Kresevo Blacksmith Tradition
Kreševo is a town and municipality located in Central Bosnia Canton of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, an entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Kreševo is a mountainous town, located in a narrow valley of the Kreševka river, under the slopes of Mount Bitovnje. An old Franciscan monastery of St. Catharine is located in the town’s outskirts. The area of Kreševo was inhabited since the Neolithic period.
Various material remains are indicating that life in Kreševo was intensified during the Roman Empire, when the municipality was part of the Roman province of Illyricum, as well as during the Migration Period. The reason for this is the subsoil assets of the Kreševo Municipality area, where gold, silver, copper, iron, and mercury were exploited.
A number of the Roman aqueducts can be found on the area of the Kreševo Municipality, as well as remains of the Roman settlement near the village of Zid. During the destruction of the old Kreševan church in 1964, a number of the Romanesque capitals were found in its walls from the period of the 11th and 12th centuries.
A Roman epigraphic monument was also found, in which an anonymous Roman municipium is mentioned. During the Roman period, there were two connection roads to the Via Argentaria, one of them led to an area near Sarajevo, and the other led towards the Visoko area.
The city of Kresevo is known for a very unusual tradition known as egg shoeing. Kresevo’s blacksmiths have always enjoyed a special reputation as iron and steel artists. This small town full of lovely white typical Bosnian houses forms a nearly regular equal-sided triangle with Fojnica and Kiseljak.
The river Kresevka runs through it, and above it lie the remnants of medieval fortress Bedem. According to tradition, mining and metalworking crafts have been brought here by Sasi (Bosnian for Saxons), settled first by Bosnian „bans“, and then the kings in various parts of medieval Bosnia. Initially, in this area, especially in Kresevo and Fojnica, they mostly dealt with the exploitation of silver ore, and when its price dropped due to the large influx of silver from the Americas, iron ore production and processing also began.
Mastering the Craft by Egg Shoeing
As proof that they had mastered the blacksmith’s craft in Kresevo, an unusual skill was introduced: shoeing eggs. The traditional tales say that no blacksmith in Kresevo could marry if he did not know how to shoe an egg. If the future groom was unable to shoe the egg, it meant that he had not yet mastered his craft well and could not support the family.
The legend says that this custom originated from the time when a poor blacksmith fell in love with the wealthy nobleman’s daughter and dared to ask for her hand. The requirement to obtain the father’s approval was a shoed egg. When he was finally able to shoe the egg, he placed it in the basket and displayed it in the window of his house so that everyone could see it.
Modern Use of Egg-shoeing
Today, miniature horseshoes are made of lead rather than iron, to make them easier for shaping. Eggs are sold as another favorite souvenir from this area, the same as Kresevo mineral citrine. Today, this craft is preserved from extinction by only five persons. Besides a compulsory horseshoe, the eggs are decorated with whatever the customers prefer – the coats of arms of cities, clubs, parties, and company logos.
In addition to the Bosnian royal lilies, there is also a Croatian chess-board coat of arms, a flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina, four S, a Turkish flag … In the beginning, only one horseshoe was placed on an egg, and later two, three, or even four.
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