The Threads We Are Successors of
The visionary endeavor was commenced by Jovan Cvijić more than a century ago, and continued by his best successors: Jovan Erdeljanović, Tihomir Đorđević, Veselin Čajkanović. The entire Serbian ethnic area was encompassed, landscapes are only fragments of the whole, ”pieces of the entirety”. The subtitle of the edition explains it all: ”Serbian Lands, Settlements, Origins of the Population and Customs”. By restoring this valuable edition, ”Službeni Glasnik” greatly contributes to preserving Serbian heritage and consciousness about its origins, existence and lasting

By: Miloš Lazić
Photo: Saša Savović and NR Archive

Some have arrived a long time ago and lay down roots deeply, some have arrived recently, so their family tree has only spread short veins in the ground, but only a few can say that their family tree sprouted in the same place they are living today. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to peek into our own history and origins in the Balkans, because every power that passed our lands had the objective to destroy, burn and devastate, as well as steal a few things. Thus one finds more of the important documents with historical material about Serbia and Serbs in the archives of Vienna, Venice, Dubrovnik or Istanbul than in Belgrade.
It is no accident that academician Jovan Cvijić, reputable Serbian geographer, geomorphologist and anthropogeographer began – as the first one in the world – exploring settlements, origins, populations and customs of his nation at the beginning of the previous century. He did it under patronage of the Great School Geography Institute, while his findings were mostly printed in the Serbian Ethnographic Anthology, and some as separate publications.
He hoped his explorations will last ten years. Deliberately or accidentally, he did predict that the job was massive, because the Serbian ethnic space, at least at his time, matched almost the entire ”western Balkans”. And everything done in the first decade, from the Balkan Wars to the Great War, was achieved thanks to him, and later his students and associates – Jovan Erdeljanović, Tihomir Đorđević and Veselin Čajkanović. The job was, however, too far from its ending… if it will ever be completed at all.
Unfortunately, almost the entire unpublished material was destroyed during World War I, as well as some printed studies and atlases with maps, photos and sketches accompanying the first six books of the ”Settlements of Serbian Lands” edition.
This was followed with the creation of the first southern-Slavic state, with Yugoslavianism as a state and sur-national project. The explorations continued, but their objective and title were changed into – ”Settlements and Origins of the Population”, therefore without any national determination…. as well as after World War II, when the Academy continued its work on the edition thanks to earlier explorations and efforts of scientific enthusiasts. The new ideological frame then imposed dedicating several books of the Anthology to the partisan tradition in the war.
During the first 110 years, from 1895 to 2005, the Serbian Ethnographic Anthology included 101 published books in four editions: ”Settlements of Serbian Lands” (since 1922 ”Settlements and Origins of the Population”) in 47 books, ”Folk Life and Customs” in 38 books, ”Serbian Folk Wisdom” in six books and ”Discussions and Material” in ten. The first book is Milan Đ. Milićević’s study Life of Serbian Peasants, and the last is Neđeljko Paovica’s Zavođe.


Some of those books have become a bibliophile rarity in the meantime and are today possible to be found only in a few private collections or well-furnished public libraries. Therefore the fact that ”Službeni Glasnik” from Belgrade initiated the edition ”Roots: Serbian Lands, Settlements, Origins of the Population and Customs”, with reprints of old works of Jovan Cvijić and his associates, is of great importance.
– It is a visionary project, imagined as a whole encompassing the entire Serbian ethnic space, where rural areas are only fragments – said Borisav Čeliković, historian, editor of the ”Koreni” (”Roots”) edition at the promotion in the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU). – And only as such, it has its full meaning. The essence is in the fact that Serbian ethnicity was marked by constant migrations in the last few centuries, which Jovan Cvijić called metanastasic migrations, determining their causes and consequences.
Čeliković tried to illustrate it on the example of his family. Milenko Filipović mentions the Čeliković family in Lozanj near Takovo in his study Takovo from 1960, with a comment that, according to their family legend, they came from Bosnia. And really, they are found in the village of Zaovina near the Drina, according to Ljuba Pavlović’s study Sokol Nahi from 1930. He noted that their ancestor Jezdimir Čelik moved from Tepci, a village in the Tara Canyon under Durmitor, and that the Jezdić and Čeliković families were created from him. Some of them moved to Užice Montenegro, in the vicinity of Kosjerić, which was published in 1925. The trace leads further to the past towards the rural area of the Drobnjaks, described by Svetozar Tomić in 1903.
– Thus I reached my several centuries deep family roots, noted in four books of the ”Settlements…” – says Božidar Čeliković. – If I continued my search for my ancestors on my mother’s side, I would have to use at least ten more books from this edition.


A rational remark that it is very unscientific to rely on myths or family legends in the reconstruction of the past was followed by an entirely reasonable reminder that Homer brought Heinrich Schliemann under the walls of Troy, thanks to an almost three millennia old epic.
All in all, the 29 books published up to now since 2011 in the ”Koreni” edition include 215 studies with more than fifty maps, in about twenty-two thousand pages, with information about 2.186 populated places.
– A very voluminous job, especially on the systematization – tell the editor. – The Serbian Ethnological Anthology published studies as they arrived, so the same book included works related to distant areas. In the second book, for example, the villages of Ljubić, Vranje Pčinja, Mlava, Levač, Vasojevići and Višegrad Stari Vlah together with the vicinity of Belgrade… We had to regroup the entire material, so each book would represent a unique whole…
The reprints published up to now include the central area of Serbia bordered by the Drina in the west, the Sava and the Danube in the north, the Timok in the east and Pčinja in the south. Their estimation is that they have completed only one third of the planned work. For the following thirty-odd books, they are collecting studies about rural areas in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Greece, Albania, Macedonia, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Ukraine, Slovenia and Italy, where Serbs used to live in the past or still live today. Thus one corpus of about eighty books will collect the Serbian ethnic area with the most important written studies about settlements, origins of their inhabitants and customs.
– This edition cannot change the historical courses and processes which have happened or will happen – says Borislav Čeliković. – It cannot return the descendants to their ancestors’ homeland and cannot stop the dying out of Serbian villages, but can indicate roots, leave a trace of existence and duration. It is a heritage to the descendants. So they’d know who they are, what they are and where they come from.


Some of the books in the ”Koreni” edition include:
”Settlements of Serbian Lands”, ”Populating Serbia”, ”Serbia”, ”Dragačevo”, ”Takovo”, ”Gruža”, ”Lepenica”, ”Užice Area”, ”Kačer”, ”Jasenica”, ”Vicinity of Belgrade and Smederevo”, ”Rudnik County, Rudnik Morava”, ”Valjevo Tamnava”, ”Šumadija, Šumadija WKolubara”, ”Kolubara and Podgorina”, ”Jagodina County, Belica”, ”Middle Drina Valley, Jadar and Rađevina”, ”Levač and Temnić”, ”Velika Morava Valley, Resava, Kučaj”, ”Mlava, Homolje, Zvižd”, ”Poreč, Krajina and Ključ”, ”Serbs in Gallipoli”, ”Crna Reka”, ”Timok, Zaglavak, Budžak, Svrljig”, ”Morava Valley in Aleksinac, Banja Golak”, ”Pirot Area”, ”Vlasina and Krajište”, ”Montenegro and Moravica”, ”Pčinja”, ”Old Serbia and Macedonia”, ”Morava Valley in Kosovo and Kačanik”, ”Sirinić, Sreska, Gora and Opolje”, ”Kosovo” (1 and 2), ”Drenica and Lab”, ”Toplica and Dobrič”, ”Poljanica and Klisura, Grdelica, Donja Vlasina”, ”Morava Valley in Vranje” (1 and 2), ”Jablanica and Pusta Reka”…


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