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Stećaks - Mediaeval Tombstones

Date of Submission: 18/04/2011
Criteria: (ii)(iii)(vi)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to UNESCO
Ref.: 5607
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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party

Description

 Part of serial transnational property:

1. RADIMLJA NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS -Stolac, FBiH

43° 5'31.97"N;  17°55'26.59"E

2. BISKUP NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS - Konjic, FBiH

43°29'43.71"N; 18° 7'30.23"E

3. KALUFI NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS Nevesinje,  RS,

43°18'42.16"N;  18°11'54.51"E

4. BORAK NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS , Burati-Rogatica, RS,

43°50'13.00"N; 18°53'4.05"E

5. MACULJE NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS -Novi Travnik, FBiH

44° 3'23.17"N; 17°40'37.18"E

6. DUGO POLJE NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS -Jablanica, FBiH

43°40'4.68"N; 17°32'40.61"E

7. GVOZNO NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS -Kalinovik, RS,

43°33'27.60"N; 18°26'18.30"E

8.GREBNICE-BUNČIĆI NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS, Radmilovića Dubrava, Bileća, RS,

 42°53'48.91"N;  18°26'58.04"E

9. BIJAČA NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS - Ljubuški, FBiH

43º 07,44.9' N;  17º 35,377' E

10. NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS IN OLOVCI, Kladanj, FBiH

44°17'15.47"N; 18°38'54.95"E

11. NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS AT MRAMOR, Musići, Olovo, FBiH

44° 6'14.66"N; 18°31'10.21"E

12. NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS IN STARE KUĆE, Donje Breške, Tuzla, FBiH

44°35'46.89" N; 18°40'43.88"E

13. KUČARIN - DONJE POLJE NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS, Žilići, Goražde, FBiH

43º 40' 59.66 N;  18º 45' 31.67" E

14. BOLJUNI NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS,  Stolac, FBiH

43° 1'40.38" N;  17°52'29.36"E

15. UMOLJANI NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS, Trnovo, FBiH

43°39'18.50"N;  18°14'13.24"E

16. NECROPOLISES WITH STEĆAKS in LUBURIĆA POLJE, Sokolac, RS

43°57'20.74"N; 18°50'27.52"E

17. POTKUK NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS IN BITUNJA, Berkovići, RS

43° 6'35.86"N; 18° 7'44.24"E

18. MRAMORJE NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS, Buđ, Pale, RS

43º 49' 4.44" N; 18º 45' 35.53" E

19. NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS IN THE VILLAGE OF BEČANI, Šekovići, RS

44°19'40.09"N; 18°50'41.78"E

20. NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS AT MRAMOR (CRKVINA), Vrbica, Foča, RS

43º 23' 24.99" N; 18º 56' 34.99" E

21. ČENGIĆA BARA NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS, Kalinovik, RS

43º 25' 14.83" N; 18º 24' 7.24" E

22. NECROPOLISES WITH STEĆAKS - RAVANJSKA VRATA, Kupres, FBIH,

 43°51'47.91"N;  17°18'45.57"E

Stećaks are monolithic tombstones found throughout present day of Bosnia and Herzegovina and in parts of Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia.

Findings to date suggest that they first appeared in the latter half of the 12th century, with their first phase lasting throughout the 13th century, and that many were cut and decorated in the 14th and 15th centuries, before gradually ceasing to be made in the 16th century.

Some 60,000 of the 70,000 recorded medieval tombstones (stećaks) at about 3,300 sites are in Bosnia and Herzegovina, about 4,400 in Croatia, about 3,500 in Montenegro and about 4,100 in Serbia. They fall into two main groups, recumbent and upright or standing stone monoliths.

Most tombstones are recumbent monoliths, which come in three types: slab, chest and gabled (sarcophagus-like).  Upright stone monoliths come in the following types: stela, pillar (obelisk), cruciform and nišan.  

The decorative motifs on the tombstones possess the marked symbolism characteristic of mediaeval art, and include secular and religious symbols and other ornaments, which merge and complement each other.  Taken as a whole, the ornamentation on the tombstones reveals the mindset and sensibility of an entire era, both of the people who were involved in making them and of the deceased whose final resting place is beneath them, in honour of whose wishes - as some sources reveal - the tombstones were carved.

Recumbent tombstones constitute the primary form of tombstone (stećak), and are found throughout their range.  The artistry of the tombstone is to be seen in their form and decoration, the latter executed using two different techniques - usually bas relief, though incised lines are not uncommon.

Along with the regional differences to be seen in the selection of shapes, ornamental motifs and quality of workmanship, the medieval tombstones are usually concentrated in groups - forming the burial grounds of separate families with just a few tombstones, the burial grounds of whole clans with an average of thirty to fifty monuments, and finally village cemeteries, sometimes with several hundred tombstones.  Of particular significance are the special cemeteries of certain land-owning families from the top echelons of feudal society. 

