Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Papraća Monastery in Papraća, the architectural 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 27 June to 2 July 2005 the Commission adopted a






The architectural ensemble of the Papraća Monastery in Papraća near Šekovići is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

The National Monument consists of the Monastery Church of the Annunciation, the buildings of the old and new konaks and the belltower.

The National Monument is located on a site designated as cadastral plot nos. 1324, 1325 and 1327, title deed no. 350,  cadastral municipality Papraća I, Municipality Šekovići, Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The provisions relating to protection 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 Republika Srpska no. 9/02) shall apply to the National Monument.




The Government of Republika Srpska shall be responsible for ensuring and providing the legal, scientific, technical, administrative and financial measures necessary to protect, conserve, and display the National Monument.

The Commission to Preserve National Monuments (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 protection zones are hereby stipulated:

Protetion Zone I, consisting of c.p. no. 1327, c.m. Papraća I.  The following protection measures shall apply in this zone:

  • all works are prohibited other than research works, conservation and restoration works, structural repairs and works designed to present the National Monument, with the approval of the Ministry responsible for regional planning in Republika Srpska (hereinafter: the relevant ministry) and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of Republika Srpska (hereinafter: the heritage protection authority),
  • routine maintenance works on the monastery belltower and other buildings in this Protection Zone shall be permitted.

Protection Zone II consists of c.p. nos. 1324 and 1325, c.m. Papraća I. The following protection measures shall apply in this zone:

  • routine maintenance works on the old monastery konak building shall be permitted,
  • routine maintenance works on the new monastery konak building or works on the reconstruction thereof shall be permitted, with the approval of the relevant ministry and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority,
  • new building works and works designed to present the National Monument, making good the plot, and minor infrastructural works not detrimental to the value as a monument of the complex may be permitted with the approval of the relevant ministry and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority


To ensure the on-going protection of the National Monument, a protective strip approx. 50 metres wide along the Šekovići-Caparde road to the north, west and south of the monastery boundary wall is hereby stipulated.  Within this protective strip:

  • the construction of industrial buildings and facilities or of buildings and facilities the use of which could be detrimental to the architectural ensemble, quarrying, and the siting of environmental polluters are prohibited
  • infrastructure works shall be permitted solely with the approval of the relevant ministry and on the terms and conditions stipulated by the heritage protection authority
  • detailed regional planning plans and town planning technical conditions for the construction of new buildings within the protective strip must be approved by the heritage protection authority.




            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 Republika Srpska and urban and municipal authorities, shall refrain from any action that might damage the National Monument or jeopardize the preservation thereof.




            The Government of Republika Srpska, the Ministry responsible for regional planning in Republika Srpska and the heritage protection authority of Republika Srpska, 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 – VI 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.




On the date of adoption of this Decision, the National Monument shall be deleted from the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of BiH no. 33/02, Official Gazette of Republika Srpska no. 79/02, Official Gazette of the Federation of BiH no. 59/02, and Official Gazette of Brčko District BiH no. 4/03), where it featured under serial no. 609.




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.


No: 06.1-2-124/05-5                                                     

28 June 2005



Chair of the Commission

Ljiljana Ševo


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  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.

The Commission to Preserve National Monuments issued a decision to add the Papraća monastery in Papraća near Šekovići to the Provisional List of National Monuments of BiH under serial no. 609.

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:

  • Details of 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, etc.
  • Data on the current condition of the property
  • Copy of cadastral plan
  • 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. Details of the property



            The Paprača monastery is in Paprača, on the source of the river Paprača(1), by the Vlasenica-Šekovići-Zvornik road, about 16 km by road(2) from Šekovići.

            There are several necropolises of stećak tombstones close to Papraća: Vučevica, Pavlovići, Lemino Brdo, Bašići and Trišići. There is also a mediaeval fortress,Perin-grad (or Perinje), and in 1930 Roman coins were discovered in Papraća itself(3).

The site on which the monastery was built is bounded to the south and west by the old Šekovići-Caparde road, and consists of an area of level ground at the foot of Borogovo hill.

            The detached houses in the area adjoining that of the National Monument on the other side of the road consist of two storeys (ground + first [+ attic]).

Historical information

The earliest written evidence of the Papraća monastery, which is also the earliest information about its links with Russia(4), is a note in a copy of the Gospels presented by the Russian protopresbyter Jakov to the Abbot of Papraća, Gligorije, on the occasion of his return from Russia. It can thus be concluded with certainty that the Papraća monastery was in existence in the first half of the 16th century.

The church in Papraća is referred to in documents in the Turkish archives dating from 1540 and in 1547, referring to its inhabitants, suggesting that the reference was to the monastery. The Turkish population census of 1528 does not refer to the church in Papraća, but does mention a certain pop (Orthodox priest) Radica of Papraća(5). 

During the reign of Poland's King Sigmund, on 16 July 1553, the transcription of a Psalter was commissioned in Poland by two church founders, prince Dimitrije Teodorovič Sanguščovič and Nikola the Serb; the scribe was Mihailo Zboroževic Aleksandrović, and the Psalter was gifted to the Papraća monastery.

When a church was being built on the site of an old one in Tronoša in 1559, the abbot of the Tronoša monastery, Pajsije, called on monk Arsenija of Papraća for assistance.

In 1585 Zaharije, abbot of Papraća, went to Russia and received a donation of 120 roubles in cash(6) from Tsar Feodor Ivanovitch for the monastery.

In 1586 the Abbot of Papraća commissioned a silver kibotos (reliquary), which remained in the monastery's possession until 1697, when it was bought and transferred to theh old Orthodox church in Sarajevo.

Letters from Russian rulers to Serbian monasteries(7) constitute a valuable source of information on the links between the  Papraća. Monastery and Russia, and on invitations and permits to travel to and raise funds in Russia, on charitable donations, and such like:

  • the brotherhood of the Papraća monastery received 60 roubles in cash and a gift of various fabrics, as well as freee passage to Russia and a carriage to Moscow. In return, the emperor's name was to be inscribed in the monastery commemorative book, and his name and those of his predecessors were to be mentioned during religious services,
  • in 1592 and 1607, Abbot Longin of Papraća travelled to Russia and brought funds and manuscripts (later to be transcribed in our monasteries),
  • in 1621 Danilo, a monk from Papraća, transcribed a book, Izvod Sinaksaru, in Moscow
  • in 1628, Ananija, archimandrite of Papraća, and abbot Danilo of Papraća, cut short their journey to Russia and were turned back from the Russian borders because of the plague that was raging in the countries they had travelled through,
  • in 1645 abbot Simeon of Papraća, ćelar Todor, ordained monk Vasilije and deacon Josif received a charter from Tsar Aleksije Mihailovitch, granting approval for monks from Papraća to spend time in Russia every eight years to collect donations. On their return, the monks each received 200 silver aspra coins, plus 4,000 aspra in donations for the Papraća monastery, from the Ugrovlach duke Matthias Basaraba
  • between 1646 and 1683, no one from the monastery went to Russia, but in 1683 archimandrite Mihailo received a donation of 100 roubles for the monastery, a personal donation of 40 sables, worth 100 roubles, and two books: the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles
  • even during the Austro-Turkish war of 1683-1699, monks from Papraća continued to travel to Russia: in 1688/1699 and 1696 (Bishop Jovan of the Papraća monaster, ordained monk Avramije, and later Abbot Sofronije Podgoričanin and Metropolitan Stevan Metohijac, who returned from Russia with money, books and church vessels for the monastery)
  • on 25 January 1689, at the request of Bishop Jovan, the charter to the Papraća monastery was renewed, granting permission for three to five monks from Papraća to come to Russia every eight years to collect charitable donations.  In addition, the bishop received a donation of 100 roubles for the monastery, and a personal donation of 50 roubles in sables.


