Synopsis of the Story
The Back-story: Traditional Context
As do virtually all tales from the South Slavic epic tradition, especially the Moslem songs, the ŽBM assumes a substantial amount of back-story embedded in the audience’s prior experience of this and/or related tales. Some of this implicit material is rehearsed in the Commentary and Apparatus Fabulosus sections elsewhere in this eEdition, and the reader is encouraged to consult these other resources to help fill in important aspects of the story’s background. In order to simulate something of the traditional audience experience from the very beginning of this experimental edition-translation, however, I add here a few notes on the generic shape of the tale and the identity of major characters and events; a summary of the explicit story then follows immediately below.
Overall, the Wedding Song subgenre, a malleable pattern that accommodates many different characters, places, and particular events, typically tells the story of the loss, recovery, and eventual wedding of a Turkish maiden who was or is about to be betrothed to an important hero’s son; this nascent relationship is conventionally in force before the tale starts (see the Apparatus Fabulosus, glosses to lines 1 ff. and 252-77). In preparation for the event, a Turkish commander sends a series of letters to his confederates in adjacent regions, inviting them to come join him in celebrating the marriage and to bring along armed forces of their own (superficially, at least, as an honorific gesture). Once the threat of the kidnapping of the maiden by an enemy Christian rival arises, however, the planned celebration quickly modulates into a massive battle, which the Turkish side wins only after heavy losses. Having rescued the young woman, the Turks then proceed with the long-imperiled wedding, and the song closes with some notation of that ceremony and perhaps a few verses on the promising future of the couple, their family, and by extension the kingdom they will inherit.
Characters take shape from two sources: a generic identity conferred by the stock roles they assume within the idiomatic frame of Wedding Song story, and a more particularized, idiosyncratic profile that draws from other songs featuring them and their singular actions within the epic tradition at large. That is, depending on the individual, a given character may owe more to the shaping force of the immediate story-pattern or to the tradition-wide “reputation” that implicitly accompanies him or her. Thus, for example, in the ŽBM the young woman Zlata and her kidnapper Baturić ban stand at one end of the spectrum of dramatis personae: they are principally standard character-types that serve designated narrative functions in this type of epic (though they are no less interesting for that). At the other end of the spectrum stand Djerdelez Alija and especially Tale of Orašac, two characters who are both far larger and much more clearly defined than any single appearance could ever indicate. In the few paragraphs that follow, I offer some observations to help flesh out the characters in the ŽBM.
Djerdelez Alija’s singular heroism is unqualified and widespread in the tradition. He is more often than not a kind of free agent, attaching himself only temporarily to any single group, figure, or quest. Likewise, he takes part in a variety of different song-types, among them narratives of wedding, return, rescue, and so on. Whenever and wherever he turns up, however, one can be reasonably certain that a challenging problem – one that only he can solve – will soon arise. Thus it bears mentioning that although Djerdelez Alija’s appearance at the opening of the ŽBM forecasts a major problem on the horizon, it does not in itself identify the subgenre of epic to which this story belongs. Correspondingly, in the original format this and all such performances lack titles (which are imposed by the investigators after the fact) or any other initial cueing device that would provide a map for their reception. There are hints (e.g., the incipient celebrations at Mustajbey’s tower) that the story may be taking a familiar path, but it is not until the speech introduced at line 252 – about one-fourth of the way through the performance – that the audience knows with certainty where the plot is headed. Djerdelez Alija’s arising, arming, travel, and visitation of the bey are thus charged with a fair amount of narrative suspense.
Mustajbey presides over the Lika, a geographical and mythical borderland, with unquestioned authority among his peers but also, as we know from other stories, a less than perfect record of loyalty toward his supporters. Here he is cast in the stock role of the proud father seeking to marry his son off to the most eligible young woman, according to the same narrative pattern that informs Avdo Medjedović’s famous portrayal of Smailagha and his son Meho (SCHS 3-4). Both performances belong to the category of “Wedding Song” sketched above. What is at stake in both tales is not only the conjugal union per se, but the continuing health of the monarchy and the familial lineage in which it is vested. Note also that Mustajbey typically assumes the position of commander of a composite force, a role that belongs as much to his generic identity as the bridegroom’s father in a Wedding Song as to his specific political responsibilities.