Bosnia and Herzegovina:

Their epitaphs reveal that other names were used in tandem to denote the tombstones (stećaks): bilig, kâm (stone), zlamen, kuća (house) and eternal abode.  Popular names long in use include mramorje (marbles), mašeti, Greek tombs, old tombs, kaursko groblje (giaours' or infidels' burial grounds), and giants' stones.

The name most commonly used in reference works is stećak, deriving from the fact that they were designed to stand over graves as a monument.  The word comes from the present participle of the verb stajati, to stand - stojeći or, as it used to be pronounced, steći.

They fall into two main groups, recumbent and upright or standing stone monoliths. Upright stone monoliths come in the following forms: stela, pillar (obelisk), cruciform and nišan. Tombstones of this type are found in large numbers in north-east Bosnia (around Srebrenica and Zvornik, but only occasionally in other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Most stećaks are recumbent monoliths, which come in three forms: slab, chest and sarcophagus (gabled).

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.

In the specific political, economic and cultural circumstances of the different regions, the art of carving the stećak led to the formation of distinct local styles and artistic "schools." Foremost among these are the stonemasons' workshops in Herzegovina, based around Stolac, in the Trebinje and Bileća region, and in Gacko and Nevesinje.  A fourth workshop was active in the Konjic region, and a fifth around Lištica.

The principal stonemasonry centres in western Bosnia were in the area between Kupres and Tomislavgrad (Duvno), and in central Bosnia, around Travnik.  Four workshops are known to have been active in east Bosnia - one between Kladanj, Olovo and Ilijaš, another around Zvornik, and third at Ludmer and a fourth around Rogatica.

Along with stonemasons, there were scribes too, operating in a number of centres or workshops, one of which was near Stolac, with Semorad as a leading figure.

With 3,000 to 4,000 specimens, the Herzegovina municipalities of Nevesinje and Konjic take first place in numbers of stećak. The number of stećaks at some of the necropolises is an important indicator of developments in mediaeval Bosnian society of the 14th and 15th centuries.  Since most necropolises contain fewer than ten stećaks, and those with 300 or more, belonging to larger communities, are the exception, the small burial grounds may be regarded as family graveyards, indicating that the breakup of the old clan-based society and the emergence of small family communities organizing their own burial grounds as a sign of their "new" identity was already well advanced. .

Following a brief transitional period marked by the emergence of a hybrid stećak-nišan tombstone, the burial practices embodied in the stećaks died out in the decades following the establishment of Ottoman rule in Bosnia and Hum (1463-1482), when gravestones began to differ by confession.

In comparison to other Stećaks necropolises, the necropolises within this serial nomination are the most authentic and they have the highest degree of integrity.  The nominated necropolises are the national monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina and they have the highest degree of legal protection stipulated by respective Decisions proclaiming them as national monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

A system for coordination in developing the management plan has been set up, headed by the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, the Ministry of Civil Affairs, and the State Commission for Cooperation of Bosnia and Herzegovina with UNESCO, as well as responsible entity ministries of culture and institutes for protection of cultural heritage.  During development of management plan, a participatory approach will be taken, involving all government institutions responsible for heritage management as well as the municipalities in which the nominated necropolises with stećaks are located.

1. RADIMLJA NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS -Stolac, FBiH

The Radimlja necropolis, located at the western entrance to the town of Stolac, is one of the most important mediaeval monuments in Bosnia and Herzegovina on account of the number of stećak tombstones, the diversity and representativity of the basic shapes of these tombstones, their relatively high artistic quality of workmanship, their wealth of carved decoration, scenes in relief and epitaphs referring to known historical figures, and the unusual location and ease of access of the necropolis.

The origins of the necropolis date back to the late 14th century, when three large chest-shaped tombstones were cut, two of which are elaborately decorated and feature figural scenes in bas-relief.  The next stage is represented by simple chest-shaped and gabled (sarcophagus-shaped) tombstones, their ends decorated with floriated crosses and with borders of acanthus leaves.  A separate group of some twenty stećak tombstones  dates from the final stage in the expansion of the necropolis, at the turn of the mediaeval and Ottoman periods - roughly the 15th to 16th century - of fine workmanship and of various shapes, which epitaphs reveal beyond doubt as the burial ground of the Orthodox Miloradović-Stjepanović feudal family.

The necropolis has 133 tombstones : 36 slabs, one slab on a plinth, 27 chests, 24 chests on plinths, four tall chests, five tall chests on plinths, two gabled, 31 gabled on plinths, and three cruciform tombstones.

Sixty-three of the 133 tombstones are decorated.  The decorations are in bas-relief, incised, or a combination of the two.  Among the most common decorative motifs, also standing out on account of their workmanship, are scrolling trefoil vines and cable twists, and motifs with a symbolic meaning, such as the sun (a circle), stars and crescent moon.  There are also numerous crosses, often highly stylized, and shield, sword and bow-and-arrow motifs.  A number of the tombstones bear animal figures, and the necropolis is also rich in figural scenes.  Of particular note are "ducal figures" and the figures of men with arms raised; there are also battle scenes and scenes of hunting and dancing.

