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Croatian Cyrillic (Bosancica, Bosanica, Western Cyrillic) Script

The tradition of the Croatian Cyrillic Script goes back to the 12th century and lasted continuously until the 18th century, with sporadic uses even in the 20th century. Of course, there are incomparably more Croatian Glagolitic monuments than Cyrillic, not to speak about tremendous Croatian literature in the Latin Script since the 15th century. However, it is the fact that the Croatian Cyrillic represents an important cultural heritage. This Script was in use among the Croats in Dalmatia (especially in the Split and Makarska hinterland), in the Dubrovnik region and in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is interesting that some of the Croatian Catholics, who visited the Vatican in the 17th and 18th century, left their signatures written in the Croatian Cyrillic, which they call expressly the Croatian script.

Thus, the Croatian Cyrillic includes the following three major regions:

* Bosnia and Herzegovina, (especially widespread among Bosnian Franciscans),
* the Poljica Principality (near Split) and Makarska hinterland, as well as islands of the middle Dalmatia (e.g. Brac),
* the region of Dubrovnik, including Konavle.

The name of `Bosancica' (or `bosanica') is of a relatively recent provenance - it has been created by a Croat Ciro Truhelka in 1889, at that time a very young, 24 years old scientist. Its rather misleading name suggests that it has been related exclusively to the territory of Bosnia, which is not true, since it was used in Herzegovina, Dalmatia and on some Croatian islands as well. It is interesting that Croatian Cyrillic, i.e. `Bosancica', can be seen in Croatian texts written in Istria, see below. The name of `western Cyrillic', which also appears in the literature, is even more imprecise (`western' with respect to what?). It seems to be appropriate to call this version of the Cyrillic script by the national name of those who used it most and who left the greatest number of written documents, as in the case of other national versions (Bulgarian Cyrillic, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Serbian, Ukrainian, Byelorussian, Russian). There are also important palaeographic reasons, see [Benedikta Zelic-Bucan]. Thus the notions of Croatian Cyrillic and "Bosancica" are equivalent.

The name of the Croatian Cyrillic (or Bosancica) had the following genesis:

* Marko Marulich (1450-1525): harvatsko pismo (Croatian script),
* Paltasic of Split (16th century): harvatsko pismo,
* Richard Daniel (in his book "Daniels Copy-Book: or a Compendium of the most usual hands..., London 1664"): Alphabetum Illiricum Sclavorum (Illirucum = Croatian, for example Vat.Illir. documents of the Vatican library all refer exclusively to Croatian documents), thus Croatian alphabet, see p.50 of Daniels' book. On the same page you can see Alphabetum croaticum for the Glagolitic of the 17th century (see Branko Franolic: "Croatian Glagolitic printed texts recorded in the British Library General Catalogue," Croatian information centre, London, 1994 ISBN 953-6058-04-9) RICHARD DANIEL (IN HIS BOOK "DANIELS COPY-BOOK: OR A COMPENDIUM OF THE MOST USUAL HANDS..., LONDON 1664"): ALPHABETUM ILLIRICUM SCLAVORUM (ILLIRUCUM = CROATIAN, FOR   EXAMPLE VAT.ILLIR. DOCUMENTS OF THE VATICAN LIBRARY ALL REFER EXCLUSIVELY TO CROATIAN DOCUMENTS)
* Still earlier, in 1545 in Rome, an Italian encyclopaedist Giovanni Batista Palatino presented the Glagolitic (see [the photo]) and Cyrillic Script (see on the right) in the second edition of his book Libro Nouvo (Libro nel qual s'insegna a scrivere ogni sorte lettera, antica et moderna...), among 29 scripts that he designed for printing. He claims the Glagolitic (which he calls Buchuizza - bukvica) to be created by St. Jerome, and to be "different from all other existing Scripts". The Cyrillic is ascribed to St. Cyril. Palatino also provided a page with tombstone inscription of the Bosnian Queen Katarina (15th century; buried in Aracoeli, Rome), written in Croatian Cyrillic, in Latin script (Croatian language) and in Latin Script (Latin language). The last sentence is SPOMINAK NJE PISMOM POSTAVLJEN (Monumentum ipsius scriptis positum - Monument written in her script): 1545 IN ROME, AN ITALIAN ENCYCLOPAEDIST GIOVANNI BATISTA PALATINO PRESENTED THE GLAGOLITIC (SEE [THE PHOTO]) AND CYRILLIC SCRIPT (SEE ON THE RIGHT)   IN THE SECOND EDITION OF HIS BOOK LIBRO NOUVO (LIBRO NEL QUAL S'INSEGNA A SCRIVERE OGNI SORTE LETTERA, ANTICA ET MODERNA...), AMONG 29 SCRIPTS