Bećirbey plays the emergent son, the impetuous young man on the cusp of being ready for marriage and battle. Like Meho, his bravery is unquestioned but still needs proving; indeed, this brand of nascent heroism is a defining property of the stock characterization both young men are occupying in these two narratives. Toward the conclusion of the ŽBM performance we will watch Bećirbey answer the challenge and fearlessly enter single combat against Baturić ban, kidnapper of his fiancée Zlata. But the young man’s undeniably brave stance and unshakable commitment will be frustrated by a cheating and cowardly trick, and the ban will escape with the maiden across his saddle. Likewise, at the very end of the story Mustajbey’s son will arrive on the scene only after Alija has already defeated the ban and reclaimed the maiden. In this and other ways Bećirbey, like Meho, exists on the verge of full adulthood and heroic identity, chafing mightily against the maturation process but still in its grip.
Zlata herself is at least as typical and traditional a figure as her fiancé. By convention she proves vulnerable to capture by the Christian enemy, just as Fatima was carried off against her will in Medjedović’s song. One difference between the two stories is that Meho intervenes directly and successfully in the release of his fiancée, while Bećirbey’s actions are less distinct. (In this regard one could perhaps see Djerdelez Alija as a heroic proxy for Bećirbey in an overall view of Wedding Song narrative morphology, which remains plastic enough to accommodate significant variation.) Although the story-pattern underlying this song-type calls for Zlata to be merely a pawn in the larger game, there are numerous women in South Slavic epic who assume active, heroic roles; within the story-pattern of the Return Song, for instance, some of them even don disguises and liberate their own imprisoned fiancés.
Baturić ban, the Christian adversary whose threatened seizure of Zlata prompts the grand battle that helps to define this subgenre of South Slavic epic, is a version of an idiomatically nettlesome figure. In committing both the secular crime of kidnapping and the sacrilege of religious interference by forcibly snatching the young woman from her protective escort (with overtones of sexual violation and procreative miscegenation very much in play), he is behaving precisely as the enemy leader in this story-type should behave. Likewise, Baturić ban’s attempted swindle of the Turkish heroes and his taunting of Bećirbey near the story’s end are traditional and therefore expectable actions, motivated by the implicit expressive potential of the story-pattern and its generic characterizations.
Tale of Orašac, often called “great fool Tale” (budaline Tale) here and throughout the epic tradition, is an instantly recognizable, truly larger-than-life trickster figure. Within the epic tradition his crucial importance is embodied in a trademark contradiction: though he may appear to be merely a garrulous, choleric, counter-heroic, even slapstick caricature, he will inevitably prove essential to any mission’s success. Never mind his curious household (a mad sister who runs naked and a hag of a mother) or his buffoon-like companions (a standardbearer who rides backwards with the standard upside-down and a Moslem cleric who drinks strong liquor incessantly); Tale will unfailingly win the day for the Turks and more than justify his invitation to the wedding-become-battle. As Mustajbey proverbially observes of Tale’s function in the climactic martial campaign on their collective horizon, “Our journey there is impossible without him” (line 412).
The Explicit Story: Halil Bajgorić’s Performance
The immediate action begins with Djerdelez Alija awaking at the top of his tower near Visoko, quite conventionally before dawn breaks, and readying himself for the day and, so a fluent audience or reader must expect, a challenging adventure of some sort. As a “lone wolf” who lives by himself apart from the rest of society, he brews his own coffee, drinking no fewer than eight cups before he feels the “spark” (ćejif). Leaping to his feet, Alija runs down his tower to the stable, where he grooms and saddles his horse, fitting it out in a grand array of silken, leather, and golden regalia. So talented is his mount that, once prepared, it prances riderless around the courtyard, as independent and carefree as a young shepherdess (line 49).
With the caparisoning of his steed completed, the hero then turns to his own dressing and arming procedures, donning shirts of golden thread, trousers with silver hooks and gilt seams, a weapon-belt over his chest, paired Venetian and English pistols behind him, a vest with silver plates and buttons, a long knife, and a fur cap adorned with feathered ornaments (čelenke) and a tiny falcon-image. With precious sequins in his pocket, his forged blade strapped about his waist, boots and spurs on his feet, and a purple cloak over his shoulders, Alija closes up the doors to his tower and courtyard, releases his greyhounds, and strikes out toward Sarajevo (line 116).