Five of tombstones bear epitaphs in Bosnian Cyrillic, relating to one Radoje of the Miloradović-Stjepanović family, and to Radoje Vuković, Vukac Napetović, Vlačo (Vlađo) Vlahović and a certain Stipan.  The scribes' or stonemasons' signatures of Bolašin Bogačič, Miogost and Ratko Brativo(-)nič /Brativojevič are also to be seen on the tombstones.

2. BISKUP NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS - Konjic, FBiH

Biskup is a village near Glavatičevo, about 30 km south-east of Konjic.  The remains of a church and of the necropolis with stećak tombstones are located on a small hillock known as Grčka glavica alongside the macadam road. 

The necropolis consists of 172 tombstones and numerous graves without tombstones.  A single gabled tombstone stands out among the rest, all of which are slab-shaped or chest-shaped.  The necropolis covers an area of approx. 1700 m2.

The orientation of the tombstones can be determined with accuracy only in part of the ruins of the church, where the tombstones lay north-east/south-west.  Two are decorated, one chest and one gabled, in addition to which one chest bears an epitaph.  The decorative motifs on the tombstones  consists of a frieze of scrolling vines with trefoils, a frieze composed of a series of parallel diagonal lines and an arcade.  The epitaph reveals that the stećak marks the grave of Goisava, second wife of vojvoda Radič, lord of Hum land and some regions of northern Herzegovina, of the Sanković family.

The remains of the church, which may be dated roughly to the 12th or 13th century, are in the eastern part of the necropolis.  The ruins of the church were used by the Sanković family as their necropolis from the early 14th century to the middle of 1404.

3. KALUFI NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS - Nevesinje, RS,

The Kalufi necropolis is the largest necropolis of stećak tombstones in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with 462 tombstones, 295 of which are slabs, 150 chest-shaped, three gabled, and fourteen consist of antique spolia in secondary use.  It covers an area of about 18,000 m2.  The tombstones were cut from good quality limestone, and most are of good workmanship, though some are of poorer quality and some are even of indeterminate shape.  Forty-four of them are decorated: 14 slabs, 28 chests and two gabled.  The most common decorative motifs of these stećak tombstones are swords and shields with swords, followed by cable twists and scrolling vines with trefoils, while twisted garlands and crescent moons are also fairly common.  There are also rosettes, rosettes in garlands, crosses (plain, stylized and anthropomorphic), demi-orbs ("apples") and arcades.  Figural scenes include the figure of a man, a horse, a man with a spear, a hunting scene, a round-dance scene and a jousting scene.

The Kalufi necropolis is similar to other necropolises in the Nevesinje polje in terms of the selection and workmanship of its decorative motifs, as it is to the 14th and 15th century necropolises of eastern Herzegovina as a whole.

4. BORAK NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS, Burati - Rogatica,  RS,

The site with the stećak tombstones is in the western part of Rogatica municipality, above the village of Burati, which is 20 km west of Rogatica, near the mediaeval road from Dubrovnik to Srebrenica.

The necropolis has 212 tombstones, 136 slabs, 67 chest-shaped, seven gabled, one hollowed with a trough, and one of indeterminate shape.  Five are decorated (one slab, two chests and two gabled), with a double spiral, a demi-orb ("apple"), a cross, a crescent moon, a rosette, a fleur de lis, a hand with a sword, and a hunting scene of a hunter on foot with a spear, a dog, a deer and a bear.

Rogatica is the municipality with the largest number of such tombstones, 2,628 in all.  One of the country's centres of stonemasonry is also associated with Rogatica municipality.

5. MACULJE NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS - Novi Travnik, FBiH

The Maculje necropolis at Mašeta is in central Bosnia, in the "crown lands" at the very heart of the mediaeval state of Bosnia, at an altitude of 998 m, 21 km from Novi Travnik on the road to Gornji Vakuf. 

It has 101 tombstones: 32 slabs, 52 chest-shaped, 11 gabled and six of which the shape could not be identified as they are partly buried.  They are of limestone, and stand in rows.  The principal shape is that of a chest on a plinth, followed by those of sarcophagus shape, with or without a plinth, and a few common slabs.  One only is decorated (with an "apple").  The necropolis also contains 16 anthropomorphic tombstones, which some authorities call cruciform tombstones, all but one decorated; the decorative motifs are a cross, a stylized cross, a Greek cross, a circle ("apple") and a crescent moon.

These anthropomorphic tombstones are a distinctive type found only in the Travnik and Zenica area, with no analogy in the areas where stećak tombstones are found.

The cruciform tombstones are of later date, and do not belong to the Middle Ages. 

