Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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60th session - Decisions

Old Orthodox burial ground at Pašinovac, the sepulchral ensemble

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Status of monument -> National monument

             Pursuant to Article V para. 4 Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Article 39 para. 1 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, at a session held from 7 to 13 October 2003 the Commission adopted a






            The sepulchral ensemble of the old Orthodox burial ground in Pašinovac in Mostar is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument is located on cadastral plot no. br. 883, Land Registry no. 4863, cadastral plot no. 884, Land Registry no. 5768, cadastral plot no. 885, Land Registry no. 8051, cadastral plot no. 886, Land Registry no. 2917, cadastral plot no. 888, cadastral plot no. 889, cadastral plot no. 954/1, Land Registry no. 847, cadastral municipality Mostar, Municipality Mostar Stari Grad, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            The provisions relating to protection and rehabilitation measures set forth by the Law on the Implementation of the Decisions of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, established pursuant to Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of the Federation of  BiH nos. 2/02 and 27/02) shall apply to the National Monument.




            The Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the Government of the Federation) shall be responsible for ensuring and providing the legal, scientific, technical, administrative and financial measures necessary to protect, conserve, display and rehabilitate the National Monument.

            The Commission to Preserve National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the Commission) shall determine the technical requirements and secure the funds for preparing and setting up signboards with the basic data on the monument and the Decision to proclaim the property a National Monument.




            To ensure the on-going protection of the National Monument, the following measures are hereby stipulated on cadastral plots 883, 884, 885, 886, 888, 889 i 954/1 :

• all works on the monuments or parts thereof comprising the sepulchral ensemble are prohibited other than research, conservation and restoration works with the approval of the Federal Ministry responsible for regional planning and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the heritage protection authority),

• the dumping of all kinds of waste is prohibited

            A protection zone with a width of 50 m from the outer boundaries of Protection Zone I is hereby defined.  In this protection zone all new construction, the construction of major infrastructure facilities, and the dumping of waste are prohibited.

            The Government of the Federation shall be responsible in particular for ensuring the following measures:

• drawing up a design project for the rehabilitation of the national monument to include all works thereon, including landscaping




            All executive and area development planning acts not in accordance with the provisions of this Decision are hereby revoked.




            Everyone, and in particular the competent authorities of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Canton, and urban and municipal authorities, shall refrain from any action that might damage the National Monument specified in Clause I of this Decision or jeopardize the preservation and rehabilitation thereof.




            The Government of the Federation, the Federal Ministry responsible for regional planning, the Federation heritage protection authority, and the Municipal Authorities in charge of urban planning and land registry affairs, shall be notified of this Decision in order to carry out the measures stipulated in Articles II, III, IV and V of this Decision, and the Authorized Municipal Court shall be notified for the purposes of registration in the Land Register.




            The elucidation and accompanying documentation form an integral part of this Decision, which may be viewed by interested parties on the premises or by accessing the website of the Commission (http://www.aneks8komisija.com.ba) 




            Pursuant to Art. V para 4 Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, decisions of the Commission are final.




            This Decision shall enter into force on the date of its adoption and shall be published in the »Official Gazette of BiH».


            This Decision has been adopted by the following members of the Commission: Zeynep Ahunbay, Amra Hadžimuhamedović, Dubravko Lovrenović,  Ljiljana Ševo and Tina Wik.



Chair of the Commission

Amra Hadžimuhamedović


No: 08.2-6-1037/03                                            

Sarajevo, 09. 10. 2003.                          


E l u c i d a t i o n


            Pursuant to Article 2, paragraph 1 of the Law on the Implementation of the Decisions of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, established pursuant to Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a “National Monument” is an item of public property proclaimed by the Commission to Preserve National Monuments to be a National Monument pursuant to Articles V and VI of Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina  (hereinafter: Annex 8) and property entered on the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of  BiH no. 33/02) until the Commission reaches a final decision on its status, as to which there is no time limit and regardless of whether a petition for the property in question has been submitted or not.

            At a session held on 2000. the Commission issued a Decision to add the old Orthodox burial ground at Pašinovac, Mostar, to the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, numbered as 405.

            Pursuant to the provisions of the law, the Commission proceeded to carry out the procedure for reaching a final decision to designate the Property as a National Monument, pursuant to Article V of Annex 8 and Article 35 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments.



            In the procedure preceding the adoption of a final decision to proclaim the property a national monument, the following documentation was inspected:

• Data on the current condition and use of the property, including a description and photographs, data of war damage, data on restoration or other works on the property if any, etc.

