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Birth of dragons in Bosnia

Among the Bosnian people since the ancient times a belief about dragons was present, the dragon not only existed but it sexually assaulted women, but also cows, and out of this unholy union dragon cubs were born – snijet. This unusual belief is traditionally present among the Bosnian people while among Bosnian Christians it doesn’t exist or appears in rare instances.

According to people the dragons loved to stay in woods or hills, flying from one tree to another, sleeping inside caves or bathing in rivers. Namely, it occurred that random passers-by near a river, would hear sudden trashing on the surface of the river and would experience drops of water falling on them. For such sounds it was believed that they were created by a scared dragon which feeling someone’s presence would fly away. Allegedly, while in the water the dragon would go in circles and once bathed it would erect its body and would fly towards the sky.

[b]Gaze of emerald eyes[/b]

People describe the dragon as a long snake, over two meters, with very thin and short legs and arms, whose body is covered with dark scales and a tale which is pointy at its end. What is especially characteristic for him are his magnetic, emerald coloured eyes which hypnotise his victim, preventing any and all resistance from it. Often in the past the dragon would lurk young women which went to get water on their own or women which worked in the field alone, he would surprise them with his appearance and he would hypnotise them with his gaze, out of which they would awaken without any memory of the event. But, this strange meeting did not go without consequences because four or more months later the woman, which was hypnotised by the dragon, would give birth to snijet – a dragon cub.

[b]Birth of a dragon[/b]

Snijet or Snit got its name among the people by the soft membrane of the chicken’s egg which the chicken can lay when lacking calcium. Numerous ethnologists often made a mistake connecting this folk name of a dragon cub with a corn snijet (corn smut) /Ustilago maydis/ not realising what the informants were trying to tell them.

A few elderly women from which I had an opportunity to hear about the birth of snijet had an identical description of its birth. Namely, since all of them were illiterate and they didn’t know the name for a placenta, they used a folk name for it, what to them seemed to best describe what they see and that is snijet according to the soft membrane of the chicken egg. But, it is an important detail which reveals how snijet was constantly born in a white placenta, unlike a normal human baby whose colour of placenta was always dark red-blue or maroon, out of which the snijet would exit as soon as possible, running out of fear from human contact. According to the informants if in the woman’s stomach only a snijet was present, they would often give birth in their sleep, in the morning they would awaken with an empty stomach. Every night the dragon cub would return to its mother while it was sleeping in order to feed with her milk. Allegedly, such a woman would go to bed with her breasts full of milk and in the morning she would awaken with breasts completely empty.

As we can conclude by studying the ethnological records, but also listening to statements from individual old women, especially the ones which publicly and without hiding claim that in their youth they gave birth to snijet, every Bosnian woman in the past, until WWII, at least once gave birth to a snijet during her reproductive cycle. Because of this claim it wasn’t considered to be a sin to give birth to a dragon cub, moreover, it was considered to be a good deed even to the woman which three times gives birth to snijet entrance into heaven after death is promised. But, it was obviously considered beneficial in case the snijet is killed the moment it is born and buried, without allowing it to escape.

[b]Cannibalism and killing[/b]

People firmly believe that all those snijeti which women don’t kill after birth, become dragons. Perhaps this is where the collective fear of Bosnian people lie, if all of the cubs would be allowed to live their population would grow to a dangerous level and it could endanger humans. Women described snijet, after it left the white placenta, as a small hairy creature of a dark colour which resembles a mole the most. It moved fast, climbing up the wall and would screech hysterically.

Sexual attacks by dragons on women occurred, when she would be in the early stage of pregnancy with her husband, and in her womb together, one beside the other, the child and snijet would grow. In certain ethnographic records it is written that a woman would give birth to a live child with a dead snijet on his head, then the child would die as well. Similarly, if both are born alive, and the snijet kills itself, it was believed that the child will die soon as well. According to this it could be concluded that according to folk belief the snijet represented a type of human animal doppelganger.

[b]It looks like a human, but it is not[/b]

Fear of snijet, though common to the entire Bosnian folk, was not of the same intensity in all regions, and in certain locations its pronounced influence was recorded. The decisive factor in that was surely the frequency of birth, since in regions where such an apparition was rare, or better hidden and tabooed, it was less present. In Zukići they described snijet as a demonic being “which looks like a human, but wasn’t one”. That description in certain parts of BiH was a result of fear from cannibalism to which snijet was allegedly prone to in the first period of its life, in order to successfully finish its incubation period and exit the woman in the outside world. It was claimed that in certain cases snijet would eat the womb of the woman i.e. it would feed with it. That’s why in Zukići it was believed that the snijet for a pregnant woman represented a great physical and health issue since it would have a difficult time carrying it and giving birth to it.

In this part of Bosnia it was claimed that snijet can only be killed by a washerwoman, a board for washing clothes, after which it would be buried under ground. It is remembered that before WWII in a neighbouring village Kusonje a woman gave birth to a child with eaten fingers on the hand and the feet along with a snijet. For this deformity the snijet was accused, claiming that it ate the child’s fingers, and it was immediately killed by a washerwoman. In other parts of BiH, women would kill it with a broom.

In Pazarić and surrounding areas each time a woman would give birth to a snijet it would be covered up and would be kept a secret, which was usually a traditional taboo in all areas of BiH. Snijet, if it was born dead or if it didn’t manage to escape and save itself, would be immediately wrapped in an old cloth and buried in the ground taking care that no one sees it. A rule that all women across BiH held is that a dead snijet should be buried, whether in the ground or manure, and that under no circumstances should it be thrown in the trash. Was it done out of fear from the possible revenge from the dragon, which is evident, since it wasn’t even recommended for people to talk about dragons, or a certain dose of respect was given towards these mixtures will remain one of the numerous mysteries among the Bosnian folk.

Mythology of Bosnia and Herzegovina
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27/06/2017 12:34