6. DUGO POLJE NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS - Blidinje, Jablanica, FBiH

Blidinje is a karst plateau extending north-east/south-west between Mts. Čvrsnica, Muharica and Vran.  Dugo polje, where the necropolis with stećaks is located, lies at the foot of Mt Vran, which slopes steeply to the south and south-east between Lake Blidinje and Hrbin. It covers an area of 90 x 36 m south of the macadam road.  There are no habitations nearby except for a few houses and shacks to the east, probably occupied only in summer.

The Dugo polje necropolis has 150 tombstones; 72 slab-shaped, 59 chest-shaped, 14 tall chests, four gabled on plinths and one gabled without plinth.   Decorations are to be found on 32 of the tombstones- five slabs, 22 chests and five gabled - with rosettes the most common motif, featuring 34 times.  There are 19 crosses, four of them stylized and one double.  One tombstone bears an unusual combination, constituting one of the distinctive features of this necropolis - two arms of the cross ending in an anchor, and two as fleur de lis.  There are 16 crescent moons, usually combined with a rosette. Borders feature as edgings to the slabs, sinuous lines with spirals or trefoils in the empty spaces, and incised zigzag lines.  Some of the lines are S-shaped and some form detached spirals.  One chest-shaped stećak is interesting on account of the top with its border of incised lines flanked on both sides by close-set spiral lines. Circular garlands feature eight times on four tombstones, most of them twisted.  Cable twist, a very common motif on the stećak tombstones of Herzegovina, frames the lower edge of the "roof" of three gabled tombstones, creating the impression of the eaves of a house or the lid of a chest.  A shield and sword feature in three places, and a sword alone in one.  Two shields bear heraldic charges - rosettes or bends with fleur de lis.  The motif on one chest-shaped tombstone, suggesting a tool of some kind, has yet to be identified.

Figural scenes include five hunting scenes, two jousting scenes, two round dances (one with women, one mixed) and one scene of three figures coming out of a tower.  The jousting scenes are on foot, the combatants armed with maces and swords.   A single animal - a deer with head raised and a horse - features on two tombstones, and an arm features once.  The most interesting figural scene is one with a mythological animal, probably a winged horse, with a serpent.  Three figures with hands on their chests and five male figures with arms raised are primarily symbolic in meaning.

7. GVOZNO NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS - Kalinovik, RS

Gvozno is a small karst polje on Mt. Treskavica, about 11 km north-west of Kalinovik.  The polje is surrounded to the south and east by karst hills, and to the west and north by the forested slopes of the mountain, rising gradually at first and then very steeply.  The necropolis with stećaks is in the southern part of the polje, at the foot of Mt. Gradac, on a slight elevation, about 300 m as the crow flies from spot height 1396 (Gradac).

The Gvozno necropolis covers an area of 46 x 23 m, and has a total of 87 tombstones: 27 slabs, 54 chest-shaped, four gabled and two cruciform. Fourteen are decorated.  The tombstones mainly lie west-east, with a few lying north-west/south-east. 

The decorations include hunting and dance scenes, and there are several figures of dogs.  Unique to this necropolis are the figures of winged dragons.  One grave marked on the surface by small unworked stones has been excavated. No grave goods were found with the skeleton.

The quarry was a few dozen metres south-west of the necropolis, at the foot of Gradac hill.

8. GREBNICE-BUNČIĆI NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS, Radmilovića Dubrava, Bileća, RS,

The village of Radmilovića Dubrava is 3 km as the crow flies north-east of Bileća. The Grebnice prehistoric tumulus and necropolis are at Bunčići, at an altitude of 865 m. It has 291 stećaks: 218 slabs, 64 chest-shaped, one gabled, one pillar, one cruciform, one nišan and five sunken, the shape of which could not be identified. They are of good workmanship, and are lying west-east and north-south.  Thirty-three are decorated (five slabs, 26 chests, one cruciform, and one gabled), though Šefik Bešlagić recorded forty decorated chests.  The motifs are arcades, scrolling vines with trefoils, crosses, rows of rosettes and circular garlands, networks of rhombs, twisted garlands, a "vodenica" (circular garland), and a hand.

Bešlagić recorded seven epitaphs in this necropolis, on two slabs, four chests and one gabled tombstone.  The epitaphs refer to Vukša Dubčević, Bunco Rušović, Rašoje, Crijep and Raško Vlahović, Vitoje Daković, the monk Gligorije and Rado Raise.  During the latest survey of the necropolis, epitaphs were found on only two chests; it will be necessary to clean the tombstones to identify the epitaphs on the other stećaks.

The epitaphs that were found refer to Bunco Rušović, Crijep and Raško Vlahović.  Two tall chests with a round-dance scene, birds and animals running, with the figure of a horseman and an epitaph referring to Vukša Dubčević, have been transferred to the National Museum in Sarajevo.  The Drežnica quarry, where the tombstones were cut and finished, is about 2 km as the crow flies north-east of the necropolis.

