Štambuk 300 – the booklet from the first event in 2013

Štambuk 300 – the booklet from the first event in 2013

The  web edition of the booklet drafted for the first Štambuk 300 event in 2013 – a translation


Released due to holiday demand
Minor corrections, and additions to footnotes still being made . . .


Pictures of the event HERE.

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Arranged by
Krošnja i korijeni

Udruga Štambuk
Petrinjska 31
10000 Zagreb

For the registree
Dario Štambuk

Marito Mihovil Letica

Front picture
A Panorama of Selca

Preparation and printing
Nakladnička kuća Tonimir d.o.o, Varaždinske Toplice

Produced for the members of the Association.

Print run
500 copies


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Štambuk 300



The first Štambuk gathering in Selca,
on the island of Brač, August 10th 2013








The Stambuk Association
Zagreb, 2013

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A few words about how this self-conscious Štambuk 300 gathering came about.

The recently ended war encouraged the collecting of personal and family information. There had been many lives lost and much heritage, both material and non-material, was burned. Many inhabitants of Selca have been confronted with this situation in the past, and its priests can be credited for maintaining the archives that have facilitated today’s gathering. Those rich records have spawned alternative views of both past and present times[1]Births, Deaths and MarriagesIt should be noted that during Yugoslavia it was only churches (and mosques) in small settlements that made any record of births, deaths and marriages. Church, and mosque attendance was also always higher in rural areas. In any case, these records were not legally necessary as there were Yugoslav state registers for these things. In larger settlements, such as Zagreb, these records were not kept. However, of churches, mosques and synagogues in such urban areas, it is believed that it was synagogues that were most likely to maintain these records. In Yugoslavia attending religious services would affect communist party credentials and  any perceived attempt by religious institutions to take over state responsibilities was curbed and could be met with official sanctioning or communist vigilante activities. In rural areas there appears to have been less scrutiny of this sort. As religiosity increased in Yugoslavia at the end of the 1980’s people would insist that the births, deaths and marriages that applied to them be added to the local church records, including in Zagreb. It was from this point that the larger churches began their record keeping again.There have been instances in Croatia, and indeed around the world, where clergy have been called as witnesses to testify in immigration and other trials that they married the persons in question, and church records have been presented as evidence. However, these records are of no matter as the laws of all countries, under international agreement, stipulate that for a marriage to be legal both parties must be legally in the country of marriage. This even applies in the countries of the European Union, where foreign EU nationals may stay for 90 days without a visa. If an individual from an EU country stays in a foreign EU country for more than 90 consecutive days without having obtained taxable employment, they cannot legally marry there. They must leave the country in question for 6 weeks and return to do so. This is believed to be correct. This nuance is frequently not explained clearly, for reasons of money making presumably, by divorce lawyers. If there is no legal marriage there is no need for a divorce. Obviously people all around the world are affected by this internationally binding stipulation. The rule is that if you are not in the country you intended to marry in, you cannot legally marry there – despite what religious records might note.. At this time of year when we gather in the ‘Štambuk stone nest’, as Dr. Drago Štambuk has called Selca, let us enjoy and relax in the warm summer and at the same time honor our past loves and the bearers of our futures. The honored not necessarily bearing the family name ‘Štambuk’, but all having in their hearts an unsinkable sentiment.

Slowly and steadily, over a number of years, the deep-rooted desire  for gathering took hold. The first concrete records came from the pen of Drago Štambuk back in 2000.

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Baptismal archives in Prague record that Jan Antonin, the forefather of the Brač Štambuk family, was the fourth son of Andrija Steinpryd. Jan Antonin was baptized on June 4th 1688, in the Catholic Church of St. Vojtjeh /Adalbert in Prague


Then one summer’s day in 2010, in the Jadrankamen[2]JadrankamenJadrankamen is Croatia’s largest stoneworks company. They are based at Pučišća on the island of Brač. office, Juro Čiča gently asked me “Would you like a Stambuk gathering?”. With seven children would I want a commitment that was like an eighth?

But, like every good idea, this good idea did not stand still. One day in the summer heat of 2012, after Sunday Mass, it rustled again. This time a young priest, Father Siniša Štambuk, asked me, “Dario, do you have five minutes?”. I said that I did. He then said “Let’s sit under the tree in front Ružmarin [Restaurant]. Shortly afterwards we were joined at the table by Bruno, Drago Zanko, Juro, Nataša, Maja and Marčelo. With each new person that joined us the enthusiasm increased. After a few more meetings on the square in Selca the meetings moved to Zagreb. Nataša setup the stambuk.hr website and Siniša and Mario diligently found the details of 976 Štambuks in Croatia. Drago wrote an introduction, invitation and preamble. Other arrangements and consultations followed. Neva from the Didolić Association helped us with the statute

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and with administrative matters regarding the founding of the Stambuk Association. There was no going back. By early fall we received a suggestion for the naming of the gathering from Drago, ‘Štambuk 300’. Laconically brief, simple and clear.

From an idea that was in many thoughts, and which was woven in with dreams and mentioned in so many conversations, it sprang to life. How would it not do so?! It was to honor, on the cobbled rustic Selca village square, the fact that Saturday, August 10th 2013, was the 300th anniversary of the fateful arrival of our Prague ancestor Jan Antonin, to Brač. That young man, torn from his family and hometown in strange twists of fate, demonstrated his maturity in asserting himself in his new environment and honestly winning the heart of Pučišća noblewoman Franke Bokanić. They were to produce numerous offspring who would go on to inscribe our family name in the histories of Brač and in places further afield.

Zagreb/Brač, July 2013

Dario Štambuk

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Arrivano i Croati sui cavalli neri

[Italian: ‘The Croats arrive on black horses’]

The Croats approach on wild horses
and the peaks of their pulses calm quickly,
foaming cormorants[3]CormorantsA cormorant is a sea bird, tame and blue
from the distant steppes, behind the bare mountains,
as the Croats approach the sea of their dreams.


Drago Štambuk

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Brač, the eye of the Cyclops

[4]CyclopsA Cyclops is a one-eyed Greek (and later Roman) mythological creature.A Cyclops

If we are to believe that the separation of earth from sky created the world, then by separating island from mainland we create a space that we call insular. The island space exists as a horizontal parallelogram, but when we add the vertical parallelogram of insufficiently separated sky and mountains, with its appendages and synergies drawn in, we get a spatium that is both spiritual and real, vertical and horizontal, flat on the sea and upright in the mountains[5]Greek Mythological References
​The ‘separation of the sky from the earth’ marks the beginning of the creation of the world according to ancient Greek mythology. Gaia, the personification of the earth, bore the first Cyclops and so continues its odyssey of gods, creatures and adventures. The meaning of its characters and their tales were a constant muse for assessment, and entertainment, for quite some centuries in the West. The knowledge of some of their gods, characters and stories still survive within the lexicon of the public, but academically the Classics, which in the West are usually linked to ancient Greece and Rome, have all but been abandoned, although the subject can still be studied at Oxford University in England, for example. Academically, when speaking of the Classics, classical history and its literature and art are studied alongside classical mythology. Interpretations of ancient history, after all, cannot be separated from its mythology. Mythology is evident in the art and literature of the ancient world and in the rhetoric and guidance of it leaders and lay. The arrival of Islam largely saw the end of any sort of classicism in the middle-east, although not immediately. However, it can be said that ‘Persian Classicism’ survived in Shia Iran prior to the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Today, the most prominent ‘Classicism’ in the middle-east appears to be Egyptology, which, in Egypt, is an Egyptian state subsidized field that concerns itself with the interpretation of artifacts, which would not have the support there that it has, were it not for the tourist trade there.

There was a time in the British Civil Service, when to be considered for the promotional fast-stream, a university degree or higher in the Classics was required. This was abandoned about half way through the last century but the legacy of this requirement continues. In the United Kingdom the acceptability of ‘generalist’ arts subjects (Social Sciences, History and Politics, for example) as qualifications for employment in the public and private sectors can be noted. Whereas, in another countries, around Europe for example, to be considered for an equivalent role would require specific professionally related academic qualifications to be held by the candidate, particularly for government employment. This willingness to employ people with generalist qualifications does not apply to all employment sectors in the UK and it is frequently seen as desirable if vocational or vendor specific qualifications are obtained during employment. Frequently, employers will pay for this. This legacy appears to account for the labor market flexibility of the UK and it has certainly created another, relatively, buoyant economic sector there, that of vocational training.

However, the appreciation of the generalist for high government employ is not assessed as having brought any particular benefits for the British public, with numerous branches and divisions of the British state demonstrating appalling levels of incompetence over a protracted period of time. Thames Valley Police, has had problems in investigating terrorism and crimes against children, which have bordered institutional refusal. These problems are surely related to the errancy of their public administration. It should be noted though, that those problems and that of the absorption, in the UK Parliament, of foreigners who have no right to Parliamentary seats, are also related to the sustained incompetence of the administration of the UK’s domestic intelligence service, MI5. All these issues are high level issues that are the result of their embryonic forms not being addressed by civil servants of one sort or another. Having said that, numerous Cantonal Swiss police forces, who are staffed by specifically qualified civil servants, exhibit the same kind of abandon to these sorts of crimes, that verges on public contempt. Interestingly, the police of the Italian speaking cantons of Switzerland fare best in public protection in Switzerland.

Brač is a punctum, a material point, in just a so crossed and complex a space. God loved Brač so much, that in his creative ecstasy those very separations from him were barely made. Hence its spiritual appendages, or genius loci, every iota of which is felt by every one of its inhabitants and every passer-by. Its ellipsoidal surface is crowned by St. Vid’s[6]Vidova GoraVidova Gora, translated as ‘St. Vid’s heights’, is the highest point of all the islands on the Adriatic. In the picture Bol’s Golden Horn (Zlatni Rat) beach can just be seen heights, and it is juxtaposed by the mainland massif of Biokovo. From the rugged Dinaric Alps, where the earth bears the blue sky and the sky reflects the earth, Brač is a celestial volume slung from the Karst Mountains, skirted by and soaked by the sea.

High above Brač, above St. Vid’s heights, stands a comet whose fairy hairs of light pull the island upwards in an amber bathe and with the sun’s help they gradually pull it out of the sea. Perhaps once raised the fateful alum stone is raised, forever. It enters into the precious metal of the thickened sky and preserved by its shackles, it moves into eternity and into the building of permanent times[7]An AllegoryThe preceding text in this paragraph is allegorical and it contains visual imagery of the creation of the world, with Brač at its center, so to speak, that is alluding to the previous reference to the Greek mythological creation of the world. It also contains an allusion to alchemy, the chemistry of the ancient world, which used alum stone as a component in numerous chemical preparations. The chemical compounds produced from alum are believed to have been the most complex (non-organic) compounds that were known of and that were manufactured at that time. As well as producing compounds from alum that were used in early industrial processes, such as the dying of cloth, numerous colors of crystal were produced from it, by adding different elements and compounds to produce the different colors. These crystals, once shaped and polished, would be set into precious metals like gold to make jewelry. Hence, the reference to the ‘precious metal of the thickened sky’, the ‘fateful’ nature of alum stone is a reference to the fact that its chemical manipulation and use in early industrial processes, and jewelry, set the foundations of our knowledge of chemistry and the shaping of our world with it. A crystal produced from chromium alum. Whilst I lived in my native Selca as a boy, shaken by the island’s beauty, I would in nights lit by a kerosene lamp draw imaginary maps of the world. Everything to me was invented except Brač. This island of mine was my only solid reference point for geography and my psyche. It was as real as an almond blossom in January, the center of the

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known and of the unknown. On its southern and northern flanks I attached lands and continents. My drawings encompassed its western harbor and I measured new inlets and islands, shoals and rocks, then states and kingdoms.

Selca was an omphalos[8]OmphalosOmphalos is the ancient Greek mythological center of the world that was represented by a stone. The word also means the ‘center of something’.An omphalos, an umbilicus, a navel settlement. Brač was the closest neighboring space from where I conquered the world. I led battles with fleets and armies. No matter how hard someone else’s army tried to conquer the island, they never did. Taking Brač was simply unfeasible, as impossible as someone kissing their own lips. Brač was always victorious over others. It was in my childhood imagination a golden staff with which I walked and tamed whole lands. It was an Axis mundi, the strongest support and pedestal of my life and of my imagination. The foundations of my living rest in the coat of arms of the municipality of Selca[9]Selca Municipality’s Coat of Arms, the easternmost municipality of Brač. Its depicts a hoe and hammer. The first tool cultivates the land, the other stone. The first digs stones out of the ground and throws them out, building piles of them in the geometry of the heart[10]A QualificationThe reference to the ‘geometry of the heart’ is a continuation of the Greek mythological and mathematical theme that began in the first paragraph, with an allusion to omphalos. What the author may be saying is that each stone represents the omphalos of each individual, and that put together these form the communal heart.. The other forms blocks, facades and finer variants of tools. It forms faces, hands and edges. It generates a waste, a flour-white powder, food for hungry angels.