• Documentation on the location and current owner and user of the property (copy of cadastral plan and copy of land registry entry)

• Historical, architectural and other documentary material on the property, as set out in the bibliography forming part of this Decision.


            The findings based on the review of the above documentation and the condition of the site are as follows:


1. Information on the site


            The old Orthodox burial ground is located in the north-eastern part of Mostar, about 350 metres from the burial ground at Bjelušine, very close to the remains of the Orthodox Cathedral, old Orthodox church and old Orthodox school.  The burial ground lies on a slope facing south-west towards the town, and on cadastral plot no. br. 883, Land Registry no. 4863, cadastral plot no. 884, Land Registry no. 5768, cadastral plot no. 885, Land Registry no. 8051, cadastral plot no. 886, Land Registry no. 2917, cadastral plot no. 888, cadastral plot no. 889, cadastral plot no. 954/1, Land Registry no. 847, cadastral municipality Mostar, Municipality Mostar Stari Grad, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Historical information

            By studying the chronology of the dates on the tombstones, it may be deduced that part of this burial ground dates from the same period as that at Bjelušine (sixteenth to seventeenth century) and that it has a considerable number of even older tombstones.

            As long ago as the seventeenth century Mostar's Serbs were being buried in both burial grounds, and later also in the burial ground above the old Orthodox church.  It has also been observed that some large families had members buried in both burial grounds at the same time.  The reasons for this are still unknown.

            The oldest part of this burial ground is towards the top of the necropolis, about a hundred metres from the north-western boundary.  Almost all the seventeenth and eighteenth century tombstones are concentrated in an area of about 1.5 ha.  These are surrounded by more recent tombstones, most of them dating from the nineteenth century.

            To judge from the oldest tombstones that can be accurately dated and those that may be classed chronologically in the same group, the burial ground at Pašinovac was probably founded between the sixteenth and seventeenth century.  As noted, it was in use at the same time as the Bjelušine burial ground, where the oldest tombstone dates from 1683.  In the Pašinovac burial ground a total of eighteen tombstones with epitaphs from the seventeenth century and 260 with epitaphs from the eighteenth century have been identified and recorded.  A further thirty tombstones from this period were later discovered and identified.  The oldest surviving dated tombstone is from 1687, and belonged to one Milutin.

             This indicates that there were more burials in this burial ground during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries than in the Bjelušine burial ground

            The nineteenth century tombstones are still awaiting study and so far a total of 376 with epitaphs dating from this period have been identified.


Legal status to date

By  Ruling of the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina the burial ground at Pašinovac was placed under state protection and entered in the register of cultural monuments.


2. Description of the monument

17th and 18th century tombstones

            The tombstones in the Pašinovac burial ground do not differ in essence from those in the Bjelušine burial ground.  In form, decorative motifs, and certain features of the epitaphs, they may even be said to be identical.  Judging from this, it is possible that they were the work of the same stonemasons' workshops.

             The tombstones in the burial ground at  Pašinovac are set above the head of the deceased facing east.  None of them has a basal pedestal; they are simply rammed into the soil to a depth of more than 50 cm.  The tombstones are grouped largely by plots or, particularly in the case of the oldest, are scattered about an area where the boundaries of the plots have disappeared with the passage of time.  It is quite common for tombstones to be shifted from their original site and set on later graves, beside the more recent tombstone.  In such cases one can usually trace the genealogy of individual families from the eighteenth century to just before World War II.

            Most of the tombstones are cruciform; just two are made in the form of a low obelisk. The oldest tombstones are of very simple workmanship, and usually have no decorative features. The epitaphs incised into them occupy almost the entire surface of the monument, and some elements, such as the year of death, may also occupy the side or even the upper surface of the cross.  The majority of the tombstones have a cross carved into the same face as the epitaph, though sometimes the cross is on the opposite side.  Most of the tombstones have the cross incised in the upper part, with a brief or longer variant of cryptogram.

            On the more recent monuments, certain decorative pretensions are observable, reflected in attempts to decorate the actual form of the tombstone as well as the other parts of it. Particular attention is paid to the decoration of the cross, which appears in a range of variants as the dominant decorative motif. The epitaphs, the way they are incised, the form and arrangement of the lettering, the initials, abbreviations and other features of the epitaphs are also subjected to the decorative concept of the tombstones, and cannot be viewed separately from them.

            The seventeenth and eighteenth century tombstones are of relatively small size, rarely exceeding 70 cm in height.  In the case of nineteenth and twentieth century tombstones, there is a shift towards larger tombstones.  The decisive factor was the economic strength of the population and the standing of those who erected the tombstones.

