Bokelian Book

Coastline Archive in Cyrillic
”Yes, that magnificent archive of our people, ‘on the sea foam’, contains under-researched abundance of Cyrillic documents. They show that Cyrillic is an ancient and universal alphabet of the Balkan Peninsula, and that here, on the Coast, Serbs have lived since ancient times... We are on a difficult and dangerous turning-point. Serbs in Boka must steer clear from particularisms within their own community and unfounded feeling of self-sufficiency, similar to the one that was widespread in Dubrovnik just before its fall. We should also think about another fatal feature of Boka and Bokelian people: exaggerated pragmatism. This is the time that needs more open steps to be taken in the society and some sacrifice of our own comfort...”

Text and photographs: Bane Velimirović

From the inner pockets of history, behind natural and political shadows of the archives, from unknown or forgotten legacies, lay and clerical, public and private, as the result of great personal effort, he put before our eyes large volumes of precious documents in Cyrillic. Long Serbian history in Boka, Old Herzegovina and Dubrovnik resurfaces from his books. Life and temptations of the people on those illusory seams between great forces of that time (Turkey, Austria, Venice, Russia...).  Important personalities who marked some of those turbulent periods (metropolitans Savatije and Stefan Ljubibratić, abbot Arsenije Milutinović from Savina, archimandrite Leontije Rajović, Vladislavići/Živkovići from Topolje...). Cultural and sacral centers around which people gathered and fortified (Savina, Tvrdoš, Duži, Potplanina...).
Dr Goran Komar was born in Sarajevo in 1962. His father Žarko (originally from the Korjenića district) was a well known pediatrician, his mother Branislava (originally from Kameno, above Herceg Novi) a teacher. In Kameno, in the company of local elders, he spent a big part of his childhood. He went to school in Novi Sad, completed his specialization in Belgrade. He lives and works in Herceg Novi.
He started his research twenty years ago, with anthropogeographic studies of the area of Orjen. Then he plunged into the archives of old Austro-Hungarian municipalities in Boka, Risanska and Novska, and then he directed his attention to rich Venetian materials.
– I am committed primarily to finding and publishing old Cyrillic documents of the Coastline, which comprise the magnificent Cyrillic archives of our people on the sea foam. All documents are important to me, even documents that are personal-legal in nature, as well as every municipal act – says Dr Komar in an interview for National Review this fall, which took place in Herceg Novi. – The second area of research is, certainly, his interest in historical movement of Serbian Christian Orthodox Church in Boka and Old Herzegovina.


You have been researching Serbian Orthodox history of Boka, Old Herzegovina, Konavle, Dubrovnik... How did our people actually live in that territory and what lessons for our time does that history hold?
In the centuries of Venetian administration in Dalmatia and Boka, and that is a period that occupied my attention as a researcher, Serbian people lived and survived thanks to their very strict inner laws, first customary laws, which in the time of great Venetian-Turkish wars they managed to imprint into the Republic of St. Marko. This integration produced significant economic benefits, and the state respected the inner traditional order of Serbian communities, certainly in their own interest and their basic need to provide the missing troops. In that historical framework, Serbian municipalities were created under the patronage of Venice, from the oldest Paštrovska, to the youngest Topaljska municipality (1718). Local Serbs displayed great perseverance and sacrifice in maintaining and building their Church. Clergy from Herceg Novi was traditionally recruited from local families. Donors and benefactors of Serbian Orthodox Church who used to live here included in their testaments all ancient centers of the Eastern Church in the Holy Land, Hilandar, their home Old Herzegovina and Boka. It must be underlined, the ancient inner rules that these Serbian municipalities followed were the warranty for their religious and national strength.