9. BIJAČA NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS - Ljubuški, FBiH

The necropolis, with 33 tombstones, is at Bijača in the Mekota enclosure, by the Ljubuški to Vid road, very close to the village of Donja Bijača.  In 1931, part of the necropolis was covered by a road or the structure alongside it, and one decorated stećak was taken to the Museum of the Franciscan monastery at Humac in 2003.

Twenty of the tombstones are chest-shaped, 14 slabs and one gabled; seventeen are decorated.  Symbolic motifs include a cross, crescent moon, twisted garland, rosette, star and sun.  The weapons represented are a sword, shield, shield with sword, and bow and arrow.  Round-dance scenes, human figures and hunting scenes feature on eight tombstones.  Geometric and architectural motifs consist of cable twist, vines with trefoils and arcades.

10. NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS IN OLOVCI NEAR KLADANJ - Kladanj, FBiH

Olovci is a village about 10 km north-west of Kladanj.  There are four sites with stećak tombstones near the village, the most important of which is at Donji Olovci, on the Olovci -Tuholj road.

 The necropolis is on a site that slopes gently down towards the road, with an area of 24.5 x 14 m, and has 18 tombstones: five chest-shaped, twelve gabled and one erect tombstone.  All are of good workmanship and lie west-east, in rows, with the exception of one gabled and two chest-shaped tombstones which lie north-south.  Three gabled tombstones are decorated, and one bears an epitaph.

The decorative motifs found in this necropolis are a double spiral, cable twist, a cross with rounded ends to the arms, two Tau crosses, a motif resembling a staff, and an epitaph reading: "In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, here lies Radomir Jurisalić on his own noble lands."  Radomir was a member of the feudal Jurisalić family whose hereditament was in this area.  The form of the lettering suggests that the epitaph dates to the 14th/15th century.

The stećak tombstones of Kladanj belong to one of the four stonemason's workshops active in eastern Bosnia which, to judge by certain features common to the tombstones, could have been located between Kladanj, Olovo and Ilijaš.  The decorative motifs, epitaphs and the presence of upright stećak tombstones suggest a rough date of the 14th to the 16th century.

11. NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS AT MRAMOR, Musići, Olovo, FBiH

The necropolis in the village of Musići is about 4 km as the crow flies to the south-west of Olovo, at a place called Mramor.  It has 80 tombstones, 25 slabs, eight chest-shaped and 47 gabled, lying west-east and north-south.  Twelve are decorated: two slabs, two chests and eight gabled.  The most common motifs are spirals, rosettes and cable twist, followed by crosses.

The tombstones of the Olovo region are in the transitional zone between central and eastern Bosnia, where all shapes of stećak from slabs to erect tombstones are represented; they are relatively low, long and narrow.  Gabled (sarcophagus-shaped) tombstones are the most common, reflecting the specific shapes of the tombstones of the region in size and in the way they narrow towards the base, almost invariably along their length but rarely on all four sides.

12. NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS AT STARE KUĆE, Donje Breške. Tuzla, FBiH

The village of Donje Breške is about 8 km as the crow flies to the north-west of Tuzla.  The necropolis, with 15 pillar-shaped tombstones, is at Stare kuće in the hamlet of Nikolići. 

Since all the tombstones are of the type known as upright or standing stones, the necropolis may be dated to the late stage in the evolution of the stećak, in the latter half of the 15th century.  They are of good workmanship, and most are now lying on their sides.  They lay west-east.  Three are decorated, with "apples," a spiral, a double spiral, a bow, a crescent moon, a cross, an axe, a sabre and several parallel lines on the "roof."

13. KUČARIN NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS, Donje Polje, Žilići, Goražde, FBiH

The necropolis with 325 visible STEĆAKS is in Donje polje, near the village of Žilići, about 15 km west of Goražde, at Kučarin, at an altitude of 730 m.  All three forms of recumbent stećak are represented there: slabs, chests, and gabled tombstones.  Four are decorated, and one gabled tombstone bears an epitaph, reading "† Se leži Njegoš (?) Vidojević, zemlja mu na Obrju. Počrljeno Mastanom (?)" (Here lies Njegoš (?) Vidojević, his lands [are] at Obrje. Počrljeno Mastanom (?)

The size of the necropolis suggests that burial beneath tombstone was an integral part of the local culture.  The setting of the necropolis in woodland has enhanced the value of the cultural landscape.

14. BOLJUNI NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS, Stolac, FBiH

The necropolis with stećaks is in the hamlet of Boljuni, 15 km south-west of Stolac, on an area of level ground below the village houses, with the tombstones forming two groups about 400 m apart.  There are remains dating from the Illyrian period (hill forts and tumuli) in the vicinity, and a place called Crkvina nearby, probably dating from late Antiquity, and the remains of an early mediaeval burial ground.