But some unforeseen difficulties soon present themselves. Passing by accursed Višegrad, he approaches the river Drina only to find it swollen with flood and tossing stones and trees all about. Without a place to ford Alija seems stymied, his journey (whose destination we have not yet learned) at an impasse. But then this unmatched hero does what so many of his peers do: he relinquishes command to his horse, trusting the creature’s more than merely equine abilities to solve the problem. Like heroes’ steeds elsewhere in the tradition, his mount rises to the occasion, carrying its master safely across the river. After some red wine and two pipefuls of tobacco, Alija resumes his journey, traveling through Šumadija and on toward Grbava in the Lika, homeland of the powerful and duplicitous Mustajbey (line 150).
And what a sight it is that greets Alija on his arrival in Grbava! Mustajbey sits up on his enclosed porch, surrounded by no fewer than seven standardbearers and a group of drummers and horn- and cymbal-players performing as if they were serenading the vizier. The commander dispatches his servant Djulić down to meet the (as yet unknown) visitor, taking note, however, of the tsar’s medals hanging proudly on the young man’s chest as well as the tamed wolves or greyhounds that accompany him so docilely. Djulić follows the bey’s orders, welcoming the stranger with a selam and responding affirmatively to Alija’s question as to whether he has in fact located Mustajbey’s residence. Included in this brief scene are a reprise of the description of the bey’s musicians and an engaging portrait of the tamed wolves/greyhounds taking the horse’s reins in their teeth and leading it here and there around the courtyard (line 213).
When the stranger makes his way to the enclosed porch, the assembled company designates a special place for him to sit by the hearth while the bey himself pours coffee for his guest. According to traditional conventions of hospitality, Mustajbey then inquires about his identity and his homeland, and in response Alija utters his famous name, adding his Bosnian heritage, his familial context, and his bachelor status. He then performs a kind of ritual obeisance by extolling Mustajbey’s reputation and, with remarkable humility, claims that he has come to the Lika merely to serve as one of his standardbearers. Of course, his prospective employer will have none of that: recognizing Alija as the tsar’s hero – a loyal Ottoman subject who has expanded Turkish territory at the expense of the Christians – the bey offers him nothing less than an imperial command (line 251).
Now Mustajbey reveals the principal and defining action of the tale, in the process opening what amounts to a narrative roadmap for the ŽBM – the Wedding Song story-path. He tells Alija that he has a son named Bećirbey who is betrothed to the maiden Zlata, daughter of the Kanidža champion, and that he entrusted his own brother Meho with the errand of petitioning the prospective bride and her family; if all had gone as planned, Meho would have led her back to the Lika. But as things turned out, the Christian enemy Baturić ban was awaiting the wedding party with 14,000 troops. These forces ambushed the Turkish embassy, slaughtering most of them, and caused Zlata to flee back to her father’s city. Since the original wedding party has been decimated by the enemy, the obligation of serving as the bride’s patron has now fallen to Mustajbey himself. Meanwhile Meho, arriving back from the deadly encounter at that very moment, reports that, since the young woman and her family have accepted the proposal, the fiancée’s patron and supporters must go for her (that is, proceed with the ritualized bride-capture) in fifteen days (line 303).
To this news Mustajbey reacts by writing letters, conventionally if not explicitly through the agency of a scribe who attends to such matters, to six illustrious comrades (all of them well known from other songs), inviting them to the wedding and asking many of them to convey various-sized armies to the celebration. Massing troops in this fashion is typical of the Wedding Song pattern, as all actions now begin to point toward a major battle. The first missive goes to the Pasha of Budim with a request for his 20,000 men, the second to Osmanbey who commands three precincts with 12,000 fighters each, and the third to Bišćević Alija, who is to bring one hundred men. Captain Mujo, another renowned Turkish hero, is invited not as the leader of a supplementary force, but to discharge the responsibility of “official greeter” (selambaša) and chief protector of the bride-to-be. The fifth letter goes to the King of Pokrajlo with a command to impose a tax on the peasants for livestock, the highlanders for wood and hay, the farmers for wheat, and the barrelmakers for brandy; presumably, the financial yield of this levy will eventually be used to support the war effort (in arrears?). Finally, Mustajbey sends a sixth letter to Topalović Huso, who is asked to convey the local aghas to the ceremony (line 368).
With the invitations/summons to battle en route to their more remote destinations, the bridegroom’s father now focuses on more nearby forces. He sends his servant Djulić to carry a torch from the hearth to the great cannon near the gate, which are then fired to sound the call to arms throughout his own territory of the Lika. These initial blasts from Grbava set into motion a long chain of cannon thundering one after another through six hundred towns, alerting the populace to the impending journey and battle. Meanwhile, the bey’s invited comrades begin to arrive, with the requested troops in tow: the Pasha of Budim, Osmanbey, Bišćević Alija, Captain Mujo, and Topalović Huso (line 401).
