Accepted Paper:

Sevdalinka as intangible cultural heritage of Bosnia: themes, motifs, categories and inventories  


Nirha Efendic (National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses interpretations, categorisations and inventories of "sevdalinka", an oral lyric tradition of Bosnia and one the country's most important examples of intangible cultural heritage.

Paper long abstract:

Sevdalinka represents traditional oral lyric poetry, a celebrated form of love song, which came into existence in urban places in a broader region of the Balkans as a fusion of the existing lyrical forms and Islamic and influences. The term sevdalinka for this kind of songs became widely accepted only at the end of the 19th century. Before that, this oral lyrical tradition was usually called sevdalija. Both terms, sevdalinka and sevdalija, have their roots in the Arabic word sawdā, which via the Turkish language was adopted in the languages of some Balkan peoples in the version as sevdah, meaning love, desire, longing... In today's context, sevdalinka is most often understood as Bosnian (or more precisely, Bosniak) indigenous traditional love song.

As an important part of the Bosnian intangible cultural heritage, ethnologists, ethnomusicologists, folklorists and other social researchers have often used sevdalinka as a source and medium through which to explore various social, historical and cultural traditions in Bosnia. This paper will firstly provide a historical summary of the records, inventories and research interests in this oral lyrical genre and then offer an overview of the lexicographic and literary categorisations of sevdalinka as a specific love folk song. Finally, by analysing themes and motifs found in sevdalinkas, the paper will discuss a number of scholarly examples from manuscripts published in late 19th and early 20th century in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Panel Heri002
Inventorying intangible cultural heritage: a new utopia?