski in 1952, dividing them on recumbent and standing
types. Up until now the systematization of stećci is not
finished, according to
Šefik Bešlagić there exist seven types of
form: a slab, a chest, a chest with a pedestal, a ridge/gable, a
ridge/gable with a pedestal, a pillar, a cross, while according to
Lovrenović nine types in Radimlja: slab, slab with pedestal, chest,
chest with pedestal, tall chest, tall chest with pedestal, sarcophagus
(i.e. ridge/gable), sarcophagus with pedestal, cruciform.
In the example of
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina according to
"about 40,000 chests, 13,000 slabs, 5,500 gabled tombstones, 2,500
pillars/obelisks, 300 cruciform tombstones and about 300 tombstones of
indeterminate shape have been identified. Of these, more than 5,000
bear carved decorations".
The chronology established by
Marian Wenzel considers they developed
from the plate headstones with the oldest from 1220 (probably first
somewhere in the mid-12th century), monumental emerged somewhere in
1360, those with visual representations around 1435-1477, and that
total production ended in 1505. However some consider that it
lasted until the late 16th century, with rare examples that continued
until the 18th century. Stećci in the form of chest (sanduk) and
ridge/saddle-roofed (sljemenjak) do not appear before the middle or
the end of the 14th century (1353-1477), while the remaining two
basic forms - the upright pillar (stup) and cross (krstača /
križina), no more than half of the 15th century. In the latter
upright or standing forms can be seen influence of the nišan - the
upright monolithic stones on top of the Muslim (Turkish) graves, which
emerge already in the end of the 14th century in conquered parts of
Macedonia and Serbia. This form is predominantly found in
Serbia and Eastern Bosnia.
The initial stage of their development which included simple recumbent
plates or slabs isn't specific for the region, yet it is of broad West
Mediterranean origin, and as such the term stećak (implying the chest
and ridge form) is misleading for all tombstone forms. The slabs type
of burial was a typical kind of burial of the
West Mediterranean world
in the 14-15th century, but which had special method of production and
ornamentation in the Balkan, customized according to the stonemasonry
skills and microenvironment. The dated monuments indicate they
were initially made by/for the feudal nobility, while later this
tradition was embraced and adopted by the indigenous Vlachs who have
almost exclusively raised them from the mid-15th century.
"I have for long lain here, and for much longer shall I lie"; "I was
born into a great joy and I died into a great sorrow"; "I was nothing
then, I am nothing now"; "You will be like I, and I can not be like
you"; "May he who topples this stone be cursed"
— Some translated examples of inscriptions.
A fraction of stećci (384) bear inscriptions, mostly in extinct
Bosnian Cyrillic, some in Glagolitic and Latin script. The language
has some archaic phrases, characterized by Ikavian while toward the
end by Ijekavian yat reflex. The inscriptions can be roughly
divided into those of: religious phrase, description of heroic death,
information of the deceased, information of the deceased's relatives
and circumstances of death, information with only personal name
(sometime with smith-pupil name), moral (or religious) lesson. The
last are mostly brazen reminders of wisdom and mortality, relay a
dread of death, more anxiety than peace.
The most remarkable feature is their decorative motifs roughly divided
in six groups which complement each other: social simbols, religious
simbols, images of posthumous kolo, figural images, clear ornaments,
and unclassified motifs (mostly simbolic, geometrical, or
damaged). Many of them remain enigmatic to this day; spirals,
arcades, rosettes, vine leaves and grapes, lilium, stars (often
six-pointed) and crescent Moons are among the images that appear.
Figural images include processions of deer, horse, dancing the kolo,
hunting, chivalric tournaments, and, most famously, the image of the
man with his right hand raised, perhaps in a gesture of
A series of visual representations on the tombstones can not be
simplistically interpreted as real scenes from the life, and simbolic
explanation is still considered by the scholarship. The shield on
the tombstones, usually with the crossbar, crescent and star, cannot
be coat of arms, neither the lilium which is stylized is used in the
heraldic sense. On one stećak is displayed tied lion and above him
winged dragon. Already in 1979, historian Hadžijahić noted that the
horsemen are not riding with reins, yet (if are not hunting) their
hands are free and pointed to the sky, implying possible cult
significance. In 1985, Maja Miletić noted the simbolic and
religious character of the stećak scenes. All the "life scenes"
are considered to be part of ceremonial. Several scholars
concluded that the motifs, as well tradition of posthumous indigenous
cult, show the continuity of old Balkan pre-Christian symbolism
from prehistoric time and the autochthonous Romanized Illyrian (i.e.