A tally of the wedding guests confirms that all is in readiness, with one crucial exception – “great fool Tale” is not among the company. Mustajbey recognizes the glaring absence of this most necessary of Turkish heroes immediately and dispatches Djulić to Orašac to fetch him. When the servant arrives at Tale’s home, however, he finds him in a stream attempting to sharpen his sword against a whetstone turned by twelve of his horsemen. Djulić extends the bey’s selam and invitation quite straightforwardly, asking that he join the wedding army with his twelve horsemen, and Tale agrees without further discussion. The servant then rides gleefully back to the Lika, dancing his horse and singing merrily, and reports his unqualified success to Mustajbey (line 443). (Djulić’s joyful reaction of relief, though unmotivated at the explicit surface of the ŽBM, belies Tale’s notoriously choleric and unpredictable disposition, a traditional and implicit aspect of this trickster figure who has little or no respect for authority – although those in authority have the deepest respect for him!)
Just as the cooks are setting up their kettles for the great feast before the journey, “great fool Tale” makes his memorable appearance. Although the twelve horsemen who follow are dressed out in sterling silver and pure gold, their leader – elsewhere described as sporting goatskin trousers and boots with spurs that drag along the ground – is perched saddleless atop a long-maned, dun-colored horse that he guides with a motley string. To add insult to injury, the man from Orašac has burdened his poor mount not with the expectable heroic accoutrements but with weighty sacks of sifted flour-meal. No wonder that the horse obstinately stops frequently alongside the road to graze, seemingly indifferent to its master’s furious whipping. Nor does Tale’s (characteristically foul) mood improve when he meets Mustajbey, unshamefacedly cursing his superior and querying the bey’s judgment for what he sees as an unconscionable and unheroic delay in getting started. In what amounts to a typically circumspect (and self-protective) reaction to such insubordination, the bey simply accedes to Tale’s outrageously phrased demands and issues the order for the wedding party to depart (line 478).
Cymbals and trumpets now sound as leaders urge their troops to their feet. The wedding officers have been appointed – Osmanbey as eldest witness (starosvat) and Captain Mujo as official greeter – and the scribe Narlanović Mujo takes his writing-box and moves ahead of the column to a vantage point from which he can accurately count the wedding guests. This specialist in the arts of literacy then opens his account book with Osmanbey at the head of the army and closes it with Tale at the rear, counting some 25,000 men in between. Arriving at Mezevo, the men and their leaders pray, eat a great supper prepared by the cooks, and lay down to sleep (line 520).
But Mustajbey cannot rest. Instead, he gazes out over the tombstones where so many of the initial wedding party fell, ambushed by Baturić ban and his forces. He especially mourns the seven young men who served as patrons for Zlata, noting that each was his mother’s only son, and also remembers the thousands of troops that perished with them. Among those who share his vigil is Captain Mujo’s brother Halil, the “other half” of the widely known heroic brethren who conventionally quarrel over a horse bequeathed to them by their mother but always resolve their differences before their adventure begins. Halil too rues the loss of so many Turkish comrades and pledges vengeance on the ban and restoration of Zlata’s good fortune (line 548).
The next day all arise early and, led now by Djerdelez Alija with the rest of the principals listed in order behind him, travel to the white city of Kanidža, where they are graciously received by Zlata’s father, the Kanidža champion. After seven new sponsors for the maiden are appointed, the soldiers pass a high-spirited night drinking red wine and enjoying the company of the local women. When dawn breaks, Captain Mujo marshals the seven sponsors and orders them to bring the bride out, while Mustajbey announces to his official greeter that the army must undertake its journey to Mezevo to meet the gathered forces of Baturić ban in a contest for Zlata’s hand. Although the Kanidža champion tries to persuade the bey to remain another day, promising continued hospitality, his friendly suggestion is refused in favor of the heavy responsibility the Turks face (line 602).
