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Ljubica D. Popović
a descriptive-illustrative approach diminishes the unsur- passed pathos which permeates such figures as match- lessly expressed in the verbal narration of the anonymous bard.
By the power of her piety and her love, Majka jugovića commands and conquers the supernatural in order to find her husband and nine sons on the Kosovo field:
The mother of the jugovići prayed to God
that God would give her the eyes of a hawk
and the white wings of a swan,
so that she could f ly above the flat field of Kosovo to see the nine jugovići
and the tenth old jug Bogdan.103
in spite of her strength, she, too, dies at the end, un- able to bear the grief of her incomparable loss:
But then mother could not bear it any more, the sor- row broke her heart, the grief for her nine jugovići and the tenth old jug Bogdan.104
Such vividly worded images seem more appropriate as inspirational sources for the surrealistic masters of our own era than for artists of earlier centuries.
Sources indicate that Serbian artists dealt infrequently with the subject of Jugovića Majka. Three examples will be examined here, typifying different media but resulting in rather similar concepts. Peter Palavičini (1887–1958) carved one of these representations in low relief in 1910.105 On an elevated platform the grieving mother stands in pro- file, head bent, her screams seemingly muffled by the cloak she presses to her mouth. in spite of the relative simplic- ity of the image and the lack of descriptive details, precise lines from the poem Smrt Majke Jugovića (The Death of the Mother of the Jugovići) can be recognized as the source of inspiration. Of particular importance is the reference to two ravens in the background and the dis-membered arm of one of her sons placed on a staircase at her feet:
When in the morning the daylight arose,
Two dark ravens are flying:
their wings were blooded up to the shoulders, and their beaks were frothed with white foam, they are carrying a warrior’s hand
(and on the hand the gold wedding band)
and they dropped it in the mother’s lap.106
By avoiding an excessively illustrative approach, the
artist captures the essence of a mother’s silent sorrow, thus elevating this image to the realm of an icon. When seen
103 V. Djurić, Antologija, p. 285: Boga moli Jugovića majka: / da joj Bog da oči sokolove / i bijela krila labudova, / da odleti na Kosovo ravno, / i da vidi devet Jugovića / i desetog star-Juga Bogdana.
104 Djurić, Antologija, p. 287: Al’ tu majka odoljet ne mogla, / pre- puče joj srce od žalosti / za svojije devet Jugovića / i desetim star-Ju- gom Bogdanom.
105 Kosovska Bitka: mit, legenda i stvarnost, fig. 8.
106 V. Djurić, Antologija, p. 286: Kad u jutro danak osvanuo, / ali
lete dva vrana gavrana: / krvava im krila do ramena, / na kljunove b’jela pjena trgla; / oni nose ruku od junaka / (i na ruci burma pozla- ćena), / bacuju je u krioce majci.
in this light, the concept of this relief becomes clearer: it transcends the specific to encompass the universal. Jugo- vića Majka becomes equated with the Christian proto- type of the grieving mother—Mary at the Cross.107
Other images of the mother of the jugovići belong to a rather rare category—a post-World War ii depiction of the theme. Modern art at that time did not favor narra- tive subjects inspired by literature. The artist Ljubinka jo- vanović created one of these works in 1953, avoiding the pitfalls of descriptiveness in painting. The power of this representation derives from the utmost simplicity of de- sign, composition, and colors.108 Dressed in black, Jugo- vića Majka kneels in the center of the work, her open palms assuming the ancient gesture of an orant-saint. The nine standing figures of her daughters-in-law, newly wid- owed women as the result of the Battle of Kosovo, en- circle her. This artist chose to represent the moment from the poem, Smrt Majke Jugovića, which precedes that se- lected by Palavičini:
From far away her daughters-in-law saw her, and walked toward her a little closer nine widows started lamenting, nine orphans started crying.109
in spite of its contemporary visual language, this im- age also captures the spirit of a medieval icon or fresco and assumes transcendental qualities by personifying ma- ternal grief.
another female Serbian painter, Olivera Kangrga, also depicted the subject of Jugovića Majka.110 in the foreground on the left hand side sits the grieving mother, framed by a ruined stone wall. The style of her garments and their coloration, as well as her hand gesture and gently reclined head, iconographically resemble that of the Virgin Mary. The severed arm of her son Damjan rests on the mother’s lap. This painter chose to depict the final moments of this mother’s grief, just before she dies of a broken heart:
The mother took the arm of Damjan, she turned it, she twisted it, then she quietly spoke to the arm.111
The landscape of Kosovo occupies two thirds of the right hand side of this painting. in the foreground the leg- endary peonies of Kosovo (Kosovski božuri) bloom in flam- ing colors, while the river Sitnica diagonally transverses the battlefield, guiding the eye of the beholder to the mid- dle and far distance. as described in other poems of the Kosovo Cycle, this river “flowed muddy and inundated” after the Battle of Kosovo.112 along its banks shields are
107 G. Millet, Recherches sur l’iconographie, pp. 397–460, and figs. 426–82; G. Schiller, Iconography of Christian Art, v. 2, pp. 88–116, and figs. 327–31; 339–48; 360–63; 383–92; 409–10, 507–9; 511–26.
108 a. jevtić, (ed.), Zadužbine Kosova, figure on page 292.
109 V. Djurić, Antologija, p. 286: Daleko je snaje ugledale, / malo bliže pred nju išetale / zakukalo devet udovica, / zaplakalo devet sirotica.
110 Mihaljčić, “The Historical Role,” pp. 344–47, figure on page 86.
111 V. Djurić, Antologija, 1973, 287: Uze majka ruku Damjanovu, / okretala, prevrtala s njome, / pa je ruci tijo besjedila...
112 V. Djurić, Antologija, p. 272: “Musić Stevan.”

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