PREPORUČAM OVAJ BLOG
Once primarily the domain of motorcycle bikers, tattoos are fairly commonplace among the younger generation today. Personally, I’ve always had a strong distaste for them (blame it on my conservative upbringing). Ironically though, it came as quite the surprise to me when I discovered that tattoos seem to be common among some of the older, female members of my family, including my grandmother.
Tattooing has a long history and tradition among the Catholic women of Bosnia and Hercegovina. Numerous theories about the origin of this practice exist although some evidence seems to indicate that tattooing was widely practiced in Bosnia and Hercegovina during pre-Slavic (i.e Illyrian) times. This custom continued among the Catholics of Bosnia and Hercegovina and held even more importance during the Turkish occupation of Bosnia and Hercegovina (1463-1878).
For the Catholics that did not flee under Turkish rule, life was especially hard. They were generally taxed more than other religions in the Ottoman Empire and, depending on the area, their priests became targets of Ottoman nobles, often forcing them these church leaders to flee into neighboring Catholic areas like Dalmatia out of fear for their lives. This left many Catholic areas without priests and as a result, many people began looking to Orthodoxy and Islam to fill their spiritual and sacramental needs. As a result of these pressures, Catholic numbers in Bosnia and Hercegovina started to dwindle. It is believed that Catholic women during this time started getting tattooed as a way to avoid forced conversions to Islam (through marriage) or to prevent being taken into captivity (i.e. harems) by the Ottomans.
The tattoo my grandmother has today might not be as prominent as they once were but it is definitely one of the key features that distinguish the older Croatian women of Bosnia and Hercegovina from their native born counterparts in Croatia today.
For more info, please check out the following article about Croats in Bosnia and Hercegovina: