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of Prince Lazar’s state, celebrated its six hundredth an- niversary. This painter, remaining true to his style, offers a surrealistic interpretation of the supernatural theme in Obretenije glave kneza Lazara. an opening, framed by elements of contemporary architecture—a column, ceil- ing and wall—appears to draw the observer into the space of the image. Beyond this two lines divide the square im- age. a curvature of the earth forms the horizontal line while two buildings and the severed head of Prince Lazar form the vertical. Thus, Milić achieves a clear division of the earthly and heavenly realms, each of these domains further symbolically enhanced by the artist’s choice of color. He uses many shades of blue for the sky, while ochers and burnt umbra predominate the earth. Deep canyon- crevices gouge the earth. On its crust one recognizes the outline of the ground plan of a church, most likely Grača- nica on the Kosovo Polje, but with modifications. How- ever, the church building itself is turned upside-down as if swallowed by the earth. it simultaneously breaks apart as if thrown by a violet earthquake. Trees growing within the church seem to further its ruination. in the canyons and within the ruins, armed, mailed warriors gather. The church foundations also shelter a well, its stone walls frac- turing and the water spilling out in jets. From the well rises the severed head of Prince Lazar. Pale orange flames form a nimbus around it; spears project from the hair. The gaunt face is certainly inspired by the portrait of Prince Lazar from his foundation the Monastery Ravanica. The skin tones, dark with some bright highlights, may have been inspired by the actual color of the preserved body of the martyred prince. The eyes, however, are not life- less balls in the sockets. instead of iris and pupil, the art- ist depicts two tiny heads, facing outward toward the world. Unlikely parts, upside-down human bodies with arms thrust forward as if plunging back into the deep well, form the beard as well. On either side of the head objects fly into space. On the right, Milić of Mačva inserts tree trunks, a theme frequently found in his other paintings; and, on the left, he places a steel dragon with bird-like heads and human hands instead of talons. above the head of Prince Lazar is another representation of a medieval church. in this case the building is complete and possibly represents Ravanica, the foundation of Prince Lazar. it certainly symbolizes the “kingdom of heaven” chosen by Lazar before the Battle of Kosovo101 as well as the resur- rection theme implied in the poem which served as this painting’s inspiration.
all three artists obviously used the poem Obretenije glave kneza Lazara as the starting point for their inspira- tion, but none approached this subject from a descriptive point of view. each painter, Krstić, Murat, and Milić of Mačva, created his own version of the miraculous hap- pening. One can understand these three paintings better
101 See above, notes 9 and 12.
Finding of the Relics of Saint Lazar, Milić from Mačva, 1989
after considering the deeper meaning of the poem Obre- tenije glave kneza Lazara. Commenting upon this poem, Z. D. Zimmerman offers the following insight
“in this song the historical beheading of Tsar Lazar is often equated with the political and sociological destruc- tion of an entire people. The reunification of his severed body symbolizes the rebirth of the Serbian nation. Through a metaphorical process, Lazar’s head represents the spirit of the nation, while his body stands for the nation itself.
The major miracle (the head moving itself to the body), and the secondary miracle, in which both head and body do not decay for forty years, are, along with most mira- cles in Serbian narratives, symbolic rewards from God for purity, goodness and obedience. Metaphorically, the mir- acles also express the eventual reunification, and ultimate- ly, the preservation of the Serbian nation.”102
in their paintings, Krstić, Murat, and Milić of Mačva seem to equate this symbolic scene with the image of the Resurrection, thus carrying visually the interpretation of the poem one step closer to the ultimate symbol of salva- tion, undoubtedly with a veiled reference to a nation as a whole.
in a patriarchal society one can expect to find the praise of heroes and the glorification of martyrs easily detected in literature and the visual arts. Nevertheless, both litera- ture and art give a certain tender attention to the legend- ary heroines of the Kosovo poems: Majka Jugovića (The Mother of the Jugovići) and Kosovka Devojka (The Maiden of Kosovo). These two were created out of the imagina- tion, experience, wisdom, and insight pertinent not only to the Serbian people, but relevant on a universal level to any time and place. However, when a figure or idea is lift- ed from the realm of the specific to the realm of the uni- versal, one encounters certain difficulties in visualization.
102 Z. Devrnja Zimmerman, Serbian Epic Poetry, pp. 205–6.
The Battle of Kosovo (1389) and Battle Themes in Serbian art

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