The tombstones stand in rows, all lying west-east with only minor deviations in some cases.  The necropolis has 82 slabs, 176 chests, twelve gabled and four cruciform tombstones; 29 slabs, 57 chests and six gabled tombstones are decorated, 92 in all.  This makes it one of several large necropolises that are richly decorated.

The most common relief motifs are scrolling vines with trefoils, forming a border to the top of slabs or a frieze on the sides of chests.  This motif is typical of Herzegovina as a whole, but appears here in relatively large numbers.  Also common are shields with swords, and rosettes, in a variety of manifestations as heraldic charges on shields, combined with crescent moons, or alone.  They also feature as stylized rosettes with twisted circular garlands or as cross-rosettes.  Next in number are carved bands, various borders, and motifs of the cross (plain or stylized), crescent moon, fleur de lis, stylized floral motifs with spirals and bunches of grapes, arcades and swords.  There are many figural scenes and compositions: a deer hunt, jousting scenes and round dances.  Mythical animals, the figure of a lion and a horseman also feature.  Unique to Boljani are the figure of a lion, a woman with a child in her arms, stylized rosettes, a mythical lizard-like animal and a round dance with the dance leader riding a deer.

Boljuni also has a total of 19 epitaphs, providing historical information and details of significance for the cultural history of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The names of a number of the deceased are given: Bogavac Tarah Boljunović, d. before 1477; Radić Vladisalić; Herak and Radoslav Heraković lying "in their noble [soil];" Petar Vukić and his brother, to name just some.  A number of them are also documented historically.  Members of the Boljuni Vladisalić group, who belonged to Donji Vlasi, are also buried there.  Some of the tombstones are signed by master Grubač, identifiable by his artistic style and motifs, the dijak (scribe) Semorad, and other craftsmen (Milić, Zelija and Dragiša and the two scribes Radoje and Vuk). Boljuni is believed to have been a major stonemasonry and artistic centre.

Most of the stećak tombstones in the necropolis date from the time of master Grubač (roughly 1440-1460) and of his pupils, in the latter half of the 15th century.  There were two quarries near the necropolis, 200 m to the north-west and 200 m to the east, where the stone for the tombstones was probably quarried.

15. UMOLJANI NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS, Trnovo, FBiH

The road to the village of Umoljani branches off to the right a few kilometres along the road from Šabići to Sinanovići, before crossing the bridge over the River Rakitnica.  The village is located on Mt. Bjelašnica, in a landscape of outstanding beauty with a high degree of biodiversity of both flora and fauna.  To the right of the road, about 1.5 km before entering the village, is a slope known as Dolovi on which there are 47 stećak tombstones (six slabs, 32 chests, five tall chests and four gabled).  Decorations can be found on 13 tombstones - four slabs, three tall chests, four chests and two gabled). The decorative motifs represented in this necropolis are cable twist, lines in relief and reverse relief, a vine with a trefoil, a vine with spirals, a stylized cross, a Latin cross, a shield, a sword, a circle, and a round-dance scene - the dance of death with eight human figures. Most of the tombstones lie north-south with minor deviations, but 13 lie west-east.

Most of the tombstones are of local stone and are slab-shaped, chest-shaped or gabled. A significant number are decorated with realistic and symbolic designs (cable twist, a double band of zigzag lines, lines in relief and reverse relief, a vine with a trefoil, a vine with spirals, a stylized cross, a Latin cross, a shield, a sword, a circle, and a round-dance scene - the dance of death, then a stylized tree scenes with two pairs of spirals coiling symmetrically, and a rosette).

16. NECROPOLISES WITH STEĆAKS IN LUBURIĆA POLJE, Sokolac, RS

The two necropolises with stećak tombstones are located 280 m apart as the crow flies in the village of Košutica, about 6 km as the crow flies north-east of Sokolac, in the open spaces of the Luburić polje. The first necropolis, with 44 stećak tombstones (43 chest-shaped and one sarcophagus-shaped), is on a prehistoric tumulus at an altitude of 881 m.  One of the chests bears a cross, and the sarcophagus-shaped tombstone has a hipped roof.  A feature of this site is that the tombstones form a line around the circular tumulus.

The other necropolis, at Bare, on a hillock at an altitude of 882 m, has 62 visible stećak tombstones, all chest-shaped (according to Šefik Bešlagić, in 1971 there were 80 tombstones, 79 chest-shaped and one gabled, of which six chests were decorated).  The latest inspection revealed four chests decorated with a line denoting a double grave, a rosette, a sword and a cross.