The monastery was abandoned between 1717 and 1723. After the Austro-Turkish war and the battle of Zvornik in 1717, Ferhat-beg, a spahi from the Budim area, who had moved into the Bosnian pashaluk after the loss of the Ottoman holdings in Hungary, acquired the abandoned monastery estate. His heirs, the Ferhatbegović family, lived in Papraća for many years after that.  The tombstone of Hatji Zaharije Popović, a priest from Osmak, who died in 1878 and is buried by the south wall of the church, relates that he rebuilt the church in 1853. Some credit for obtaining a permit for the rebuilding also goes to Staka Skenderova, who also helped with the actual building. Serbs from Sarajevo also helped with the rebuilding. The same Hatji Zaharije Popović also acquired a small bell for the church from Russia, allegedly smuggling it in concealed in a barrel.  The throne icons of Christ Pantocrator and the Virgin with the Christ Child, in oil on canvas, the work of Milija Marković of Belgrade, and the royal doors of the iconostasis were donated by Major Miša Anastasijević of Belgrade in 1857. Major repair works on the church were carried out in 1861. The renovated church was consecrated only in 1869, by the Dabro-Bosnian Metropolitan Dionisije II. In 1880, with the arrival of Abbot Pajsije Filipović, monastic life was restored in Papraća. During the time of archimandrite Kiril Hadžić of Moštanica, in 1892, the floor was renovated in the nave and inside the parvis, and some estates were purchased for the monastery and a vineyard was planted.

In 1901, monk Danilo Bilbija of Grahovo came to head the monastery in place of archimandrite Ilija Inđić(8), remaining in the post until 1923. In 1905, a new konak was built to replace the old one that was wrecked by fire in 1717, and in 1907 a new school was built.  Between 1901 and 1923 various repair works were carried out on the church, the roof was repaired, paving slabs were laid on the floor of the exonarthex, the churchyard was enlarged, and a property known as Vinograd was purchased.

            Some of the counties that had until then belonged to the Dabro-Bosnian eparchy (Vlasenica and Srebrenica) were merged with the Zvornik-Tuzla eparchy, to which the Papraća monastery also belonged from 1 January 1914.

            From 1923 the abbot of the monastery was Joakim Trbojević, a native of Lika. He completed the work of surrounding the monastery complex with a stone wall, procured a new bell, and built the monastery belltower. He ran the monastery until his death in 1941.

            Between 1941 and 1945 the monastery suffered serious damage: the monastery church was demolished, and its contents removed, and the monastery konak, school and cafe building were burned down. The monastery was left vacant throughout the war.

            After World War II the monastery was run by ordained monk Jovan Veselinović from 1947-1948; the Zvornik archpriest Dušan Mitrović from 1948-1949; the ordained monk Grigorije Veselinović from 1949-1953; and the Zvornik archpriest Dušan Mitrović from 1953-54.

            In 1954, the running of the Papraća monastery was taken over by the nun Varvara Božić, who came from the Tavna monastery, along with two novices, Jelisavka Perić and Vasilija Mitrović. Through their immense efforts, and with the help of the Zvornik Tuzla eparchy, they repaired part of the konak and acquired the items most needed in the church.

            In 1956-57, the monastery was run by ordained monk Jovan Nedić, and since 15 October 1957 it has been run by ordained monk Platon Stanojević.

            Between 1973 and 1975 the monastery konak was again converted, the church was roofed with copper, the monastery church was repaired, a new iconostasis was purchased, and the stone wall around the monastery was restored.

            On 21 September 1975 Bishop Longin formally consecrated the monastery. On 15 October 1976 Antigona Milanković became abbot of the monastery; the current abbot is archimandrite Benedikt Ananić.

            The inscription carved on a plaque on the belltower relates that on 6 October 1985 the new monastery konak was consecrated, as was the renovated building of the old konak.


2. Description of the property


The entire monastery complex is surrounded by a stone wall of quarry stone, about 1.70 to 2.00 metres in height. To there is a gate accentuatetd by a rectangular portalto the west of the monastery complex. Since the ground level is markedly different from that of the present Šekovići-Caparde road, which is just a few metres away, this gateway is effectively no longer in use.

Access to the monastery is through an iron doorway in the western wall surrounding the monastery complex. The church belltower is to the left of the entrance gateway. The belltower has three storeys topped by a bulbous tower. The first storey of the belltower is of quarry stone, with a ground plan measuring 3,10 x 3.10 metres; each storey is about 3.00 metres in height, and the bulbous tower is about 4 metres in height. The second and third storey of the belltower and the roof structure of the bulbous tower are timber-built. The bulbous tower is clad with copper, and the storeys are accentuated by eaves surrounding the tower and clad with copper. The overall height of the belltower is some 14 metres.

About 10 metres from the entrance gate flows the river Papraća,which enters the monastery complex at a point very close to the gateway in the west boundary wall and flows(9)    through the entire monastery complex. The bed of the river Papraća within the monastery complex is enclosed within stone walls and broken up into cascades.

The monastery church stands in the central part of the monastery complex.

The old monastery konak, built in 1905, is about 13.50 m to the south-west of the church. It was built of cut stone with a Mediterranean tile roof and consists of a ground floor and first floor; the building measures approx 9.45 x 14.30 m. To the north-east of the konak an entrance area measuring approx. 2.10 x 5.00 m was built on.

About 17 m to the south-east of the church is the new monastery konak, built in 1985.  The new konak was built of cut stone, with a Mediterranean tile roof, and has a ground floor and first floor; it measures approx. 10 x 21.90 m.

The priest Hadži Zaharija and the archimandrite Kirilo Hadžić are buried by the south wall of the church. The cross that stood above the grave bore the epitaph: «Here lie the mortal remains of priest Hadži-Zaharija Popović.Passed away in 1879. Lived to 91.Through his enterprise and dedicating this holy monastery was renovated from its state of demolition in 1853.  This tombstone was erected by Nikola Popović, priest in Osmak, in 1887».

Ordained monk Teodosije Babić, known as Hercegovac (d. 1909) is buried by the north wall of the church; beyond him, closer to the chancel, «is buried an archimandrite said to have been called Arsenije and to have died between 1880 and 1885.» (10)   

It should be noted that when the site was visited on 18 May 2005 these graves were not found, nor were the grave sites indicated in any other way, while the cross that had been on the tomb of priest Hadži Zaharija was propped against the south wall of the church.

When building the monastery complex, stećak tombstones were used: . . . in the west wall of the church, near the base on the outside, and to the left of the entrance to the parvis, a large piece from a mediaeval stećak with a sword in relief was used . . . there are also stećaks in the walls around the church. The Papraća brook that flows beside the church is regulated in part.  As well as other material, a number of stećaks were used to build the wall that now forms the sides of the riverbed. A small ridge-shaped stećak set diagonallyand one larger one can be seen in the wall to the left of the brook. Three stećaks are built into the wall to the right of the brook, two are ridge-shaped, and a trough has been hollowed into the third, which is set by the water.  Another stećak has been built into the outside wall of the monastery (close to the gate, to the left), as apparently have pieces of other stećaks... (11)      


In layout the church consists of a nave with altar space, parvis and exonarthex. The ground plan of the church, in the form of a trichonchos, links the Papraća church with the architecture of the Moravian school. A similar trichonchal ground plan is to be found over a wide area in the churches of Manasije, Ravanic, Ljubostinje, Nove Pavlice and, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the church in Moštanica.

