Notebook from Boka

No One Asks Science
She left a several-decades long brilliant trace in culture, science and social life of her homeland. The ethnological image of Boka would be incomparably poorer today without her research and essays, and many institutions and events would have weaker foundations. The ethnos and identity in Montenegro are a political and existential issue today, she says, thus oscillations and wanderings

Text and photo: Vladimir Putnik

The ancestors of her mother, Nada Perčinović, came from Herzegovina, more than three centuries ago. Her father, Miroslav Crnić, was from Zavidovići, Bosnia, where his family moved from Gorski Kotar. He learned his craft in Zagreb and Sarajevo, served the army in Zelenika, married there and spent the rest of his life in Novi.
Marija Crnić Pejović (Herceg Novi, 1934) remembers her childhood in the difficult years of World War II, as well as those after the War. She completed two school years with the Nuns, continued in a state school during the Italian occupation, then attended the Lower Real Gymnasium, Higher Gymnasium in Kotor (at the time the only one on the coast between Dubrovnik and Ulcinj). She graduated from the Belgrade Faculty of Philosophy Department of Ethnology.

Oh, youth. Those were years with shortage of everything. Not easy at all. Our youth in Boka, however, was imbued with carelessness and optimism. I remember playing games, swimming in the sea, long summers, much reading, helping out in the house and the garden, winter nights together, lotteries and cinema, several dances. The population of the Bay was much smaller and there was incomparably less buildings, everything was more intimate and somehow closer to people.

About wheat and tulumbas. During my university days (1952-1956), Belgrade had many cinemas. They showed good movies, the prices were low and they were very crowded. Theaters were on the level of other big European cities. I remembered the Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Knez-Mihailova, like today, the most beautiful exhibition of the Belgrade architecture. The views from the Kalemegdan have always given me strength, freedom and optimism. For a while, I use to walk the wonderful Francuska Street every day, as well as the paths of the New Cemetery. Inevitable on my map of Belgrade are Studentski Trg, National Theater, National Museum, University Library. I was a regular guest of the ”Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”, ”Pelivan” confectionaries and the one in Sremska Street where one could get the best wheat in town. Tulumbas and wheat never tasted as they did in those years in Belgrade. I especially liked going to the hippodrome, sometimes I betted on horses… I like to visit some of those places today too, as well as others that haven’t lost their soul in this city. Belgrade is beautiful at all times and always leaves a deep trace on anyone who spends even a short while in it.

Ethnology. Bato Grbić, one of the best ”Kolo” Ensemble dancers, ethnology student, told me about that science and what it explores. I realized that is exactly what I wanted to do. A year later, I passed the preliminary exam.
Studying then and now is incomparable. We had no books, we learned at lectures, from notes, from literature available in libraries. People traveled abroad very rarely, however in 1955 we went for a field trip to Vienna. I believe this was the first trip into the world for all of us, for many the only one. We also had a field trip in the vicinity of Knjaževac. Under the then circumstances, we did learn a lot.

Studying the homeland. In the year of 1957, I was the only candidate that applied for the position in the Homeland Museum of Herceg-Novi. The Archive and scientific library were separated from the Museum and began working as an independent institution. The only person I met at the Museum was the guide, who also worked as a courier and gardener. Although I wanted to be engaged in ethnology, I also had to take over the financial, bookkeeping, administrative and guiding jobs. However, with the rich library of the Archive, I succeeded in gaining more knowledge about the past of Boka Kotorska. When I moved to the Archive twelve years later, I arranged the archive material and stumbled upon much information about the past of the Herceg-Novi area… Only after retirement, I had enough time to dedicate myself to research and processing different issues from the past of Boka, mostly its northwestern part.   

The coastal and the continental. The Mediterranean culture penetrated deeply into the continental part, especially through material goods, just as the continental part influenced the coastal culture, especially through migrations. Those numerous mutual influences are insufficiently explored.
The postulates set by Jovan Cvijić about the influence of geographical, climate, historical and other factors on culture are unsurpassable even today. He classified the inhabitants of Boka into a separate Zagorje group of the Dinara type Adriatic variety. There is a feature of the Boka people he considered common for all inhabitants of Dalmatian towns he classified into the Adriatic group: moral elasticity also familiar with opportunism. Vuk Karadžić correctly noticed differences from town to town on the coast, attributed to the isolation and non-communicativeness of these settlements.
The development of technology and changes in the way of living made the formerly very noticeable differences between the coastal and continental people almost disappear today. People on the coast were fishermen and sailors. The Zagorje villages of Mokrine and Kruševice had very successful amateur theatrical ensembles already before World War II. In Mokrine, in the home of Manojlović, who was but a bricklayer and learned to read and write by himself, people gathered every evening to read books from the valuable family library (part of it preserved even today). The inhabitants of the continental area were all Orthodox Christians, except some from the vicinity of Kotor and Tivat. The majority of the population of the coastal settlements of the Herceg-Novi and Risan area is also Orthodox Christians. Therefore one could speak about the differences between the coastal settlements of the eastern and northwestern Boka.