Alojz Benac noted that the displays of sole
horse with snake, as well sole deer with bird, symbolize the soul of
the deceased going to otherworld, which representations are resembling
to those found on
Iapydes artefacts. The Illyrian god Medaurus is
described as riding on horseback and carrying a lance.
The sacral motif of deer is considered to be of Paleo-Balkan and
Of the all animals deer is the most represented, and mostly is found
on stećci in Herzegovina. According to Dragoslav Srejović,
spread of Christianity didn't cause disappearance of old cult and
belief in sacred deer. Wenzel considered it lead the deceased to
Šefik Bešlagić synthesized the
representations of deer: sometime accompanied by a bird (often on the
back or horns), cross or lilium, frequently are shown series of deer
or doe, as well with a bow and arrow, dog and hunter(s) with a spear
or sword (often on a horse). It is displayed in hunting scenes, as
well some kolo processions which are led by a man who is riding a
deer. There scenes where deers calmly approach the hunter, or
deers with enormous size and sparse horns. Most of the depictions
of "deer hunting" are facing the West, which had the symbolic meaning
for death and otherworld. In the numerous hunting scenes in only one
deer is wounded (the stećak has some anomalies), indicating
unrealistic meaning. In the Roman and Parthian-
Sasanian art hunted
animals are mortally wounded, and deer is only one of many, while on
stećci is the only hunted animal.
Two stećci with motifs of kolo.
The motifs of kolo (in total 132) procession along a deer, and its
specific direction of dancing, although not always easily
identifiable, show its a mortal dance compared to cheerful dance. From
Iapydes urns, up to present day women in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and
Montenegro, remorseful dances are played in the westward direction
toward sunset. In Eastern
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina so-called Ljeljenovo
kolo,[nb 2] with ljeljen local name for jelen (deer) implying jelenovo
kolo, is danced by making the gate of the raised hand and ringleader
of these gates tries to pull all kolo dancers through them until the
kolo is entangled, after that, playing in the opposite direction,
until the kolo is unraveled. Its origin is in mortuary ritual guiding
the soul to another world and the meaning of renewal of life.
The crescent moon and star(s) are a very common motif on the stećak
The vast regional, but scarce (usually only one) in-graveyard
distribution mostly in the center or some notable position of
cross-type stećci (križine), and their almost exclusively ornament
of the crescent Moon and stars, could indicate cemetery label for
specific (pagan) religious affiliation. The symbolism of the Moon and
stars (Sun), which are often found on them, could be traced to
combination of pagan and Christian beliefs,  pix-pointed star
Venus (in Slavic mithology called Danica) and with Moon
could represent "astral marriage", or even
Mithraism which had old
Mazdakism belief that the dead body goes to the Moon and souls to the
Sun, while some considered a connection between astral simbols
with the position of celestial bodies at the time of death of the
They were carved by kovač / klesar (smith, mason; in the sense of
Latin faber, "master"), while the inscriptions, probably as a
template, were compiled by dijak / pisar (pupil, scribe). Until now
are known 33 personal names of masons, among whom most notable is
Grubač due to quality and being both a mason and scribe. He made four
stećci in Boljuni and four stećci in Opličići near Stolac. The
most notable scribe was Semorad who also worked around Stolac. It is
considered that the masons studied the craft in
Dalmatia and Ragusa,
and from them those in hinterland.
Stećci were mostly carved out of huge blocks, mostly of limestone.
The vicinity of quarry was most significant for the cemetery location.
Some of them weight more than 29 tonnes, and it is supposed they were
transported by horse or ox carriage while the heaviest with a
combination of sledges and flat billets. They were placed directly
above the pit, often in cardinal direction West-East, therefore so
were the deceased. Seemingly it was related to the
Sun path and was of
importance that the dead watch the rising Sun.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina can be roughly divided on two
stonemasonry schools Herzegovian (sarcophagi with arcades, figurative
scenes, a wealth of motifs) and East Bosnian (sarcophagi in the form
of chalets, floral motives). The leading position had schools on
the territory of Herzegovina, with center around Stolac, in area of
Trebinje and Bileća,
Gacko and Nevesinje. The fourth workshop was in
the area of Konjic, while the fifth around Lištica. The stonemasons
center in Western Bosnia was between
Kupres and Duvno, in Central
Bosnia around Travnik, while in Eastern Bosnia were four workshops,
one between Kladanj,
Olovo and Ilijaš, second around Zvornik, third
in Ludmer, and fourth around Rogatica.
A slab stećak at Cista Velika.
Croatia supposedly were two workshops, one in Cista Velika, and
second in Čepikuće. Local characteristic of stećci in the
Cetina river in
Croatia is their rare ornateness, of
which only 8-10% have simple decoration. Those from upper
Cetina are smaller and by type and style relate to those from
Livno, while those from mid
Cetina are more monumental. Specific
plate stećci were found in village Bitelić which are decorated with
identical geometric ornament, not found in
Dalmatia nor in Bosnia and
Herzegovina, however by the nature of ornament and surface treatment
is considered possible connection with several monuments near Church
of St. Peter in Nikšić, Montenegro.
Montenegro one center could have existed around Nikšić, while
second in Pljevlja. According to Bešlagić, in
Serbia seemingly were
no specific centers yet the masons arrived from Bosnia and
There different and still inconclusive theories on their
cultural-artistic, religious and ethnic affiliation. According
to common thesis, especially represented by Bešlagić, stećci are an
original Bosnian-Herzegovinian cultural-artistic medieval
phenomenon. Some scholars like
Milovan Gavazzi (1978) examined
much broader context, and considered their connection to megalithic
tradition of the region and Eurasia from prehistoric and contemporary
period. Some scholars considered that the chest form could have
been inspired by Romanesque and Gothic houses from the coastal cities,
while the ridge form by medieval Christian sarcophagus or local
Bosnian wooden house. It is established that they are mainly
related to mountainous places which became deserted over a period of
time because of migrations caused by new social events and Ottoman
Since the middle of the 19th century, specifically since the 1875
thesis by Arthur Evans, many scholars including Alexander
Soloviev, Kosta Hörmann and
Ćiro Truhelka have initially argued that
they were related to the origin of the
Bosnian Church i.e. Bogomils or
other dualist groups. Others have asserted that the church was
actually founded by
Franciscan monks from the Catholic Church.
However, Benac noted that the stećci were not built in First
Bulgarian Empire, and that in Central Bosnia where were centers of
Kingdom of Bosnia and
Bosnian Church is smaller concentration, as well
higher number of stećci of poor design, but also older date. The
exclusive relation between stećci and Bogomils was propagated from
the late 19th century due to political and ideological reasons, like
Béni Kállay and Austro-Hungarian authorities who promoted
post-Ottoman and pan-Bosnian identity because since 1878 the territory
was part of Austro-Hungarian administration, rather than
scientifical reasons. Although was already questioned in the 1899
by Kosta Hörmann the first director of National Museum of Bosnia and
Herzegovina, for almost a century it was a predominant theory in
Since the mid-20th century many scholars like Marian Wenzel, the
world's once 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 they reflect a regional cultural phenomenon
rather than belonging to a particular religious faith.
Sometime the inscriptions/motifs do reveal the confessional
affiliation of necropolis/deceased to one of the three Church
organizations in medieval Bosnia and Zachlumia. This
interconfessionality of stećci is one of their most remarkable
features, and indicates high degree of
Christianization of medieval
Bosnian community. However, it is considered that there is not
enough basis to be perceived as exclusively Christian.
Christian Gottlob Wilke sought origins of the simbolic motifs in the
old Mediterranean spirituali and religious concepts. Đuro Basler in
the artistic expression saw some parallels in late Romanesque art,
while in simbolic motifs three components; pre-Christian, Christian
and Manichaean (i.e. Bogomil).
Bešlagić asserted that those who have raised and decorated them were
not completely Christianized because they practiced the old custom of
putting attachments with the dead, and many artefacts made of metals,
textiles, ceramics and skin, coins, earrings of silver, gilded silver
and solid gold have been found in graves beneath stećci. The
customs like placing coin in mouth (Charon's obol), and placing
drinking vessel near graves and heads, are from antique time. Tomb
pits were mostly used for one burial, but sometime were for two and
more. Bešlagić considered that there existed a pre-Christian custom
of re-burial in which the bones were washed and returned to the pit,
supported by one stećak inscription in Montenegro.
The ethnic identity of the stećci has not yet been fully clarified.
Until now the most dominant, but still not fully accepted, theory
relates them with the autochthonous Vlach communities in the
Balkan. Opponents of this theory consider that their
demographic number was too small, were profane and isolated, argue
that the Vlachs did not built them from the fall of Western Roman
Empire, or that mythological symbols are related to Old Slavic rather
than "Vlach" pagan beliefs.
Bešlagić and others related them to formation of
Bosnian Kingdom and
especially Bogomils, however the shortage of this theory is in the
Bosnian Kingdom existence was presumably too short for change in
Bosnian Church existed later and ended sooner than
Bosnian Church area of influence can not explain them in
littoral and Serbian lands, other Bogomils did not built them, many
necropolises are located around contemporary church ruins as well some
stećci were secondarily embedded into churches and mosques, and
that the Bogomils did not respect the simbol of cross yet on the
stećci it is very common.