A cross is inscribed in the rectangle of the nave, with the eastern arm longer; in the crossing of the arms, above the central area of the church, is a dome on a drum, with the height from floor level to the vertex of the dome about 16.00 metres. The interior diameter of the dome is 4 m, and the height of the drum approx. 4.30 m.(12) The dome rests via the drum and round arches/archivolts with a span of 4 metres, on four 80 x 80 cm pillars about 7 metres in height. These pillars are also linked via round arches with the walls of the nave.  In addition to serving to join the nave walls, these archivolts also take the stressof the barrel vaults that cover the remaining aisles of the nave. Below the base of the archivolt beams in the nave are square-section oak beams laid horizontally to add rigidity to the load-bearing structure.

The church lies east-west, with the apse at the east end and the entrance at the west end, with a deviation of approx. 12° north-east/south-west(13).

The church is of impressive size, measuring (on the exterior) 30 m in length and 14.45 in width, with the perimeter walls approx.7.70 m in height. The exonarthex measures 9.20 x 8.30 m, and the narthex 3.60 x 8.80 m.

The three large apsidal trichonchs are lower than the perimeter walls, with a height of 6.90 m(14). On the exterior they have a seven-sided cross-section, and on the interior a regular semicircular cross-section, while the small apses of the proscomodion and diaconicon three-sided on the exterior and semicircular on the onside. The east conch is articulated on the inside by five round-arched niches.The small apses above the proscomidion and diaconicon have double vaults between which are hiding-places(15). These were lit by narrow windows resembling arrowslits in the east wall.

A single stone step about 10 cm high marks the difference in level between the altar space and the nave. The nave is separated from the altar space by a wooden iconostasis, with an ambon in front, made of stone and with three steps. The steps have the geometric form of short cylinders superimposed one on another; in diameter, from bottom to top, they measure 4.50 m, 1.70 m and 0.55m.

Over the vaults and dome is a wooden structure with sheet copper as the final roof cladding.

The floors of the parvis, nave and altar space are paved with stone slabs.

The perimeter walls of the church are 115 cm thick,and the inside walls are 75 or 80 cm thick. They are of ashlar limestone with an admixture of sandstone on both sides, with an infill of quarry stone and mortar, and plastered inside and out. The windowframes and the door portal are of hard sandstone, and the doorjambs of the portal are of diabase stone, dark blue-green in colour. Tufa quarried nearby is used for the vaults and arches; indeed, it should be noted that all the stone used to build the church was quarried locally.

The church has two entrances, the main entrance at the west end, and a side entrance in the south wall to the left of the chancel; each has oak doors.

In 1985, a wooden entrance portico was built onto the entrance at the west end.This measures 3.40 x 9.50 m and stands on a parapet wall of ashlar stone about 50-60 cm high and 45 cm thick. The pent roof is clad with copper.

The exterior architecture of the church is simple.The large wall surfaces are not articulated.The lateral conches are decorated below the eaves with a frieze of round arches. A similar frieze features below all the eaves other than those of the dome.

The windows that light the interior of the church are round-arched, and the openings through the wall are conical in form to allow as much light as possible into the church.The windows are rectangular, with stone, arched frames.The drum has eight rectangular, round-arched windows framed in blind arcades.

Movable heritage

Prior to conservation works in 1968, the frescoes in Papraća were visible only on a few areas in the lower part of the altar space and on the west wall, as follows:

  1. four figures in the altar niches,
  2. two archpriests in the altar space,
  3. the central part of the Assumption.

During these works, new areas of fresco were discovered; in the south choir, entirely new iconography was found, such as the head(16) of Pope St Sylvester, featured in a procession of archpriests in the apsidal conch, bowing in worship to Christ the Lamb of God, shown on a platter on the holy table (Kajmaković, 1971., 168)

It may be assumed that the church had a varied and iconographically rich fresco repertoire, now merely hinted at by a few surviving fragments. In the south choir, fragments of a composition of the Passion of Christ survive: Christ before Pilate, Christ before High Priests Annas and Caiaphas, featuring in the second zone, just above the figures of holy warriors.  Christ's miracles are shown in the same zone, on the western part of the south wall. The Host of Angels was painted above the south door, and unidentified stylites, only two of which can still be made out, on the sides of the pilasters by the south choir. The names of two of the four warriors in the south choir are legible: Demetrius and Nestor.

The figures of the holy warriors in the frescoes of the monastery church of Papraća reveal the elegance and dynamism of noble knights of the late 14th and early 15th century, familiar from the time of Moravian Serbia: Ravanica, Kalenići, Manasija and Sisojevac. The unidentified warrior at the eastern edge of the south choir is shown in the position typical of holy warriors – usually St. Mercurius – in Byzantine art: at the moment of loosing an arrow from his taut bow. St Nestor, his counterpart on the west wall of the choir, is shown looking at the sharp tip of an arrow to ensure it is well-sharpened and deadly(17). One of the warriors is holding aloft an unsheathed sword, and the other a short club. Kajmaković deduces from this dynamism that the Papraća master took as his model the murals in the churches of the Morava basin, dating from the late 14th or early 15th century. The modelling of the faces, the nude bodies and limbs is still achieved by this painter using subtle tonal values and combinations of light brown, olive green, cyclamen brown, pale ochre and dull yellow tints. The artist handles the shaded areas and powerful contours of the faces with full brown to cyclamen tints, giving the figures a certain colouristic warmth, solidity and expressivity. To the olive brown ground with which he indicates the hair and beards, he carefully adds light green waves, while the pupils of the eyes usually show the reflection of the light source.The Papraća master is unaware of the method of enlivening the facial features by schematicized parallel white lines, as used by some masters, particular Cretan, to indicate light reflections, primarily on the cheekbones.

The architectural features in the background of his compositions are usually dark-toned, with no pure ochre, orange or green combinations of the kind to be found in the painting of Longin and Georgije Mitrofanović. Similarly to the Trijebanj master, this painter too usually uses dark blue for his background architectural features, bringing them out with paler lines. Another typical feature of this painter is that the composition of Christ's Passion, the remains of which survive on the western part of the south wall, is not divided into separate components by red borders, as was usual, but constitute an unbroken sequence, with the composition divided only by light strokes on the architectural features in the background. The modest remains of his compositions make it impossible to identify his manner of indicating trees in a rocky landscape. However, judging from one detail in the south choir, instead of the usual bushy tangles of twining vegetation with rows of lines at the top, in this case the vegetation was shown as low shrubs with fleshy dark green leaves (Kajmaković, 1971, 168-170).

During research works in 1968, traces of an inscription were discovered above the architrave beam in the nave. The semicircular lunette above the door before the church was painted was covered with about ten layers of plaster during the frescoing. The painter had executed drawings and sketches, done with ease and virtuosity using red pigment, on each layer – usually the busts of elderly people or geometric designs. The bust of an old man with a long combed beard and sharp features, wearing a monk's hood, was discovered on the third layer of plaster.