With that, the sponsors jump to their feet and help Zlata onto her white horse, while Mustajbey doles out gold from his saddlebags to all of his major comrades. The entire company then sets off from Kanidža, with the bride-to-be and her dowry tucked into the column just in front of Tale. They leave behind only the bridegroom Bećirbey, who follows custom by visiting briefly with his future wife’s family in order to provide them with betrothal presents; once that duty is discharged, the young man rides out quickly to rejoin the army (line 624).In climbing the unlucky Mount Tianje the Turks now encounter Baturić ban, effectively disguised as a blind beggar. As each of the principal Turkish heroes passes by, the ban petitions him to “give me something on my cloak”, and Djerdelez Alija, Captain Mujo, Osmanbey, and Mustajbey readily comply, with the leader of the Lika commanding each of his wedding attendants to do likewise. The seven sponsors contribute as ordered, and the ban successfully and cruelly preys on Zlata’s and Bećirbey’s love for one another and the young man’s loyalty to his father to extract handsome offerings even from them (line 678).
But here the blind beggar’s masquerade comes to an abrupt and ignominious end, as we hear the redoubtable Tale cursing and ambling into sight. Vide the standardbearer, the ban’s confederate, apparently recognizes the approaching danger and urges his master to gather up their proceeds and flee. But the ban is so eagerly focused on the pack animals bearing Zlata’s dowry that he refuses to pass up what he sees as a lucrative target for swindling. Even when Tale actually appears, all Baturić can do is openly impugn this “Turkish disaster”, who cuts such a ridiculous figure on his motheaten mount with his nail-studded walking stick, and to petition him for alms. With typical tightfistedness, Tale replies that his recent expenses have been crippling, and that he will thus have to ask his walking-stick whether he can spare a donation. Finally, as the “Turkish disaster” starts to plant his feet to deliver a potentially fatal blow, the ban grasps the real peril of his situation and flees, leaving behind his ill-gotten gains and the cloak on which they were collected. Tale stashes the riches in his saddlebags and thanks God for his gift of the enemy’s cloak (line 722).
The scene now shifts directly to Mezevo. When the Turks arrive the ban’s army is swarming over half the field, having aimed their cannon at the tombstones near where Mustajbey’s forces are spending the night. Captain Mujo voices his concern that the enemy may manage to steal Zlata away under cover of darkness, and as a precaution Osmanbey instructs him to choose one hundred special troops to help protect her until morning. With daybreak we view the crimson tent of Baturić ban, outside which is staked his black mare, said to be as dark as a raven and as swift as a swallow, with multicolored eyes and cloth gaiters protecting her legs. The ban’s powerful army, 14,000 strong, awaits behind the tent (line 757).
Suddenly an enemy messenger appears in the Turkish camp, arrogantly asking the whereabouts of Bećirbey. He delivers a letter to the young man in which Baturić mocks his ability and the Turkish force’s resolve to win Zlata, swearing that the maiden will soon be in Christian hands for as long as he (the ban) lives and challenging Bećirbey to single combat in order to determine the victor directly. In response to his adversary’s intimidating threat to dig the teeth from his jaws and cut his heart out with a dagger, the Turkish hero-in-process returns the ritual insult and accepts the challenge. With his father’s subsequent blessing, Bećirbey then rides out from the protection of his army’s ranks, only to find Djerdelez Alija waiting there to dissuade him from this affair of honor. But neither Alija’s words nor his actual physical restraint can keep the young man from undertaking what he perceives as his duty. Commanding the tsar’s hero to relinquish his horse’s reins, Bećirbey pledges to meet the ban even if it costs his life. Meanwhile, Mustajbey orders the imams to start up prayers for his son and to slaughter sacrificial animals for his sake (line 809).
Now Bećirbey calls upon his adversary to mount up so that they can pursue the asked-for duel, and Baturić complies, brandishing his famous spear adorned by a bear’s head with ivory tusks. The mere sight of this spear, it is said, is enough to terrify horses and heroes alike. The ban starts by taunting the young man, urging him to ride back to his father, who has no other son and heir, but this verbal assault only strengthens Bećirbey’s resolve. After dancing his horse about, Baturić waves the famous spear and, as expected, causes the Turkish hero’s horse to shy away in fear. But Bećirbey speaks to his mount as a comrade-in-arms, reminding it of their prior brave deeds and halting its flight from the imminent combat. And this encouragement has the desired result: when the bear’s-head spear lands at the horse’s feet, it is summarily trampled and the battle continues – though with an unexpected and patently unheroic twist. The ban dares the young man to attack straight at him and Bećirbey does just that, pausing only to turn his horse around to make the charge. But as a mountain spirit (vila) observes, shouting from the clouds, this was a wondrous battle that ended precipitously when one combatant fled from the other! Indeed, her observation proves only too true, as the cowardly ban beats a hasty retreat back toward the safety of his army’s ranks (line 862).
