Old Crafts

Brush makers

It is not known when real brushes began to be made for the first time, but it is known that brushes were made from furs of black rabbit, green weasel and white he-goat in ancient China, 6000 years ago. These brushes were used in calligraphy. Three thousand years before the Christ, the Egyptians used the brushes to draw their hieroglyphs on papyrus (made from softened cane) and at the same  time, the brushes were also made for make up use. In ancient Rome, combs were used by men and women. We do not known for sure whether they used brushes, but many handles, usually regarded as mirror handles, could have been brush handles. There is one certain thing that during the Romans, crests for centurions were made with similar method as it is used now for manufacture of horse fur brushes.

Here, in this part of the world, the brush-maker's trade has centuries old tradition and once, this, now strange, craft numbered many craftsmen. There is a brush-makers' cooperative in Cazin, but there is no one dealing with this trade anymore. The brush-maker's trade and the way the brushes are made, have not changed in basis. Brushes are still hand-made products of high quality and various purposes. There are brushes for household use, machines, baker's brushes, chimney-brushes, bee-keepers' brushers, house-painting brushes, and other. The materials used for production of brushes are horse fur, ox tail, fur of pig, badger and marten, nylon, thread, iron, and wood.

Filigree and silversmith's crafts

Processing and using of metals took very important position in craft production. Metal processing crafts include blacksmithing,  gunsmithing, swordsmithing, "zildzije" (production of tools from brass and bronze), locksmithing, coppersmithing and  silversmithing. Coppersmiths and silversmiths dealt with  precise artistic processing of metals. Silversmiths made gold and silver jewellery. Silversmith's street was founded in the first half of 16th century at location of today's Gazi Husref-beg’s (bey’s) Street and Mali Kujundziluk. Goldsmiths work mainly in this street today. The filigree craft originates from silversmith's craft, but by the time, filigree workers perfected  their skills and became independent, as a separate trade.


At the beginning, silversmiths made pieces of jewellery, while filigree-workers made precise ornaments of bent and knitted silver wire to fill voids in the pieces of jewellery, or  the ornaments were just glued on the surface. Filigree is  Latin word, which means „something precise“. Since the Turkish word for filigree is „telkar“, we suggest that filigree-craft was brought in this region through Ragusans. The silver, used by our craftsmen, had been mainly extracted from various minerals from Kresevo and Srebrenica regions.

Coppersmithing is part of a guild that also gathers tinsmiths. The former create items from copper while the latter make them by tin-plating. Since the items are made from copper, especially tableware, they were not only tin-plated, but also decorated with ornaments and engravings, which gave them an artistic dimension. The decorating was done mostly by women, known as “savacenje”. It is a decorating method typical of Sarajevo and has survived to this day. The craft came to Bosnia and Herzegovina with the arrival of Ottoman Turks, and the Coppersmiths’ Bazaar in Sarajevo can be found at the same place where it was founded in the 16th century. Although copper-smiths' shops could be found in Vratnik, the center of this craft was in the Oprkanj street in Bascarsija. This bazaar met the needs for copper-smith items of the entire Bosnia and Herzegovina. Coppersmiths could take pride in the most numerous tools of the trade and in more than seventy different products including dishes and tableware of various types and sizes, water vessels - ewers, jugs and pitchers, coffee-ware with jugs, coffee-pots and coffee cup holders, different sacred objects, lighting products, items for barber shops, items for baths, etc.


Chroniclers and travel writers left number of traces of life of our, Sarajevo’s Bascarsija. There were many craftsmen in the Bascarsija, so many to have their own streets: Saraci, Abadziluk, Kazazi, Terzijska Carsija, etc. They were threatened by many troubles, starting from the first fire in 1480, the second one, when entire Sarajevo suffered, in 1697, followed by floods, deceases and other plaques, which threatened to disappearance of the city, Bascarsija, its streets and trades. A total of 145 tailors, 118 haberdashers, 68 cloth-makers and many other craftsmen had died in just fifty years in 18th century. But craftsmen lived here and wanted to survive. By will and love, they preserved crafts and Bascarsija as well. Out of numerous tailors, cloth-makers and haberdashers, only small number of them remained. They stayed to witness over long-year tradition and beauty of roots, and art of decorating urban as well as rural traditional clothes. Manufacturing, industry and habits have taken their role.



Slipper makers

Looking through the history, wearing of  slippers is closely associated with culture of life. Footwear was assorted according to purpose in the ancient civilizations of the Old East, where the first cities (urban centers) had developed. The out of doors footwear was strictly separated from the one that was worn inside the house or temple. It was regarded as blasphemy to enter in a temple or house in the shoes worn out of doors. This attitude toward the house and the temple was preserved through the history of three monotheistic religions, except it changed a little bit in Christianity during merging of this religion with the Roman Empire. Slippers thus became a footwear that was worn exclusively in and around the house. With the arrival of the Ottomans in Bosnia, the process of  urbanization began with foundation of cities of the Levantine type, where economic life was clearly separated from the family life. Slippers thus became a synonym for an urban living culture. The Bosnian word for slipper, “papuca”, is the word of Arabic origin, pronounced as “papus” in Persians, but it came to us in pronunciation as “papuca“.
The Ottomans organized crafts into guilds, and then present craftsmen adapted to newly appointed organizations. The slipper-maker's craft was joined to boot-maker's guild, along with „mestvedzije“ (makers of soft leather indoor footwear) and „firaeldzije“.The slipper-makers were mentioned for the first time in the registry from 1530, from which we can see that there were no so many slipper-makers, but by the second half of the 16th century, number of these craftsmen jumped. Craftsmen from this guild were located in the special street which was dubbed “Cizmedzijska Carsija“, although their workshops were also settled in other parts of the Bascarsija. The workshops were built above the slipper shops. The poorest craftsmen made their products at home and sold it to foreign tradesmen in inns or domestic traders who were known as „hafafi“ or „kavafi“. Craftsmen of the boot-maker's guild were of middle-income state, while the traders were very rich. Tools used for making slippers are basically the same as for all other crafts, which mainly process leather, („terdah“ or desk, „muste“, „bickije“, awls, needles, „zumbe“, „dzilde“,lasts, etc.)






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