When the recess of the lunette was filled in to level it, an inscription was added to the lower part, in a rectangular panel about 132 cm long and 62 cm wide.The letters, occupying nine or ten lines, were written in brown pigment on a greenish brown background, with incised lines between. The lines of lettering are 3.5 cm wide, as is the space between them. All that can now be made out of this quite long, ten-line text are a few letters at the beginning of the fifth or sixth line ...FANA PRV. This is probably the end of the name Mitrofana or Teofana (accusative or genitive form of Mitrofan or Teofan).  The next two letters could be read as P(R=)V(AGO), which, in association with the first word, could suggest the text: «Mitrofan, Teofan, first bishop or prior of this holy place», similar to the phrasing of the inscription in the Lomnica typicon of 1579 (Kajmaković, 1971, 171). The name Mitrofan has not so far been recorded in association with Papraća, but Teofan(18) is recorded in historical sources, where he is referred to as the bishop of Zvornik. In the 17th century and later, Papraća was under the jurisdiction of the Dabrobosnian episcopate, but since it is a mere 15 kilometres or so from Zvornik, it is possible that it belonged to the Zvornik episcopate(19) in the first half of the 16th century, as it does now (Kajmaković, 1973, 165-166).

At present the only reliable evidence for the dating of the Papraća frescoes is a stylistic analysis of the surviving areas of the murals. 

The elegance and dynamism of the holy warriors of the south choir, the paintings taken as their models, and the position they occupy, suggest that at the time the frescoes of this church were painted, the tradition of the church of Manasija monastery, the greatest religious edifice of the last decades of the independent Serbian despotate, was still present. The marked similarities between this church and the Papraća monastery church relate more to the adoption of iconographic models than to stylistic borrowings. This would suggest a rather earlier date for the murals, at a time when the tradition of Moravian painting was still alive(20). The Papraća warrior St Nestor, looking at the tip of his arrow, finds a direct analogy in the church in the Smederevo cemetery, with its murals dating from the 1560s(21). The Papraća painter reveals an evident artistic affinity with the school of artists who, following the restoration of the Peć patriarchate in 1557, worked in Peć (1561), Studenica (1568), Mileševa, Gračanica (1570) and Banja near Priboj (1571). Only two painters of this school are known by name: Master Andreja, whose signature is on the shield of St Demetrius in Peć, and Master Longin. However, certain specific features of the Papraća master make it more difficult to identify his work with any of these frescoes. For example, the artist who painted the monastery church in Papraća uses light brown, almost red tones, leaning towards cyclamen, to define the skin tones, which is rare among the Peć painters.  The Papraća master is also unusual in the way he writes two letters, which is consistently very specific: all his letters D and L have the right-hand oblique stroke sharply bent «at the knee».  Stylized lettering of this kind is not to be seen in the work of the masters of the Peć school. Then again, the Papraća master reveals a mainly tonal treatment of figures and drapery, whereas the Peć masters simplify the manner in which they model these elements. The reddish brown skin tones used in Papraća give way with Longin – the youngest member of this school, and also the greatest Serbian painter of the 16th century – to olive green tones.

Similarities between the Papraća master, the Peć school and Longin are to be seen in the following: the characteristically muscular cheeks of some of the saints, such as the figures of Luke the Evangelist in Lomnica and Peć, the nun Atenasija in Studenica and Jefrem the Syrian in Gračanica, are also encountered in Papraća on the figure of St Sylvester; the slender, elongated figures, the fine modelling in light ochre of the faces, and the subdued tones of the relatively rich palette of these artists. All these artists write «sveti» (saint) in extended form: instead of st=׀ it is the rule that st=&i, which is evidence of the influence of Russian orthography, which reached these artists through a complex of highly diverse cultural and artistic links with Russia. The ductus of the letters, other than the specific feature already noted in Papraća, is also similar or even identical at times, for example in Papraća and Gračanica. All display a well-proportioned, regular, moderately decorative calligraphic script, with the same flamboyant exaggerations as in the later rustic masters. At the same time, all these painters were obviously trained primarily as mural painters, not iconographers, as is plain to see from their skill in executing large-scale compositions.

These observations suggest one conclusion: that the frescoes in Papraća are the work of a master who was close to the artists who came together in 1557 with the restoration of the Peć patriarchate, probably on the orders of the patriarch himself, Makarije Sokolović, and who worked in the 1560s and 1570s as front-ranking Serbian icon and mural painters, trained in what was then the most advanced school of Byzantine art and on the works of the old Serbian artists, whom they could have got to know in the early years of the restored Patriarchate working on the restoration of old fresco ensembles(22).Their works also reflect contacts with the painting of the Moravian school. The somewhat older, anonymous master from Papraća occupies a prominent place in this school of painting. Some authorities are of the view that the somewhat younger artist Longin learned from the work of this master(23). Based on all this, the frescoes in Papraća cannot date from any later than the third quarter of the 16th century; indeed, their characteristic features of the tonal treatment of colour palette of the faces and the contact with Moravian painting suggest the first half of the 16th century, or the time of Bishop Teofan – towards the end of the first half of the 16th century. Given their fragmentary, poorly preserved condition, allocating a more precise date for the murals in the Papraća monastery, in the third quarter of the 16th century or the 1560s and 1570s, is a matter still to be resolved.


Altar space

1. Unidentified archpriest. All that survives is part of a scroll with stylized dark-toned letters: di .. m te .. 'nevidim=& ... `e .. sm+ri- tvo- silo ... ovsa

2. Pope St. Sylvester of Rome (st#i silvest=r= papa rimsk=&).One of the few well-preserved figures in Papraća, he has a greenish mitre on his head, the lower edge bordered in ochre decorated with pearls, a pale-coloured polystavrion with brown shadows and draping, an ochre epitrachelion decorated with rows of pearls, dark brown chequering on the polystavrion; the only holy father in the procession of archpriests who is not wearing a nabedrenik. The figure is only partly preserved, down to the knees. He is holding a scroll with the text: teb+ pr+dlag-aem= `ivot= na{= vs= i nade`d' vldko ulkol-bue.

3. St. Cyril of Alexandria (...pil= ale ... sk=&) An old man, bare-headed, looking discreetly skywards, his features badly damaged, with a light-toned polystavrion with stylized square cruciform designs in brown. His epitrachelion is yellow and his nabedrenik is red.

4. St John Chrysostom (st=& &%ann= zlatoust=&). An old man with a short beard and bald crown, the pigment on his face badly damaged, as with the other figurees. His mantle is white, decorated with red crosses, his epitrachelion red decorated with pearls, as is his nabedrenik. His arms are painted in ochre green pigment. The skin tones of the hands are ochre over a grey-green base coat, with brown outline.The scroll bears the text: _ko podoba-tti vcaka slava u=ct= i poklan...

5. Lamb on the holy table with cherubim (heruvim=). The holy table is covered with a green cloth below which is red drapery with an ochre border decorated with pearls and with double extensions at the corners in the centre.To  right are the Gospels, with ochre covers, in the middle an ochre-coloured chalice with a red cover, and to the left a paten, also ochre-colourred, on which is the body of the naked infant Christ covered with red drapery. Above the holy table is a brown ochre cherub with six wings and the instruments of Christ's Passion in his hands. The background is light grey below and dark blue above.

6. St. Basil the Great (ct=&... sil- veliki), wearing vestments identical to those of Cyril of Alexandria. The figure is badly damaged, and only a few letters are legible on the scroll: ...-kolapo.. d`... tv-..

7. St. Gregory (.....pigor-), wearing greenish and ochre-toned vestments decorated with brown and white chequers. Only part of the text is legible on the damaged scroll: (nikto`e ... coii= %tc .. h..p=t=sk... i pohot..).

8. All that survives of the eighth archpirest is a small part of the scroll he is holding.To the north of the apsidal conch were five figures of holy fathers, and six to the south – only five are properly visible. All the figures are painted on a dark blue background which is rather lighter at the base.

