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The song describes the building of a fortress on the Bojana River at Skadar by three Mrnjavčević brothers. They've been building the fortress for three years but failed to lay even the foundations. Whatever they built during the day, was destroyed overnight by a mountain vila (a fairy similar to a nymph, in Slavic mythology). To build the fortress, one of the brothers had to wall up his young wife alive within the walls of the fortress as a human sacrifice demanded by the vila.
This song was first published in 1815 in a version recorded by Vuk Karadžić from the singing of a Herzegovinian storyteller named “Stari Raško”. Vuk Karadžić sent a copy of his folksong collection to Jakob Grimm, who described it as “one of the most touching poems of all nations and all times”. Johan Wolfgang von Goethe, who did not share Grimm’s opinion, published the German translation at his suggestion despite finding the poem’s motif “barbaric”.
Epic poem as recorded by Vuk Karadžić is interpreted by: Irena Tomažin
Production: Homo Narrans in the context of the 25th Storytelling Festival
Produkcija: Zavod Homo Narrans