Are there some historical regularities and lessons in that area, some ”continuous logic of history” that we failed to see and study, which backfired later?
The major problem of Boka, in my humble opinion, lies in the sharp Bokelian particularism. It is not directed at the world, but toward the inside, toward its own people. Everyone is self-sufficient and everyone reinforces the impression of their own magnitude. No Bokelian association established in difficult times after 1988 was truly active, and many were dissolved after a couple of years. We lack the sense for interior gathering, finding instruments to connect with one another, to strengthen the cohesion among Serbian people. We should also, I must say, think about another fatal feature of Boka and the Bokelians. It is high and exaggerated pragmatism. This is the time that requires more open and clearer steps to be taken in the society, and some sacrificing of our own comfort. The totality of people, and even Serbian state politics, could learn from the political tradition of Boka, namely from coastal municipalities under Venetian rule, which are, to a large extent, similar to the neighboring Dubrovnik.


You live in Herceg Novi, ”the town of king Tvrtko renowned from inception”, you have studied archives and libraries of that town, you know its past, its significance and symbolism. How do you see thais town today and its future in ”new historical circumstances”?
Thanks to the strength and perseverance of its autochthon population and their active cultural heritage, Herceg Novi has kept the pace and direction of its ancestors. Look at its total history and you will se that very often, in crucial moments, it represented the last resort for the people of Old Herzegovina, but also for numerous Clerical-national valuables and relics. They not only found a physical refuge here, but a place of active strength, they prolonged their life here and their inner mission, not easy to rationally grasp. Even today, Herceg Novi is on a difficult and dangerous turning-point, facing a temptation, because it does very little on institutional level to preserve its great cultural tradition. This town is also a place of collision of political influences, it is also subject to disintegration of its cultural heritage. The time of disintegration and annihilation with decrees is long behind us, and currently a more profound process of dissolution and conversion is taking place here, which can jeopardize the area of the Adriatic coast where we still enjoy cultural domination of Serbian people. History has shown: wherever our people found themselves in expatriate position, they did not manage to preserve their faith and ethnicity. For this reason, here in Boka, it is necessary to put a lot of effort into organized cultural production, modern and understandable to a wider circle of local population. New inflow of displaced population of Old Herzegovina and other border areas of the Dinaric system is, in my opinion, a welcomed process of imbuing new power to Boka Kotorska, because its circle of influence has long been displaying signs of biological exhaustion and fatigue. Events that happened between 1998 and 2006 also prove this. And our neighbor Dubrovnik, at the moment when it lost its independence under the attack of Napoleon, did not open its gates to General Loriston because they believed that French troops would run through the city and continue toward Boka, but because they were running out of strength, exhausted with imagined self-sufficiency of its aristocratic class, and was ready to fall.


Your book Cyrillic Documents from Dubrovnik Archive, Contributions to the History of Everyday Life on the Border Between Dubrovnik, Trebinje and Novi, 1504-1795 was recently launched in Herceg Novi. What do you see as especially important among the information that you bring from rich treasuries of the Dubrovnik archive?
Cyrillic as a universal and ancient alphabet of the Balkan Peninsula. Secondly, certainly, facts for political and social history of this area. Finally, and this is very important, proof of existence of autochthon and native Serbian population in Boka under Turkish rule. Therefore, it is not true that Serbian people arrived here only after the Venetians occupied Novi in 1687, but they had lived here before, built their churches since ancient times and waited for the time of freedom from foreign occupation.

Does this part of Serbian cultural space that you are primarily focusing on have an appropriate treatment in the national culture, science, academic public, in literature, films, in the media?
It does not have almost any treatment. Behind us are valuable studies of Serbian scientists, among which I would single out the work of academic Dejan Medaković focusing on Savina Monastery. More systematic steps were taken and then simply stopped after World War Two, but that is not the case only with Boka, but with the entire peripheral coverage of our people. In Belgrade today, in the highest institutions of science and culture of our people, there is no awareness of the need to re-awaken all national potentials through a network of researchers, definitely based on the model of the old Cvijić’s school. Matica srpska from Novi Sad does the most work in this respect. It is the example that gives hope and encourages our people on the periphery of Serbian ethnic reach. Our direction would otherwise be to search for modalities for the creation of our own institutions of science and culture. Today it is not possible not to look at Croatian community in Boka which, both individually and as a community, enjoys significant moral and material support from Zagreb.