9. Figure of an angel. Badly damaged.

10. Badly damaged surface of the niche of the central window, decorated with a multicoloured geometric design.

11. Band of stylized palmettes. Ten-leaved stylized branches on a dark ground. Within each palmette the background is alternately dark green, dark red, dark ochre and violet; the leaves of the palmettes are invariably white with dots in the centre, in each case of a different colour. The band ran around the entire nave, and is still visible in the south choir and on the west wall below the Assumption.

12.Communion of the apostles. All that survives are the feet of the apostles in procession.

13. St Simon the Apostle (ct{i s&m%..) The badly damaged figure of the saint, with tonsured crown, wearing a green robe with ochre collar, his right hand on his chest and a codex in his left. The background is two-toned – lighter below and darker above.

14. St Theoctist (st=& de%.. &st=). The badly damaged figure of the saint as a old man with a mid-length beard. His light-toned priest's vestments are decorated with brown and white chequers, and his ochre omophorion is now [sic]. He is holding a codex in his left hand, and his right hand is raised.

15. St Parmenius the apostle.

16. Sv. Parmen, apostol (st=& parmen=).Only the bust of the figure of the saint has survived; the rest can barely be made out. His right hand is raised, and he is holding the Gospels, in a red cover, in his left. He is wearing an ochre robe, violet mantle, and yellow collar, and the drapery is executed in broad brown lines.

17. St James (st=& -kov=). Only the bust is visible of a grey-haired old man with a brown beard. The skin tones are predominantly red-toned, the effect of a fire. His halo is also red, for the same reason. His pale-coloured polystavrion is decorated with brown crosses, and the drapery is executed in light brown with the strokes of a wide brush. The saint is holding a reddish codex to his chest.

South choir

1. Unidentified holy warrior.The figure of a young man in armour, with a mother-of-pearl shield on his back, shown loosing an arrow, left-handed. He is wearing a cyclamen cloak, blue armour and ochre robe; his shield is grey. The lower parts have been destroyed.  The background is dark blue above and paler below.

2. Unidentified holy warrior. All that can be made out is part of the badly damaged torso.  Ochre-toned armour with dark plumes on the shoulders can be made out over a dark green shirt.  He is holding a sword upright in his right hand.

3. St Demetrius (st=& dimitrie). The figure of a young man with a double white diadem on his head. He is holding a club or mace in his right hand and a spear in his left. His robe is red and his mantle greenish.He has a shield over his left shoulder. The figure is badly damaged.

4. St Nestor (st=& nestor=). The figure of a young man in profile, looking at the tip of an arrow. He is wearing an ochre hatched breastplate, with a greenish dolman under it, and a red mantle thrown over his sholders, with a round, olive-grey shield.

5. Unidentified saint stylite. The bust of an old man on the red capital of a pillar. His mantle is violet, his robe blue. Border moulding by the right-hand edge of the south choir.

6. Unidentified saint stylite (... stl=pnik=). The pillar is greenish, with a red capital. His cloak is olive grey, draped with pure brown, and his robe blue.His right hand is on his chest. Damaged.  Border moulding by the right-hand edge of the south choir.

7. Christ before Pilate. Above the warrior in the south choir. Only fragments survive, on which the following can be made out: two soldiers with bluish helments and green and red robes under red armour, in the left-hand corner, leading in Christ, of whom only part of the halo and hair survive. In the centre is a soldier unsheathing his sword, wearing blue, ochre and red garments.The right-hand part of the scene features Pilate in red and blue garments, on an ochre-painted throne. Above him are the remains of a figure.The top of red building with a blue roof and red drawn drapery can be seen in the upper part of the painting, as well as a low-growing red palm with succulent leaves.

8. Christ before Herod. Above the warrior in the south choir. All that survives are some indistinct fragments barely sufficient to make out the contents of the composition.

9. Unidentified composition (the denials of Peter or the entry into Jerusalem?). A group of apostles in robes of various colours features to the right in front of a blue architectural panel with a tower roofed with red tiles.The apostles are moving to the right, towards the figure at the centre of the composition, who is surrounded by boys.

10. A repetition of the figure in an ochre-coloured mantle in front of the apostles, approaching Christ at the centre of the scene. Fragments of the almost totally destroyed figure of a soldier can be seen. To the right of Christ the feet only of a figure can be seen.  This is probably a scene showing Christ's Passion or the betrayal of Judas.

11. Host of angels – above the south door. All that survives are some very small fragments.

12. Triple zigzag band painted in subdued tones on a dark blue backgreound – scene above the south door.

13. Design on the socle. Decorated white bands on an ochre background.The upper triangles are blue and the lower red. Above are brown and white chequers.

14. Assumption of the Virgin. This is the largest surviving fragment of a composition in the Papraća monastery church. The surviving composition forms a square of roughly 2.5 x 2.5 m. The catafalque of the Virgin, who is wearing a blue and red robe, is covered above with a green cloth, below which is a red cloth with pearl border. The cushion is orange. Her halo has an inscription: mp d'.  The catafalque is surrounded by a group of apostles, archpriests and angels.The group of apostles to the left has not survived.The archpriests, holding open codices, are wearing pale-coloured mantles with brown crosses. The angels are shown with dark red and ochre wings, wearing brown, dark blue, dark green, dark red and dark orange vestments. Their arms are folded across their chests, or held out towards the Virgin. The Apostle Paul is wearing a cyclamen-coloured robe and is shown in profile, with his left hand held out discreetly and his right on his chest. Light green architectural features can be made out above the figures. To the front of the catafalque is a scene with an angel and a Jew, Euphonius. The angel is in movement, as shown by the undulations of the drapery, which closely follows the contours of his body. His wings are ochre, his mantle green, his baggy trousers violet, his boots ochre, and his shirt red. The Jew Euphonius is wearing a dark ochre costume, and is shown falling. There are two candlesticks to the side of the catafalque.

15. Inscription.The panel for the inscription was created by walling up the lunette above the door to the nave – parvis. Several layers of plaster and tufa were laid over the lunette.  The upper layers (five or six) were used for cartoons - improvisations in synope (red earth). These were mainly the busts of old men, or geometric designs.The bust of an old man in a monk's cassock was discovered. The inscription is on the upper layer of plaster, in a rectangular panel measuring 132 x 62 cm. It is inscribed on a light green or ochre green background, and consists of about ten lines about 3.5 cm wide.The lettering is red and runs between incised lines.Only a few letters at the beginning of one of the lines roughly in the middle of the panel have survived:...FANA PRV (probably the name of Bishop Teofan of Zvornik, whose name features in documents dating from 1528 and 1532).The doorjambs were decorated with crosses with cryptograms.An unusual cryptogram has survived on the south doorjamb beneath a recent layer of plaster: the two letters S C. are inscribed on a light-coloured band (Kajmaković, 1971, 327-329)

Parts of the Papraća iconostasis

The surviving fragments of the Papraća iconostasis featuring Christ the Neversleeping eye and kings David and Solomon on the tympanum of the royal doors and the right hand section of the architrave Deisis with prophets, stand out among the surviving works of Serbian icon painters of the 18th century in Bosnia and Herzegovina on account of their powerful artistic expression.» (Rakić, 1998, 55). These fragments of the Papraća iconstasis were transferred to the Museum of the Episcopal Palace in Tuzla, and are now in the Episcopal Palace in Bijeljina.

The Papraća collection of icons dating from the 19th century also includes the throne icons of Christ Pantocrator and the Virgin with the Christ Child, in oil on canvas, the work of Milija Marković of Belgrade dating from 1857. The icon of the Holy Trinity with the Virgin, also in oil on canvas, also dates from the 19th century. Three large-sized Jerusalems date from the 18th to 19th century.


