Ženidba Vlahinjić Alije

- Other Versions -

Extensive though it has been, the collecting activity devoted to the South Slavic oral epic tradition by many hands has recorded few epics about Vlahinjić Alija. The diversity of the narratives associated with the name may be appreciated, however, from the few specimens which do survive.

    Dictated text no. 894 in the Parry Collection has the title “Rosnić Paun i Vlahinjić Alija.” A seventy-year-old singer, Avdo Avdijić from the village of Medanići on Gacko Polje, dictated it to Nikola Vujnović in the town of Gacko on 29 December, 1934. Avdijić said that he had heard the song fifty-five or sixty years earlier from a middle-aged man named Ibro Mandekara.

    A convocation of the aghas of Udbina is in progress with Mustajbeg as its president. All are cheerful except Mustajbeg himself; the aghas ask him why he neither drinks nor converses with them.

    He tells them it is now three years since he received a firman from the Sultan in Istanbul commanding him to behead Paun Rosnić, or else send the Sultan his own severed head in lieu of it. Paun (Peacock) is a renegade who has become a fearsome bandit and pirate. He has gathered a company of thirty others like himself, and together they have stopped traffic of every kind by land and by sea. They murder and rob merchants, pilgrims, and the common peasantry alike.

    For three years Mustajbeg has sought someone in his fiefdom of Ribnik who will destroy Paun and his band for a bounty. He has offered every inducement: cash, rents, the deeds to manufactories and mills, and even his own lovely daughter to wife. But no one will accept the commission.

    Mujo Hrnjica happens to be present, and comments:

Beže Lički, od hUdbine glava,
da ti znadeš Rosnića Pauna
i njegove neoprane brke,
i njegovo trideset hajduka,
ne bi, beže, o tom ni mislijo...     75

Mujo explains that he has himself thrice gone down toward the coastland with parties of thirty companions. Each time Rosnić has met his companies, killed all his companions, and dealt him personally seven or eight great wounds. Each time he has barely made his way home, there to lie abed for a month recuperating from his injuries.

    Tale Ličanin has similarly assayed thrice with his smaller raiding parties of a dozen desperadoes, but with the same results.

    Mustajbeg expresses his disappointment, for he had hoped Mujo would be his champion in the problem of Rosnić Paun.

    Vlahinjić Alija now apologetically injects himself into the discussion. He says he will accept the commission to seek and destroy Rosnić, and moreover he wants no reward should he succeed. He only requires that Mujo Hrnjica be one of the thirty men whom Mustajbeg will set under his command for this mission. Mujo is to join the company in the undignified rôle of porter, to carry Alija's bag of provisions for a week's campaigning. Mujo is indignant, but Mustajbeg commands that it shall be as Alija wishes. Alija then requires the same subordination of Tale, Halil Hrnjica, Uzejir Korlatović the Younger, and Dizdarević Meho. All, including Mujo, are to go on foot with Alija, leaving their horses at home. All submit but Dizdarević Meho, who is excused on the grounds that he can do nothing without his horse; he cannot even go to the mosque to pray without riding on horseback.

    Alija next asks for Bećirbeg's son Meho, but is denied him on the grounds that Meho is his father's only son. Derviš Glumčević is however enlisted when Alija asks for him, since the latter has an unfulfilled duty of vengeance against Rosnić for killing his father Glumac Osmanaga and Osmanaga's uncle (dajidža), Kurtagić Alaga, and robbing them of their fine clothes. So finally Alija Vlahinjić's thirty companions are recruited. Alija tells them all to go home and make themselves ready overnight for a week's expedition on foot. They do so (vv. 324-7).

    Vlahinjić Alija is neither poor nor fatherless in this poem; he has both a castle and rents of his own (specifically, a babovina). He and his sister Mejra watch the first of A Alija's troop approach his castle early in the morning, and she asks who they are and what are their several qualities. Alija informs her. Halil Hrnjica flirts with Mejra. When the troop (buljuk) is assembled, they proceed to the cave of Rosnić Paun, where they lie in wait a week for him. But he is away and does not return within that time, which is the limit of the Muslim raiding party's provisions. They ask Vlahinjić what is to be done. He recommends returning to Udbina for more food, then posting themselves again outside Paun's cave. Korlatović says that Paun is certainly at the city of Janok waiting upon Anđelija, the daughter of Janok's ban who is Paun's fiancée. Every Sunday Anđelija rides out of Janok city to a spring and lake nearby, where she dallies with Rosnić. Tomorrow is the day of their next meeting.

    The troop accordingly goes to that lakeside, and passes the night there in a glade of beechwood. Next morning they see Paun and his band beside the spring-fed lake. From the city gate Ana (sic) issues with another troop of thirty as her bodyguard. They reach the lakeside, where they pitch a tent, into which Ana enters. The Turks take counsel how to attack, and are on the point of doing so when a stick which he has trodden upon snaps under Vlahinjić's foot. Paun hears its report, and calls to Vlahinjić, clairvoyantly telling him all that Vlahinjić has undertaken to do under Mustajbeg's commission. Paun challenges Alija to come “and drink red wine” with him -- i.e., to fight him like a man. Again Korlatović dictates the order of battle.