            The tombstones are made of various types of stone.  The older ones are made of tuff and sandstone, of two kinds: miljevina and tenelija (local types of sandstone).  The more recent tombstones are made of a softer type of limestone similar to marble, and some are made of a particular kind of volcanic stone which allowed for a certain decorative treatment.

            The oldest examples of cruciform tombstones in the Pašinovac burial ground, taken as a whole, are not outstanding examples of the stonemason's art, nor were they intended to glorify the deceased, as were those of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  Their purpose was to preserve the deceased and his identity from oblivion.  This was usually achieved with a certain simplicity and austerity.  Tombstones of the eighteenth century, particularly those of the latter half of the century, reveal a different concept, characterized by graphic decorativeness.  On these tombstones both the form of the tombstone and the surface where the epitaph was to be set were treated with care, as the most important features.  Such tombstones are generally the produce of the best and readily recognizable stonemason's workshop (R.Stanić, 1983, p. 156).

            The arms of the cross usually terminate in hemispherical protuberances, and sometimes in floral ornaments such as are to be found in Herzegovinian wood carving.  The edges of the side with the epitaph are usually decorated with twisted bands combined with zigzag lines and astragals, with the blank spaces between then filled with rosettes or six-pointed stars, and finally the cross, as symbol, treated with the greatest care.  The cross is usually adorned with various ornaments, with the arms terminating in trefoils.  The area where the epitaph is incised is very often surrounded with a band also forming a cruciform shape. 

            On some tombstones (no. 187), there are figures of an anthropomorphic nature, while on others the epitaph and other decorative elements are worked in relief.  These tombstones are the finest examples of sepulchral art.  It is noticeable that along with these decorative aspirations, the form of tombstone without any decorative features also persists.  In this case all the attention is focused on the form and content of the epitaph, as the most important feature of the tombstone.

            A third group consists of tombstones also lacking any decorative features but with rather clumsily worked epitaphs containing several spelling, linguistic and other errors  (R.Stanić, 1983, p. 156).


            There is an impressive number of tombstones with epitaphs in the Pašinovac burial ground, sometimes giving the impression that the tombstones were erected to ensure that the memory of the deceased endured for ever (R.Stanić, 1983, p. 157). A relatively small number of tombstones have no epitaph.  It was probably expensive to have an epitaph engraved at that time, but people were so conscious that one was essential that all around one may observe efforts to record something in writing on the stone so that at least the most basic facts could be gleaned (R.Stanić, 1983, p. 157). 

            As a rule the epitaphs are incised on the west side of the tombstone, though there are a few that depart from this rule.

            In content the epitaphs are very conventional, concise and reductive.  They include basic facts about the deceased, mainly relating to his death.  In no case is the date of birth of the deceased given, but the year of death is always included.  Along with the name, often given in the case of older examples without a surname, the deceased's occupation is sometimes given, either replacing a surname or equivalent to one.  The tombstones of religious figures do not omit to mention that the deceased was a monk, nun, priest or priest-monk.  Some tombstones give the origin of the deceased, which is very important when studying migration movements.  If the deceased was a woman, it was usual to say whose wife she was.  The same is true of deceased children (child, maiden, youth, daughter, son), whose epitaphs indicated who their father or mother were.  It was not uncommon for the epitaphs to bear the name of the person who had erected the tombstone.  It was not common, however, to give the nature of the death (from natural causes or a violent death) other than in a single case (no. 85) which states that the deceased was stabbed to death.

            The epitaphs follow a pattern that altered as time passed, with older examples including very few details and more recent ones much more detailed, though never going beyond the limts of a stereotypical formula.  The epitaphs on the older graves are important for a study of the language and script, so that one may study a number of features from the epigraphic and palaeographic to the linguistic.  The epitaphs also reveal certain influences of ecclesiastical Slav and Russo-Slav language and, in that regard, a certain transformation of the language of the people.

            A striking fact is that the oldest tombstones in Pašinovac are very similar to stećak tombstones in the way the epitaphs were written, in workmanship and in certain other features.  The oldest cruciform tombstones are very similar indeed to cruciform stećak tombstones.   In particular, their similarity to the stećak is noticeable in the shape and type of lettering – there are frequent examples of the square letter B, the slanting letter A with a small hook, the extended letter K, and a characteristic soft diacritic, particularly the letter Ž, as well as other features.

19th century tombstones

            The tombstones of this period, in addition to the general features that resemble those of tombstones from the two previous centuries – type of stone, form and so forth – have certain characteristics that make them recognizably different from the older tombstones.  Above all, they are markedly larger, and more richly decorated.  The epitaphs on these tombstones are much more informative, the lettering is quite decorative, and fewer abbreviations are used.


