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 The Maid's cave

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PostSubject: The Maid's cave    Sun Nov 02, 2014 5:22 pm

Cave in the village Breteljevići, 12 kilometres from Kladanj, was always mysterious to the inhabitants of that part of the world. Since the ancient times the cave was considered to be a holly place. Besides medicinal water from the cave, special attention was attracted by the grave of an unknown girl which tragically died inside the cave. Next to Ajvatovica (pilgrimage), the cave gathers the largest number of pilgrims, who utter prayers for the brave soul of the girl on the last Sunday in August.



Last Sunday in August gathers pilgrims from all over BiH and the neighbouring region, they gather in the village Breteljevići not far from Kladanj. Pilgrims pray for the girl which died and was buried in the cave. The maid's cave, besides functioning as a pilgrimage site, has special meaning for the inhabitants. In the inside of the cave there are engravings horseman, standing figures and animals. Characters of a man and a woman are very prominent, which have something like wings on their body. It is considered that the drawings inside the cave are older than 10 000 years.



Even in the pre-Islamic era, the church of Bosnia and the inhabitants of neighbouring villages, ascribed special meaning to the cave. A long time ago solemnity of St. George was held in that area, St. George is nothing more than a Christian substitute for the solar deity Mitra, whose cult was very widespread across the entire Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the cave, throughout all periods, had characteristics of a holly place. The water flowing down the walls of the cave is considered to have medicinal properties - whoever washes himself with that water will be healthy during their life, so say the inhabitants. Besides ancient drawings, some places contain a larger number of Arabic inscriptions. The cave in Breteljevići got its name, and became important to the inhabitants of Kladanj and surrounding areas, because of the tragedy which occurred in the early period of Ottoman occupation.



A girl which was more brave than the girls of that age, challenged by stories of male bravery, decided to show that girls can be equally brave as men. She admitted this openly, that she can visit the cave at night and as proof she would leave her spindle inside of it. Those that want to check if she really went inside the cave can look for her spindle the next morning. Under the guise of night she visited the cave. She managed to go inside but when she tried to stick her spindle in the agreed place, she made a fatal mistake. She punctured a part of her clothes with the spindle. When she went back, the spindle stuck in her clothes prevented her from walking. She thought that she was held back by demonic forces, and she died on the spot out of fear. Since then the cave was named after her - an unnamed girl, her grave is inside the cave. That the legend is still "alive" today, is evident by the memories of the girl, through events "Days of the maiden cave" which is held every last Sunday in the month of August. The last August Sunday is meant for saying prayers for the soul of the unnamed and brave girl who is buried inside the cave.



August - month for offering sacrifices

August i.e. prayer day, so called prayers and pilgrimage sites, which are marked throughout this month at the beginning and end of the month are remnants of the Illyrian tradition of sacrifice which the Bosnian's kept since the ancient times. Namely, slaughter of sheep on Aliđun (St. Elias' day) and sacrifice of a girl (virgin) is a classic symbol of the sacrifice to god's of fertility, especially the solar deity, which are the basic parts of pagan rituals at the end of the summer, when one is showing gratitude for a good harvest. This tradition was practiced by all ancient peoples, among them the Illyrians, which is why this religious practice continued among the Bosnian people. Of course, without the sacrifice, only as a visit and prayer at cult places.
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