Some other scholars proposed unconvincing and rejected theories; Ivo
Pilar (1918) ideologically argued Croatian origin of medieval
Dominik Mandić considered them to be part of the
ritual of burial by the pagan Croats from the Red Croatia, Ante
Škobalj similarly argued the Croatian theory, Vaso Glušac
ideologically argued Serbian-Orthodox origin of both Bosnian Church
and stećci, while Vladislav Skarić considered they have
represented Old Slavic "eternal home", and that initially were built
Vladimir Ćorović pointed out that the "Old Slavs have
not used monoliths or larger blocks of stone to make their apartments,
let alone for the grave signs. Even the less for their writing or
Broken stećak depicted by Hugo Charlemont, 1901.
The autochthonous Vlachian theory was proposed by Bogumil Hrabak
Marian Wenzel (1962), and more recently was supported by
the archeological and anthropological researches of skeleton remains
from the graves under stećci. However, the theory is much older
and was first proposed by
Arthur Evans in his work Antiquarian
Researches in Illyricum (1883). While doing research with Felix von
Luschan on stećak graves around
Konavle found out that a large number
of skulls weren't of Slavic origin yet similar to older Illyrian and
Arbanasi tribes, as well noted that
Dubrovnik memorials recorded those
parts to be inhabited by the Vlachs until the 15th century.
Hrabak was the first scholar to connect the historical documents and
their relation to the persons mentioned on rare inscriptions on the
stećci. In 1953 he concluded that the smith-stonemason Grubač from
Boljun necropolis near
Stolac built stećak of Bogavac Tarah
Bol(j)unović not later than 1477, and that most of the monuments of
Herzegovinian Vlachs, and not only Herzegovian and not only
Vlachs, could be dated to the second half of the 15th century.
Wenzel in one of her studies researched sixteen stećci with similar
dating and historically known persons. She noted the possibility that
initially the stone monuments as such could have been introduced by
the feudal nobility in the mid 14th century, which tradition was
embraced by the Vlach tribes who introduced figural
decoration. The termination of the stećci production Wenzel
related to the Ottoman invasion and new social circumstances, with the
transition of Vlachs and near Slavs to Islam resulting with loss of
tribal organization and characteristics of specific ethnic
Sima Ćirković (1964) and
Marko Vego (1973) argued that the emergence
of the stećci among Vlachs coincides with their social-economical
rise, confirmed in region of
Zachlumia where is located the most well
known necropolis of
Radimlja related to the Vlachian family
Miloradović-Stjepanović from genus Hrabreni. Financial
possibilities of ordering such expensive ways of burial among Vlachs
are supported and confirmed in the historical documents, with an
example of Vlach from Cetina, Ostoja Bogović, who in 1377 paid the
cost of burial of Vlach Priboja Papalić for 40 libra. At the time
burial in Split costed 4-8 libra, while for a sum of 40 libra could be
bought family grave in the church of
Franciscan order in
Benac concluded that the distribution of the stećci in the lands
right of the
Cetina river coast in the parts of Dalmatian Zagora,
while their absence in the lands left of the river (with graveyards
along Early Middle Age churches), show these tombstones in those parts
belonged to the Vlachian communities. The triangle between
Trogir and Knin, as well surroundings of
Vrlika and Trilj,
which were the main centers of Vlachs, have the most number of stećci
in Dalmatia. In 1982, Benac noted that the highest concentration
of them is in South Herzegovina (territory of Trebinje, Bileća,
Ljubinj and Stolac), where was high concentration of Vlach population.
Some of the stećci inscriptions (by anthroponyms) clearly relate them
to some Vlachian chieftains; Tarah Boljunović from Boljun-Stolac,
Vukosav Vlaćević from Vlahovići-Lubinje, Hrabreni and Miloradović
in Radimlja-Stolac, as well other distinctive members from Vlach
groups like Bobani, Pliščići, Predojevići, Drobnjaci and to
such chieftains belong finest monuments.
The occurrence of stećci in the
Cetina county is related to the
Nelipić noble family
Nelipić noble family efforts to return economic and political power
to whom was confiscated
Knin in 1345 by king
Louis I of Hungary
Louis I of Hungary in
Cetina county. They thrived with the support
from the Vlachs, who for the service were rewarded with benefits and
common Vlach law. After many conflicts and death of last noble
Nelipić, then Ivan Frankopan, Vlachs supported Stjepan Vukčić
Kosača. The ridge stećci of Dalmatian type can be found only in
Dalmatia and Southwestern Bosnia, parts ruled by the
Kosača noble family. It was in his interest to settle militant and
well organized Vlachs in the most risky part of his realm, to defend
from Talovac forces in
Cetina and Venice forces in Poljica and the
coast. Thus Dalmatian type is found only
West and South of Kosača
capital Imotski, and later also North after fall of Bosnia.
