In the Light of the Green Sword
If Vuk Karadžić had only had Tešan Podrugović, his collection of epic poems would have been huge. If Tešan had only composed “The marriage of Dušan”, Serbian epic poetry would have been among the world’s best. Our notion of the greatest Serbian epic heroes are based on images modeled by Tešan. And he, from a rich family on the other side of the Drina, had to join the haiduks and become a warrior. And, they say, he embedded himself significantly in his best heroes

By: Dragan Lakićević

Vuk esteemed Tešan more than other singers, primarily because he spoke his poems clearly and knew many of them. This is what Vuk wrote about him:
“Although there are many people who know many poems, it is still hard to find a man who knows poems nicely and clearly. The late Tešan Podrugović (may God rest his soul!) was in this the first and the only of them all, who I have found and listened to in these ten years. He was born somewhere between Bosnia and Herzegovina, and was first a merchant, and then he killed a Turk who had wanted to kill him, and so he left his house and joined the rebels, and in 1807, as a haiduk, he fled to Serbia. He knew very well how to play gusle, but he could not sing (or did not want to) at all, so he recited his poems like from a book; and for collecting poems people like him are the best; because they are especially careful about the order and thoughts, and singers (especially those who are just singers) many of them sing without thinking, and they all know only how to sing, but don’t know how to recite (I had difficulties with people like that).“
Among Vuk’s male singers there are blind gusle players (Filip Višnjić and Đuro Milutinović Crnogorac) and haiduks or warriors (Stojan Hajduk, Starac Milija, Tešan Podrugović). Vuk writes the same in the preface to the first volume of Serbian National Poems (State issue, 1891): “Epic poems are spread among the people mostly by the blind and the haiduks.” – “And in the winter, the haiduks are hiding during the day, and all they long they drink and sing to the music of gusle, and mostly poems written by the haiduks.


Haiduk Tešan comes to Serbia in the midst of the First Serbian Uprising. He brought poems about old and new, historical and mythical heroes, mostly about the greatest one – Prince Marko.
In the preface to the fourth volume of Serbian National Poems (State issue 1896), Vuk “specified” singers and their poems:
“From Tešan Podrugović (born in Herzegovina in the village of Kazanac in Gacko)” je lists 22 poems. Among them are: Marriage of Dušan, Simeon the Foundling, Novak and Radivoje Are Selling Grujica, Marriage of Stojan Janković, Senjanin Tadija, Emperor Lazar and Empress Milica, as well as eight poems, almost an entire epic about Prince Marko: Prince Marko and Ljutica Bogdan, Prince Marko and Musa Kesedžija, Prince Marko and Vuča Dženeral, Marriage of Prince Marko, Prince Marko Recognizes His Father’s Sword, Prince Marko and Daughter of the Arab King, Prince Marko and the Arab, Prince Marko and Đemo Brđanin. Poems of more distant and more recent past. The poem about the marriage of Đurđe Smederevac brings together the greatest heroes of Serbian epic poetry: Marko, Miloš Obilić, Toplica, Kosančić, Relja Krilatica, Starina Novak, Dijete Grujica, Sibinjanin Janko... Tešan probably knew a poem or two about all of them.
To what he wrote about Tešan in his first book, Vuk now adds the following:
“He was named Gavrilović after his father, and so they called him Podrug and Podrugović, which was very big, i.e. for another man. Because, in early 1815, I find in Karlovci (in Srem) in gravest poverty, cutting reed in the marshland and taking it into town on his back, and selling it, so as to make his living; and when I find out how many poems he knows and what kind of poems these are, I give him for a day, as much as he needs to live on, and I start listening and copying the poems from him. Having copied all these poems from him in Karlovci, I take him just before the Palm Sunday with me on a cart and bring him to Šišatovac Monastery, thinking that there (where I had a gentlemanly flat and every other accommodation and need from the archimandrite, and current bishop of Carlstadt, His Holiness Lukian Mušicki) I copy all poems that he knows; but then, before the Resurrection an uprising against the Turks broke in Serbia, he was like set on fire. I hardly managed to keep him before the Resurrection, and I copy some of those poems that he tells me on the way from Karlovci on the cart, and immediately after the Resurrection I take him on the cart and bring him to Mitrovica, and from there he crosses to Serbia, to fight Turks again...“