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The latter tool was the tool of my formation, it made me like every other Bračanin – a heavy lifter and stonemason, an eternal skivvy wrestling with the softer and looser element of earth as well as with the harder element of stone. Handling that tool taught us to compete against ourselves, as well as with one another. We adopted and soaked up the predominately stingy and lean land, handled the stone and incorporated it into the dry stone wall, the bunja and the mound, and the palaces too, like the Štambuk and Didolić residences in Selca. In building the Štambuk Palace the architectural families involved in 1869 competed. Each individual stone was handled masterfully and with love, on the spot. The skill and precision enriched with a kiss, and by a multitude performing such kisses. In its construction each stone kisses its neighbor, making mortar irrelevant in a technique called slipa fuga[11]Slipa FugaDespite the name of this technique of building structures of stone without mortar seeming to be Latin or Italian in origin, it is apparently Norwegian websites that are most likely to have the words ‘slipa’ and ‘fuga’ on pages and posts that are to do with tiling. Perhaps it is a phrase that is used only on Brač.. In the Štambuk Palace, each stone loves the other and is bound by a more durable binder than brass. The builders of the palace of my youth were lovers of stone. It was built with tenderness and possesses a wonderful beauty, perfected with kisses, preserved in eternity on Brač. Located in the heart of Selca, next to the whitewashed church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, its highest landmark, and the work of the same hand.

To our great misfortune on August 9th 1943, in retaliation [to a Partisan attack], the Italian occupation army burned my birthplace. It burned for three days and it has never recovered. That is why there are more than fifty ruins there, even today. The Štambuk Palace burned too, and there it is, gaping at the sky. The hard to comprehend beauty of the ruin wounded me and marked me with a red-hot seal, like cattle. I remember the painful stories of my dear and noble father, the then mayor, about how terrible the events were and how despite superhuman efforts to save Selca, only the people were saved and how they, from the top of a hill, looked down upon the apocalyptic flames.

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The torturous digging of a soil mixed with rock, and the grappling with the rock, taught me to be persistent in fostering growth and transformation – from seed, to shoot, to the fruit and its noble descendants: wine, oil and cherries . . .

Stone and its processing taught me to use my imagination in choosing and to measure the force of the blow. Its careful measurement is required to split a stone in two. It taught me that choosing the point that receives the stroke perfectly, will multiply the force applied. It taught me to enclose and to encompass the space. The adhering of stones together in balanced walls enables roof-support, longevity, firmness, massivity, elegance and ethics and principles. Righteousness is a characteristic of Bračanin and righteousness goes hand in hand with their thoughts. When a Bračanin is building, he is building a space for survival.

The sea, the third contextual element, in its silver slivering, taught me to sail, the high seas, to wander the distances and to anticipate the depths and heights, longing for unknown lands, starry skies, and fish and an underwater empire. It taught me the nuances of the real and of the unreal and where they crossed.

All three elements – the scarce land, the abundant stone and the glittering sea, instilled in me a love for my being, inner and close, and yet far and inaccessible, barely of use in the whirlpools of life. But the very realization that I can rely on the smell of violets, the taste of long ago eaten porcini mushrooms, the trembling of the leaves of my father’s olives, discerning the gold of the oil and the shade of purple of the smutica (a Brač drink composed of three parts fresh goat’s milk and one part red wine) makes me so much stronger and different from someone who is unfamiliar with Brac’s beauty secrets and the fatally intoxicating view from the heights of St. Vid.

From the love of his being came the Bračanin’s love for the world and the cosmos. They were mostly directed to me by the sea. Each time a wave would break over the rocks, a sigh would accompany it and one soul from the world would alight on my island, although it is sparsely populated and empty, and

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diminished by frequent human departures. It was, in my imagination, the most populated virginal passage of the world. Because it is an island, Brač is a world unto itself. Everything is on Brač. Everything from Brač goes out and returns to it. Like a Parthenogenetic creature, its entwining with destiny’s fluff admired with a curiosity, in the wee hours of my nights. Not to take a step from its shores, and to stay on it would be perfectly sufficient for me. After all, all the discoveries and journeys I have made in my life have been from Brač.

Mystical in its muddy desert prayers and working (ora et labora), imbued with sources of astronomical observation and cliffs, a warrior in the north, and sensual and poetic on its southern shores and slopes. Greek and Roman, linguistically Slavic and Latin, genetically Illyrian, my beloved Croatian island, a cradle, threshold, altar and tomb, to which I owe all my opening vistas and landscapes.

I am Brač and its anchor. I experience, in Brač looking at me, the blue and mighty Biokovo, the shimmering blue sea, the crystal dawn, the outlines of Hvar, Korčula, Vis, withering Pelješac, Vidova gora – of which, as if on his palm, a Bračanin is holding and admiring its beauty in his controlling eye. The island is everything that is needed by a man of the Mediterranean and of the Universe. It is a burnt vertical and the eye of the Cyclops.

Without Brač, the world would not exist, because the world not be seen without Brač .


Drago Štambuk

Tokyo, November 12th 2005

(Published in the essay Otok Brač, Fabra press, Zagreb, 2005)

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The invite to Štambuk 300

Štambuk 300
1713 – 2013
Selca on the island of Brač


Dear members of the Štambuk family
and its associates,


we gladly invite you to participate / attend on
August 10th 2013 in Selca on this island of Brač, in the Croatian


a whole day gathering of the Štambuk family,
to mark the 300th anniversary of the arrival of our ancestor,
the first Štambuk,

to Selca, our original nest, from where we

have scattered through our beautiful domicile,

across Europe and further into distant overseas lands

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This is the first general announcement for you to make an entry
in your calendar for the date of the event

August 10th 2013 in Selca on the island of Brač

this will be followed by subsequent related announcements
namely, on www.stambuk.hr


Attached to the invitation is a text by the Croatian poet
Drago Štambuk which states the related historical reasons
and circumstances for the event. These will be discussed in
more detail at the meeting in Selca.

We heartily wish you and your loved ones a
Merry Christmas and the best of the coming summer.


Organizational committee ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ Štambuk 300 ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ Honorary Committee

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The first Štambuk baptized on Brač was Andrija Štambuk,
born September 25th, 1713. His parents Antun Standelpergher
Štambuk and Franka née Bokanić were married on December 28th 1712
(the book of christenings, Pučišća parish)


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A brief historical account

Štambuk 300
1713 – 2013
Selca on the island of Brač


Next year is the 300th anniversary of the’Contract of Freedom’
which records the arrival of the first Štambuk (mistro Antonio
Standelpergher detto Stambucco, de Andrea della citta da
Praga[12]Venetian ItalianThe italicized text in brackets reads ‘Mister (or Master) Antonio Standelpergher, called Stambucco, of Andrea (the Venetian Italian version of his father’s name) from the city of Prague’., to Selca on the island of Brač.

Antonio, Antun/Ante, arrived from Prague, via Venice, as a rower (uomo da remo) on a general galley (galera) of the Venetian navy (named ‘Vendramin’). Deprived of his liberty in Venice, for unknown reasons, and on January 10th 1713, by mutual agreement, voluntarily signing a contract with local landowner, Mateo Petrov Niseteo (Mate Nižetić), in which he bought Antun for 578 lira, from which Antonio secured his freedom by building both opulent and more ordinary residences on Brač. Since the fulfilling of that contract, and the passing of his knowledge to numerous locals and offspring, the Štambuk family and Selca became synonymous with excellent stonemasonry and building, demonstrating exemplary works such as the White House in Washington and features of the UN building on the East River.

From grand European cities, Prague and Venice, to this little place of our hearts, Selca, came that so called Štambuk – just like one of Jason’s Argonauts, who rowed in their pursuit of the

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golden fleece. Unlike the ancient Greek myth, Brač’s Štambuk stayed in Colchise, and settled as an overseas traveler setting his roots into its social soil. Fatefully, Antun’s journey as a rower on a galley, from Venice to Brač, was gilded with the attainment of his own freedom, and with a fleece – a precious stone – and the revival of its quarrying and processing on the island.

On August 10th, 2013 in Selca, in the Štambuk stone nest, on a square famous for its open air poetry, between high white courts – citing fra Ivana Despot (1883) – and occupied by pure Croatian landlords, the famed Didolićs and Štambuks, the ruin of the Štambuk palace, it rising before us, built by our ancestors who raised stonemasonry to an art form, and having achieved such a fine fusion of the stones that comprise the facades, without any mortar – there, our family will gather, as the inheritors of a proud architectural dynasty that has left many a building as splendid as the main Štambuk Palace and the other Štambuk buildings, the Didolić Palace and the Church of Christ the King . . . all of which are testimony to an exemplary Croatian stonemasonry and building tradition – a genius in fact.

The Štambuk Palace (Palac, Palazzo Stambucco; 1869 – 1943), is the starting place of our lineage and of our tribe, a house of houses and a home of homes, a court without a crowned regis, a cradle which became a tomb after the Italian fascist burning of Selca on August 9th 1943, whose 70th anniversary we will mark with the 23rd all-Croatian Language and Poetry Festival Croatia rediviva ča-kaj-što,  on the eve of our Štambuk gathering. There, we also hope to inspire the reviving impulse that is needed for the restoration that beautiful ruin. All this, in the same place, on Selca’s Stjepan Radić square[13]Stjepan RadićStjepan Radić founded the Croatian People’s Peasant Party (HPSS) with his brother in 1904 during the time of Austro-Hungarian suzerainty over Croatia. It was the first Croatian nationalist party and it is the historical precursor to the ‘Croatian Peasant Party’ (HSS), active since Croatia’s independence in 1991. Arguably, the HSS’s nationalist credentials are based on the history of it precursor.

As the name of the HSS suggests, its economic policies are sympathetic to small holders and to small independent businesses. Whilst it is admirable that the small man and woman in Croatia have a party that fights exclusively for their interests and their votes, it does appear to be unapproachable and unsympathetic to the lobbies of larger enterprises, both domestic and foreign. These sorts of larger enterprises produce wider economic benefits for stakeholders both in the way of direct employment and indirectly, through demands for services. If the HSS were able to turn their conceptions away from their historical fixation towards the small holder, even partially, and were to modernize their perspective to embrace the concepts of stake holding and shareholding, the party might be provided with greater political successes and credit for economic growth and employment. There is obviously a certain generation and social stratum in Croatia that would suffer a lapse of representation with this change, but if it would be any conciliation to them, their children would surely be likely to benefit. Stjepan Radić has squares and streets named after him all over Croatia. He was shot dead along with his brother in the Parliament of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia on June 20th 1928, by a Montenegrin member of parliament
in front of the Church of Christ the King, which Cardinal Franjo Kuharić[14]Statements by Religious Leaders during Socialist YugoslaviaAny statement by a senior cleric during Yugoslavia is noteworthy as is the time of this particular statement, in the later 1980’s. His statement, although not political, could have, in previous decades, caused him legal difficulties with the authorities. As well as risking imprisonment, his treatment could have included public denouncements by them and harassment by party henchman, which could have included the violence of the cadres of provincial thugs, the unofficial strong arm of the Yugoslav Communist party. Including in prison.

The relative religious tolerance of the later 1980’s does show the backdrop against which nationalist sentiment grew within Yugoslavia and which resulted in full scale war. It is does seem unlikely though, that by continuing the suppression of religious expression that war could have been avoided, although it may have been delayed. There has been some past public comment that it was growing religiosity within Yugoslavia that caused it to fall apart. Some die hard Yugoslavs have said that the state should have taken a harder line on religious outspokenness, but in all reality it was a social trend that could not be suppressed. It grew everywhere, to the point where to have political credibility an aspiring leader had to have religious credentials. This is still the case throughout the former Yugoslavia although this phenomenon is diminishing, slowly. Kuharić with Pope John Paul II and Croatia’s first President, Dr. Franjo Tuđman
publicly called, on July 16th 1987, the Cathedral of Brač – which ties together, as it should, two osmotically mixed and common stories – the story of Selca and

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the story of the Štambuks. Without Selca there would be no Štambuks, and without the Štambuks – nothing of Selca and nothing of its exceptional and unique history: with a dazzling bourgeois apogee in the late 19th century and a post-war slump after the island’s ‘Hiroshima'[15]A Clarification of MeaningThe 19th century apogee referred to is the Hrvatski Sastanak ‘Croatian Meeting’ event and its aftermath. A testimony from the event can be read in this booklet on page 44. The island’s ‘Hiroshima’ refers, of course, to the burning of Selca, as well as other settlements on Brač, by the Italian occupation army on August 9th 1943. For a full list of the settlements torched see our post here.. The latter did not alter Croatia’s fate. The Stambuks, whose sons and daughters were always called on and who always distinguished themselves in answering,  merged early with their new, yet ancient, homeland.