17. POTKUK NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS IN BITUNJA, Berkovići, RS

The Potkuk necropolis is on a relatively level area of ground below the southern end of Kuk, covering an area of 70 x 40 m lying east-west.  Burials took place there in rows running north to south.  There are two large groups of stećak tombstones in the necropolis, one to the east and one to the west, with a total of 243 tombstones, 45 of which (19-20%) are decorated. The decorations are in bas-relief except on a few, where they are carved into the tombstones. The most common motifs are scrolling vines with trefoils, cable twist and plain stylized crosses, followed by borders and edgings of parallel diagonal lines and the figures of a deer, a horse, a lion and birds, along with the scene of a deer hunt.  Next come hollows to collect rainwater, arcades, a crescent moon, a rosette, a circular garland, and the figure of a man with a staff, a hand with a sword, a horseman and a woman, a man with a sword and shield, and a round dance.

18. MRAMORJE NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS, Buđ, Pale, RS

The necropolis with stećak tombstones in the village of Buđ, about 15 km as the crow flies north-east of Pale, has 127 stećaks on a slight elevation.  Many of the tombstones in the middle of the necropolis are set on rock.  Most of the tombstones are chest-shaped, followed by slabs, with a few gabled.

The stećak tombstones are of good workmanship, and lie both east-west and north-south, mainly the former.  A feature of this necropolis is that all the tombstones with plinths have been cut from a single piece of stone; another is the size of one chest, 275 x 122 x 20 cm, one of the largest mediaeval tombstones recorded in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The necropolis is in woodland and almost completely overgrown with moss, and only one decoration (a rosette in haut relief) could be recorded, suggesting that there may be other decorated tombstones that have yet not been identified because of the state of the site.

19. NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS, Bečani, Šekovići, RS

The village of Bečani, in the Brajinci area, is about 3 km as the crow flies to the north-west of the centre of Šekovići municipality. 

The necropolis is at a place called Ispod stijene, which local residents also call Pola stijene.  It has 138 visible tombstones - four slabs, 15 chests, 41 gabled, 77 standing stones and one sunken tombstone of indeterminate shape.

Four basic shapes are thus represented, slab, chest, gabled, and upright slab (a rectangular parallelopiped) widening towards the base, with the top triangular, flat or arched, or with a lipped arch.  Seven of the tombstones (two gabled and five standing stones) are decorated with a crescent moon and sword.

20. NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS AT MRAMOR (CRKVINA) Vrbica, Foča, RS

The necropolis is in the hamlet of Vrbica near the village of Čelebići, about 20 km as the crow flies to the south-east of Foča, at Crkvina at an altitude of 948 m.  It has 207 chest-shaped tombstones, some of which are sunken and covered with moss.

Nine are decorated with small crosses (five specimens), a stylized cross, a sword, a dagger, two "apples," a hand, a rosette and what is probably the figure of an animal.  One stećak has a trough, above it a transverse frieze and above that what are probably two crescent moons.

21. ČENGIĆA BARA NECROPOLIS WITH STEĆAKS, Kalinovik, RS

Čengića Bara is a summer settlement on the high karst polje of Mt Zelengora, about 11 km as the crow flies to the south-west of Kalinovik.  Evidence of settlement in the region in mediaeval times is to be found in its many necropolises with stećaks, including a large number of decorated tombstones, some of which bear original motifs and epitaphs.

The Čengića bara necropolis is on a slight elevation in the middle of the polje, at an altitude of 1370 m.  It consists of 52 stećak tombstones, all of good workmanship and well preserved, lying west-east in rows. Nineteen are decorated: one slab, twelve chests and six gabled. 

The most common motifs are cable twist and friezes with scrolling vines, followed by shield and sword motifs, floral stylizations, crosses in circular garlands, a bird, a deer and a deer-hunting scene, a round-dance and a jousting scene.  One stećak bears an epitaph stating that Stojan Opodinović lies buried there.

22. RAVANJSKA VRATA NECROPOLISES WITH STEĆAKS, Kupres, FBIH,

Ravanjska vrata is a pass about 100 m wide between the Vukovo and Ravno poljes. There is also a prehistoric hill fort at Crljenac, and the "Solar" road linking the Pliva valley road with Rama formerly ran through Ravanjska vrata, coming from Rilići and heading for Rumboci.  The village of Mušići is about 15 km as the crow flies to the south of Kupres. Three sites of mediaeval tombstones have been identified in Ravanjska vrata: the upper and lower necropolises in the pass itself, and Trišića njive (field) and Konopi at the entrance to the pass.

The lower necropolis has 43 tombstones: 20 slabs, 20 chest-shaped and three gabled.  They are of good workmanship, though now somewhat damaged, and most lie north-west/south-east.  Eighteen are decorated: five slabs, ten chests and three gabled.  The most common motifs are bands and borders of diagonal zigzag lines, followed by fleur de lis, hunting scenes and round-dance scenes, a hand with a sword, a shield with a sword, two women, a man with a horse, a scrolling vine with trefoils and a twisted circular garland. The quarry for the tombstones was close by.

The upper necropolis is to the west of the lower, on the gentle slope of Crljenica. It contains 25 tombstones: ten slabs, eight chest-shaped and seven gabled. They are of good workmanship, but in poor condition, and lie in both cardinal directions. 

