Embroidered with Gold, Strung with Pearls: The Traditional Ballads of Bosnian Women

  Vidan, Aida. 2003. Embroidered with Gold, Strung with Pearls: The Traditional Ballads of Bosnian Women. Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature 1. Cambridge, MA: Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_VidanA.Embroidered_with_Gold_Strung_with_Pearls.2003.


The path leading to the completion of this book involved many scholars, friends, and family members to whom I wish to express my gratitude. I am indebted to Mary Louise Lord, who generously shared with me her knowledge of her late husband’s fieldwork and of the materials held in the Parry Collection. Her meticulous criticism of the manuscript resulted in numerous improvements. Very special thanks go also to Gregory Nagy, whose thoughts on oral traditional literatures helped me formulate some of the project’s central ideas, and whose enthusiasm and help at every stage made the publication of this volume possible. My thanks to Jurij Striedter go far beyond this project. His erudition has always been a source of inspiration, and his enlightening comments were essential in clarifying several crucial points and organizing the materials for this book. Olga Yokoyama was an outstanding mentor during my graduate years and has since become a wonderful friend whose scholarly work and energy I have always admired. I am truly grateful for her continuous support and encouragment.
Exchanges with Thomas Butler about various aspects of this project were thought provoking and most helpful, as were his suggestions for the complex questions of translation. Marijan Despalatović’s hints for translating several problematic passages saved me many hours of labor. Both he and Elinor Despalatović have offered friendship and scholarly advice throughout the years. Mislav Ježić brought to my attention the relevance of mythology to the investigation of South Slavic ballads. Matthew Kay helped me many times to navigate my way through the materials of the Parry Collection. During the years when I was away from Cambridge he was my right hand in looking things up in the Collection. Ellen Elias-Bursać assisted more than once with locating materials unavailable to me and making sure that I got them in timely fashion.
My friends Ala Alryyes, Nasser Rabbat, Randa Shedid, and Irem and Mehmet Toner answered my many questions concerning Muslim culture. Branislav Anđelić was my main consultant on issues relating to Serbian culture. Mary Davis’ hospitality and friendship over the years made certain points during the research much more pleasant. Tea Cerkvenik not only kept my spirits up in critical moments, but was also a computer wizard who resolved many technical dilemmas. My friends from Croatia, Ljilja Matas and Milena Njegovan, assisted at every turn during my research in Zagreb and were terrific company over many Turkish coffees. Milena helped additionally with obtaining materials unavailable in the United States. My Bosnian friends Sanja Zdjelar, Damir Prcić, and Aida and Vasko Dobrić were all directly affected by the war. I learned a lot from them, above all how to preserve one’s sense of humor and sanity even in the most serious of moments.
Two grants supported my work on this volume, one awarded by Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, the other by Harvard’s Graduate Society. I am also grateful to Olga Davidson and the Ilex Foundation for a grant towards the publication of this book. I am indebted to the staff of the Institute for Folklore and Ethnology in Zagreb, in particular to Tanja Perić-Polonijo and Simona Delić, who did wonders in locating specific manuscripts for me and who drew my attention to certain relevant issues involving the question of the ballad genre. Casey Dué Hackney, Ryan Hackney, and David Elmer’s editorial comments helped rid the manuscript of various errors, while Casey’s organizational skills simplified the very final stages of book production. I thank the staffs of Widener Library at Harvard and Davis Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for their assistance on numerous occasions.
Finally, my deepest gratitude goes to my family: to my late mother in-law, Zoë Gallagher, who was the best of friends and who shared my excitement over this project when it was first being conceived; to my parents, Ivo and Jelisava Vidan, who instilled in me a love of learning; to my husband, Sean Gallagher, without whose comments on both content and style this book would not be what it is, and whose patience, encouragement and love followed me every step of the way; and to our two precious daughters, Eva and Sylvie, who have embellished and given meaning to each and every day. To the two of them and to my husband I dedicate this book.

– Aida Vidan
Cambridge, February 2003