Tešan was, therefore, a warrior. In the poem Serbian Woman, Simo Milutinović Sarajlija mentions Podrug in battles on the Drina and on Romanija. The mountain is the “kingdom of Christians” – says Sima, and everything on the heroes is glowing, the uniforms and the weapons. Tešan, therefore, knew first hand what the glow of the heroes looked like – to sing more beautifully about Boško Jugović and Stojan Janković. In the poem Marriage of Stojan Janković, Tešan depicts Stojan’s suit and weapons in 33 verses – all in “Liters” of gold and gold coins. In other poems as well, Tešan liked to adorn his hero with precious clothes and a lot of gold.
Being a warrior by vocation had influence on the poet’s talent, or the talent of his kind directed him to join the haiduk rebels and battle. A true warrior knows the principles of waging wars, the moral code of a battle. On the basis of his poems and heroes that he selected, Tešan was true warrior.
A true warrior does not fight against unequal heroes. Tešan placed Prince Marko, the greatest Serbian hero, opposite Musa Kesedžija. At the end of the battle, Marko shouts: “Woo is me, for God’s sake, / Where I killed the one better than me!” Vuk’s poet gives even greater recognition to Musa in the portrait of an outlaw form the emperor, a criminal born on a stone, who, upon Mar’s call to move from his way or bow as a sign of submission, replies that he will not step aside for anybody, especially not to a son of the king.
The moral position toward his vocation of a warrior Tešan also embedded in the image of Boško Jugović, a warrior from Kosovo. Professor Vladan Nedić discovered an entire little history of this character: in the oral and written poetry before Vuk the materials for the portrait of Boško right before his departure to the Battle of Kosovo had been created. “All they needed was a poet – writes Vladan Nedić – to imbue it with a spirit. He appeared quickly, in 1815: it was a poor guy who was cutting reed in the marshland of Karlovac. – How did Podrugović bring Boško Jugović to life?” Prof. Nedić analyzes Boško’s external character – a hero all in gold. Every detail is building a hero as an icon: horseman on a horse – with golden-red fur, with golden flag in golden crosses. “The same number of verses was sufficient for him to, immediately afterwards, complement the external character with the internal one. He sent a message by a brother to his sister: that he would not leave the battle or hand over the flag with the cross to anybody, for anything in the world. With this, the knight’s character was completed – the external character merged with internal one.” – “Nobody could prevent Boško Jugović from going to Kosovo. In 1815, when the Second Uprising broke, nobody could keep Podrugović in Srem. He rushed to Serbia to immediately confirm the verses about Boško Jugović, only recently spoken to Vuk, with his blood.”
More than about Marko, Tešan knew poems about Mijat harambaša – 15 of them.
Vuk claimed that Tešan in the Srebrnička administrative district was a shipper, and Turks beat him up and he died of pain. Šafarik writes differently about his death: that Tešan killed beg Omarević and fled to the haiduks again. He was returning to Serbia, with some shippers, “but one night a murderer in him woke up. In the tavern he gets into a fight with some Turks and he beats up a few of them, and when the others started to yell, having recognized him, he, himself wounded, tries to run away from those who were chasing him, but then they catch and attack him. Without any more bullets, he defended himself with rocks and was retreating, so he ran away up the mountain after receiving two more bullet wounds...” (A. Gavrilović)


