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 Holly bull of Bosnian forefathers

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PostSubject: Holly bull of Bosnian forefathers   Mon Jul 18, 2016 9:39 pm

Tur is not a Slavic but a Latin word – Taurus, and a lot of similarity is seen in certain Illyrian names such as Teut or Trit, forms such as Tritan or Tritatron, and even Tana or Medauros. It is interesting to note that in the Bosnian language Tur is used for the part of pants, long johns or even pantaloons which connects tights, actually the hem between the legs, which connects them into a whole. Similarly the word Tur can be seen as an abbreviation from the terms poturiti or podturiti i.e. underlay something in order to keep a load or mass from falling.

Tur (taxonomically and Latin: Bos primigenius) is an extinct genus of a wild bovine, which lived in Europe, Asia and North Africa, it is a forefather of today’s cattle. The last European exemplar lived until 1627.
Tur was from the old days an important animal for the survival of mankind; that’s why the drawings and descriptions of it are present even inscriptions “Comments on the Gaelic wars (Commentarii de bello, Gallico) from Julius Cesar. His character became the status symbol of numerous European states and cities: Alba-lulia, Kaunas, Romania, Moldavia, Turka, province Mecklenburg and Swiss canton Uri, which was named after him.



Tur was larger than cattle today which is familiar to us. It was 160-180 cm tall (males) and 150 (females), 2.8 meters long without the tail, the tail was 0,8 meters long. Tur’s had pronounced sexual differences, besides the basic biological differences in the built of sexual organs, they differentiated themselves by colour and size, females were shorter and smaller (smaller backbone) than males. Males were black-brown, and females red-brown, both had light, almost white, horns with black tops. Tur was abundant in almost entire Europe. Their habitat were usually steppe, taiga, wet swampy forests and river valleys. These bovines lived in herds, except a few older bulls which lived alone, until the mating season when they would join the herd. In the herd which had a few dozen units, there was a dominant male, and during the mating period there were fights over the females. mating took place during the end of summer, and calf’s were born during the end of spring. Tur usually fed off of grass, but also fruit, leaves and softer branches. Unlike most cattle today which are in essence day animals, Tur was active at dusk and night. According to the research of the paleontological museum of the University in Oslo, the first exemplars appeared on the area of today’s India before two million years BC, from where they migrated to the Middle East and other parts of Asia. They reached Europe around the year 250 00.


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PostSubject: Re: Holly bull of Bosnian forefathers   Mon Jul 18, 2016 10:02 pm

Illyrian cult of Tur


In the religion of our Illyrian forefathers Tur was one of the main segments of the ancient cult of fertility whose influence was retained until today among the Bosnian people. Aleksandar Stipčević, Alojz Benac authors of the book “Cult symbols among the Illyrians: structure and contributions of systematization” (1981) mention the following:

“In farming cultures of the earlier iron age, in which the role of a woman, especially in terms of land cultivation is of the utmost importance for the life of the community, the cult of the bull as a principle of fertility represents a dominant component of the entire belief of people at the time. Bull, i.e. bovine, becomes an animal tied to the fertility of earth as the plough farming developed and the role of a woman in ploughing and farming in general lead to incorporation of the symbol of the bull as the principle of fertility in the basic of the religious cosmos of the matriarchal society. iconographicaly reduced to the horns, the bovine quickly became the symbol of the moon because of the similarity of the horns with the new moon. And the moon, as we mentioned earlier, is closely tied to the fertility of nature itself. Hence, the role of the woman in farming work, help of the bovine in the work, similarity of the bovine horns with the new moon, correspondence of the moon phases with the length of menstrual cycles of women, all of this gave an extremely important role to the bovine in the symbolic system of farming cultures from the earlier iron age onward.
With the weakening of matriarchy and its substitution by patriarchy in the metal age didn’t lead to the disappearance of the bull as the principle of fertility. In Greek and Roman religion the bull plays a large role as a sacrificial animal tied to the cult of fertility.”

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PostSubject: Re: Holly bull of Bosnian forefathers   Mon Jul 18, 2016 10:05 pm

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.
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