|The stecci (singular: stecak), the monumental medieval tombstones that lie scattered across the landscape of Bosnia-Herzegovina are the country’s most legendary symbol. Although a few are found in Croatia and Montenegro, the vast majority are found within the borders of Bosnia-Herzegovina – 60,000 in all, of which approximately 10,000 are decorated (and sometimes inscribed). Appearing in the 12th century, the stecci reached their peak in the late 14th to 15th centuries, before dying away during the Ottoman occupation. |
Their most remarkable feature is their decorative motifs, many of which remain enigmatic to this day. Spirals, arcades, rosettes, vine leaves and grapes, suns and crescent moons are among the images that appear. Figural motifs include processions of deer, dancing the kolo, hunting and, most famously, the image of the man with his right hand raised, perhaps in a gesture of fealty. The most beautiful of the stecci graveyards is that at Radimlja, near Stolac,
Although identified in the past with the Bosnian Church (with its supposedly Bogomil beliefs), all evidence points to the fact that stecci were erected by adherents of the Orthodox, Catholic and Bosnian churches alike.