culturalorientation.net -home
BOSNIANSTHEIR HISTORY AND CULTURE REFUGEE FACT SHEET NO.8  
<< CHAPTER
>>
CONTENTS | PREFACE | INTRODUCTION | PEOPLE | GEOGRAPHY | HISTORY | EDUCATION | RELIGION | ART | FOOD | FESTIVITIES | NAMES | SOCIETY | ENGLISH | SERBO-CROATIAN | BIBLIOGRAPHY | DISCOGRAPHY | GLOSSARY | ORDER A PRINT COPY  

 

 

Art

The arts were highly developed in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Three major ethnicities yielded a great wealth to be drawn upon in song, dance, literature, and poetry, while the Ottoman and Austrian occupations also left rich architectural legacies.

Sculpture in Bosnia dates back to the pre-Islamic era, as the carved figures of dancers, animals, and other figures on Bogomil tombstones attest. This depiction of the human form carried over into the Islamic period, and the customary Muslim prohibition against representing the human form did not take hold. Still, Islamic arts, such as elaborate calligraphy and fine metalworking, did become features of Bosnian art. Much energy was devoted to religious and domestic architecture; houses featured walled compounds with their distinctive gates, carved wooden ceilings and screens, and built-in seating covered with fine weavings. Kilims (handwoven carpets) and knotted rugs were common. In fact, the custom of giving a personally woven dowry rug, with the couple's initials and date of marriage, has only recently disappeared. Other textile arts, like silk embroidery, were also common domestic arts.

Music and dance especially reflected Bosnia's great diversity. Bosnian music can be divided into rural and urban traditions, with the urban tradition more strongly influenced by Turkish musical practice. The rural tradition is characterized by such musical styles as ravne pesme (flat song) of limited scale, ganga, an almost shouted polyphonic style, and other types of songs which may be accompanied on sargija (a simple long-necked lute), wooden flute, or the diple, a droneless bagpipe. The urban tradition shows a much heavier Turkish influence, with its melismatic singing (more than one note per syllable) and accompaniment on the saz, a larger and more elaborate version of the sargija. Epic poems, an ancient tradition, are still sung to the sound of the gusle, a single-string bowed fiddle. Bosnia's Jewish heritage is still marked in folksongs sung in Ladino, a dialect descended from 15th-century Spanish. All of this rich heritage of folk music is, of course, disappearing under the influence of Western pop music and of new native pop music in a folkish style, played on the accordion and synthesizer.

Special mention should be made of sevdalinka. Derived from the Turkish word sevda (love), sevdalinka songs were the most widespread form of music in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Incorporating both Western and Eastern elements, these deeply emotional songs speak metaphorically and symbolically of love won and lost; they came to symbolize Bosnia to natives and foreigners alike.

Bosnian folk dance is arguably the richest and yet least known of all the regional folk dances of former Yugoslavia. Dances range from the silent kolo (accompanied only by the sound of stamping feet and the clash of silver ducats on the women's aprons) to line dances in which the sexes are segregated (as they are in the Middle East) to Croatian and Serbian dances indistinguishable from those performed across the borders in their native regions. Like music, however, these folk dances are also rapidly succumbing to the influence of the modern era as European social dances and rock and roll displace them.

Partly to counteract this tendency, the Yugoslav government sponsored more than 400 amateur folklore groups in Bosnia alone. Most emphasized performance of the dance, music, and song of the three major ethnicities of the republic, while a minority specialized in performing contemporary dramatic works, choral performances, and modern dance and ballet. Folklore programs were a regular feature of radio and television programming in Bosnia.

 

<< CHAPTER
>>

www.culturalorientation.net
For more information contact sanja@cal.org.
Designed by SAGARTdesign
This site looks best when viewed using Netscape Navigator 3.0 or higher. Last Updated:02/18/04