Priorities today. If I would set them, I would turn the attention to cultural monuments. I would protect them, as far as possible, from people and time. Before all, I would protect, really, not only declaratively, the architectural heritage of rural areas. For example, the village of Žlijebi, where all houses and auxiliary buildings are covered with stone plates. Or the tombstones in Mokrine, Kruševice and Prijevor (works of self-taught stone-cutters). Or mills.
I would continue studying the endowment philanthropy in this area. It seems that there are new initiatives for it now, although I had pointed it out in my works as early as 1986...
The real planners of the future, serious ones, make plans based on positive evidence from the past. Unfortunately, a long time will pass until it begins here.

Boka people of the old times. We find the features of the Boka people from the XVII and XVIII century in the poetry of the Baroque poets of Boka. Those from the late XIX century are described in the literary works of Simo Matavulj and Marko Car from Herceg-Novi, member of the Serbian Royal Academy. We see them in the writings of our Nobel Prize winter Ivo Andrić in the 1970s. All of them, in accordance with the time and their experience, ascribe the Boka people love towards Boka and the family, honesty, hard working, moderation in eating and drinking, gentility, politeness, tidiness, wisdom, eloquence… They are proud, heroic, polyglots, they never give up. Matavulj states that thrift may turn into greediness and cautiousness into distrust. According to Ivo Andrić, ”it is a pity they cannot be quiet, since fate has given them birth in such beauty”. He also wrote down the opinion of a sailor he met: ”We don’t ask about the flag on the rudder, but how much the ship pays and what the people on it are like.”The sailor of Marko Car had a different opinion, because ”he carries his homeland with him like a snail… There, on that small sailing-city, he speaks his language, conducts his own religious services…”Marko Car, perhaps because about 90% of the population of his area was Serbian, sees the man of Boka as a Serb, with both special features and those common to all other Serbs. His man of Boka is also a ”proud native originating from Kosovo”...
They also noted their thoughts about the Boka women: they are religious, faithful, gentle mothers, hard working and thrift. ”The men of Boka highly esteem and obey a smart and honorable woman”, thinks Matavulj. They all agree that the women of Boka are beautiful.
The newcomers had different impressions about the Boka people. Some who served the army in this area before World War II would sing at their departure: ”Goodbye, Boka and urchins in the sea, goodbye you, slobbering Boka people...”There is also an old saying: ”Beware of gales and girls from Boka.”

Some people, some years. ... When I think about the years I worked on organizing the ”Mimosa holiday”, I remember moments spent with many wonderful people, especially writers Zuko Džumhur and Blažo Koneski. As an expert in the cultural and historical past of this area, I cooperated with many TV and film people and reporters. I will always remember writer Vida Ognjenović, at the time she was filming the documentary about Novi, for her professional approach and dedicated work, as well as her knowledge of the subject. I keep her letter from those years. I also keep postcards sent from the crew of the famous TV series Caravan from their filming abroad, as well as those written by its author Milan Kovačević. I met them while they were filming their show about Boka. I also haven’t forgotten the great professional Andrić from Television Sarajevo, who filmed a documentary about Boka Town Sunken into Greenery.

Changes, good and bad. This area did not suffer from the war in the 1990s, but many changes happened. Many refugees arrived, so for a while it was livelier – more users of the City Library, more visitors at the Theater, exhibitions… The number of daily papers and electronic media increased, there was a hyper-production of different books, although I am not sure it meant higher quality. The ”Days of Music” were restored by the Herceg-Novi Theater, especially ”Haps”, but it is also necessary to restore and preserve the City Music, active since 1896, one of the symbols of Herceg-Novi.
Naturally, this area was also covered by the tide of shallow entertainment and banality, imitation of the global society. Both the locals and guests can easily notice stagnation in some segments due to the recent circumstances. It will be difficult to restore the level it had before.