Come  to our historic assembly, so that we can share our destinies together – in Selca, where else? Together we will commune the flame of love that has always warmed our unique family, a family of stone. Hardy, kind and keepers of a Croatian home.

dr. Drago Štambuk

Brasilia, September 20th 2012

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Dinko, Kažimir, Andrija and Špiro Štambuk Kocio,
the sons of Metod and Marija née Rajčić, photographed 1947

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I’ve no ring of solid gold
with an all-seeing eye that invisibly barters me
between Bushmen
an intact courtyard was his father’s court
on the old mountain above the lake’s surface
under a transparent glacier and a dome of snow

I’ve no ring but I silence these ancestors of mine
in the currents of my forehead and in a blissful touch
a complete surprise when they visit me
in shining afternoons and bluish mornings

Oh blank stare, freezing breath
in the theme of Axël, origo Danuvii,
the porcelain chastity of Loehengrin[16]Literary DistractionsThe author is introducing a contrast of emotions in mentioning the play Axël, which chills at its end, origo Danuvii, which is a reference to origo, a foundation of philosophical pragmatics, and Danuvii is the name of a Roman province, which indicates his study of Roman history and the relevance of the Roman conceptions of province, possibly to nationalism. The name Danube is derived from Danubii. Loehengrin appears to be a Croatian spelling of Lohengrin, a character in German literature and plays that inspired an opera by Richard Wagner. Its characters and themes can be described as porcelain and chaste.Porcelain chastity throughout

In the depths of Hadrian’s works[17]The Emperor HadrianAs well as being a consildatory Roman Emperor that bullied the Senate, Hadrian was also a lover of Greek classicism and was a poet.Hadrian in the frying pan
a swinging polished glittering oval
The bracelet rubs my thin wrist[18]A Distraction from the MundaneHere the author is contemplating the works of Hadrian, while performing the mundane task of frying an egg, such that it takes on new visual dimensions, his rubbing bracelet providing a separate distraction.
That is why the sea is really the softest bed
for a genealogical book on a certain death


Drago Štambuk

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Poster of the event

Dear inhabitants of Selca and of Brač, members of the Štambuk family
and its associates,

We gladly invite you to
a whole day gathering of the Štambuk family


on Saturday, August 10th 2013 in Selca on the island of Brač

on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the arrival of the first Štambuk
to Selca, our original nest, from where we
have scattered through our beautiful domicile, across Europe and further into
distant overseas lands

Morning program:

10.00 – holy mass in the church of Christ the King held by bishop
Slobodan Štambuk

11.15 – music by the KUD brass band ‘Hrvatski sastanak’ and a group
photograph in front of the church

11.30 – the unveiling of the plaque celebrating 300 years of the Štambuk
family in Selca

11.45 – an exhibition of stonemason’s tools (by Juro Čiča) and works in
stone (by Bruno Mišin), photography, a caricature

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poster by Davor Štambuk called ‘Lišo bez punta’ – the exhibitions will be held in the ‘Hrvatski sastanka’ salon on the square from August 5th 2013 to the 15th.

A lunch break then a free afternoon
(suggestion: sightseeing the old quarry of St. Mikula).

Evening program on the square:

20.00 – a welcome speech by the organizers and selected participants

20.15 – well known Štambuks of the 19th and 20th centuries (preseneted by Ivo Vuković)

20.30 – a brief presentation by the publisher of Davor’s caricature, ‘101 Štambuks’

20.40 – Štambuk genealogy (presented by Dario) and a presentation of the booklet ‘Štambuk 300’

21.00 – socializing with music – entertainment hosted by Slaven Štambuk and guests

Organizer: the Stambuk Association with the help of the municipality of Selca and t.z.o. Selca

More details at www.stambuk.hr

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Announcement of the celebration of 300 years of the arrival of the
Štambuk family in Selca


Detailed schedule of events on Saturday, August 10th, 2013

Morning program

• 10.00 Holy mass in the church of Christ the King held by bishop
Slobodan Štambuk

• 11.10 Music by a Brass band

• 11.15 A group photograph of all of the Štambuks and members
of their families that are present shall be organized in
front of the Church of Christ the King immediately after Mass

• 11.30 The unveiling of the plaque celebrating 300
years of the Štambuk family in Selca

• 12.00 An exhibition of stonemason’s tools,
photographs, posters, caricatures (under the name of ‘Lišo bez
punta’), books, works in stone, designer and other
products. Stonemason’s tools supplied by Juro ‘Čiča’ and Bruno
‘Mišin’ (Štambuk)

Objects made of stone by Bruno ‘Mišin’

Forty exhibited caricatures by Davor Štambuk

T-shirts from the occasion sporting a ‘Štambuk 300’ logo (designed by:
Danijela & Tamara, and Mario Kociov)

Products by the designer Danijela Štambuk, Štambuk soap
(Viktor Štambuk) and various other Štambuk products


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Drago Štambuk, Croatiam aeternam[19]Croatiam aeternamTranslation (from Latin): Croatian eternal.

Elinor Shaffer wrote of this book, a collection of poems which was written during the war years: “the sense of homeland that runs like a silver thread beneath the stuff of the verse is the Dalmatia of the poet’s birth.”
, Zagreb, 1996.

Drago Štambuk, I šišmiši su ptice u bezpjevnoj zemlji
[20]I šišmiši su ptice u bezpjevnoj zemljiTranslation: Even bats are birds in a land without song.

A book of poetry.
, Zagreb, 2005.​

Drago Štambuk, Mirula[21]MirulaTranslation: Mirula.

A book of Haiku poetry.
, Zagreb, 2005.

Drago Štambuk, Maslinov vijenac 4[22]Maslinov vijenac 4Translation: Olive wreath 4.

The fourth edition of the poetry of the ‘Croatia Rediviva’ Poetry festival. It was founded by Drago Štambuk in 1991 and is held every year in Selca. You can read about it here.
, Croatia rediviva, Zagreb, 2011.


A detail from the Štambuk Palace in Selca.
Picture by Krešimir Ursić

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Drago Štambuk, Nebo u bunaru[23]Nebo u bunaruTranslation: The sky in a well.

A book of poetry.
, Croatia rediviva, Zagreb,2011.

Nives Štambuk, Vode Dalmacije[24]Vode DalmacijeTranslation: Dalmatian Waters.

A book on Dalmatian flora and fauna around its major freshwater features. Croatian text with pictures.
, Vode Neretve, Vode Cetine.

Davor Štambuk, knjiga karikatura 101 Štambuk[25]Knjiga karikatura 101 ŠtambukTranslation: A book of caricature 101 Stambuks.

This book contains little text so it will largely be comprehensible to non-speakers of Croatian.
, 2013.

Juro Štambuk, dvije zbirke čakavske poezije[26]Dvije zbirke čakavske poezijeTranslation: Two confusions of Chakavian poetry., 2001 i 2004.

Juro Štambuk, Selaške batude[27]Selaške batudeTranslation: Peasant rubble.

A book of comical rural short stories.
(A book of comical rural short stories) 2008.

A Gathering of the authors of, Štambuk 300, the booklet of the occasion, with a presentation of topics related to this Selca gathering, 2013.

A break for lunch and a free afternoon.

At 18:00 begins a tour of the ‘St. Mikula’ quarry, from where the first Štambuk began to extract stone. The tour leader is Mario (Ante) Štambuk Kocio. Departure by car in front of the Church of Christ King at 18:00. Back at around 19:30 pm.

Evening program

• 20.00 Welcome speech by the organizers and selected participants

• 20.15 Well known Štambuks of the 19th and 20th centuries (sculptors
Ivan Kanova Štambuk and Karmen Štambuk, academic sculptor
Gorislav Štambuk, Selca pastor don Slavo, bishop don
Andro, Ivan Štambuk called Ivulić, Vjenceslav Štambuk,
female teacher Kekina Štambuk, impoverished Štambuks and others).
Information gathered and written by Ivo Vuković

• 20.30 A short presentation by Rudi Aljinović, the publisher of
Davor Štambuk’s caricature book

• 20.45 Štambuk genealogy (by Dario Kažotov) and a
presentation of the ‘Štambuk 300’ booklet

• 21.00 Socializing with the music of Slaven Štambuk and his guests


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Drawn by Davor Štambuk


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1. Exhibition space, information center and
covered area (including play area)

2. Information center manned by Petar Josip
Štambuk (only on August 9th 2013)

3. Restaurant Ružmarin

4. Restaurant Jugo

5. Stalls of the agricultural co-operative of Selca

6. General store Provišta

7. Pizzeria Perivoj

8. Café Kapelica

9. Café Perija

10. The Parish Church of Christ the King (1921 – 1955)

11. The Church of Out Lady of Carmel

12. Statues and Busts (Pope John Paul II, Genscher
– Mock – Tuđman, Tolstoj, Stjepan Radić,
bishops Celestin Bezmalinović and Andro
Štambuk, Tomo Didolić)

13. The Štambuk Palace

14. The Small Palace

15. Commemorative Plaques: Martin Kukučin, dr.
Franasović, anniversary of Hrvatski Sastanak (‘Croatian Meeting’) 1888, anniversary of the torching of Selca

16. The commemorative wall, with plaques commemorating the winners of ‘Croatia rediviva’

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Map of Selca

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Points of interests for tourists in Selca

– The Church of Christ the King (new church)

– The Church of Our Lady of Carmel (old church)

– The Štambuk Palace (1862–1869)

– The Small Palace (family crest[28]The Štambuk Family Crest on the northern facade and the commemorative plaque of the 300th anniversary of the Štambuk arrival)

– The commemorative wall, with plaques commemorating the winners of ‘Croatia rediviva'[29]The ‘Croatia Rediviva’ Annual Poetry ReadingThe competition was founded by our very own Dr. Drago Štambuk. You can read about it here. It is held every year in Selca and is a nationally important item on the Croatian cultural calendar.The 19th Century book after which the competition is named

– Statues and Busts[30]The Statues and Busts of SelcaPope John Paul II, Leo Tolstoj, Stjepan Radić, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Franjo Tuđman, Tomo Didolić , Celestin Bezmalinović (Tomo Didolić and Celestin Bezmalinović are only mentioned in their corresponding web links and no web reference has been found for Andro Štambuk). The statue of Pope John Paul II in Selca: Pope John Paul II, Tolstoj, Stjepan
Radić, A Trio: Genscher – Mock – Tuđman, the first
municipal councilor of Selca Tomo Didolić, Meštrović’s
bronze statue of Christ (cast from shell and bullet casings from
World War II) and two bishops: Celestin Bezmalinović and Andro
Štambuk in the church vestibule.

– Commemorative plaques: Martin Kukučin, Slovak writer and rural
Doctor[31]Martin Kukučin (Matej Bencúr)A commemorative coin celebrating one of the founders of Slovak prose.; Dr. Franasović – the first dentist from Brač; 60th anniversary of the torching of Selca by Italian Fascists; 100th anniversary of Hrvatski Sastanak (‘Croatian Meeting’) 1888–1988.

– In stone: sculptures on the facade of the church and in the church itself: Cyril and Methodius[32]Saints Cyril and MethodiusSaints Cyril and Methodius are venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Churches, Christ the King, St. Justin, the Apostels, the wonderful ornamentation in the Church of Christ the King, the baptistery[33]BaptisteriesA baptistery is a separate centrally planned structure surrounding the baptismal font of a church., the stone facade of the palace, which was constructed using the technique called slipa fuga[34]Slipa FugaDespite the name of this technique of building structures of stone without mortar seeming to be Latin or Italian in origin, it is apparently Norwegian websites that are most likely to have the words ‘slipa’ and ‘fuga’ on pages and posts that are to do with tiling. Perhaps it is a phrase that is used only on Brač., and the Palace’s ornaments.

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Points of interests for tourists outside of Selca

Blaca Monastery[35]Blaca MonasteryFounded in 1551, Blaca was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in 2007

– The heights of St. Vid (778 m)[36]Vidova GoraVidova Gora, translated as ‘St. Vid’s heights’, is the highest point of all the islands on the Adriatic. In the picture Bol’s Golden Horn (Zlatni Rat) beach can just be seen

– The Povalj plaque (Povaljski prag) – a stone carving from the 13th Century[37]Povaljski pragThe oldest record of the of the Old Slavonic Croatian language, written in Cyrillic

– Numerous early christian chapels (St. Nikola {St. Nicholas}
from the 11th Century, towards Sumartin around 2 km, St. Toma towards
Selaca zaselcima {Selačkim Zaselcima} around 5 km, St. Kuzma and Damjan towards Podsmrčevik around 8 km…[38]Brač’s ChurchesInformation on Brač’s Churches can be found here.

– The Stonemason’s School[39]Pučišća Stonemason’s SchoolSome examples of stone work in progress at the school can be found in our pictures from 2018.The school has taught many a Štambuk (Klesarska Škola) in Pučišća

– Bol: Dominican Monastery and Museum[40]The Dominican Monastery at BolThe Monastery was built in the 15th Century, the Marinković
Gallery with sculptures and pictures, Bol’s beach

– The Dragon’s cave (Zmajeva Špilja, an important early christian site) outside Murvica, 3 km west of Bol[41]Zmajeva ŠpiljaThe former eremitic monastery is located 350 metres above sea level and can be hiked to


– The renovation of the Church of Christ the King[42]Selca and the ‘Cathedral of Brač’Selca and the ‘Cathedral of Brač’ are mentioned here. For a list of all the churches on Brač see here.The Church of Christ the King (the ‘Cathedral of Brač’) on Selca’s main square with the ruins of the Štambuk Palace to the right and the gathering of volunteers to complete the work is underway. Money received from donations will be used to renovate the small exterior door on east side the church and to make a stained glass rosette above the sanctuary were the choir sits.