“Marriage of Dušan” is one of the best and most developed Serbian epic poems. With poetic perfection and wisdom-witticism, it surpasses other poems, better by tragic dimensions or morality... The poem of such splendor cannot be found among world poems on big marriage procession campaigns. Tešan’s poem is our little Illiad. With an oral poem Tešan wanted to illustrate, in the images of the campaigns, battles and knightly tournaments – the philosophy of Serbian people and knighthood in the middle ages. Only the best poem could have been composed with such a goal.
Dušan’s court has no description – Tešan did not se it. He imagines only a huge wedding procession. That is why he depicted the character of a shepherd – Miloš Vojinović – in lyrical colors... Miloš’ equipment also includes the “green sword of old Vojin” – ancestral weapon. The Green Sword also appears in other Tešan’s poems. Did Tešan use the color of the knightly sword as a feeling of longing for the knightly era – in his era of fire arms? Green sword will shine with a stronger might in the Latin field, when Miloš is to complete his most difficult task – to recognize Roksanda.
The hero for whom there is no wine among the imperial wedding guests, and for whose horse there are no oats, Tešan prepares that hero to shine with his full glow in the morning. And only Serbian emperor realizes that there is no one to represent him in the duel because he had not brought his nephews with him, and that means his family and his people. Then, a young Bulgarian comes before the emperor. In Tešan’s poems, better hero has lower social standing, just like Musa Kesedžija in that unforgettable approach to Prince Marko. Miloš’ experience as a shepherd comes to fore in another polysemous saying he said to the king, getting ready to overcome also the second obstacle in his campaign toward the goal: “Where sheep resents its own fleece / there is neither sheep nor fleece.”
And this philosophy continues toward the next, even more difficult task – to recognize Roksanda, who he had never seen before. The shepherd-knight, disguised as a unseemly Bulgarian boy, replies to the Emperor that he would recognize Princess Roksanda after her brothers, just like in the mountain he had used to recognize lambs after sheep. – For this task, the emperor promised the land of Skenderija to him. Tešan feels that the historical Miloš Vojinović – according to the knowledge of Dragutin Kostić – around 1333, was “military commander for Emperor Dušan”.
In achieving the third, most difficult goal, Miloš brandishes the “green sword”. Interpreters think that it is green – because of good steel. This metaphor, however, has a deeper meaning and is subject to many associations. This color contains a magical power, belief in weapon, properties similar to the sword with eyes (of Duke Momčilo, in the poem “Marriage of King Vukašin” by Stojan Hajduk). This sword is a part of Miloš’ final personality and his overall glow – knightly and moral.


Joining the Haiduks Because of Oppression
In the writings of Janko Šafarik, Andra Gavrilović has found precious data about Tešan. He published it in 1908 in an article in newspaper Truba, entitled “Two Serbian singers”: “Šafarik writes that as a haiduk of an earlier era he was famous for his heroism, but that he never gathered gangs or wanted to be harambaša (senior commander) but was joining other gangs and lived as a free man. He came from a wealthy family, and he joined the haiduks because of Turkish oppression.”


Tešan’s life contains many elements of the lives of his heroes. “Once some injustice was done to him and he could not come to terms with it: he had to either kill a buljubaša (small military unit leader) Joksim who had don that injustice, o to remove himself. He found out that buljubaša Joksim, generally courageous warrior, is still necessary for his army, although he had bad temper. And so he left the camp and Serbia much before the disaster in the fall of 1813 and went to Srem, where he lived a miserable life, in suffering.”


Tešan’s Marko
The cycle about Marko is close to an epic. Marko looks more like a haiduk than a prince. He is smiling, superior, witty. Next to the emperor – Serbian knight, next to the people – the protector. Humor is the characteristic of Marko’s character and actions. Tešan’s poems are bright, full of freedom and victory. Superiority of the hero is not only in his courage, strength, weapon, but also in his intelligence, cleverness, good humor. “... The character of our greatest epic hero was not yet finalized” – writes Vladan Nedić. “In the previous sketch, then, dark attributes were over-pronounced: cruelty and instinct to kill. Only the singers of Vuk’s era gave a relief and great attractiveness to the character of Prince Marko. Among the first, Tešan Podrugović.“


About Marriages of Heroes
Tešan Podrugović likes to sing about marriages, “and we could first explain this as an expression of haiduk’s longing for a woman and home”, adds Vladan Nedić. Most often, these marriages are in the Latin world: Emperor Dušan, Popović Stojan, Smederevac Đuro... Prince Marko married a Bulgarian, Todor Jakšić a Budim girl, and Ivo Golotrb married a Turkish girl. Tešan’s Stojan Janković also married a Turkish girl. Every marriage has a message: “It is hard everywhere with no one to call your own.”


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