PALATINO ALSO PROVIDED A PAGE WITH TOMBSTONE INSCRIPTION OF THE BOSNIAN QUEEN KATARINA (15TH CENTURY; BURIED IN ARACOELI, ROME), WRITTEN IN CROATIAN CYRILLIC, IN   LATIN SCRIPT (CROATIAN LANGUAGE) AND IN LATIN SCRIPT (LATIN LANGUAGE). THE LAST SENTENCE IS SPOMINAK NJE PISMOM POSTAVLJEN (MONUMENTUM IPSIUS SCRIPTIS POSITUM - MONUMENT   WRITTEN IN HER SCRIPT)

* A short note about Croatian Glagolitic and Cyrillic can be found in Viaggio in Dalmazia by Alberto Fortis, Venice 1774. The book is also known to have brought the famous poem of Asanaginica to European public.
* Bosnian Franciscans (all of them are the Croats): Bosanska chirilica, bosanska azbukvica,
* Ivan Kukuljevich Sakcinski (outstanding Croatian intellectual, 19th century): Croato - Bosnian Cyrillic (hrvatsko - bosanska cirilica),
* Chiro Truhelka, a Croatian scientist: Bosancica, 1889,
* Vatroslav Jagic (19th century, Tomislav Raukar (mid 20th century, Zagreb): Western Cyrillic (western with respect to what??). Jagic also used the name of "Bosnian - Dalmatian Cyrillic."
* Josip Vrana (in the sixties of the 20th century): hrvatska chirilica (Croatian Cyrillic),
* Benedikta Zelic-Bucan (leading expert for the Croatian Cyrillic - Bosancica): since the seventies insisting on the name of the Croatian Cyrillic (she wrote an important booklet entitled "Bosancica in Middle Dalmatia" (in 1960, of course, in the Croatian language),
* An important and highly readable book treating the three-script history of Croatian Middle Ages (including Croatian Cyrillic) is [Hercigonja], written by outstanding specialist in 1994. It should be consulted by anybody wishing to study in more detail extremely complex history of writing among the Croats.

Here is the text of Asanaginica

Here is the text of Asanaginica from the above mentioned Fortis' book (transliterated into Latin Script with ikavian reflex of yat):
HERE IS THE TEXT OF ASANAGINICA FROM THE ABOVE MENTIONED FORTIS' BOOK (TRANSLITERATED INTO LATIN SCRIPT WITH IKAVIAN REFLEX OF YAT) Sto se bili u gori zelenoj?
Al su snizi al so labutove?
Da su snizi vec bi okopnuli;
Labutove vec bi poletili.
Here is the same text in Croatian Cyrillic:
HERE IS THE TEXT OF ASANAGINICA. HERE IS THE SAME TEXT IN CROATIAN CYRILLIC Sto se bili u gori zelenoj?
Al su snizi al su labutove?
Da su snizi vec bi okopnuli;
Labutovi vec bi poletili.
and in Croatian Cyrillic quickscript (with slight differences) :
HERE IS THE TEXT OF ASANAGINICA. HERE IS THE SAME TEXT IN CROATIAN CYRILLIC QUICKSCRIPT (WITH SLIGHT DIFFERENCES) Sto se bili u gori zelenoi
Al su snizi al su labutovi
Da su snizi vec bi okopnuli
Labutovi vec bi poletili

 

 

© by Darko Zubrinic, Zagreb (1995)

Source: www.CroatianHistory.net

 

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