Artist: icon painter Stanoje Popović of Martinet (Srem)

Date of origin: 18th century

Technique: tempera on board

Size: 66 x 153.2 cm


The icon painter, the priest Stanoje Popović from the village of Martinet, was among the finest masters of early baroque icon painting just before it died out in the mid 18th century.  In Bosnia, he painted the iconostasis for the great monastery church in Papraća, of which only fragments survive, and a number of icons now in Sarajevo, Visoko and Blagaj near Mostar(24). Stanoje's painting is a direct continuation of the post-Byzantine tradition in iconography. He probably acquired his basic artistic craft from a painter trained in the artists' workshops of Thessaloniki, since the baroque elements used by Stanoje are much closer to those of Thessaloniki than to the Russo-Ukrainian baroque, which was very popular in the Serbian iconography of his time. His legacy was an opus in the monasteries of Šišatovac, Kuveždin, Vrdnik, Privina Glava, and many other churches in Srem.He worked in the ornamental-decorative later manner of icon painting. His artistic style was fully developed and achieved precisioin of line and full maturity of colour.

The subject of the Never-sleeping Eye is commonly found on the tympani of iconostases, above a composition of the Annunciation(25), but more rarely featuring a Deisis(26). More complex iconographic subjects such as the Never-sleeping Eye became part of the decorative components of altar partitions in Serbian churches of the early 14th century through the influence of Serbian theologians from Hiladar and painters from Thessaloniki working for King Milutin in St. Nikita in Čučero, where this subject is to be found on the painted decorations of the pillars of the partition even prior to 1316 (Rakić, 1998, 38).  In Srem, Banat, Bačka and Hungary, where icon painting flourished in the first half of the 18th century, this religious symbolic subject was readily adopted, since it was at that very time, under the influence of Russian and Ukrainian baroque literature, that the region saw the development of moralizing and didactic ecclesiastical and lay literature.This frequently used motif reflected the general spiritual and artistic condition of the Serbian early baroque era, which adopted this literary and artistic subject, enriched by much older symbolism – Christ's ever-wakeful love.

            The tympanum with the composition of the Never-sleeping Eye and the Old Testament kings David and Solomon to the side, and the right-hand plaque of the templon with prophets, are the only surviving parts of the old iconostasis of the Papraća monastery(27). 

            The tympanum with the Never-sleeping Eye from the church in Neštino, painted in 1741 by icon-painter Stanoje, is now housed in the Matica Srpska Gallery in Novi Sad.  In its iconographic and stylistic treatment, it reveals all the features of the Papraća artist.  Both icons are set in narrow gilded frames carved in bas-relief of the same spiral foliar design(28). The lettering of the inscriptions recording the names of the figures represented is identical in form.The chequered floor of the interior, running in two directions and narrowing in perspective, and the simple lines of the flowers in panels that are left unhatched, constitute one of the typical elements from which the work of Stanoje can be recognized. He borrowed it from Russian Bibles, basing it on engravings with figures of the evangelists. The bodies of the archangels surrounding the scene of the Papraća and Neštino tympani are in a very specific position, floating in the air as if hopping. On the Papraća tympanum, Stanoje painted the archangel Gabriel with a vessel containing the instruments of the Passion, revealing the artist's iconographic freedom(29). Opposite the archangel Gabriel, he painted the archangel Michael with a napkin in his hands. Beside him stands the Mother of God. The central area of the tympanum is occupied by the figure of Christ wearing a blue shirt and red mantle with a gold border. One hand is behind his head, and the other resting alongside his body. His right leg is crossed over his left. The figure of Christ is shown in an oval, ochre-toned panel surrounded by a red line. Behind the oval is red drapery, and below it a city. A rectangular panel beside the archangel Michael shows King David as a middle-aged man with a grey beard and hair, facing slightly to the left towards Christ and the archangels. He has a crown on his head and is wearing a red cloak decorated with gold panels. In his left hand he is holding a scroll with an inscription (the initial red, the remaining letters dark-toned), to which he is pointing with his right. Opposite King David, in the same rectangular panel, is the figure of King Solomon, facing slightly to the right, towards Christ and the archangels. He is wearing a red mantle decorated with gold panels, and a blue robe. In his right hand he is holding a scroll of paper with an inscription (the initial red, the remaining letters dark-toned), to which he is pointing with his left.

            The decorative borders of the fabric, the bold floral gold-woven designs, the specific skin tones of the faces, the shape of the hands and feet, the golden haloes surrounded by red and white lines, the very distinctive and daring colour harmonies in delicate balance with a number of primary colours excluding the multicoloured, remove all doubt that the priest Stanoje, one of the finest icon painters of the Karlovci metropolitanate, worked in Papraća (Rakić, 1998, 149-151).


Artist: icon painter Stanoje Popović of Martinci

Date of origin: 18th century

Technique: tempera on board

Size: 161 x 44.5 cm


Five prophets from the Deisis composition feature on the only surviving part of the templon of the iconostasis, their bodies facing the missing central part of the scene of the Deisis. The prophet Aaron is wearing the robes of an Old Testament priest, holding his blossoming rod, Jacob with the ladder to heaven, Ezekiel with double doors, Avakum with a bush, and Zechariah with an unrolled scroll.

            The nearest equivalent to this panel is the triple Deisis composition with apostles of the templon of the iconostasis from Banoštor, now in the Matica Srpska Gallery in Novi Sad. The apostles from Banoštor are also in a gilded, bas-relief frame consisting of small pillars separated by rosettes and and arcade with spiral bands and palm branches, like the Papraća prophets. The icon painter Stanoje showed the apostles in full figure, whereas the prophets are shown down to knee level, the point at which in the case of the apostles the panelled floor begins. The background is the same on both iconostases, blue on the upper part and marbled in the lower. The rendering is the same in both cases, and the beardless figures of the apostles Thomas and Philip closely resemble the beardless preophets Avakum and Zechariah, just as the neighbouring figures of old men with long beards among the apostles and the prophets have the same expressions on their faces (the apostle Bartholomew and the prophets Aaron and Jacob) (Rakić, 1998, 151).


3. Legal status to date


By Ruling of the National Institute for the Protection  of Cultural Monuments and Natural Rarities of NR BiH of Sarajevo no. 751/52 dated 9 October 1952, the property was placed under state protection, and by Ruling of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of NR BiH of Sarajevo no. 02-783-3 dated 18 April 1962, it was entered on the Register of immovable cultural monuments.

The 1980 Regional Plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina listed the Paprača Monastery near Šekovići as a Category I cultural and historical property.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works


During research and conservation works carried out in 1968 on the remains of the frescoes in the monastery church of Papraća, it was found that the entire surface of the nave was once covered with frescoes. Numerous fragments of the frescoes were discovered below the plaster on almost the entire surface of the south wall, particularly in the south choir. Much less of the frescoes had survived on the north wall. The largest surviving areas were in the apsidal conch. It may be assumed that the area of the diaconicum, protoseis and dome were also once painted. The outside and inside of the narthex were probably not painted.

Based on the surviving frescoes, the impression is that only the lower areas have survived, as follows:

  1. on the socle,
  2. in the first zone with standing figures,
  3. in the lower parts of the second zone with compositions

The assumption is that this concentration of surviving frescoes is the result of the poor condition of the church in the upper zones, and perhaps even of its demolition.