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Some of the more significant and well known Štambuks of the 19th and 20th centuries


Just over five centuries since the first mentioning of Selca in the Povalj Charter (1184)[43]Povalj CharterPovaljska listina in Croatian. It is mentioned here and here. Jan Antonin was born in Prague. At the age of 22 or 23 his life’s path took him to Brač where he was to mark our small settlement forever. He was the first Štambuk in Selca, and today there are hundreds of us all over Croatia and the wider world.

In the 300 years since his arrival, from among thousands of his descendants we have selected, in this commemorative booklet, a few to mention. These meritorious dignitaries are mentioned because of their significant contribution to Selca and to Croatia. The list is quite long but the possibility cannot be ruled out that some significant Štambuks have been overlooked. These omissions are involuntary. It should be noted that this list is intended to be supplemented in a following publication which is hoped to be authoritative. In compiling this supplement all suggestions and comments are welcome. Here, we commemorate certain members of the Štambuk family with sadness and pride – some of them will still be vividly remembered, especially by the elderly among us. Their names are listed in chronological order, according to their years of birth[44]INVITATION

We invite Štambuks from outside Croatia to send in nominations for Štambuks who have made significant contributions in their own countries, internationally, professionally or otherwise.

Email: info@stambuk.hr

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Ivan Kanova Štambuk (1848–1890)

Ivan Štambuk was the son of Mate and Katarina Štambuk. He was nicknamed ‘Kanova’, after the famous Italian neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova[45]Antonio CanovaA self-portrait by Antonio Canova, 1792. Ivan died young at the age of 42. He had a distinct talent for sculpture, especially for sculpted ornamentation. He crafted the ornamental balcony slabs of the Štambuk Palace and its other details and well as those of his home in Selca which was named Mali Palac[46]Mali PalacLiterally ‘the Small Palace’.The Small Palace today. His sculpting of the features of the local cemetery chapel and it tombstones, as well as his other architectural, stonemasonry and sculpting works testify to his special mastery. Although Vjenceslav Štambuk, in his records of 1943, describes Kanova as being self-taught, there are indications that he was educated somewhere outside Selca in the artistic processing of stone.

The signature in stone of one of the greatest Štambuk stonemasons, self-taught Ivan Kanova Štambuk (1848-1890)


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Don Slavko Štambuk – don Slavo (1874–1943)

A Pastor in Selca, son of Andrija Trumbun and Franka Carević. He was one of nine children. While serving in Selca as pastor, don Slavo was the first to propose the construction of a new church. At the turn of the 20th century Selca’s population was around 2,300 inhabitants and growing. The existing Church of Our Lady of Carmel had become too crowded for religious rites. With the help and support of Vjenceslav Štambuk, who led the financial and administrative aspects, the project was realized. In 1919 the project was begun. Its design was based on a blueprint by Austrian architect Adolf Schauf. The construction of the church was especially contributed to by Štambuk stonemasons. The church, named the Church of Christ the King, is often described as the ‘Cathedral of Brač’ and it is still the pride of the inhabitants of Selca today[47]Selca and the ‘Cathedral of Brač’Selca and the ‘Cathedral of Brač’ are mentioned here. For a list of all the churches on Brač see here.The Church of Christ the King (the ‘Cathedral of Brač’) on Selca’s main sqaure with the ruins of the Štambuk Palace to the right.

Vjenceslav Štambuk (1876–1948)

(family epithet Mutovi)

Son of Nikola and Elena Stambuk. His brothers were called Boža, Karmel and Ivan (who died in a quarry) and his sisters, Kate and Genovev.

Vjenceslav Štambuk was head of a family stonemasonry business, which operated successfully domestically and abroad. Due to his many acquaintances, it can be assumed that he was the one who hired the architect Adolf Schauf to design the new church in Selca. It is known that through the mediation of Vjenceslav, who was also a professional stonemasonry teacher, the Czech Vaclav Barda, came to Selca. Vjenceslav was the first director of the ‘Peasant Craft School’ and he founded the first Dalmatian Stonemason’s Cooperative in Selca in 1927 – and thus, with his knowledge and foresight, he established the industrial quarrying and processing of stone on Brač.

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Franka Kekina Štambuk (1878–1960)

Franka Kekina Štambuk was the daughter of Tomažo (‘Toma’) Štambuk. She had two brothers, lawyers Ante-Toni and Juraj-Đorđe, and a sister Marica. We mention Franka Kekina as she was one of the first teachers in Selca (before her, Zanantonio Štambuk taught there.) She was known as a very capable mistress. She founded the first girl’s class at the Elementary School in Selca. Her husband was Nikola Štambuk. He was born in 1867 and was secretary of the municipality.

The first female teacher in Selca, Kekina and her husband Nikola in 1939


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Karmelo Karmen Štambuk (1888–1964)

(family epithet Mutovi)

Son of Nikola and Elena Stambuk. He studied sculpture at Art School in Prague. He enriched Selca with his works, especially those in the Church of Christ the King. He fashioned the relief of St. Justin above the main entrance, and those of St. Peter and Paul the evangelists on the stone pulpit. On the front of the church there is a statue of St. Cyril, which was carved by his brother Božidar. It was based on his plaster template. Karmen also fashioned a stone sculpture of his wife which can be found in the local cemetery.

Božidar Štambuk (1891–1973)

(family epithet Mutovi)

Son of Nikola and Elena Stambuk. After the foundation stone of the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was laid in 1921, Božo led the first and most demanding phase of its construction (including the laying of its foundations and the building of its external walls). He received a written confirmation from Adolf Schauf, the architect, acknowledging the successful completion of his work on the church and the fact that it was of a sufficiently high standard. As an excellent stonemason, Božo Štambuk also ornamented numerous capitals[48]CapitalsA capital, as well as other the exterior and interior details of the new church. In that church his very beautiful relief of Our Lady of Good Health can be found[49]Our Lady of Good HealthOur Lady of Good Health is the name given to a Marian apparition that occurred in India in the 16th and 17th centuries. Knowledge of it probably spread to the Mediterranean by the word of Portuguese sailors. It was only acknowledged by the Vatican as a genuine apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1962, presumably a time after Božo fashioned the sculpture in question..

Ivan (‘Ivulić’) Štambuk (1911–1971)

Ivan Štambuk, nicknamed Ivulić, was the son of Nikola (Zorin) and mother Katina whose maiden name was Ursić. He was a philanthropist, patriot, innovator, a lover of Selca and a protector of the people and the poor. He attended the Dominican seminary in Bol[50]Bol and the AdriaticBol is on Brač and with good restaurants and cafes, a choice of hotels, campsites and private accommodation, leisure boat and vehicle hire facilities and Croatia’s longest sandy beach Zlatni Rat, the ‘Golden Horn’, it is its main tourist attraction. Sandy beaches are rare on the Croatian side of the Adriatic, whereas on the Italian side they are common due to the sea’s prevailing circular currents. They tend to move the sand from the coastal erosion of the eastern Adriatic to the western side. The Golden Horn changes its dimensions according to the currents
Bol also sports a Venetian era administrative building on its waterfront. Examples of Venetian Gothic architecture are hard to find on the Croatian islands. They are more readily seen in the coastal cities. Steepled window arches typify this style which resembles those of the Victorian buildings of the 19th century in Great Britain and the United States and elsewhere. However, they may be Norman in origin. The Norman period precedes the Venetian period.
. Leaving it, he went to Buenos Aires where

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he participated in construction in the city. After a few years he returned to Selca and became the head of a family carpentry business. As an HSS[51]HSSHSS stands for Hrvatska seljačka stranka, ‘Croatian Peasant Party’ in English. Founded in 1904 but inactive during the time of Tito’s Yugoslavia, because it was banned, it was resuscitated in the 1990’s.  It is an important an active player on the contemporary Croatian party political scene, if unfortunately named, in English. candidate, Ivan Štambuk was its youngest mayor, from the 1939 elections until the unfortunate day of August 9, 1943, when the Italian army set Selca on fire. He did everything possible to prevent the burning of his birthplace (including attempting to negotiate the return of Italian weapons stolen by the Partisans to the Italians). Evacuating the population to the central square, single-handedly, he tried to stop the Italian torching[52]Selca was burned by the Italians in revenge for an ambush against its soldiers by Communist guerrilla Partisans active on Brač. The Italian army ceased military operations in the Balkans less than one month later after it capitulated to the Allies. The void they left on the coast was filled by the Germans who were active against the Partisans inland. Their concerns were that the allies would send material to the Partisans via the Dalmatian coast and that they might send seaborne forces to occupy the coast themselves. The German commander of their army’s Brač garrison was successfully assassinated in a joint operation between British Special Forces and the Yugoslav Partisans in 1944 at Nerežište. The operation was seen as a test of special operations activities by the Partisan leadership as it went beyond mere localized sabotage and ambush by their bands. It involved the co-ordination of Bosnian, Dalmatian (that is to say Croatian) and Montenegrin Partisan groups, and British Special forces. As such the operation showed that the Partisans were capable of yet wider ranging operations. For an action packed and interesting description of the co-ordination between the British and the Partisans see Fitzroy McClean’s well translated autobiography, ‘Eastern Approaches’. It is believed that the Yugoslav participants in these operations, including those alleged to have played supporting roles, came to be over esteemed and over paraded within the unofficial, commemorative, and pensioned, militaristic circles around Tito, after the war. He, in a certain sense was over reliant on the supposed existence of this cadre. Noted during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990’s the Yugoslav Army (later the Army of Serbia and Montenegro), and the Army of Repulika Srpska in Bosnia were poorly doctrined and prepared for mountain warfare. This is despite the fact that the origins of the Yugoslav Army were in the Partisans who operated mainly in the uplands. It appears that these deficiencies in mountain warfare in the Yugoslav army were deliberately devised by Tito who was acting against the possible threat of mountain insurrection within Yugoslavia. As such he devised the Yugoslav Army to act as a territorial defense force on the periphery, particularly on Yugoslavia’s eastern land borders. It is also possible that as a defense measure, infrastructural developments on the coast of Yugoslavia were prevented to deprive the ease with which NATO forces in particular could land and gain access to the interior. The event of a protracted war with territorial losses, or some sort of collapse of Yugoslavia, whilst he was alive, was to be met with his personal intervention in the mountains, if that is where his government had to retreat to. He did not institutionalize this arrangement in the Yugoslav army hence the paucity of its capabilities and later that of the Army of Republika Srpska’s in particular, in that terrain. It is assumed that this poor mountain fighting capability of the Yugoslav army indicated that Tito conceived that he would retire to the mountains with the aforementioned cadres and begin his guerrilla activities once again. That is, after all, where his core military experience was. During the war of the 1990’s the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina came to seize the initiative from the Bosnian Serbian Army, whose tactics and organization were derived from those of the Yugoslav Army. As part of its strategy that led to its ultimate successes ARBiH successfully devised a strength (upland mobility and operations) and placed it against a weakness of ARS, weak upland operations with a reliance on motorized mobility in the lowlands. It is intended, on this website, at a later date, to shine a further light on the cadres around Tito that have been attempted to be described. Also, at this juncture, a liberty shall be taken in repeating a rumor. It is that, at least one Italian Mafia clan has come to an arrangement whereby their godfathers are buried on Brač. If true, it is presumably to prevent the desecration of their bodies by trophy hunters. The place where it is rumored that this agreement has been honored? Nerežište. If it is not certain that this arrangement exists then it is even less certain that the mafia clan or clans in question are from Northern Italy – Piedmont. In trying to ascertain if this rumor is true, or if it is, the presence of British Special Forces, Yugoslav Partisans, Dalmatians and Montenegrin’s among them, at the time of the Italian withdrawal from Dalmatia, by their shadows, offer a perplexing invitation into the origins of this agreement, that is believed to be post-war. However, even if true, it should be noted that nowhere in Croatia is associated with Italian Mafia activity. In fact they appear shunned, local criminal cadres preferring to come to arrangements with Bulgarian, Romanian, Turkish, Armenian, Syrian, Dutch and Greek criminals, whose placements are rumored, also, to be dotted throughout the Croatian state and banking sector. This despite the laws of Croatia that restrict access to these job roles to Croatian nationals. The placement of these foreigners in employment that they are not entitled to is not patriotic.. He is also a hero of post-war reconstruction. On a visit to the United States, mainly California between 1957 and 1958, he raised funds from Croatian immigrants (inciting them with fiery speeches at banquets encouraging them to help reconstruct their burnt homeland). His efforts assisted with the electrification of Brač. Due to ideological persecution[53]IvulićHis persecution was probably because of his pre-war membership of the HSS, a party which was banned in Yugoslavia, and the fact that he visited Croatian emigres in the US.​

It is notable how his involvement in the provision of electricity to Brač accompanied his exclusion and obstructions there. This may have also been because it involved private funding when during Yugoslavia private enterprises were denounced as being ‘bourgeois’. Tito instigated an open-door policy in the 1960’s in in an attempt to inject foreign hard currency into the Yugoslav economy. As small private business really took hold in Yugoslavia from this, especially on the coast, it was not unusual for private business owners including restaurant and café owners and persons renting properties to tourists to face intimidation, demands for payment, denouncement and obstruction from local communists and party functionaries. Some of these people would have merely been local individuals who had little or no private property that could participate in this new economy. It is likely that some Croatian nationalist sentiment was because of this behavior. However, this sort of thing carried on into the independent Republic of Croatia.