    The Turks attack. Alija faces Paun, and Mujo Hrnjica Paun's Sargeant Jovan, whose reputation as a fighter is equal to Paun's own. Each Muslim singles out one of the bandits with whom to do combat, except Halil Hrnjica, who runs into Ana's tent and chivvies her salaciously. Paun and Vlahinjić Alija face each other with pistols:

Tu četiri puške otrgoše,
u četiri dima ostadoše.

Paun's shots strike Alija, who falls to the ground, while Paun turns and runs toward the sanctuary of the mountains. Derviš Glumčević pursues him, but Paun turns and shoots him in the knee, breaking his leg. Korlatović takes up the chase, but Paun escapes into Janok, where he goes to tell the ban what has happened. The ban mobilizes the army of Janok, while Paun fetches Glumčević's horse from the stable and rides it out of the city to go and find Korlatović in the mountains. Uzejir Korlatović ambushes him in a mountain pass however, beheads him, and eviscerates him in a startling reversal of the course of events that Paun had expected.

    Soon after, the hussars of Janok find Paun's cadaver in the pass, and conclude that Mustajbeg must have brought his whole army to Janok, by chance found Paun, and overwhelmed him with superior numbers. They withdraw immediately to the protection of Janok's walls.

    Mustajbeg has in fact brought up his troops, together with Dizdarević Meho, to assist the Muslim raiders. They happen to see Uzejir Korlatović mounted on Glumac Osmanaga's horse and dressed in Osmanaga's clothes, which he has stripped from Paun (who had earlier, before the beginning of this tale, gotten them in combat with Osmanaga himself). Mustajbeg and his mounted men are about to gallop away in fear when Koriatović calls to them, revealing his friendly identity. The Muslims are all greatly humiliated by their own cowardice.

    Korlatović subsequently gives the horse and clothes to Osmanaga's disabled son Derviš Glumčević, and the Moslems take Ana of Korlat back to their own country to be Halil Hrnjica's wife. In time she bore him two sons and four daughters.


    The famous Croatian collector Luka Marjanović got another version of the epic from the singer Ibro Topić at the close of the nineteenth century. Its title in Marjanović's manuscript is “Vlahinjić Alija odvede zaručnicu svog ujaka Zagrovića, ženi se š njom i Šahom Bosnića od Novoga.”

    A young Turk rises early from his bed in the Lika. He is Vlahinjić Alija, who bears his mother's name, though his father was Ogroš-Hasanaga. His mother comes to him to ask that he get a bride, for she is growing too old to cook, keep his house, and entertain his many friends.

    Alija says he has tried to find a bride everywhere, but all have rejected him except Šaha, sister of Bosnić-Novljanin, of whom he has hopes. His mother sends him to her.

    He goes to Novi, and finds her at the well outside her brother's mansion. She curtly tells him to begone, and warns that her brother, who is presently in his chambers with his friend Ibro Ranković, will do him no good should he happen to see him there.

    Alija goes angrily to ask Meho Bosnić what occasion he has against him. Bosnić abusively says he would rather slay his sister with his own hand than give her to be a bastard's wife, spouse of a man borne by a Vlahinja. Let Ali get a foreign wife if he can, but not any decent Muslim girl. Ali draws his weapons to fire them at Meho, but Ibro Ranković intervenes and pushes him out of the chamber. Ali irately unhitches his horse from the apple-tree, and is about to ride away when Meho calls to him from the window to challenge his manhood. If Ali thinks himself a man, let him go down to his mother's brother's place on the Christian sea-coast, to Žagrović Jovan, who is about to marry off his brother there. Meho Bosnić will also go to the wedding, and they will see in the wedding games who is the better man of them.

    Ali goes back to his mother and tells her all that has happened in Novi. She tells him that the report of his birth is not wrong, only distorted. His father was a splendid hero who captured her from her seven brothers, the Žagrovići. The youngest of these is the one about to be married; the bride-to-be is Ružica, daughter of Milen-kapetan of Šib'nik. The eldest brother, Ali's maternal uncle, Jovan Žagrović, is to be the host. His mother sends Ali to him with instructions as to how he should comport himself (in disguise), especially with the hostess, Lady Đurašinovica. He is to give her a present of two hundred dukats, and then steal her away on horseback, so that Mehmed Bosnić may see Ali's prowess.

    Ali remarks that her plan is unworkable, since he does not have the two hundred dukats to present as a gift to Lady Đurašinovica. His mother accordingly sends Ali to Mustajbeg of Udvina for the loan of that amount. When Ali reaches Mustajbeg's house, he finds Mustajbeg away, and only Ibro Vrcić there. Ibro counsels him to resort to Ibro's fictive brother Huso Crnoglavac at Crvene Stijene for the money. But in the event Huso also has no money, and so sends Ali to the maid Milica, who keeps the tavern by the castle of Višnjić kapetan; she is Huso's sweetheart, and Ali should ask her for the money on Huso's recommendation and guarantee of the loan.