The fragments of fresco that were discovered were under two layers of plaster dating from different periods. Before covering the frescoes with plaster, the masons broke them up with hammers and splashed them with lime solution. Only the figures of the holy fathers in the apsidal conch were spared this destructive treatment. The fire that caused the ochre on the halos of the saints in the niches of the apsidal conch to turn red, as well as the soot, damp and deliberate scratches, are the cause of the extremely poor condition of this once high-quality and rich fresco ensemble (Kajmaković, 1971, 167-168)

There is no information available concerning the quantity, type, materials, methodology, techniques etc.used during repairs and conservation and restoration works on the church.  Historians have recorded some meagre facts concerning these works:

  • Major repair works on the church were carried out in 1861
  • In 1892 the floor of the nave and interior of the parvis was replaced
  • In 1905 the new konak was built, and in 1907 the new school building
  • In 1901-1923 repair works were carried out on the church, the roof was repaired, and the exonarthex was paved with stone slabs
  • In 1923-1941 work was completed on the stone wall surrounding the monastery complex, a new bell was procured and the monastery belltower was erected
  • In 1954 part of the konak was repaired
  • In 1973-1975 the monastery konak was again converted, the church was roofed with copper, the church was repaired, a new iconostasis was purchased, and the stone wall surrounding the monastery was repaired
  • On 6 October 1985 the new monastery konak was consecrated, as was the renovated old konak, and the wooden entrance portico was built on.


Comparing the current condition of the property with photographs published in Šuput, Marica's book Srpska arhitektura u doba turske vlasti: 1459-1690., published in 1984, and descriptions of the Islamic influence on the architectural mouldings of the stone roof cornice of the side conches, it may be concluded that when the plaster was stripped from the exterior facade of the church the depressed arches known as kilborgena on the arcade frieze composed of plaster were also destroyed; the present-day arcades are standard round-arched. Some of the windows on the side apses also had kilborgena designs(30), which are no longer to be seen. Given the above chronology, these interventions were probably carried out in 1985.


5. Current condition of the property


The monastery is in good condition and well maintained.


6. Specific risks


The walls of the church are at risk from rising damp. The fact that the church was built just a few metres away from the river Papraća adds to this problem.




Applying the Criteria for the adoption of a decision on proclaiming an item of property a national monument (Official Gazette of BiH nos. 33/02 and 15/03), 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. i. quality of workmanship

C.ii. quality of materials

C.iii. proportions

C.iv. composition

C. v. value of details

C.vi. value of construction

D. Clarity

D.i. material evidence of a lesser known historical era

D.ii. evidence of historical change

D.iii. work of a major artist or builder

D. iv. evidence of a particular type, style or regional manner

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.i.  relation to other elements of the site

F.ii. meaning in the townscape

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

G. Authenticity

G.i. form and design

G.ii. material and content

G.iii. use and function

G.iv. traditions and techniques

G.v. location and setting

G.vi. spirit and feeling

G.vii. other internal and external factors

H. Rarity and representativity

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

H.ii. outstanding work of art or architecture

H.iii. work of a prominent artist, architect or craftsman

I. Completeness

I.i. physical coherence

I.ii. homogeneity

I.iii. completeness

I.iv. undamaged condition


            The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

o        Copy of cadastral plan

o        Copy of land register entry and proof of title;

o        Photodocumentation (all older photographs from the books cited in the bibliography; photographs of the current condition taken on 18 May 2005 in Papraća by Slobodanka Lalić and Emir Softić)

o        Drawings (all drawings from the books cited in the bibliography)




During the procedure to designate the architectural ensemble of the Papraća Monastery in Papraća near Šekovići together with its movable heritage as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the following works were consulted:


1938     Mazalić, Đoko, Kratak izvještaj o ispitivanju starina manastira Ozrena, Tamne, Papraće, i Lomnice (sa 4 plana i nacrtom u tekstu),(Brief report on study of the antiques of the monasteries of Ozren, Tamna, Papraća andn Lomnica, with 4 plans and drawing in the text) Jnl of the National Museum of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Sarajevo, Yr. L - 1938


1950.    Dr Vladimir R. Petković., Pregled crkvenih spomenika kroz povesnicu srpskog naroda (Survey of church monuments through the history of the Serbian people), Serbian Academy of Sciences; special edition, bk CLVII, Dept. of Social Sciences,  new series, bk 4, pp. 241-242, 448, Belgrade


1950     Filipović, Milenko,  Mazalić, Đoko, Manastir Papraća u Bosni, (Papraća Monastery in BiH) Document, Serbian Academy of Sciences, XCIX, Belgrade, 1950, 96-114


1955     Svetozar Radojčić, Majstori starog srpskog slikarstva (Masters of old Serbian painting). Serbian Academy of Science and the Arts; Belgrade, 1955.


1960     Vaso Čubrilović, Srpska pravoslavna crkva pod Turcima od XV do XIX veka (The Serbian Orthodox Church under the Turks from the 15th to the 19th century) Proceedings of the Faculty of Philosophy no. V-1, Belgrade, 1960.


1971     Bešlagić, Šefik: Stećci, kataloško-topografski pregled (Stećak tombstones, a catalogue and topographical survey), Cultural Heritage Series, Sarajevo


1971     Zdravko Kajmaković, Zidno slikarstvo u Bosni i Hercegovini (Wall painting in BiH) Sarajevo 1971.


1973.    Zdravko Kajmaković, Oko problema datacije pravoslavnih manastira u sjeveroistočnoj Bosni sa posebnim osvrtom na Papraću (On the problems of dating Orthodox monasteries in north-eastern Bosnia, with particular reference to Papraća) Naše starine XIII, 149-170, Sarajevo 1973.


1978.    P. Vasić, Zograf Stanoje i njegovo delo (The icon painter Stanoje and his work) Collected papers on the visual arts, no 14, Novi Sad 1978, 325-337


1980.    L. Šelmić, Novi podaci o zografu Stanoju Popoviću (New data on the icon painter Stanoje Popović) Work of the museums of Vojvodina, no 26, Novi Sad 1980, 175-183


1984     Šuput, Marica: Srpska arhitektura u doba turske vlasti : 1459-1690 (Serbian architecture during the Turkish period: 1459-1690).  Belgrade, Serbian Academy of Science and the Arts


1991     Šuput, Marica: Spomenici srpskog crkvenog graditeljstva XVI - XVII vek (Monuments of Serbian Church Architecture 16-17th century), Belgrade : Faculty of Philosophy, Institute of Art History: Republic Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments, Novi Sad : Matica srpska, Priština : Institute for the Study of the Culture of Serbs, Montenegrins, Croats and Muslims, 1991


2002     Ševo, Ljiljana, Pravoslavne crkve i manastiri u Bosni i Hercegovini do 1878. godine (Orthodox churches and monasteries in BiH to 1878), Banja Luka


2005     Naši hramovi, Manastir Papraća,(Our temples, Papraća monastery) Preobraženje, newssheet of the mission of the Tuzla archpriest's office, Tuzla


(1)There is nothing particular to be said about the name Papraća. Our old churches and monasteries are usually named after hills or rivers. In this case the church and monastery are named after the river beside which they were built. The adjectival form of the name is evidence that a second, nominal part of the nameis missing. This noun would be water or river, thus Papratja Rijeka, Papratja voda, hence merely Papraća. The name derives from papradi (ferns) of which there is still an abundance around the spring above the church..” (Filipović, Milenko,  Mazalić, Đoko, Manastir Papraća u Bosni, Spomenik, SAN, XCIX, Beograd, 1950, 97)