Anthropological research in 1982 on skeletons from 108 stećak graves
(13-14th century) from Raška Gora near Mostar, as well some from
Grborezi near Livno, shown homogeneity of the serials with clean
Dinaric anthropological type, without other admixtures, indicating
non-Slavic origin, yet autochthonous Vlachian population. The
research of 11 skeletons from necropolis at Pavlovac near Prača,
often attributed to the Pavlović noble family, also shown clean
Dinaric type, indicating Vlachian origin, although historical sources
don't call Pavlovići as Vlachs. The anthropological research in
1991 on the 40 skeletons from 28 burials (dated 1440-1450s) beneath
stećci at plateau Poljanice near the village of
Bisko showed that the
vast majority of the population belonged to the autochthonous Dinaric
type, concluding they were anthropologically of non-Slavic origin.
21 skeleton belonged to child burial, while of 19 adult burials 13
belonged to males. The quarry for stećci was found in the
Northwestern part of the plateau, with one ridge as semi-finished work
without any ornament.
Archeologically, some Middle Age burials from
Cetina county have local
specifics by which
Cetina county differs from other parts of Dalmatia.
In the county the burials weren't done in the ground without
additional stone architecture. Some scholars related this phenomenon
to the specific ethnic identity, however due to still groundbreaking
research for now is considered only regional and narrow local
One of their enigma is the fact they were not mentioned in local and
foreign medieval documents.
Franciscan chronicles which recorded many
unusual things, like Turkish cemetery, did not mention them. Folk
tradition preserved mythical perception full of superstitions and
fantasy tales. It implies that occurred discontinuity of historical
memory among all three ethnic groups, caused by ethnic migrations and
religious conversions during the Ottoman occupation.
It is considered that the first itinerary mention of stećci is by
Benedikt Kuripešić from 1530.
Evliya Çelebi in 1626 described
them as tombstone monuments of some unknown heroes. The oldest
local author to mention them is
Andrija Kačić Miošić
Andrija Kačić Miošić in the
Alberto Fortis in his work Travels into
Dalmatia (1774) recorded them in
Romanticist spirit of the time as
described the tombstones in
Cetina as warrior graves of the
giants. They also attracted attention by Aleksander Antoni
Sapieha, Ami Boué, Otto Blau,
John Gardner Wilkinson
John Gardner Wilkinson and Heinrich
Since the second half of the 19th century, stećci are seen as a
symbol of Bosnia and Herzegovina, being objects of South Slavic
ideological ethno-national building myths and ownership, as well
different opinions on their archaeological, artistic and historical
interpretation. Although both Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian
nationalism tried to annex them to their own culture, paradoxally,
none of the three ethnic groups (Bosniaks, Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina originally remember them in their
collective consciousness, leaving them to nature or human destruction
(which at least halved the number), implying the annexation was
based on constructions. Specifically, the thesis about the
Bogomil origin of the stećci leaned along the theory of Bogomil
origin of the Bosnian Muslims i.e. Bosniaks, which ideologisation and
distortion of history was criticized by many scholars, and some like
Wenzel stated that "thus stećci were given as a gift to Muslims,
emphasizing their inheritance rights to the land and implying that the
later Christians, comparatively, were the 'newcomers'". The
breakup of Yugoslavia and
Bosnian War (1992–1995) caused a
resurgence of Bogomil theory in public papers which sought
historial-political legitimacy, ideologically aspired that
Islamization was not only caused by Ottoman occupation yet it was an
event dependent on Bogomils, and thus affirmed ethnical and
confessional difference between Bogomil population and population of
Catholic and Orthodox confession. However, it did not make a
significant influence on scientific thinking and comparative
Europe's first public presentation of the gravestones is attributed to
Russian immigrant and Yugoslav diplomat of Polish origin, Alexander
Soloviev (1890-1971). He apparently wrote about them in the
accompanying prospectus of Paris exhibition "
Medieval art of the
people of Yugoslavia" (1950). First regional public presentation
was held in 2008 at Klovićevi Dvori Gallery, and represented an
example of encouraging public dialogue between four nations.
They have influenced different art forms and were inspirational theme
for sculptors, painters, poets, filmmakers, writers and
The inscription on stećak of
Grdeša from the 12th century,
considered the oldest one found.
