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Tur in the folk calendar

Studying the description of living habits of Tur, especially the one about fertility, I immediately noticed a connection with the folk (agronomical) calendar of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is divided in only two seasons – summer and winter – and in which there is a very interesting segment, which was unclear to me from the very beginning, as a student of BiH ethnology. Namely, it is no coincidence that the Bosnian folk calendar begins when summer ends i.e. in the middle of autumn, when mating season of Tur began, and ends in spring, time when new members of the species are born. That we are talking about such a phenomenon is well demonstrated by the belief in three occurrences called Stablići, Kablići and Štapići, each lasts three days, which sums up to nine days, a lunar number and represents a stap, long wooden bowl in which one “pounded” milk and made butterfat, štap or mećajica i.e. an item which was used to “pound” and kabao – wooden vessel for storage of milk. All three names are closely tied to cattle and signified a very important thing, namely, when a cow brings a calf to this world she becomes lactic, in her udders milk is building up which is used to feed the calf but also members of the family which own the cow. That’s why it is clear that this belief stems from the distant past and is directly tied to the Illyrian cult of fertility and Tur.

Further, Stipčević mentions another interesting part which is directly tied to Tur: “In Donja Dolina, near Sanski Most, during excavations in villages a skull of the bull forefather has been found (Bos primigenius) which was, as Ć. Truhelka believes fastened to façade of the house and had a function of bucrania.”


As an inevitable symbol and bearer of fertility, among our forefathers Illyrians, the bull had a central role in celebration of the harvest, when at the beginning of August the bull was slaughtered in the name of the goddess Grand Mother. In that ceremonial segment of sacrificial offering, Celtic-Persian influence is dominant, through celebration of the pagan circle of the year with the ancient myth about the solar god of fertility Mithra, which the Romans inherited from the Persians. Goths which were at one time mixed with the Illyrians and enriched not only genetically but also culturally-religiously the habit of ancient Bosnians, they saw in Tur much more than an ordinary animal, because of his priceless importance in land tillage, and also the cult of fertility, he was identified with the land, as its guardian and ruler.

Identification with the fertile land, which brings food and maintains the community, its physical strength and endurance and striking look of the horns, elevated Tur in the pantheon to the level of divine being in Bosnian mythology. He becomes a gigantic bull which is holding the entire earth on his back. In that way he rules over the destiny of humans, but also everything else. With that he receives the label of Tur land keeper. But, everything is not only left on the mythological representation and iconography which is evident in certain ethnological records which record the ancient practice of dedicating prayers to this heavenly being, which hasn’t been interrupted with the advent of Christianity and Islam to the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In the book “Syncretic elements in Islam in BiH” M. Hadžijahić states an interesting part in which he describes the religious practice: “From a poor elderly lady, Puhalovka Alijaginica which lived in Čebedžije in Sarajevo, I managed to record this: “On Wednesday afternoon prayer is performed and one bows down to: Ognju and Ognjevu Piru, Tur, Hadži Dedi, Hadži Kasapi, Sitoj Nefisi, Vejsil Karanij, his mother and father…” Under the name Oganj and Ognjev Pir is hidden the god of sun (Oganj name for fire) and his son, from mythological notion that the sun is “born” and “dies”, but for this text the name Tur is the most interesting, as we see, he did not disappear from the religious consciousness of the Bosnian people until the middle of the twentieth century, and after that he was mentioned solely as a mythological being which is holding the earth. In the book the author mentions another perfect example about the preservation of the Illyrian religion in Bosnia. Namely, in the village Turovo underneath Jahorina each year a celebration of Vida was held i.e. Ilyrian god Vidasus, which was converted into a saint with the advent of Christianity in Bosnia, and from then on he is worshipped as holly Vid. Tur and Vidasus, with this toponym and somewhat shortened name, actually best represent how well entrenched the Illyrian religion is amongst the Bosnian people.


Illyrian crest has the sign of a half-moon as a symbol of the horn of Tur.

Mythology of Bosnia and Herzegovina
18/07/2016 23:19