Concerning Ivan, it is notable how his life was tolerable in near-by Split. This does indicate that his life was made difficult by the parochial circumstances of Brač. One wonders if that same parochial and obstructive mentality still exists on Brač, and whether it would confront any person or organization that would want to bring positive material and other improvements there of their own, private, initiative.
he moved his family to Split in 1959, where he taught as a technical vocations teacher and constructed woodworking machines. With his wife Jelka he fathered Dr. Nives Štambuk-Giljanović, professor of health ecology at the School of Medicine in Split[54]The School of Medicine in SplitSee School of Medicine in Split. and Dr. Drago Štambuk a medical specialist (in internal medicine, gastroenterology and hepatology), a Croatian language poet and ambassador. Ivan Štambuk stands out for his love for everyone, especially for the needy man.

Miroslav (‘Miro’) Štambuk (1911–2006)

Miroslav (Miro) Štambuk Mišin was born in Selca as the seventh of eleven children of father Miloš and mother Vice (who was a midwife in Selca). It was difficult to live in a large family and often, male children, whilst they were still minors, went to work in the quarry. Miro Štambuk dedicated his entire life to the art of stone working. After the Second World War, he got a job at Jadrankamen and with his employer he gained a highly esteemed master stonemason’s qualification. He worked at Jadrankamen his whole life and even made stone objects in

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Miro Štambuk, a stonemason in front of his work – in the new Church of Christ the King, 1955


his spare time. His excellent works can be found in Rijeka, Zadar, Šibenik, Makarska, Brač, Hvar, Kočula and Dubrovnik. He made numerous baptisteries, fonts, pulpits, fences and tombstones for churches. Miro Štambuk dedicated a large part of his working life to the Church of Christ the King in Selca, where, with no or little compensation, he made a large part of the works that will remain a lasting memory of him, a true master stonemason. Of particular note in that church are the base of the pulpit, the baptistery and the fence in front of the main altar. Along with Don Luka Trebotić, he dedicated much of his time and effort to the construction and establishment of a home for the elderly in Selca. He had major problems with the communist authorities, but remained steadfast in his intention to raise his children in the Christian spirit. For his work on the Church of Christ the King and the home for the elderly he received a commendation and a medal from Pope John Paul II.

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Bishop Don Andro Štambuk (1913–1955)

Son of Nichola and Kate. He had a brother Miljenko, and two sisters, Irma and Lidija. He was ordained a priest in 1937, and then went to Rome where he obtained a doctorate in ecclesiastical law[55]Canon LawThis is also called a Doctorate of Canon Law. Catholic Canon Law is the oldest continuously functioning legal system in the West.The Papal ensign. After that he served in an ecclesiastical capacity on the island of Hvar. His religious calling took him, during World War II, to El Shatt in Egypt, where he was a pastor to a Dalmatian refugee regiment, leading the registers of the baptized, married and deceased. All this valuable archival material is located today in the town of Hvar, which is the seat of the Hvar-Brač-Vis Catholic diocese. After the war, Andro Štambuk was sentenced by the communist authorities to two years in prison for alleged crimes against social order. After being imprisoned in Stara Gradiška, he returned to Hvar. There, one evening in 1953, a group of disguised men attacked him and fellow cleric Don Juro Belic, with the intention to kill them. Don Andro Štambuk was the worse off from the brutal beating. He did not want the attention of a doctor, but treated himself as best as he could. In 1955 he was ordained as bishop of Hvar and Brač. In this capacity he consecrated the new parish church of Christ the King in his native Selca. Forty-five days after his episcopal ordination, he suddenly fell ill and died shortly afterwards in a hospital in Split, on Assumption Day itself. His body was transported from Split to Hvar where his funeral rites were performed in the cathedral[56]Hvar CathedralThe Cathedral of St. Stephen (Hvar Cathedral). From there he was transported to Selca where he was buried in the grounds of the then new parish church of Christ the King.

Miljenko Štambuk (1930–1991)

Miljenko Štambuk, a ballet master, was the son of Ivan Mišinoga and Nevenka Carević. A student of the great Ana Roja, he danced in all the major Croatian theaters and was engaged in Belgrade for some time. He also worked abroad.

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After a dancing career, he devoted himself to choreography and achieved significant successes. His choreography in Ivo Tijardović’s operetta Mala Floramye, with Boris Dvornik in the lead role, is well known. He also choreographed numerous television shows. His last choreographic work was Prazor, a mystical work by the composer Ruben Radica which based on a text by Jure Kaštelan. It premiered on April 6th 1991. In Split, Miljenko Štambuk was the owner of an art gallery. He died a tragic death in Split.

Gorislav Štambuk (1933–1992)

Son of Marian Šaronja and Ana Politeo. Gorislav Štambuk graduated in 1956 from the Academy of Applied Arts in Zagreb, in the class of Professor Kosta Angeli Radovani. Following that he was an associate at the Master Workshop of Professor Antun Augustinčić from 1967 to 1969. The statues made by Gorislav Štambuk are characterized by their solid volumes which, at the same time, contain a special lyricism with which they fill the space. He exhibited in three solo and twenty group exhibitions (including at Moderna galerija, Umjetnički paviljon, Galerija Karas, Gliptoteka and Galerija Ulrich[57]GalleriesSee Moderna galerija (the ‘Modern Gallery’), Umjetnički paviljon (The Zagreb ‘Art Pavillion’), Galerija Karas (the ‘Karas Gallery’), Gliptoteka and Galerija Ulrich (the ‘Ulrich Gallery’, called ‘Salon Ulrich’ on its website. It claims to be Zagreb’s first private gallery).. Almost all of his sculptures were of stone. As a connoisseur of stone, he was a respected restorer of architectural and artistic heritage. He participated in the renovation of the Cathedral of St. James (Sveti Jakov) in Šibenik, Zagreb Cathedral and many buildings in the city of Osor as well as in Dubrovnik[58]Cities and CahthedralsSee Cathedral of St. JamesŠibenik, Zagreb Cathedral, Osor and Dubrovnik..

Impoverished Štambuks

Most of the Štambuk families were relatively well-off when compared to other families in Selca. The main reason is probably that they were mainly engaged in stonemasonry, an

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occupation that was quite lucrative at the time. However, there were also poor people among them. Some of the more famous ones are Andrija (‘Benedetto’) Štambuk and Petar (‘Perinac’) Štambuk.

Andrija (‘Benedetto’) Štambuk

An impoverished returnee from South America, he found no good fortune there and returned to Selca. He lived at the end of the village in a bunja[59]BunjasA bunja is a low circular stone building constructed without mortar that is usually a shepherds shelter, in the hills. One has to crawl to enter and it has no windows. There may be a ruin of the bunja that Andrija lived in but no such complete a structure stands in the area immediately around Selca now.
A bunja
without a bed or kitchen. He slept on old blankets, and lit a fire by his bed to cook and keep himself warm. He begged so he could survive. One day in the war in 1942, he disappeared together with another Andrija Štambuk who was nicknamed ‘Kuko’. It was later established that the Partisans had killed them without a proper investigation or trial, under the arbitrary charge that one of them was a spy. Unable to determine which Andrija Štambuk was the accused spy – they killed, without having any evidence, both of them. Their bodies were thrown into a pit near the settlement of Osritke.

Petar (‘Perinac’) Štambuk

Perinac constantly lived on the edge of existence. By profession a shoemaker, he toured houses seeking shoes that he could repair. He also informed the wealthier people of Selca when fresh fish arrived at the fish market. For those efforts, fishermen would reward him with some fish. It is said that Perinac died of starvation. The poet Zlatan Jakšić sang it in his poem Perinac, the last stanza of which reads: “Perinac an un-military man / guarded the fish market for fifty years / but never in his life did he eat whitefish or red mullet”[60]FishSome of the varieties of fish that are eaten in Croatia are mentioned here..

May peace be eternal to all the deceased Štambuks, and we wish happiness and God’s blessings to all those Štambuks living, and to all the dear inhabitants of Selca and their guests.

Ivo Vuković

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A detail from the Štambuk Palace in Selca.
Picture by Krešimir Ursić

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In memory of my deceased

Who says your names, so many times that my hearing is obscured? Who touches you, with long fingers, from inconceivable distances? Who fills his mouth with your names, like ancient gold, in the desire to reach you, silent and penitent, from the shining blue dawn? Who constantly plucks your words and your legacy, with eyes brimming sorrow and love. An inconsolable mourning crowd. You have filled the crust of the world, like packed sardines pressed under the immense weight of ages. You are legions of souls in chandeliers, all that I do orbits glistening eyes. Crowned spiritual processions, Huns, Scythian’s.

I look at my father leaning against an olive tree, shimmering in silver waves and leaves, the iris of the Adriatic deeper, bound by its shadows[61]Some Adriatic ImagryThis imagery will be stronger for those that have visited Dalmatia during a change in the weather. The Adriatic is an inlet of the Mediterranean sea and its waves are generally not so large. They hold less energy and as such they are prone to changing direction with the wind. Waves can change direction several times in a short space of time. The shadows of the waves that are produced are the antithesis to the blanketing of sunshine that is experienced when a cloud that has been in the way of the sun, passes.. As if he wants to tell me how much he would kiss me and how much he endures our parting. He leaned his shoulder against the course wood, brought his hands together, as children do in primary school, but his knee gave and he dropped. He has the relaxed, self-questioning attitude of an adult. He misses the accordion, and expressions of tenderness, warm morning bread and a Sunday bed. He would light the oven to warm the winter air in the kitchen to split the Bora wind until the children got up[62]Bora WindBura in Croatian. It can blow throughout the year and can clear clouds when it does. At ground level, its direction is changeable. It will blow in gusts and can blow for days in winter emptying the streets of towns and villages all over the Croatian Adriatic. It is uncomfortable on the face in the winter and it requires several layers of clothing to dispel. It cools the Adriatic’s poorly insulated houses significantly in winter, and it will, during occasional colder spells, freeze sea spray where the spray hits land. The winter Bora is probably the man impediment to year round tourism in coastal Croatia. Overcoming it requires the construction of more indoor recreational facilities, which are expensive.The Bura can blow for days in winterDalmatians are very well versed in the local winds and local skippers can be trusted to make local weather forecasts for sailors and tourists. Including on how long wet, dry, still and windy weather will last. The local skippers of the Kornati islands in central Dalmatia are believed to be the best at reading the winds and predicting their changes. However, visitors should always be aware of poseurs and pretenders. The Winds of Damlatia.  Whoever pronounces your name most dearly, wasteful righteous man, from their breath the pronoun forms, a permanent outline of humanity emerges as do painful imprints on their lips. My whole world rests in your hands, veins of Brač and spreading blood, a father’s mourning and, Croatian leaden tears. Black dust is everywhere and in it a burnt imprint of a home. You sneak barefoot at night, when the wind blows around the house in Lambeth, and I catch the occasional flicker of your shadows in the garden, under the cypress-like tree as I draw the curtains to ready for sleep. Gift him an everlasting island, Lord, and shake him to the end with an endless sea.

Drago Štambuk

London, January 1988

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Two recall the meeting of Croatian youth in Selca on the island of Brač on August 27th, 1883

(Written by an eyewitness)
[63]A Point of ConfusionIt is not clear from the text that there are two witnesses giving testimonies, in contradiction to the title. As the text was written in the 19th century, this may be a play on the relationship between a man and his female partner, where he provides the testimony and speaks for them both.

[Here are some excerpts from the complete text]


Where am I cheering this? A fond memory of our youth meeting in Selca on the island of Brač, August 27th, 1883. If the bright days in human life are counted on our fingers, we will count August 27th and 28th as the most beautiful that we have experienced. Is that right? Yes, yes, I hear that not only you agree, but as if from one throat all the dear young people voluntarily do as well. The whole of Croatia has heard and rejoiced at our heroic endeavor, so that everyone does not care how we feel, how we have fun, it will be pleasant to any participant in that fraternal celebration, if we look back on those blessed times, if only with a mild memory they sometimes drove away the black worries of life.