Stećci are commonly concentrated in groups: in cemeteries of
individual families with few specimens, in cemeteries of whole
families with approximately 30 up to 50 specimens, big necropolis of
rural districts occasionally with several hundred specimens. Examples
of family necropolis are those by Sanković in village Biskup near
Konjic, by Miloradović-Stjepanović (Hrabreni) in
Stolac, by Pavlović near Sarajevo, and by unknown family at Donja
Zgošća near Kakanj. Today many Stećci are also displayed in the
garden of the National Museum of
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo.
The medieval Mramorje necropolis in
Serbia is part of Monument of
Culture of Exceptional Importance and contains large number of stećak
tombs. Some other notable or studied individual stećci:
It is considered that the oldest known stećak is that of Grdeša, a
12th-century župan of Trebinje.
It is considered that the oldest known stećak with inscription is
that of Marija, wife of priest Dabiživ, with inscribed number and
presumed year-date 1231, from Vidoštak near Stolac.
Vlatko Vuković Kosača's grave lies marked near the village of
Boljuni near Stolac, Bosnia and Herzegovina, from the late 14th
century. The inscription on the grave was written in Bosnian Cyrillic
in Ikavian accent.
The two ridge stećci which belonged to Bogumil Jerko Kustražić and
his wife Vladna from the mid 15th century, in Cista near Imotski, and
The ridge stećak of Vlkoj Bogdanić (son of Radmil) who died in
battle in the mid 15th century, made by mason Jurina, in Lovreć,
Stolac (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
43°5′31.97″N 17°55′26.59″E / 43.0922139°N
17.9240528°E / 43.0922139; 17.9240528 (Radimlja)
Konjic (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
43°29′48″N 18°7′18″E / 43.49667°N 18.12167°E /
43.49667; 18.12167 (Biskup)
Nevesinje (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
43°18′47.5″N 18°11′47.3″E / 43.313194°N
18.196472°E / 43.313194; 18.196472 (Krekovi)
Rogatica (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
43°50′13″N 18°53′4.05″E / 43.83694°N 18.8844583°E
/ 43.83694; 18.8844583 (Borak)
Travnik (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
44°3′2″N 17°40′30″E / 44.05056°N 17.67500°E /
44.05056; 17.67500 (Maculje)
Blidinje, Jablanica (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
43°39′47.6″N 17°32′35″E / 43.663222°N 17.54306°E
/ 43.663222; 17.54306 (Dugo polje)
Kalinovik (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
43°33′27.6″N 18°26′18″E / 43.557667°N 18.43833°E
/ 43.557667; 18.43833 (Gvozno)
Grebnice in Radmilovića Dubrava,
Bileća (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
42°54′16.5″N 18°27′52″E / 42.904583°N 18.46444°E
/ 42.904583; 18.46444 (Grebnice)
Ljubuški (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
43°7′44.9″N 17°35′37″E / 43.129139°N 17.59361°E /
43.129139; 17.59361 (Bijača)
Kladanj (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
44°17′16″N 18°38′52″E / 44.28778°N 18.64778°E /
44.28778; 18.64778 (Olovci)
Olovo (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
45°06′26″N 18°31′15″E / 45.10722°N 18.52083°E /
45.10722; 18.52083 (Mramor)
Goražde (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
43°40′57.3″N 18°45′34″E / 43.682583°N 18.75944°E
/ 43.682583; 18.75944 (Kučarin)
Stolac (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
43°1′40.38″N 17°52′29.36″E / 43.0278833°N
17.8748222°E / 43.0278833; 17.8748222 (Boljuni)
Umoljani, Trnovo (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
43°39′18.5″N 18°14′13.24″E / 43.655139°N
18.2370111°E / 43.655139; 18.2370111 (Umoljani)
Sokolac (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
43°57′28.34″N 18°50′34.45″E / 43.9578722°N
18.8429028°E / 43.9578722; 18.8429028 (Luburića polje)
Berkovići (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
43°6′35.86″N 18°7′44.24″E / 43.1099611°N
18.1289556°E / 43.1099611; 18.1289556 (Potkuk)
Šekovići (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
44°19′40.09″N 18°50′41.78″E / 44.3278028°N
18.8449389°E / 44.3278028; 18.8449389 (Bečani)
Foča (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
43°23′24.99″N 18°56′34.99″E / 43.3902750°N
18.9430528°E / 43.3902750; 18.9430528 (Vrbica)
Kalinovik (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
43°25′14.83″N 18°24′7.24″E / 43.4207861°N
18.4020111°E / 43.4207861; 18.4020111 (Čengića Bara)
