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KOVAČ IZ GORSKE ŽUPE

Authors
Publisher
Literary Circle of Split; [email protected]
Publication Date

Abstract

Future investigations will probably centre on one particular group from the little-studied stechaks of the area of Gorska župa (the space on the area behind Biokovo between Zagvozd and Vrgorac). Within this group, one or more »stonecarving workshops« have already been discerned, that is, one or more »smiths« (kovač) of unknown names who at the end of the 14th and in the 15th century carved stechaks in the general area of Vrgorac (Gorska župa), the Makarska coastal area (the medieval Krajina or border) and nearby Ljubuški in medieval Hum. These are mainly caskets and a smaller number of slabs from the sites of Kljenak (All Saints’ Church), Stilja (St John the Baptist’s), Ravča (St Michael’s). The repertoire of decorations on the stechaks of the area (most of which are incorporated into the churches mentioned, of later periods), shows uniformity in the choice and treatment of motifs. This particularly relates to the group of stechaks in Stilja on which there are late medieval swords with hilts worked in detail and characteristic square or rectangular shields with a diagonal upper side and a slit for a spear. A stechak with a depiction of a lion built into the apse of the church in Kljenak and a similar one used as the right door jamb (and probably lintel) in the church in Stilja belong to the second group. We can find in Stilja and Kljenak, as well as in Brist, a village between Makarska and Ploče, and in the isolated village of Brist (Pasičina) over Staševica, a large half moon between two eight-pointed stars. At these sites, there is very often a cross on one of the narrow sides, as well as a border made of S-tendrils or triangles on the upper surface of the stechak. There is an exceptionally interesting representation of a woman on a stechak that is built into the northern wall of the church in Kljenak, probably representing an orant. The over-sized hands emphasise the dramatic moment when the penitent addresses her Creator. She is wearing a long dress tied at the waist, and on her head there is a covering or cap. In the idea, the closest to her is a female figure from a stechak from Brotnica in Konavle, where the head covering of the orant is much larger and can be identified as the basket in which the woman was carrying food for the grave. We are inclined to suppose here that these are stylised examples (for on stechaks very little detail embarked upon) of characteristic female head coverings, various kinds of kerchiefs, caps and veils that were common in the west during the Middle Ages, i.e. the 14th and particularly in the 15th century, and preserved today in Konavle and in particular in Pag female costumes. During the late Gothic, female attire changed. It was much more colourful, head coverings were worn, and for the first time the waist came into focus – which the figures described do have. The waist of the orant of Kljenak is additional brought out by the narrow twisted strip that is meant to represent a belt, one more important detail of the rich female (and male) attire in these areas in the 14th and 15th centuries. The rich medieval heritage of Gorska župa is only just touched on in this paper through one characteristic group of stechaks. Not even the issues raised by them have been explained to the end, since we have concentrated more on the recognition of the style of a single “smith” and less on the motifs of the reliefs, analogies for some of them and the historical context in which they were created.

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