(2) or about 9 km as the crow flies, north-east of Šekovići

(3) D. Sergejevski: Numizmatičke beleške (Numismatic notes), Jnl of the National Museum, 1932

(4) links between the monastery and Russia were to be maintained in the 16th and 17th centuries

(5) Kajmaković, Zdravko, Oko problema datacije pravoslavnih manastira u sjeveroistočnoj Bosni sa posebnim osvrtom na Papraću. Naše starine XIII, 149-170, Sarajevo 1973, p. 164  (from Handžić, dr. Adem: Etničke promjene u sjeveroistočnoj Bosni i Posavini u XV i XVI v. (Ethnic changes in north-eastern Bosnia and the Posavina in the 15th and 16th centuries), Yugoslav History Jnl, 4, Belgrade, 1969, 31-37;  Handžić, dr. Adem: O islamizaciji u sjeveroistočnoj Bosni (Islamization in north-eastern Bosnia), Contributions to Oriental Philology, Sarajevo, 1970, 1-45)

(6) Filipović, Milenko,  Mazalić, Đoko, Manastir Papraća u Bosni, Spomenik, SAN, XCIX, Beograd, 1950, 99 (from Spomenik of the Serbian Royal Academy, XXXIX, 38)

(7) (Filipović, Milenko,  Mazalić, Đoko: 1950, 100-103; source - Đerić, Vasilije: Dvanaest pisama ruskih vladalaca (Twelve letters from Russian rulers), Starinar, 1909)

(8) who headed the monastery from 1894 to 1901

(9) the river Papraća flows roughly parallel to the longitudinal axis of the monastery church

(10) details of these graves from :Filipović, Milenko,  Mazalić, Đoko, Manastir Papraća u Bosni, Spomenik, SAN, XCIX, Beograd, 1950, 113

(11) (Filipović, Milenko,  Mazalić, Đoko, Manastir Papraća u Bosni, Spomenik, SAN, XCIX, Beograd, 1950, 98)

(12) measured on the exterior facade

(13) measured by compass on site

(14) measured inside the church from floor level to the vertex of the semidomes of the apse

(15) Mazalić, Đoko, Kratak izvještaj o ispitivanju starina manastira Ozrena, Tamne, Papraće, i Lomnice (sa 4 plana i nacrtom u tekstu), GZM Kraljevine Jugoslavije, Sarajevo, Yr. L – 1938, p. 103

(16) The head of St Sylvester is in fact the best-preserved and finest remnant of the Papraća freescoes.

(17) Mercurius is shown in much the same way as in Papraća in the church in Kučevišto, on a fresco dating from 1500. Bojana Radojković  found a parallel with this pose of a warror checking the flight of his arrow in a miniature in a Persian manuscript. However, the pose and action are not sufficiently alike. The same pose is to be seen in the case of a warrior in the south choir of the monastery church of Orahovica. (Kajmaković, 1971, 169)

(18) The name of Teofan, bishop of Zvornik, is linked in historical documents with the affair of Metropolitan Pavle of Smederevo's rebellion against Archbishop Prohor of Ohrid who, with the abolition of the Patriarchy in Peć, tried to bring under his jurisdiction over all the areas that had been under the jurisdiction of the autocephalous Serbian Patriarchate until 1459. Bishop Teofan of Zvornik joined forces Metropolitan Pavle of Smederevo, and both were condemned as apostates at Ohrid synods in 1528, 1529 and 1532, and then excommunicated in 1532. Teofan's name is mentioned in documents of the Ohrid archepiscopate in 1541, when Archbishop Prohor issued a ruling stripping of their rank all the priests and bishops whom Metropolitan Pavle of Smederevo had appointed, including Bishop Teofan. Teofan probably succeeded Metropolitan Pavle on the latter's death, as Serbian archbishop, as his priests regarded him. This is inferred from a Sopoćani memorial book in which the name of Archbishop Teofan is next after that of Archbishop Pavle. When studying the Zvornik archepiscopate, Milenko Filipović concluded that Bishop Teofan was «a markedly powerful and original figure from our past, and that he was highly regarded and influential.» (Kajmaković, 1973, 166).

(19) The Zvornik episcopate (eparchy) was certainly in existence by the mid 16th century, or to be exact by 1532, when Metropolitan Teofan of Zvornik was anathematized along with Metropolitan Pavle of Smederevo. Following the restoration of the Peć patriarchate there is reference in 1557 to the Metropolitans of Zvornik Pavle and Teodosije, whose see was in the Patkovici monastery at the foot of Mt. Cera. In the 18th and early 19th century the Zvornik episcopate was merged with the eparchy of Valjevo and Arilje-Gradačac-Užica, and the see was transferred to Tuzla.

(20) The development of Serbian painting in the Ottoman period did not take Moravian painting as its inspiration, but the painting of the early 16th century (S. Radojčić, 1955, 77)

(21) In that church, St. Nestor features in identical pose and in the same position, on the western edge of the south choir.

(22) In the early years of the restoration of the Patriarchate, the Peć artists were able to work only on the restoration of old fresco compositions. As far as is now known, it was only in Papraća and to some extent in the church of St Nicholas in the Banja monastery near Priboj that they had the opportunity to paint an entire sizeable church anew, under no obligation to adapt their style to that of older masters (Kajmaković, 1971, 1975).

(23) The two angels' heads now visible to the left of the composition of the Assumption in Papraća remind one irresistibly, both in form and in painterly treatment, particularly in their olive green skin tones, of the angels on Longin's throne icon of the Mother of God from Lomnica. Hence, perhaps, Longin's contact with Lomnica, which is a a mere 15 km or so from Papraća (Kajmaković, 1971, 174).

(24) Stanoje Popović painted the icon of St. George Cephalophoros (seen holding his severed head) with scenes from his life, which is in the collection of the church of St. Basil of Ostrog in Blagaj. Other works by him are the icon of the Virgin with Christ and archangels in the old Orthodox church in Sarajevo, and the icon of the Deisis with archangels from the church of St. Procopius in Visoko (Rakić, 1998, 26-27, 149, 150).

(25) The Never-sleeping Eye is to be found above the composition of the Annunciation on Longin's iconostasis tympanum in Lomnica, Radul's on fragments from the treasury of the old church in Sarajevo, Tujković's above the diaconicon of the old church in Sarajevo (Rakić, 1998, 38),

(26) Tujković's tympanum on the central tympanom of the old church in Sarajevo (Rakić, 1998, 38)

(27) From the mid 18th century on, the modest old churches of the Karlovci metropolitanate were pulled down and new baroque churches were erected, in which richly adorned iconostases were installed, with paintings by the first trained Serbian baroque painters, whose power and immediacy of artistic expression are often beyond compare with the dismantled iconographic iconostases (Rakić, 1998, 150).

(28) The few surviving iconostasis fragments dating from the 18th century reveal modest wood carving to which little or no attention was paid. It was the norm at that time to use simple, bas-relief decoration. (Rakić, 1998, 54).

(29) The usual iconography was retained in the case of the Neštino tympanum, where the archangel Michael features in this position (Rakić, 1998, 150)

(30) Filipović, Milenko,  Mazalić, Đoko, Manastir Papraća u Bosni, Spomenik, SAN, XCIX, Beograd, 1950, p.109, p, 104-illus. 3a


Papraća Monastery in Papraća Surrounding of the Papraća MonasteryPapraća Monastery, archival photoOld monastery konak buildin
New monastery konak buildingInterior - ambosPorticosInterior - Nave
BelfryInterior, south choir - the paintingsAltarDetail of iconostasis, Stanoje Popovic from Martinaca-Nedremano, 18 century

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