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.


Agha – honorary title for a respected male citizen who did not belong to the Ottoman nobility. It was customarily added after the first name. Also used for commanders of the Ottoman-paid military forces.
abdest – ritual washing of one’s face, neck, ears, arms up to the elbows, and feet which Muslims are obligated to perform before prayer.
alaybey – military governor of a province. This word appears also as a personal name; in such instances the original spelling (Alajbeg) is maintained.
bey – title indicating a member of the Ottoman nobility. It was customarily added after the first name. Also used as an administrative title for a ruler of a district in the Ottoman Empire.
beylerbey – military and civil governor of a larger district or region. Literally “bey above beys.”
dolman – “dolama” in the original. A type of traditional knee-length overcoat made of homespun fabric.
ferman – a sultan’s written order.
gusle – traditional one-string instrument typically used to accompany performances of epic songs.
guslar – singer who in his performance of epic songs uses a gusle.
Jasin – the name of the 36th chapter of the Koran which is read for the soul of the deceased.
Kaaba – “Ćaba” in the original. A Muslim holy site in Mecca shaped like a cube, in the direction of which the devout turn during prayer. It is believed that one of the main obligations of an observant Muslim is to make a pilgrimage to Kaaba once during one’s lifetime.
kilim – “serdžada/serdžađa” in the original. A small woven rug used for praying. Also found as a decorative piece in Muslim households.
kolo – a traditional South Slavic dance in the formation of a circle.
Krajina – a border area which served as a buffer zone between the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire. This territory varied in width between twenty and sixty miles and was approximately a thousand miles long. The Ottoman Empire attempted to populate the areas in northern and western Bosnia that had been devastated by war with settlers from Serbia and Herzegovina. This process started as early as the second half of the fifteenth century. The new settlers were warriors by tradition and extremely mobile, since their primary occupations were shepherding and horse-breeding. In return for tax allowances and other benefits, they were expected to fight for the Ottomans. The Habsburg Monarchy responded with a similar system in the sixteenth century, recruiting Serbs who had retreated before the Ottomans’ advance during the fifteenth century. Having been given land, freed from feudal dues, and allowed to maintain Orthodox Christianity as their religion, these Serbs were expected to fight for the Habsburgs. In folk poetry the name Krajina is frequently employed in the formula “serhat Krajina.” This is essentially a tautological construction since “serhat” means “borderland” in Turkish, coinciding thus with the usage of the name “Krajina” in Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, and Serbia (also sometimes used generally to indicate any borderland).
mekteb – Muslim elementary religious school.
muezzin – Muslim announcer who, from a minaret, calls the faithful to prayer five times daily.
oka – an old Turkish unit of measurement equaling 1.283 kg.
pasha – the highest civil and military official in the Ottoman Empire; title equivalent to the rank of a general.
sipahi – “spahija” in the original; derived from Turkish “sipahi” meaning soldier. A sipahi was an owner of land given to him by the sultan’s decree. He was not obliged to pay taxes, but had to serve in the military and provide horses in case of war.
tambura – traditional stringed instrument.
tambour – “đerđef” in the original. A wooden frame used for stretching the fabric for embroidering.
vila – a fairy or a magical female being in South Slavic mythology and folk poetry.
vizier – the highest title in the Ottoman administrative hierarchy; governor of a province.