3.  Conservation and restoration works:

            No conservation or restoration works have ever been carried out on the necropolis. The only person to show any interest in some of the older tombstones in the burial ground was Vid Vuletić Vukasović, who published about ten of the older epitaphs on the tombstones of Mostar's burial grounds. The western, smaller part of this necropolis has been systematically studied but the eastern and much larger section has not been fully studied.  It is mainly the nineteenth and twentieth century tombstones that remain to be studied.


4. Current condition of the site

            The old Orthodox burial ground at Pašinovac is completely neglected and overgrown with self sown weeds.  Its position, facing south-east, makes it more vulnerable to the damaging effects of the sun and, in particular, the west winds of winter.  During the war all the high vegetation that to some extent had protected the tombstones from the elements was removed from the burial ground.

            Most of the graves in the necropolis have partly or wholly sunk into the ground, and some of the tombstones are cracked.  The action of precipitation has made the epitaphs on some of the tombstones hard to read or has worn them away entirely. Many of the crosses are standing at an angle, and the tombstones are overgrown with lichens and moss.  Since burials are still taking place in this part of the burial ground, there are also cases of old tombstones being damaged when burials take place, graves are rearranged and renovated, and plots are given a surround. The cause of these tombstones deteriorating is that there is no one to take care of them.



            Applying the Criteria for the adoption of a decision on proclaiming an item of property a national monument, adopted at the fourth session of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments (3 to 9 September 2002), the Commission has enacted the Decision cited above.

            The Decision was based on the following criteria:

                        A.  Time frame

                        B.  Historical value

                        C.  Artistic and aesthetic value

                                    C. v. value of details

                        D. Clarity

                                    D.ii. evidence of historical change

                                    D. v. evidence of a typical way of life at a specific period

                        E. Symbolic value

                                    E.i. ontological value

                                    E.ii. religious value

                                    E.iii. traditional value

                                    E.iv. relation to rituals or ceremonies

                                    E.v. significance for the identity of a group of people

                        F. Townscape/ Landscape value

                                    F.ii. meaning in the townscape

                                    F.iii.  the building or group of buildings is part of group or site

                        G. Authenticity

                                    G.i. form and design

                                    G.v. location and setting

                                    G.vi. spirit and feeling

                        H. Rarity and representativity

                                    H.i. unique or rare example of a certain type or style


            The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

- Copy of cadastral plan

- Copy of land register entry and proof of title;

- Photodocumentation;

- Drawings



            During the procedure to designate the old Orthodox burial ground at Bjelušine as a national monument of BiH,  the following works were consulted:


1933.    Dr. Ćorović, Vladimir, Mostar i njegova srpska pravoslavna opština (Mostar and its Serbian Orthodox community), Belgrade 1933.


1967.    Stanić, Radomir, Prilog proučavanju starih mostarskih zanata (Contribution to a study of old Mostar crafts), Journal of the National Museum of BiH, Ethnology, n. Series, Vol. XXII, Sarajevo 1967, pp. 145 – 160.


1967.    Stanić, Radomir, Spomenici monaha i monahinja iz XVII i XVIII vijeka na pravoslavnim grobljima u Mostaru (Tombstones of monks and nuns of the 17th and 18th century in Orthodox burial grounds in Mostar), Glasnik, Official Journal of the Serbian Orthodox  Church, No 3, Belgrade, March 1967, pp. 35 – 46.


1981.    Stanić, Radomir, Groblje na Bjelušinama u Mostaru (Burial ground at Bjelušine in Mostar), outline for a monograph, Hercegovina 1, cultural  heritage periodical, Mostar, 1981.


1983.    Stanić, Radomir, Nadgrobni spomenici sa natpisima iz XVII i XVIII vijeka u groblju na Pašinovcu u Mostaru, (Tombstones with epitaphs of the 17th and 18th C in the Pašinovac burial ground in Mostar) Hercegovina 3, cultural heritage periodical, Mostar, 1983.


1984.    Stanić, Radomir, Natpisi na spomenicima u groblju na Pašinovu u Mostaru, (Epitaphs on tombstones in the Pasha’s burial ground in Mostar) Hercegovina 4, cultural heritage periodical, Mostar, 1984.


Old Orthodox burial ground at PašinovacAerial capture of the Mostar Old townTombstones dated in begining of 19 centuryTombstones, 19 century
New tombstonesTombstones, 18.centuryMonument of Aleksa Šantić 

BiH jezici 
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