Of course, this cheating trick doesn’t deter Bećirbey for an instant, as he chases the ban across the battlefield, seemingly invulnerable to the cannon blasts all around him. As he reaches the cannon, he is joined by his countryman Djerdelez Alija. Meanwhile, the Turkish captains raise the battle cry for their troops, promising them martyrdom and heavenly rewards should they fall today in glorious service to their empire and commander. The scene now shifts dramatically to a close-up view of the horrors of war, with portraits of nameless fighters grimly celebrating their incremental victories and stark descriptions of the carnage, the din, and the general chaos of real-life battle. Even when the activity slackens after four hours, wounded soldiers are still crying out for help and deliriously railing against any who dare come near. One fallen combatant, still bristling with antagonism and looking for someone to strike, threatens that even his beloved spouse would not be safe in approaching him (line 906).
Removed from this raw immediacy, Mustajbey prays to God for a cold wind to blow off the dark mist obscuring the battle below so that he can see who was victorious in the epochal encounter. His prayer is answered, and it quickly becomes apparent that the Turks have won the day. But Mustajbey’s difficulties are far from resolved. On visiting the tombstones on Mesevo field where the sponsors and one hundred chosen men were sequestering Zlata, Osmanbey finds only a sole survivor: the severely wounded Captain Mujo, who reports that Baturić ban and five hundred of his comrades overwhelmed them. Although Mujo and his troops fought valiantly in the maiden’s defense for two hours, the skirmish was lost and all the rest of his small force have perished. Worse yet, the ban has seized Zlata, thrown her across his black mare, and is presently speeding toward the mountain (line 942).
Commiserating that even Mujo’s heroism was not enough to prevent the maiden’s kidnapping, Osmanbey rushes toward the mountain only to find Mujo’s brother Halil lying by the side of the road, also grievously wounded. On being questioned, Halil responds that Baturić passed by there just recently, with Djerdelez Alija in hot pursuit. And what a sight it was, he marvels: Alija speeding so fast that his horse’s mane and tail had burned off, while the tsar’s hero himself had lost every scrap of his clothing and his skin had turned as black as a jackdaw. When Mustajbey and Osmanbey hear this remarkable report, they ride as quickly as possible to Jabuka, from which vantage point they can spy the ban and Zlata tearing across the plain and Alija just behind them. Although the Turkish stalwart obviously can’t hear him because of the distance that separates them, Osmanbey spontaneously shouts encouragement to Alija, urging him not to permit Zlata to be lost to the enemy (line 974).
We now join Alija as he whips his mount mercilessly, opening bloody welts on the animal’s hide in order to summon ever-greater speed. The horse responds, racing ahead of the black mare and forcing hand-to-hand combat between the two sworn enemies. The ban draws two pistols and prepares to shoot the Turkish hero, while Alija proudly offers his bare chest as a target, proclaiming himself impervious to his enemy’s bullets. His bravado proves well-founded, as the leaden missiles strike him squarely but fall harmlessly away. In response the tsar’s hero pulls out his battle hatchet and flings it at the ban, toppling him dead to the ground. In typical fashion Alija then beheads his defeated adversary and hitches the black mare to his own horse, making ready to return Zlata to the Turks. At this point Bećirbey suddenly appears on the scene; he thanks Alija for his rescue of Zlata, but is brought up a bit short when the tsar’s hero replies that he would have dispatched the ban earlier had the eager young hero not refused his offer of assistance (line 1005).
With the threat vanquished, the two heroes now set off for Mezevo, where they and the rest of the Turkish army gather up the slain for burial and rig litters for transporting the wounded back to their homeland. Mustajbey has lost 5,000 men in combat, it is said, leaving him 20,000 surviving troops to take part in the wedding celebrations in the Lika. The song closes with a brief history of the marriage that confirms its long-term significance both familially and sociopolitically: Bećirbey’s and Zlata’s union lasts for fifty years (until her death) and produces three girls and two boys. Implicitly, Mustajbey’s reign, now transferred to Bećirbey, is assured of a third generation within the same lineage. With the future secured, the guslar closes his performance with a traditional, formulaic coda: “I know no more, and there’s no more song” (line 1030).
- Pronunciation Key
- Portrait of the Singer
- Synopsis of the Story
- Performance by Halil Bajgorić
- Performance-based Commentary
- Nikola Vujnović’s Resinging
- Apparatus Fabulosus
- The Role of Music
- Performatives and Poetics
- Text Translation (pdf, 216 KB)
- Play Audio (mp3, 70.4MB)