Interesting Story: Six Languages were spoken in Sarajevo back in 1660


Evliya Celebi, a Turkish travel writer, visited Sarajevo in 1660. This, as he wrote, the beautiful stone city had 17,000 houses and 300 sebilj which were built out of love for the martyrs of Karbala.

The climate in this town is very pleasant, writes Celebi, and the people are blushed. “Mountain pastures are on all four sides of the town, and there is a lot of living water as well. Therefore, the population is very healthy. “Residents of Sarajevo are God-fearing people, with clean, proper and pure belief. They are far from envy and hatred and everyone, whether young or old, poor and wealthy, are persistent in their prayers.

“The people in this area are called Bosniaks. I just prefer when they say Bosnians. As their language is clean, indeed, they are by themselves clever people with proper judgment.”

Celebi also writes how you cannot pass the streets from sweet urchins (naughty children): “They have so many children. May God give them even more!”

The Love for Nicknames

However, Sarajevo did not like the slow people, people without any knowledge, and they respected “those who have any knowledge; highly knowledgeable and ethical people were even give zakat.”

Back then, 6 languages were spoken in the town: Bosnian, Turkish, Serbian, Latin, Croatian and Bulgarian. For Celebi, the language of Sarajevo “is most similar to the Latin.” Travel writer states that the people of this country love to make their names shorter, so Ahmed becomes Ahmo, Sulejman becomes Suljo and Alija becomes Aljo. Female names, that were the modern in the town back then, were Saliha, Saniha, Razija, Merzija, Merjema, Huma, Hava, Hasna, Umihana, Nadira etc.

Sarajevo (1)“Their surnames were again as Lub Zade (Ljubovic or Lubic), Filip Zade (Filipovic), Covo-zade (Covic), Junak-zade (Junakovic), Deso-zade (Desic). The names of their slaves are Hurem, Behlul, Juro, Safo, Hojrad, Ferhad.”

Travel writer stated that there were many ajans(prominent figures) in that time and aristocrats or kibars (nobles). Ajans would wear the robes of saja-fabric (red wool, finer type of fabrics), saja-kontos (exported Jubas – the uniforms of Muslim scholars) and the sable cloaks (fur coat). In winter, they would add skin of the Bosnian red fox to their cloaks, said Celebi, and they would wore the shirts from the special fabric called atlas (the name for the type of brighter fabric, with different border). Shoes were completely yellow and their chalms (turban headband), were colorful and embroidered with gold, and they would wrap them around their head like emperors.

Leave a Comment