The protagonists from Selca hurriedly told me about the youth meeting, and startled in the summer heat and its rough lethargy, I recalled my frequent praising of such an event, which I contemplated, contrasting salt flats to Solin[64]An Interpreted ReferenceThe reference to ‘salt flats’ and ‘Solin’ is believed to be a reference to the contrast of cultivated salt flats near Solin compared to Solin’s splendor. The witness’ contrast is a metaphor for attending the event, on one hand, and doing nothing, on the other.. The books had barely changed hands across the sea[65]A Speculated MeaningIt is not clear what ‘books changing hands across the sea’ definitely means. However, it may have been that books had to be sent from Split to Selca, by post or courier as Selca had no library. Perhaps messages were put in the books. when to my surprise, the program was finished, the day was fine, and in my gentle Selca the wonderful event took place. Only grey falcons can think and act that quickly, as they sunbathe in this fragrant coastal sky of ours[66]Grey FalconThe Grey Falcon is an enigmatic figure in a Slav folksong about a military defeat of a Serbian king in the year 1389. By introducing this metaphor the witness is stating, as he does elsewhere, that it is due to defeats that action is taken.

Rebecca West’s enigmatic and well translated book on Yugoslavia written in the 1930’s, ‘Black Lamb and Grey Falcon’, was considered an authoritative English language work on the region. Something is learned from reading this book, beyond the recital of historical events and their dates, but many of the people she describes and extracts the histories of are significantly more rustic than they would be today. Her descriptions and comprehensions of the people of Yugoslavia are burdened with the assumptions of her own social background and time. For this reason the reader juggles between attempting to comprehend her own background and that of her subjects, whose economic and social circumstances are now past. In the end a little is learned about both.Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, required reading for anyone at the British Foreign Office dealing with the region, from its first publication until 1999

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Hey Rabbi, who is building this building!? This verse of Radovan’s was imposed on me, but it was easy to decipher its meaning when I saw the Croatian gentry man’s house, the likes of which there are very few in little Croatia. Didolić’s glorious residence and next to it stands Štambuk’s and Ostojić’s . Together they show what can be done in a small village when there is harmony and love in Croatia.


[67]The Dalmatian MentalityThis next sentence is true, the parochial side of Dalmatia does preponderate. A hospitable but obstinate mentality persist there. This might be a plausible historical and sweeping an argument for that:

“With few material benefits to be gained from deferring to authority, that was all too often foreign, and an easy escape into remote and difficult to reach villages, or into the rugged hinterland, the inhabitants of Dalmatia, when fighting was futile, would rather move than bow.”

​Keeping to this statement it appears that the Venetian conquest of Dalmatia was really a submission, because Venice was able to provide Dalmatian men with paid work in the way of mercenary employment, as they fought their common enemy the Muslim Ottoman Turks. The passing of tutelage of Dalmatia from Venice to France after Napoleon’s armies conquered Venice seems to have been in a similar vein. The improvements brought about by the French Military governor, General, later Merchral Marmont, surely made their presence tolerable. They left Dalmatia with a well constructed road running almost its entire length. This not only resulted in improved communications between settlements but also an improved food supply as agricultural areas separated by fiendishly rugged and rocky countryside could now sell to new markets. It also made local governmental administration and postal services in many places possible, for the first time. Many parts of Dalmatia, would have only been traversed at less than 1km an hour and there was always the risk of injury and becoming stranded. Labor was no longer tied to the services of boatmen that had to be repaid in currency or in kind. Why, you could walk for miles without a penny in your pockets. It is likely that women benefited from these improvements. Wondering prostitution is likely to have increased as is highway robbery which presumably would have placed a greater demand for that staple of governance, policing. The French military government also organized the supply of food, especially to supply their army and the Dalmatian labourers that built their road. There were concerns in Paris that Marmont would not be able to complete his road project, which presumably had some underlying military logic to it. The temprement of the locals being especially of concern, but he reported very favorably on them. They worked well when properly fashioned. It is suspected that in addition to the improvements in agriculture that the French army brought, to ensure their own food supply and the placidity of the locals, that additional supplies were brought in from Italy. From some, France’s short occupation were halcyon days.
Nowhere do the words of the patriotic historian tower over the parochial side of rugged Dalmatia. Whenever a sweet thought takes you through the dark vaults of Clio’s[68]The Classics in SchoolingClio is a figure from Greek mythology.

The presence of the classics in the school and university educations of centuries previous prompted not only cliched recitals of the classical works of ancient Rome and Greece, but a constant re-evaluation of them by those more prone to free thought.

Today it is comfortably asserted that ‘the origins of western civilization are in Greece and Rome’, but never was this felt to be more true than when the classics were part of the educational curriculum.
temple, your eye always falls on the great altars of Croatian pride.
[69]Some Linguistic PointsThe word used for pride in the original text in the previous sentence is dika. Wiktionary suggests this word is Latin in origin, derived from (bene)dictiō (“blessing”), from the language of Church liturgy. It is understood that dika is not a word that is used in Bosnia, except perhaps by the Catholic (Croatian) minority there and that its use is constrained in Serbia. It seems likely that ‘pride’ and a word derived from a Catholic word for blessing are linked, considering the historical importance of Catholicism to Croatian culture across its regional forms.

Both Serbian and Bosnian are very similar to Croatian and within the academia, outside of the Balkans, that concerns itself with linguistics, they are all related languages. There is scarcely an argument from there that their origins are separate. However, within the academia of the countries concerned, they are separate and distinct, and a long list of arguments are presented, backed by interpretations of historical developments to defend this view. Casually speaking, in linguistic terms, altogether, they are probably more similar than Oxford English is to some of the heavier rural dialects of the southern United States. To academia outside of the Balkans these attempts at defending the separateness of their respective languages is viewed unsympathetically. These efforts being deemed to represent the worst sort of politicization of thought and of academic constructivism.

Having said that, native speakers of Croatian, Bosnian and Serbian complain that the related, so called ‘Slav’ languages, of Montenegrin, Bulgarian and Slovak, for example, are incomprehensible to them. From the perspective of Croatian, from observation, individuals who trouble to learn Croatian, and speak a distant language such as English or Spanish as their native language, will find that these other related languages will come into their comprehensible range. Native speakers of Croatian, who are limited to that language,  being too bound to their own vocabulary, specific pronunciations of words and grammatical logic. These related languages seem to be interpreted as comprising a whole series of errors by them, that make them meaningless.
The sentimental debts of our great forefathers still live in our most revered memories. It is difficulties and lamentations that raised the proud head from where came the son of freedom.


Like raging waves boiling around an island, our youth strained to gather in this capital of our glory. Always restrained by the lumberers in their high tower who carried the guilt of time and the negligence of their sons[70]A Guilty Older GenerationThis verse does indicate that the youth were actively obstructed in meeting in Selca by an older Croatian generation, burdened – ‘by guilt’.

That curse has fallen but there are still darkened ruins along the road. So let’s gather our small following in the gloomy stillness of Dukljan’s courtyard and plant a flag to new life in Brač’s wine-growing country.

And where are the youth of Selca? There they are on the sunny east side of the island of Brač. They climbed a hill, winding, and took respite at the view of the open sea, which burst before their eyes, the waves breaking at Klek. They were adorned with grapes and green olives[71]OlivesOlive groves in Croatia tend to be in small holdings and the trees shorter than the average of those in Italy, Greece or Spain – all major olive producers. On the coast, every November, families will pick olives and transport them to the local olive press. Olive oil, wine and rakia are available for sale from the houses of small holders. Dario Štambuk describes his pleasure at olive picking. The volume of olives grown in Croatia may actually be falling steadily due to construction. Olive trees situated centrally in  small holder plots are cut down to make way for buildings. Periphery trees are frequently kept as decorative trees that are not harvested. The difficulties in acquiring larger plots of land for agriculture from numerous small holders means that new or expanded olive groves are stifled. One solution is for the transplantation of trees into groves using machines such as Bobcat’s offering. Bobcat’s Tree TransplanterDalmatian olive varieties make good oil but poor edible olives, they are shriveled and bitter. Olives are green but they ripen to black on the tree and they remain the color they are when picked. To be audible as fruit, all olives need curing as they are too bitter off of the tree. Traditional methods of baking and brining Dalmatian olives are insufficient. The ‘Union of the Association of Olive Growers and Olive Oil Producers of Croatia’ (ZUMAH) could research the best brining methods and could arrange the transplantation of trees that would otherwise be felled in construction projects. New olive groves would benefit from larger trees with more fruit.

There is still no authoritative history of the olive in Dalmatia. Different accounts seem to contradict each other. This is suspected of being because localized histories of olive production are stated as applying regionally. For example, lithographs depicting the countryside around  Dalmatia’s towns in the 18th and 19th centuries show few olive groves, when written histories  suggest that olive growing was commonplace at those sites. In the lithographs, much land seems to be grassland devoid of the small stone walled enclosures that surround most of today’s olive trees. The stone walls one sees  today were made by extracting the rocks from the soil to produce a medium that was easier to work.‘Dalmatia through foreign eyes’ a recommended coffeetable book containing historical lithographs. Its substantial historical texts are well translated into English but its sale internationally is limited
along with laurel and vines, and immortelle[72]ImmortellesThis charmingly named plant also produces an essential oil. It is not known to be widely harvested in Croatia although it grows wild. The flowers maintain their appearnce after drying.A variety of immortelle found in Dalmatia and basil spilled around them. Selca is a beautiful town, a clean, cheerful and wealthy place full of craft. The working people scratch at the earth, to make white stone like cheese, from which proud palaces sprout, even in Alexandria and on the magical Bosphorus. The falcons have long since escaped to the plagued

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Drawn by Davor Štambuk

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sea that has pressed the soul of the western inhabitants of Brač. They are imbued with a language, with customs and a spirit that makes them the brethren of the people of the rugged Bukovac.[73]A Dilapidated BrotherhoodIt is not believed to be the case that there has been a feeling of a particular brotherhood between the western inhabitants of Brač and the people of Bukovac, within living memory. There are several places called Bucovac in the former Yugoslavia. However, there is a Brač-Montenegrin affinity that is noteworthy and that came to exist during Yugoslavia and that appears later to have evolved into a criminal relationship. Particular elements of the Yugoslav communist party from Croatia and Montenegro co-operated in their control of the affairs of Brač. This co-operation seems to have rested on a mutual ‘party political’ agreement to control Brač whilst demonstrating a symbolic contempt for Croatian nationalist sentiment and intellectualism that has its origins in the 19th Century on Brač and in Selca in particular. It appears that Croatian communists, who were not mainly from Brač, attempted to secure their communist party credentials, by inviting Montenegrin communists to participate in the political affairs of the island. This invitation is asserted to be a symbolic accentuation of the anti-Croatian-nationalist act of Stjepan Radić’s murder in 1928, which was carried out by a Montenegrin. Locally, to this day, it appears that Croatian elements, mostly from elsewhere in Croatia, and their Montenegrin associates, have continued this association and their dividing of the island, and that they are involved in criminal activity and corruption on it. However, it is the inhabitants of Brač that would know for sure. It is believed that it was the ‘national’ communist factions within this relationship that caused Ivan (‘Ivulić’) Štambuk to flee Brač for Split, despite his work in obtaining funds from overseas Croats in bringing electricity to Brač, after WWII.

This Yugoslav peculiarity, of ‘other nation’ participation in local communist affairs was in evidence elsewhere in Yugoslavia. As such, it is asserted to be a further, peculiar, political development that can be traced to Selca, although its proponents were not from there. This may not have been thought of as unusual as it could have been argued that those individuals who historically espoused a Croatian nationalism there, namely the Štambuks, were not ‘historically’ from Croatia in any case either. Indeed, during Yugoslavia, that the Štambuks were ‘not from Yugoslavia’ was something that was repeated, on Brač and elsewhere. This ‘cross-border’ communist party participation, in the internal affairs of the Republics Yugoslavia, came to be a standing feature of Yugoslav communism, and bizarrely, of its method of representation. Tito was certainly aware of the fact that it had evolved, he did not devise or proscribe it after all, but it appears that he did not know where it came from. Brač may have been the original source of it. This ‘cross-border’ participation in the affairs of the Republics of Yugoslavia was very seriously looked at as the reason for the political deadlock that came to haunt it at its end, but this dysfunctional feature of the Yugoslav system was never politically addressed. It appears, therefore, that the evolution of ‘cross-border’ participation in the Socialist Republics of Yugoslavia, within the Yugoslav Communist Party, proliferated because such standing relationships allowed the inviting participants to wash their hands of any traditional local, nationalist or un-communist histories – thus securing for themselves their communist party credentials and their personal safety and liberty within the Yugoslav system. For anyone interested, they may wish to find out if other examples of ‘other nation’ participation can be traced to the symbolizing of other assassinations or any other form of ‘other nation’ activities pre-1945, in the former Yugoslavia.
They know that and are justly proud of it. In the middle of white villages rise the high estates of our pure Croatian nobles, the celebrated Didolić and Štambuk families. The greater the Didolić fortune, the greater the joy, the more abundant the blessing, the greater their popularity, and the greater their gentleness and gratitude at the domestic altar. The soul is relieved when one can joyfully exclaim in that home that you are in a Croatian house. Its splendor and wealth not overshadowing the pride of being Croatian.