Kupres (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
43°51′47.91″N 17°18′45.57″E / 43.8633083°N
17.3126583°E / 43.8633083; 17.3126583 (Ravanjska vrata)
Velika i Mala Crljivica
Cista Velika (Croatia)
43°30′55.28″N 16°55′37.9″E / 43.5153556°N
16.927194°E / 43.5153556; 16.927194 (Crljivica)
42°32′30.42″N 18°25′20.57″E / 42.5417833°N
18.4223806°E / 42.5417833; 18.4223806 (Dubravka)
43°5′41.34″N 19°8′57.06″E / 43.0948167°N
19.1491833°E / 43.0948167; 19.1491833 (Grčko groblje)
43°6′0.456″N 19°10′0.087″E / 43.10012667°N
19.16669083°E / 43.10012667; 19.16669083 (Bare Žugića)
43°20′30.18″N 18°51′0.437″E / 43.3417167°N
18.85012139°E / 43.3417167; 18.85012139 (Grčko groblje)
Bajina Bašta (Serbia)
43°57′28″N 19°25′49″E / 43.95778°N 19.43028°E /
43.95778; 19.43028 (Perućac)
Bajina Bašta (Serbia)
43°56′45″N 19°21′13″E / 43.94583°N 19.35361°E /
43.94583; 19.35361 (Rastište)
43°17′56″N 19°37′28″E / 43.29889°N 19.62444°E /
43.29889; 19.62444 (Hrta)
Radimlja necropolis, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Radimlja, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Umoljani, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Dugopolje, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Morine, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Velike Grebenice, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Neum, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Somewhere in Dalmatia, Croatia
Somewhere in Dalmatia, Croatia
^ Turkish word meşhed means a monument erected to Islamic dead martyr
şehid. The issue with the derivation is that stećci are attributed
to, for Islam, infidel Christians and Bogomils, term mašet can also
be derived from Turkish maşatlik meaning "non-Muslim cemetery", term
mašet is of male while mašeta is of female gender, which is specific
^ See spring procession of Ljelje/Kraljice in
Croatia with swords and
flowers, similarly danced by Vlachs east of
Beograd at the day of
Pentecost. The etymological and cultural relation of jelen (deer),
Ljelja and Ljeljo which are children of Perun, as well flower ljiljan
(lilium) also called as perunika is still to be confirmed. Ivo
Pilar noted that the use of name Ljeljen for hills in toponymy of
Herzegovina and Eastern Bosnia is common.
Vlachs in medieval Bosnia and Herzegovina
^ a b c "Joint Nomination for Inclusion of Stećci - Medieval
Tombstones in the World Heritage List". UNESCO. 14 April 2014.
Archived from the original on 14 April 2016.
^ a b Musli, Emir (23 November 2014). "Čiji su naši stećci?" (in
Bosnian). Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
^ a b Walasek, Helen (2002). "
Marian Wenzel 18 December 1932 - 6
January 2002". Bosnian Institute.
^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 52, 72, 176, 307.
^ a b Trako 2011, p. 71–72, 73–74.
^ a b c d "Examination of nominations of cultural properties to the
World Heritage List". UNESCO. 2016. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
^ a b c Kužić 1999, p. 176.
^ a b c Buturovic 2016, p. 114.
^ a b Trako 2011, p. 72.
^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 59–60.
^ a b "Stećaks - Mediaeval Tombstones (Bosnia and Herzegovina)".
UNESCO. 18 April 2011. Archived from the original on 20 August 2016.
Retrieved 1 April 2016.
^ Kužić 2001, p. 272.
^ Bulog 2007, p. 390.
^ a b c d Mužić 2009, p. 322.
^ Kužić 2001, p. 269.
^ a b Kužić 2001, p. 268.
^ Kužić 2001, p. 270.
^ Kužić 2001, p. 267.
^ a b Kužić 2001, p. 271–273.
^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 60.
^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 59.
^ a b c d Cebotarev 1996, p. 321.
^ Milošević 1991, p. 6, 61.
^ a b c Lovrenović 2013, p. 62.
^ Milošević 1991, p. 6.
^ a b c d e f Cebotarev 1996, p. 322.
^ a b c Purgarić-Kužić 1995, p. 244.
^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 176.
^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 69–71.
^ Milošević 1991, p. 6–7.
^ a b Mužić 2009, p. 326.
^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 72, 176.
^ a b c Buturovic 2016, p. 118.
^ a b Buturovic 2016, p. 121.
^ Purgarić-Kužić 1995, p. 249.
^ Trako 2011, p. 73.
^ Purgarić-Kužić 1995, p. 248.
^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 371.
^ a b Lovrenović 2013, p. 369.
^ Lovrenović 2014, p. 73–122.
^ a b c Purgarić-Kužić 1995, p. 251.
^ Mužić 2009, p. 328.
^ a b Mužić 2009, p. 329.
^ a b c Mužić 2009, p. 334.