”Fluid identity”. The census has never been given so much media and political attention. Since the mid-XX century, the biggest oscillations were between the way Serbs and Montenegrins declared. Furthermore, national minorities have recently become a topic, so they are pulling to their side too. If we study this issue scientifically, we might conclude that two nations were present in Boka Kotorska until the mid-XX century: Serbian majority and Croatian minority. And two religions: Serbian Orthodox Christian and Roman Catholic. There were no bigger conflicts or noticeable pressures, and no variations in the population of these two nations. Science has never been sufficiently respected in these matters, since politics always had the final word.


Marija Crnić Pejović has been studying the past of Boka, especially the area of Herceg-Novi, since 1961. She published many works about its history, ethnology, cultural history and archive material, mainly based on the up to then unpublished archive material. Her bibliography includes 293 units. She is one of the founders and editor in chief of the Boka (Herceg-Novi) collection. Some of the many magazines and papers she wrote for include Herald of the Museum of Ethnography (Belgrade), Historical Notes (Podgorica), Bibliography Herald (Cetinje), Archivist (Belgrade)...


Vanishing Before Our Eyes
I have always attempted to do as much field work as possible, along with using the up to then unutilized archive material, especially that already at the edge of oblivion, vanishing before our eyes, that marked the past times. For example, ice extracting, cultivating silk worms, milling, the work of self-taught stonecutters... See, the authors of wonderful works in stone have never been mentioned anywhere and the memory of them almost completely disappeared. Although I wrote two works about the stone masters and my daughter wrote a script for an ethnological movie, I haven’t succeeded in raising anyone’s interest in publishing a high quality monograph about them.


We had an icon of St. John, patron saint of the Perčinović family, in our home, and next to it was an icon of St. Anthon, patron saint of the Catholic church in our neighborhood. Such differences in the family and environment made me richer, supported me both in my work and my private life. My daughter Dragana, today PhD of ethnology, scientific consultant, director of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Art Institute of Ethnography was born and raised in such an environment. Her two sons and their daughters, as well as my son-in-law and two daughters-in-law make my family today. My joy with them is immeasurable, especially the time I spend with my two great-granddaughters.


From now on you
can buy National Review at Trafika sales outlets

Србија - национална ревија - број 82 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 82 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 81 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 80 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 79 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 78 - руски

Serbia - National Review - Tourism 2020

Србија - национална ревија - Број 77

Србија - национална ревија - Број 76

Србија - национална ревија - Број 75
Србија - национална ревија - ФранкфуртСрбија - национална ревија - МоскваСрбија - национална ревија - Москва
Србија - национална ревија - ПекингСрбија - национална ревија - број 74
Србија - национална ревија - број 73

Србија - национална ревија - број 72Туризам 2019.
Србија - национална ревија - број 71
Србија - национална ревија - број 70Србија - национална ревија - број 69Србија - национална ревија - број 68Србија - национална ревија - број 67Tourism 2018
Србија - национална ревија - број 66
Serbia - National Review - No 65
Serbia - National Review - No 64Србија - национална ревија - број 63
Србија - национална ревија - број 62
Србија - национална ревија - број 61

Србија - национална ревија - број 60
Србија - национална ревија - број 59
Serbia - National Review - No 59
Serbia - National Review - No 58

Serbia - National Review - No 56
Serbia - National Review - No 55
Serbia - National Review - No 54
Tourism 2016
Српска - национална ревија - број 53
Српска - национална ревија - број 12-13
Srpska - National Review - No 12-13
Serbia - National Review - No 51

Serbia - National Review - No 49
Serbia - National Review - No 49
Serbia - National Review - No 48
Serbia - National Review - No 46
Serbia - National Review - No 46
Serbia - National Review - No 46Serbia - National Review - No 46, russianSerbia - National Review - No 45Srpska - No 6
SRPSKA - National Review - No 5Tourism 2014SRPSKA - No 2
Tourism 2013
SRPSKA - National Review - Special Edition

Battle above Centuries
Legends of Belgrade
History of the Heart


Чувар светих хумки
Србија од злата јабука - друго издање
Orthodox Reminder for 2013
Пирот - Капија Истока и Запада
Беочин - У загрљају Дунава и Фрушке Горе
Србија, друмовима, пругама, рекама
Србија од злата јабука
Туристичка библија Србије

Коридор X - Европски путеви културе
Београд у џепу
Тло Србије, Завичај римских царева
Добродошли у Србију