Fifteen are decorated, five slabs, five chests and five gabled.  The most common decorative motifs are rosettes, crescent moons, circular garlands and crosses, but jousting scenes in arcades and fleur de lis stand out on account of their workmanship.  There are also scrolling vines with trefoils, a hand, a shield with a sword, a staff, a border of plain and zigzag bands, the figure of a deer, and two human figures in arcades.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

 Emerging as a work of art, as sculpture, with the intention of creating a perpetual memorial to the deceased, as an organic component of European funerary practice, the mediaeval stećak tombstone is a distinct phenomenon and a specific synthesis of language and script, faith and custom, history and chronology, culture, art and aesthetics.   The primary interpretative context of the stećak is the region of central and south-east Europe as a transitional European cultural zone characterized by the intermingling of cultural influences from Eastern and Western Christianity, located between the mediaeval European West and East.

The outstanding value and European dimension of the stećak as a tombstone and as a specific mediaeval funerary art are framed by its triple historical context: western European, Byzantine and Southern Slav.

Bridging confessional, political, ethnic and geographical divisions within the wider Southern Slav region, and reconciling within itself two otherwise sharply divided concepts of mediaeval culture - the high culture of the court and the clergy, and the culture of the common folk - and universalizing notions of the end of human existence by uniting pagan and Christian motifs and art, the complex art of the stećak is the profoundly articulated truth of a distinct world expressed in the language of art and complemented in words by the epitaphs on these tombstones.

The catholicity, universal value and applicability of a complex phenomenon such as the mediaeval tombstones known as stećaks are a reflection of the universal nature of what they represented and visualized artistically: death.

Criteria ii The mediaeval tombstones (stećaks) are an original artistic expression manifested in specific circumstances when different cultural tendencies amalgamate.

Criteria iii The mediaeval tombstones (stećaks) are a unique phenomenon in the mediaeval European artistic and archaeological heritage due to their diversity of types, their quantity, their wealth of decorative motifs, the presence of various epitaphs and their historical context.

Criteria vi Ever since they first originated, the mediaeval tombstones (stećaks) have been deeply rooted in different customs and beliefs.  The phenomena associated with them (superstitions, folk traditions, tales and stories) display a number of very similar patterns encountered throughout the regions where they are found.  The epigraphy and symbols on the stećaks have had a marked influence on modern literature and other art forms.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The nominated cemeteries are an integral part of a cultural phenomenon and are representative examples of the mediaeval tombstones which together deserve an equal status.

The systematic investigations of the cemeteries with mediaeval tombstones over the past more than six decades have led to their inclusion in various protection and presentation programmes, greatly raising awareness of their significance and contributing to the preservation of their authenticity and integrity. A particular contribution was made by the research conducted by Šefik Bešlagić, published in his books Stećci - kataloško-topografski pregled (Stećak Tombstones - A Catalogue and Topographical Survey) in 1971 and Stećci - kultura i umjetnost (Mediaeval Tombstones - Culture and Art), in 1982.

The inaccessibility of many of these cemeteries, remote from roads and inhabited areas, has also helped to limit the impact of human factors on their own authenticity and that of their natural surroundings.

Even so, the cemeteries with mediaeval tombstones have at times been at risk from public and private works, and the tombstones themselves have sometimes been inexcusably removed from the graves they marked, taken away or moved to new locations, which has diminished the authenticity and integrity of certain sites.

The nominated cemeteries with mediaeval tombstones, their archaeological context, the diversity of types and ornamentation and of their epitaphs combine to constitute a phenomenon that is worthy of investigation.

The cemeteries in the serial nomination have preserved the highest level of authenticity and integrity among all cemeteries of the same class. The nominated cemeteries with their mediaeval tombstones constitute cultural monuments in all four states and are all subject to statutory protection.

Comparison with other similar properties

In certain features, particularly their decorative motifs, stećak tombstones may be compared with similar mediaeval tombstones found throughout Europe, including the regions where the stećak itself is found.  This pertains primarily to the gravestones in mediaeval burial grounds or churches, ranging from simply decorated slabs to those bearing elaborately decorated effigies of the deceased (priests, nobles and other more or less wealthy individuals).  Common to these and the stećak are their shape (thick or thin slabs) and certain decorative motifs and epitaphs.

Some of the motifs or scenes found on these mediaeval tombstones are also to be found in works of art (paintings, reliefs) or of the applied arts (jewellery, tapestry) of their time.  In number and monumental quality, they are to some extent comparable in concept with the high crosses of Ireland and Britain, where various decorative motifs are also found, albeit featuring only in the early middle ages, not after the 12th century.  Furthermore, these crosses do not serve only to mark graves. Much the same is true of the hachkar tombstones and memorials in Armenia, ranging in date from the 9th to the 17th century but particularly common in the 14th.