^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 61.
^ Mužić 2009, p. 329–335.
^ Mužić 2009, p. 332–333.
^ Mužić 2009, p. 333.
^ a b Mužić 2009, p. 332.
^ Mužić 2009, p. 331.
^ Mužić 2009, p. 328–329.
^ Mužić 2009, p. 336.
^ Lovrenović 2014, p. 91.
^ Mužić 2009, p. 335.
^ Mužić 2009, p. 331–332.
^ Lovrenović 2014, p. 80–81.
^ Purgarić-Kužić 1995, p. 250.
^ Milošević 1991, p. 42.
^ Lovrenović 2014, p. 81.
^ Lovrenović 2014, p. 86.
^ a b c Purgarić-Kužić 1995, p. 247.
^ a b Purgarić-Kužić 1995, p. 245.
^ Mužić 2009, p. 327, 336.
^ a b Lovrenović 2013, p. 372.
^ a b c Milošević 1991, p. 40.
^ Milošević 2013, p. 91.
^ Milošević 1991, p. 61.
^ a b Cebotarev 1996, p. 323.
^ a b c d Milošević 1991, p. 7.
^ Zorić 1984, p. 208.
^ Zorić 1984, p. 207–211.
^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 42–43.
^ a b c d e Trako 2011, p. 75.
^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 33, 367.
^ Fine 2007.
^ a b Mužić 2009, p. 327.
^ Purgarić-Kužić 1995, p. 242.
^ a b c Ronelle Alexander; Ellen Elias-Bursac (2010). Bosnian,
Croatian, Serbian, a Textbook: With Exercises and Basic Grammar.
University of Wisconsin Pres. p. 270.
^ Kužić 2001, p. 273.
^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 35, 367.
^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 368.
^ Brook, Anthea (March 5, 2002). "Marian Wenzel". The Guardian.
London. Retrieved May 24, 2010.
^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 38–43.
^ Fine, John V. A. (1991). The Late
Medieval Balkans: A Critical
Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest.
University of Michigan Press. p. 486.
^ Purgarić-Kužić 1995, p. 253.
^ a b Lovrenović 2013, p. 373.
^ Trako 2011, p. 80.
^ a b Mužić 2009, p. 338.
^ Purgarić-Kužić 1995, p. 245–246.
^ Kurtović 2013, p. 2.
^ a b c Purgarić-Kužić 1995, p. 252.
^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 48.
^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 37–38.
^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 37.
^ a b Milošević 1991, p. 8.
^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 72.
^ Milošević 1991, p. 45.
^ Milošević 2013, p. 90.
^ a b Mužić 2009, p. 323.
^ Kurtović 2015, p. 316.
^ Kurtović 2013, p. 12.
^ Milošević 1991, p. 52–53.
^ Milošević 1991, p. 54.
^ a b Milošević 1991, p. 35.
^ Milošević 1991, p. 37.
^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 30–32.
^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 31.
^ a b Lovrenović 2013, p. 30.
^ Milošević 1991, p. 39.
^ Buturovic 2016, p. 115.
^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 36.
^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 28–38, 368.
^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 35.
^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 43–46.
^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 46–48.
^ Trako 2011, p. 79.
^ Monuments of Culture in Serbia: Некропола стећака
(SANU) (in Serbian) (in English)
^ a b Trako 2011, p. 74.
^ Lovrenović 2013, p. 63.
^ Šimić, Marinka. "Jezik Boljunskih Natpisa" (PDF). Staroslavenski
^ a b Milošević 1991, p. 54, 62.
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Stećci.
UNESCO (2016). "Stećci
Medieval Tombstones Graveyards".
Croatian Encyclopaedia (2011). "Stećci".
World Heritage Sites in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge
Stećak (with Croatia,
Montenegro and Serbia)
World Heritage Sites in Croatia
Cathedral of St. James, Šibenik
Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasian Basilica, Poreč
Split with the Palace of Diocletian
Stari Grad Plain
Venetian Works of Defence between 15th and 17th centuries 2
Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe
1 shared with Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Montenegro and Serbia
2 shared with
Italy and Montenegro
3 shared with Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Italy,
Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia,
Spain and Ukraine
World Heritage Sites in Montenegro
Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor
Venetian Works of Defence between 15th and 17th centuries
(Fortifications of Kotor) (with
Italy and Croatia)
Stećak (with Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Croatia and Serbia)
World Heritage Sites of Serbia
Gamzigrad-Romuliana, Palace of Galerius
Stari Ras and Sopoćani
Medieval Monuments in Kosovo
Patriarchate of Peć
Our Lady of Ljeviš
Medieval Tombstones Graveyards (with Bosnia and Herzegovina,