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Field Research in Topli Do (East Serbia): Folklore and Oral History

Folkloristika 4/1 (2019): 261‒287
Аuthor: Danica B. Đokić
Теxt: PDF


The article presents a selection of the material collected during the folkloristic field research carried out in the village of Topli Do on Stara Planina (The Balkan mountain range, “Old Mountain”), in the period from 2016 to 2018. Out of the seven people the author spoke to, the article includes the transcribed conversation with the late Ivan Tošić, born in 1929. in Topli Do, conducted in May 2018. The material taken at that time is comprehensive, detailed, comprises various folklore genres and motifs, oral history, and has artistic value as well. Tošić covered a variety of themes, including the traditional way of life in Topli Do, customs and beliefs (celebration of Saint George’s Day, votive crosses, ritual processions, weather magic and rituals against hail), legends about vampires and buried treasure, enigmatic church of Pilj, accounts and anecdotes of haiduks (brigands) and certain local events concerning the First and the Second World War, and even some prominent contemporaries of the area, like Mita Gaga, the founder of the “Tigar” factory. In the repertoire of Ivan Tošić we can follow the continuity of a large number of traditional topics in the area of ​​remote and abandoned villages of Stara Planina and the continuity of beliefs, customs and rituals. Along with continuity, there is also a transformation or disintegration of certain beliefs and traditions. The collected field material is significant not only for exploring oral history and folklore tradition, but also for its linguistic value, as an authentic record of the archaic variant of the Prizren-Timok dialect spoken by the narrator.
Keywords: Stara Planina, Topli Do, field research, folklore, oral history, legends, customs, vampires, church of Pilj, haiduks, buried treasure