In Herceg Novi, cast in bronze, Njegoš, Vuk Karadžić, Simo Matavulj, Marko Car, Ivo Andrić and Petar Lubarda are watching us. There is no founder of the city among these Serbian dignitaries?
– For several years now, there has been an action organized in Novi for the erection of a large monument dedicated to the founder of the town in 1382, king Stefan Tvrtko I Kotromanić. This project has regained momentum. What is missing at this moment are municipal funds to complete the monument, the author of which is professor Dimitrijević. It is important to note that the Municipal Assembly of Herceg-Novi had made a decision to build the monument.


Simo Milutinov and the People
What personality, what great local Serbian biography made especially strong impression on you and why?
Because of his more permanent influence, definitely, Simo Milutinov Magazinović, from Topljani, originally from Slivnica in Površa, as one of the founders of Topljanka municipality (1718-19) and a big donor and, and as a hard working force, still, the national collective, national Personality, the poor people of Boka who erected their sanctuaries and with a lot of hardship created values to be shown to the big world.


– The state archive of Montenegro, with its district divisions, is not sufficiently open to researchers trained to conduct more complex analysis of old materials. I believe that this is the consequence of general political direction of the state politics in Montenegro. Even when it does not issue specific orders to its officials, it is ”protected” with the instinct of self-censorship, typical for the era of repressive communism. A lot of materials from coastal archives has been destroyed and displaced by the conquerors, and parts of the archive treasure is today in a horrible condition.


From now on you
can buy National Review at Trafika sales outlets

Србија - национална ревија - број 82 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 82 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 81 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 80 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 79 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 78 - руски

Serbia - National Review - Tourism 2020

Србија - национална ревија - Број 77

Србија - национална ревија - Број 76

Србија - национална ревија - Број 75
Србија - национална ревија - ФранкфуртСрбија - национална ревија - МоскваСрбија - национална ревија - Москва
Србија - национална ревија - ПекингСрбија - национална ревија - број 74
Србија - национална ревија - број 73

Србија - национална ревија - број 72Туризам 2019.
Србија - национална ревија - број 71
Србија - национална ревија - број 70Србија - национална ревија - број 69Србија - национална ревија - број 68Србија - национална ревија - број 67Tourism 2018
Србија - национална ревија - број 66
Serbia - National Review - No 65
Serbia - National Review - No 64Србија - национална ревија - број 63
Србија - национална ревија - број 62
Србија - национална ревија - број 61

Србија - национална ревија - број 60
Србија - национална ревија - број 59
Serbia - National Review - No 59
Serbia - National Review - No 58

Serbia - National Review - No 56
Serbia - National Review - No 55
Serbia - National Review - No 54
Tourism 2016
Српска - национална ревија - број 53
Српска - национална ревија - број 12-13
Srpska - National Review - No 12-13
Serbia - National Review - No 51

Serbia - National Review - No 49
Serbia - National Review - No 49
Serbia - National Review - No 48
Serbia - National Review - No 46
Serbia - National Review - No 46
Serbia - National Review - No 46Serbia - National Review - No 46, russianSerbia - National Review - No 45Srpska - No 6
SRPSKA - National Review - No 5Tourism 2014SRPSKA - No 2
Tourism 2013
SRPSKA - National Review - Special Edition

Battle above Centuries
Legends of Belgrade
History of the Heart


Чувар светих хумки
Србија од злата јабука - друго издање
Orthodox Reminder for 2013
Пирот - Капија Истока и Запада
Беочин - У загрљају Дунава и Фрушке Горе
Србија, друмовима, пругама, рекама
Србија од злата јабука
Туристичка библија Србије

Коридор X - Европски путеви културе
Београд у џепу
Тло Србије, Завичај римских царева
Добродошли у Србију