Dozens of water mills were constructed on rivers and creeks in the northwestern Bosnia in the past century.
Unfortunately, the time took its toll. Today, only a small number of water mills remind of the past times and even smaller number of them is in function and doing what they are constructed to do.
Nijaz Ružnić from Šturlić near Cazin last year decided to reconstruct the old water mill, which was his parents’ legacy.
“The old water mill has been standing there for over 70 years. My parents took great care of it and after they passed away I inherited the house and the water mill and I assumed the responsibility to take care of that legacy. I reconstructed the water mill earlier this year because I want to remind primarily myself, and then all my fellow citizens, of what life looked like once,” Nijaz says.
Nijaz pointed out that water mills meant life and existence for local population in this area. There was a multitude of water mills on the Korana River until recently.
“All previous mills were mostly joint and the residents of this area took care of them. On the border river Korana there were some private mills as well, such as the famous Božo’s mill, which was used by people from both sides of the border. An interesting fact is that locals had to pay for the services of private mills, whereas they were not asked to pay for service of joint mills if they participated in their construction,” Nijaz said, adding that percentage of milling depended on the percentage of participation in the construction and maintenance of the water mill.
Water mills have been used for decades by people for grain milling and their importance was especially highlighted during difficult times. For example, numerous devastated water mills in this area were reconstructed and put into operation in the past war and tons of wheat and corn were milled thanks to them. However, the need for water mills disappeared after the war, so the interest in water mills reduced as well.
“In the past period people paid very little attention to such things. For example, there were ten water mills on this small creek, which is only several kilometers long. There were four other water mills before mine, and there were another five downstream. All those water mills were situated in a small area. Unfortunately, only my water mill remains and is still in function,” Nijaz said.
However, Nijaz said he noticed that the situation is slowly changing.
“Children and organized visits come almost every day, because something like this is interesting to the youngsters. Children are especially interested in what life looked like before, what tools people used, how our ancestors lived. Maybe if there were more such things today, children would distance themselves from technology and all the ‘infections’ that contaminated the society,” Nijaz said.
In the end, Nijaz said that water mills are a natural decoration of rivers and creeks, as well as a nice reminder of the past times and the way of life of our ancestors.
(Source: klix.ba/photo: bportal.ba)