Sunday dawns on August 26th. There is no end of joy in the country of Croatia that on this morning it was greeted so gently and joyfully by the sun’s rays from the coastal mountains. Early in the morning, the fairies of Biokovo could have watched the hands of the beautiful peasant women gently picking red dewy flowers, the white courtyards smelling of the lush bosoms of that joyful day. Yes, they could watch those coarse and beautiful women and the roofs of their welcoming houses fringed with our dear tricolor[74]FlagsFor a history of Croatian flags see here. The tricolor referred in the text was probably this one: Flag of the Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia with the coat of arms, for usage in autonomic affairs. (1868–1918) and silk rugs. Everything was bustling and in festive attire, as if a great feast of Croatian happiness had dawned.


If you had really, as honest patriots, found yourself in Selca on Sunday night, your happy soul would have been like a mild morning in spring. The sun was already setting on the sea, and people were rushing harmoniously from all sides to chirpy Selca.


Selca is otherwise peaceful but that night it resembled a turbulent city. The only difference being that honest conversations were buzzing here, that the natural life that is our temperament, was occurring there. It was sung and rejoiced in the wonderful freedom that is only ever really heard in one’s own dear home. Yes, Selca that night embraced a hundred young patriots, like a hundred brothers. Millions of guests could never upstage polite and sanguinary islanders.

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Oh honestly my friend, I watched you last night, when the hot sun set and caressed the black peaks of St. Juraj[75]Biokovo and St. JurajBiokovo is Croatia’s second highest mountain range and it separates Croatia from Bosnia.St. Juraj (‘St. George’) on Biokovo offers a panorama of Brač accross the water on Biokovo I watched the bliss in the green cover of sweet-smelling pine, where you waited with your eyes squinting to ask her, are you tired. As if the fairies should, before flying to the font of heavenly grace! I will not ask you how that divine night the shining stars played in your mind, or how you, in a mystical dreamscape, carried with your maiden on the bloody fields of your motherland. Where at the altar of love, you burned the incense of sacred feelings[76]Religion and RomanceIt was very common to refer to amorous encounters in religious terms in the literary works of the 19th century and the centuries previous. This text is no exception. However, mechanical descriptions, such that are common today, were frowned upon and such publications were usually banned and their authors pursued with prosecutions. This was the case both in Europe and in the new worlds of the Americas and Australasia, as well as further afield..


Zagreb Štambuks May 12th 2013: Iva, Marija, Mario,
father Dario, Andro Vladimir, mother Ljiljana, Matej,
Lucija Marijela and Zdenka Petra

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Angels from heaven this morning were admiring the ecstasy of pure hearts. To this harmonious company of young doctors, professors, priests, teachers, theologians, high school students, landowners and artists, a beautiful whale[77]A Possible Double MeaningThe original Croatian text uses the word kita which, as well as meaning whale, may be a phallic inference acceptable at the time. of beauties fell, old and young gathered, a solemn silence reigned and embraced all the fearful religiosity of the mysterious act[78]An EnlightenmentThe witness appears to be stating that the enlightening act of his friend’s romance the evening before cast a spiritual glow on the events of the next day, among everyone present.

Stranger things have happened, but this could obviously be constructed by the selection of the extracted paragraphs – which may say more about the person arranging them rather than anyone or anything else.
. While at the holy altar, don’t spread the voices of your merciful fathers, shedding tears, knowing that this morning a Croatian priest is praying for Croatian martyrs . . . Oh, who would have restrained the youthful imagination even then! Who would have turned the slogans of thought from bloody fields, where our fathers were dying, as lions they fell to save culture, to free Europe from wild monsters, where their sons are still groaning today. Oh history[79]A Reference to BattlesPresumably as the witness is Dalmatian, the implied battles must be against the Ottoman Turks. Dalmatian men served in the Venetian mercenary armies which fought them. For a full list of Croatian-Ottoman wars see here.

It is worth noting that the battles that are being mourned by the witness are likely to have been just out of living memory, but that they are referred to against a backdrop of continuing concern regarding the neighboring Ottoman occupation of Bosnia. It is very unlikely that any contemporary Dalmatian youth would relate to these feelings of losses in campaigns against Ottomans. Their sentiments, regarding Croatia’s recent military struggles against the government in Belgrade, are ascertained to be less agitated than that of the witness in his own historical space. Perhaps this is because there are more material opportunities and opportunities for movement, for the youth of today. However, it is also ascertained that the morning of losses in Serbia, in their historical struggles against the Ottomans, is more a feature of the cultural landscape there, including among youth.

The witness’ reference to groaning may be a reference to toil, to suffering, or to some other form of exertion, that may be failed or unfulfilled.The ensign of the reformed Ottoman army at the time of Hrvatski Sastanak. Note the two books and scales on its left symbolizing its governing laws and unity
! . . . Oh, it further agitates our wounds of anger!

The solemn service of God is over. The Croatian flag is flying in front of a diluted crowd, leading the proud in hope to discuss the homeland’s fate.

As we sit down to discuss seriously, everyone is amazed by the arrival of some beautiful girls, who clearly knew that there was no dancing to be found with us, but that our gathering was of a serious nature. Two beautiful verses of that folk song could be read on their pale faces:

I’m not a fairy that can break the clouds
Already the girl that I am watching, surrenders –

It was wonderful, beautiful, to watch the fine plumes of our younger generation. It was a pleasure to listen to, soberly, how wittily these young people talked about the greater tasks of honest, young Croats.


fra Ivan Despot

(Integralno objavljeno u časopisu Vienac zabavi i pouci, br. 40, 41 i 42,
Zagreb, 6., 13. i 20. X. 1883)

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The completion date of the Štambuk Palace in Selca carved into the gable:
‘Year of Our Lord 1869″
Photo by Krešimir Ursić

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Palace ruins

You rest in my heart, and planted in it, father, is your grave.

Now that you are gone what shall I do with your hammer, saw and torch?

How to restore, without your golden hand, our ruined home? In a gloomy space, without the echos of your steps and the light of your words, saying the Lord’s Prayer without thinking of you and not seeing how an almond tree now grows where you used to sit – like the king of the island, like a sage who has arrived from the woods on the shore, like he who keeps the keys to all the worlds and the secrets of the smoking paddles of Charon’s[80]CharonCharon was the ferryman of the underworld, Hades, in Greek mythology. One of Pluto’s moons is named after him.Charon depicted in ancient Greek art boat.

My heart is your eternal home and the cypresses that grow in it glorify you, even when when I forget you.

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Whilst the sun, your golden sphere, appears out of my marbled heart every morning and it climbs the mountains, then descends into the sea, your final home, it glows and shines with the radiance of your eternal remembrance and scatters the gold of love – your goodness rains on dry land and on island plants, stiffening and darkening olive leaves.

The wreath that your pupil weaved for the wreathed in Selca this year had the color and poise of your love, and the dew of your care. Whilst placing it on the head of the chosen poet, I thought of you and your generosity towards everything that this small beloved place celebrates[81]Croatia RedivivaThe author is referring to the Croatia Rediviva poetry festival, which he founded and is an adjudicator of. It has been held in Selca every year since 1991. Each year’s winner is called the ‘poet oliveatus’. You can read about it here..

King of the island, fig sprouting from the burnt palace wall, peacemaker, dispenser of blessings. From the furnace you lift white stone for new walls to build an eternal house of giving. That house, that surpasses you, separates the night and delivers from the day an eternal flame.

My body is your sarcophagus.

Am I saving you from the rusting of time or from myself?

Drago Štambuk

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Selca on Brač, plurale tantum:
Destiny’s thirst


Just as a deer longs for a spring,
my soul longs, my God, for you.

Psalam 42, 2

Island without water, thank you, for teaching me to thirst and long for something all of my life. […]

Island of olive and vine, that ancient drunkenness of summer days you gave, and an inextinguishable light in all my life’s winter nights.

Vladimir Nazor Brač (fragments), 1940.

[82]Vladimir NazorVladimir Nazor was an esteemed Croatian politician during the early Yugoslav era before his death in 1949. He was an author and a poet and was from Brač.Bračanin Nazor in communist garb

There are Ten harbors on Brač, and even more habitants; one peak and many a hill, sparse trails, woodland now and then. Bush, grass and stone. Oblique movement. I would give everything for the harbor of your hand, your throaty voice, an aquifer, the old angelic providence of the rustic.

Drago Štambuk, from a collection of poems Coelacanth, 2012.

Write something about Brač and Selca, write something about Selca and Brač. Something short, meaningful and condensed. Write something lapidary, I thought, deluding myself that an expression derived from Latin would help me in my endeavor, and would clear my horizons to show me a way out. That it would take me on a pleasant journey and show me the good voyage, a voyage direct and safe . . . But no humanist and,

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learned, momentary and deceptive, lapidary, could help me to grasp the words that would describe the island of Brač. It is of a completely different and particularly low lapidary, especially the stones, destiny’s pearls that are monuments among the numinous Mediterranean vegetation. The whole of Brač is a unique monument that lasts and perseveres, that floats and bobs, and that lives and shines uniquely, freshly and new under the sky and the sun of the Mediterranean.

How is it at all possible to outline such a layered and rich theme, the specific, rustic, beauty of Brač, in quick and short strokes: describing unconstrainedly the weave of which it is comprised; which would shield it and that would bring to printed paper, the whole island, like an open ventula, an island that at the same time is stamen and disembodied, made of stone and breathed by the spirit, endowed with the sea and with vegetation, blessed with the beauty of life and the hardships of survival, all by the grace and penance of the same source, God? Trying to be in agreement with my endeavor (let me cite the creature dovid for this special occasion), I stood for a while in front of the whiteness of the paper, lurking in my initial thoughts, the distinctive, precious and flowing thoughts that guided me in the sentence, in a flexible sequence of sentences, that flowed and soaked the dry and thirsty ground in front of me, that reach the roots and branched out and leaved into the blue serenity of the subject, at once, close and elusive, and clear and invisible.

In a particularly displaced way, Brač is really the island of my earliest boyhood impressions. Selca and the northern and north-eastern parts of Brač were the contents of my childishly clean vistas, observed from my misto located on the coast at the foot of Biokovo [across the water from Brač on the mainland]. In the dawn the foothills of my dear and near island came to seem as if they were not clear enough or that the light was not penetrating enough to grasp the subject in view; the pictures began to flicker and then to disappear into the closet. My eyes glided over the areas that I could no longer follow. Whist in Zagreb [in later life] it developed in me an attempt to form memorable views and reflections of Brač across the channel and back, deep into

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the continent, in the form of an essay about Selca and Brač (I remind the reader that essay means ‘attempt’ in French). Alas, that attempt failed. I therefore chose another starting point: Aspalathos, Spalatum. Today, to us Croats, Split.

Splićani, that are ‘from the knees up’ Splićani, still call the [Croatian Adriatic] islands their brethren . It could be that Brač was the paradigm of an island for Splićani in past times, and in that sense it could have been something really special. However, a completely different conclusion can be read from what is said: that to Splićani all the islands are homogeneous and equal and that none of them are considered special (after all, each island is already, in its islandness, essentially similar to every other island, and at the same time, in the metaphysical insularity that ties them together, each island is realized to be separate, secondary, and different from every other, and from the mainland. The best that can be hoped for in a statement of an island’s identity, is the declaration that it is a non-self. The special charm of the islands rests in this ambivalence, but also in it lies their inescapable fate).

If Split should experience one island as special, if there is one island that deserves Split’s lasting gratitude – then it is Brač. We could say without too much explanation that Split originated from Brač; and this claim (even if it is somewhat simplified and exaggerated) is not a metaphor, but a metonym. Gaius Diocletian’s palace, the nucleus of the city of Split, was built of stone extracted from Brač’s quarries, primarily Plate, Stražišće and Rasohe, and the port of Spliska was the starting point from which the prepared stone sailed to Split. Brač stone is found not only in Aspalathos but also in Salona and much further afield; for example, capitals and other artifacts of fine stone sculpture made on Brač were even delivered to ancient Sirmium, to seal

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A detail from the Štambuk Palce in Selca.
Photo by Krešimir Ursić

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Diocletian’s reign on the capital of the province of Panonia Secunda[83]SirmiumSirmium and Panonia Secunda are now in northern Serbia, near Sremska Mitrovica which is in Vojvodina, which was an autonomous region in Yugoslavia, like Kosovo. This designation by Tito was  supposedly in recognition of the large number of people of Hungarian decent there. Unlike Kosovo, there are no discernible voices for independence from Serbia in Vojvodina. Kosovo achieved independence in 2008. In general, Serbs make better first-time social company than Croats and they are more hospitable. Rebecca West notes this in her book about Yugoslavia which was published in 1941, ‘Black Lamb and Grey Falcon’. It is passable to say that the Serbs are the most hospitable people in Europe. Serbia is cheap too. No sea though, just lakes and rivers for bathers.A golden Roman helmet found near Sirmium and exhibited in the Museum of Vojvodina in Novi Sad. From the epigraphic monuments and relief depictions it can be read that at that time on Brač he was highly revered, along with the official Roman deities, including the ‘invincible’ Mithras, the bringer of justice and peace. Mithras was the god of sunlight, who according to ancient Persian lore was born of stone in the presence of shepherds. Mithra’s cult was especially widespread among stonemasons and as Roman soldiers, who arrived on Brač from the Orient.[84]Usp. Dasen Vrsalović, Povijest otoka Brača (2. izd.), Graphis, Zagreb, 2003., str. 36-38.

Petar Šimunović uncovers an even earlier history:

Brač’s history is primarily an enduring and sustaining struggle with stone. / Brač is first mentioned in the 4th century BC. Then, the Greek geographer Scylax (336 BC)[85]Scylax Scylax of Caryanda was the first ancient Greek geographer to bring an account of the Indian subcontinent. called it Krateiai. Later it appears under other names, Brectia, Elaphusa, Brattia . . . All these names are of pre-Roman origin and they carry a reference to a horned animal. Elaphos and brenthos mean deer, and there is every chance that the name Brač is related to the name of that horned game, which the Greek goddess of hunting, Artemis[86]ArtemisArtemis, also known as Diana in Roman mythology.Artemis in ancient Greek art, keeps with her as a protege in her consecrated groves. [87]Petar Šimunović, Brač , Graphic Institute of Croatia, Zagreb, 1975, p. IX.

Named after the Illyrian brenthos , Brač remained a mostly pastoral Illyrian[88]The IllyriansThe Illyrian tribes occupied much of the territory of the former Yugoslavia during ancient times.The Illyrian littoral during ancient times island until the arrival of the Romans. It is a great unknown why the Greeks bypassed Brač as they were dominant on nearby Hvar, Vis, Korčula and elsewhere. However, this is not the only special historical aspect of Brač. It is also exceptional in a very particular sense. Namely, as I have often wondered why, there is no settlement on the island that is named after the island itself (unlike Hvar, Korčula, Vis, Pag, Rab, Krk, Cres and other large Croatian Adriatic islands).

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Perhaps it because deer belong to forests and glades, and not to city streets and squares. This pictorial interpretation, or rather its ill-conceived pursuit, is somewhat naive and arbitrary, but as a non-binding hypothesis it seems appropriate. All the more so, as the symbolism that has been associated with the deer is one of beauty and sublimity. It should be said that there was a common cult interpretation of the deer in ancient times. The animal symbolized the renewal of life and immortality[89]An Ancient Deer ParkThe author is suggesting that Brač may have been left by the ancient Greeks as a sacred deer park.. Ancient peoples believed that deer shed their antlers every year in order to re-emerge and branch into more beautiful, bigger and stronger beasts. In the psalms, the hind drinking at the spring is a pictorial symbol of man’s longing for the otherworldly, for the eternal, for God.

The deer retains significant symbolism in Christianity. In Christian iconography it becomes a symbol of hermitage, asceticism and monasticism, and of a perpetual thirst for eternal life. Often the deer appears as a symbol of the God-man of our Christ.

Many universal and eternal Christian truths have been depicted in Brač stone, in churches, statues, reliefs, and inscriptions. Not only on Brač. Brač stone was shipped, during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance to Split, Trogir, Šibenik, Zadar and Rab, and across the Adriatic to Ancona, Rimini and Tremite. It is also interesting to note that all three of the great builders of Šibenik Cathedral – Juraj Dalmatinac, Andrija Aleši and Nikola Firentinac[90]The Cathedral of St. James (Sveti Jakov), Šibenik Šibenik Cathedral, built by Juraj Dalmatinac (Giorgio da Sebenico, in Venetian Italian – ‘George of Šibenik’, in English), Andrija Aleši (Andrea Nikollë Aleksi, in Albanian), Nikola Firentinac (Niccolò di Giovanni Fiorentino, in Italian).The Cathedral is a UNESCO listed building- visited the quarries in Brač, supervising the works and preparing the finished stone components for transport and installation.[91]Usp. D. Vrsalović, Nav. dj., str. 216.

In the last two centuries, Brač stone has been incorporated into many significant edifices around the world. Citing just a few:

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Neue Burg in Vienna, the Austrian Parliament, the Hungarian Parliament, the White House in Washington DC and features of the United Nations building in New York[92]Some buildings made of Brač stoneNeue Burg in ViennaThe Austrian Parliament in ViennaThe Hungarian Parliament in BudapestThe White House in Washington DCThe interior of the UN building in New York.

It is fair to say that Brač gave to the world incomparably more than it received. It gave not only stone but people too. A hard life on a thirsty island was made intolerable at the turn of the 19th and 20th when diseases ravaged olive groves and vineyards and the inhabitants were forced into overseas exodus. They emigrated to various countries, most of them to
Chile. Many Bračanin’s became very respectable and deserving citizens in their new homelands. The exact number of descendants of Brač emigrants is unknown, but it certainly exceeds that of the current number of permanent residents on the island.

Today, Brač numbers around 14,000 souls. This is the third largest Croatian island population (only Korčula and Krk have populations that are greater). With an area of 395 square kilometers Brač is also the third largest Croatian island by area (Krk and Cres are only slightly larger). However, the highest peak of Brač, St. Vid’s heights (Vidova gora, Sveti Vid, Vidovica) at 778 meters, is the highest peak on all the Croatian islands. The cult of the Slavic saint merges and permeates on St. Vid’s heights with the Christian celebration of his saint’s day. He is the Slavic protector of sight[93]St. VidVid in Croatian means vision or sight. There is an indication from Wikipedia that the English name for St. Vid, Sveti Vid, is in fact St. Vitus. He, however, is the patron saint of actors, comedians, dancers, and epileptics. In any case, in this translation Sveti Vid has been translated as ‘Saint Vid’.. Brač has really always been an island of clear views and an island of high and wide horizons.

Brač is also an island of plunging into the interior, into the essence, into asceticism and the thirst for God and eternal life. Although the most famous community of Brač hermits is at Blaca it should be noted that five more hermetical dwellings were once located between Blatoc and Bol, above the hamlet of Murvice.

Brač is truly a special and unique island: scarce in water and fertile land but rich in stone and endeared to the Mediterranean

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sun and sea. An island of heavies and cattle breeders, stonemasons and fishermen. An island of a strong and beneficent spirit, an island of suffering and work, and faith and hope.

As for Brač’s Selca, a lovely place with the elegant features of a small town, often said to be the nest of stonemasons, poets and the bishop . It was the founding place of the finest variant of rustical stonemasonry in the early 18th century by mistro Antonio Standelpergher detto Stambucco, who came to Brač from Prague. He also founded the large, well-known and respectable Štambuk family, which has branched into many families on Brač, in Croatia and around the world.[94]Usp. D. Vrsalović, Nav. dj., str. 217; usp. Nevenka Bezić-Božanić,
Selčani 18. i 19. stoljeća, Naklada Bošković, Split, 2007., str. 105-106, 131-133.
(“The Lord said to Abraham, Go from your land, / from your homeland and your father’s house, / to the ends that I will show you. / I will build a great nation from you, / I will bless you, / I will magnify your name, / and you will be blessed. ” Genesis 12, 1-2)

As far as poetry is concerned on Brač, it should be pointed out that it is rustic poetry that has become all the more renowned since 1991, when Dr. Drago Štambuk founded, in Selca, the all-Croatian ča-kaj-što poetic review, Croatia rediviva. It has been held there every year since then. I will cite to you some of the review’s annual winners who have been crowned with an olive wreath and have had their names etched into stone slabs that have been fixed to the Wall of Poetry in the village: Zlatan Jakšić, Drago Štambuk i Milko Valent (whose mother is from Selca).

The winners that were bishops from Selca are: Andro Štambuk, Celestin Bezmalinović (whose mother is a Štambuk) and Slobodan Štambuk. All three were bishops of the Hvar-Brač-Vis diocese. Noting a point of interest, in Selca, stands the beautiful Church of Christ the King, also known as the ‘Cathedral of Brač’. Its bell tower or campanula stands at 45 meters high and is probably the tallest church on the Dalmatian

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islands. It is not presumptuous to state that Selca is a place where profound philosophers have been born. Two significant Croatian philosophers were born there at the beginning of the 20th century. Hijacint (Ante) Bošković, a Dominican, and the first in Europe to offer a grounded philosophical interpretation of the roots of fascism and National Socialism, tracing it to Thomism and to Christian humanism. His submission, before the beginning of the Second World War, unequivocally condemned these developments. Hyacinth Bosković thought fascism to be an evil that arose from the soil of modern totalitarianism. He deemed it to be a ‘new paganism’, brought to the extreme by an atheism which put the deified in the place of God, who created a destruction of the world by their power and unbridled will. Unfortunately, these individuals directly experienced the evil of Italian fascism most personally and painfully: the Italian occupation army on August 9th 1943 set their native Selca on fire, along with several other Brač settlements. We should mention Marija Brida here, the daughter of a Czech physician who served in Selca. She became known as the ‘philosopher of freedom’. Freedom is a crucial philosophical question. It is a pursuit of human kind that is sustained and determined and that is considered exhaustively. It is complex and its pursuit raises questions that are ethical, aesthetic, vitalistic and axiological, that is to say that are questions regarding values.

A picture of the unusual openness of the villagers of Selca is completed with the fact that at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries one of the of the most significant literary works of Slovak realism was penned there. The author, Matej Bencúr (pseudonym Martin Kukučin), during his medical service in Selca, wrote the novel Dom v stráni. Although comparisons are always unwelcome, it is not inappropriate to mention that Kukučin occupies a similar place in Slovak literature that our August Šenoa, Ante Kovačić and Vjenceslav Novak occupy in our own.

That the people of Selca have long been acquainted with world literature and that they are fond of hard-working authors,

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is testified by Tolstoy’s Park, which features a bust depicting him from 1914. – the first in the world of this grandee of Russian literature. There is a further rustic curiosity, certainly a specialness, in the fact that in that island settlement twelve statues and busts can be found. These include Stjepan Radić, Franjo Tuđman, John Paul II, Hans Dietrich Genscher, Alois Mock and other so deserving.

In Selca, rural patriotism and an undisturbed sense of Croatianness go far back in time. That patriotism is a really shining example not only on Brač but more widely in Dalmatia also. Selčani, in the second half of the 19th century, stated decisively their nationality, and ardently vouched for an Renaissance Croatia, in contrast to the often stubbornly stated ideas in Dalmatia about autonomy [within Austro-Hungary], or Italianism.[95]Usp. D. Vrsalović, Nav. dj., str. 317-321.

In Selca, in 1883, an exciting and renowned meeting of Croatian youth was held, which preceded the establishment of the National Society and the Reading Room ‘Croatian Meeting’ in 1888 (there is a 120th anniversary a memorial of this event in Selca which was erected in 2008). The generous Croatian patriotism and universal philanthropy of Selčani has been witnessed on many occasions and during many troubles. One example that is noteworthy was when financial aid was sent to Geneva to the great man of the Croatian written word, Antun Gustav Matoš. He was waylaid there for some three months and as he was running out of funds, he turned to Tomo Didolić, a well-known philanthropist, for help. After Tomo, with the help of fellow Selčanins, Petar Didolić, Dr. Ivan Štambuk, Dr. Matej Bencúr, Niko Ostojić and Janislav Vrsalović collected money and sent it to Matoš, they received from him a letter, dated July 12th, 1899. Grateful and moved, Matoš wrote:

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Dear and esteemed sirs!

My words are too weak to thank you for your gracious, fraternal and appreciated help. I do not know at this moment in time whether I will ever be able to return your kindness. I can only tell you that I would be desperate without your wonderfully kind Croatian help. Any day now, I am expecting in the post, some books of mine [from the publisher] and when I receive them I will send you a copy of I v j e r a and my photograph. The joy you gave me today never left your noble homes!

Your Matoš

Follow on letter in more detail. May God be with you.[96]Sabrana djela Antuna Gustava Matoša, JAZU / Sveučilišna naklada Liber, sv. XIX. (Pisma 1.), Zagreb, 1976., str. 92-93.

Unfortunately, Matoš never did in his short life visit the island of Brač, or Selca, a small place of great people. A small place with a soul and a strong identity. In placing Selca historically, it is not superfluous to state that it today numbers around 850 souls (with 1,800 in the whole Municipality of Selca). The settlement was first mentioned in 1184 in the Povalj Charter.

He who does not acquaint himself with such a nurturing and dear a place as warm and selfless Brač, an island scarce and yet at the same time abundant, is missing out on a lot. Tin Ujević (whose mother was from Brač) wrote some beautiful words about the settlements on the island and they are an appropriate end to this essay on Selca and Brač. I chose them because of their symbolic connection between the earth and the sky: “These tame places have a serene, calm and bathed appearance. They are like sylphs who wash only with the rain and who carry a dove about them”.

Zagreb, July 31st 2013

Marito Mihovil Letica

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Stambuk Association – Selca, Island of Brac, Croatia
OIB 55907686126
e-mail: info@stambuk.hr

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