    Ali sets out toward the coast and gets as far as the crossroads leading one way toward Velebit (and the dwelling of his mother's brothers) and the other way to Novi. Here he decides to return to Novi for another encounter with Šaha, Bosnić Mehmedaga's sister. She sees him coming from a distance, and goes to the well to meet him. She apologizes to him for her earlier rudeness, saying her brother's presence required it, but now her brother is away. Ali asks where her brother has gone, and Šaha tells him he has gone to the Žagrović wedding. She invites Ali to dismount and pass the time with her, but he, conscious of his dispute with Meho Bosnić, says he must not dally but go immediately to the coastland. Šaha says that he need not hurry, since Meho will have stopped at Gal Kapetan's to dally with Gal's girl Anica. So Ali stays awhile. Šaha urges him to forget entirely about the Žagrović wedding and to take her home as his wife forthwith. Ali explains that he is bitterly at odds with her brother Bosnić, and asks her:

Ako bi me mira namirila
da iznesem kak'u Madžaricu,
divičice, na Krbavu ravnu,
bi li, Šaho, tome zamirila,
'ćela mi biti kod kolina ljuba?

She says it would not matter, and taking a necklace of two hundred dukats from around her neck, she gives it to him as a token of her good faith. He gives her his pocket-watch in return, then departs for the coastland with her blessing.

    Alija finds Milica in the tavern at Kapetan Višnjić's place. She entertains him and gives him the two hundred dukats which Huso Crnoglavac had commissioned him to speak for. Leaving Milica, Ali is overtaken by fog, from which there emerge to meet him two horsemen, Huso Crnoglavac and Ibro Vrcić. They too are on their way to the Žagrović wedding.

    So all three come to Castle Žagrović, where they find the wedding festivities in progress:

Redna čaša naokolo hoda
baš k'o 'tica od grane do grane
u proliće kad savija gnijezdo.

    When Đurašinovica appears, Ali does with her as his mother instructed. As he is fleeing with her on horseback through the city gate, Ali notices a servant airing Jovan Žagrović's son Marko, who is an infant in arms. He snatches him too, and as he flees with both Marko and Đurašinovica on the horse with him, the guards are afraid to shoot at him for fear of hitting them. But the other four Muslims who have gone to the wedding (Mehmed Bosnić, Bosnić's fictive brother Ibro Ranković, Huso Crnoglavac, and Vrcić Bajraktar) are all taken prisoner and cast into Jovan Žagrović's dungeon. Jovan agrees, and it is done.

    Ali reaches home safely with his two prizes, where his mother receives all the fugitives graciously. Next morning a messenger arrives from Jovan with a proposal for exchange of prisoners: the four captive Turks for his only son Marko. Ali agrees, stipulating that the Turks' weapons and finery are to be returned to them intact; only Đurašinovica will not be returned to Jovan.

    Glad to be free, Mehmed Bosnić comes to terms of friendship with Ali, and offers him his sister Šaha as a second wife as soon as the festivities and consummation of Ali's wedding to Janja (the former Đurašinovica) are complete. A dowry of landed proprietorship and its rents goes to Ali with Šaha. Thus Alija

sastavio do dvi bilogrlke
na Krbavi, u dvoru bijelu.
Muško bio te ih sastavio.
Jedan soko, a dvi pripelice,
nek' peruta koju njemu drago.


    Parry text 413 was sung for the records in 1934 by the epic singer Džafer Tanović, a man of 52, who belonged to the village of Medulići in the district of Gacko. It tells the following story:

    The bans of Janok and of Sibinj meet with their several nephews (sestrići) in Janok's castle. The Ban of Sibinj praises his nephew, Lazar Pušković, for his heroic exploits against the Muslims, of whom he has killed (beheaded) twelve. But the Ban of Janok thinks his nephew, Grga Antunić, superior to Lazar because he has won three and twenty combats, and those against no mere Turkish sheepkeepers. His victims were select warriors, the most recent of them Mehmed Jakirlić, whose arms, horse, and young son Dervišbeg he has captured.

    The Ban of Sibinj says that Antunić should be married to some suitable girl of the coastland, but Antunić says he has set his heart on Ajkuna, sister of the seven Kumajlić brothers in the Muslim village of Ogradsko. He asks his master the Ban of Janok for an army of 12,000 and twenty cannon to help him capture the girl, but Janok will have no part of it for fear of Mustajbeg of Udbina.

    The Ban of Sibinj however offers the necessary support to Antunić. Grga mounts the dead Jakirlić's horse and drives the captive Dervišbeg before him. When he reaches home, he casts Derviš into his dungeon. He boastfully advises that Dervišbeg should write to the Kumajlići and their neighbors in Ogradsko, who are the remaining Jakirlići, to tell them that in a week's time he, Grga, will attack and destroy Ogradsko and take the girl Ajkuna captive.

    Dervišbeg writes the letter, and when they receive it the Kumajlići take it to Mustajbeg of Udbina. He raises an army and rings Ograda with troops. But after the second day and night of waiting for Antunić, Mustajbeg decides that no attack will come, and disperses the Muslim defenders. Sava, a Christian servant of the Kumajlići, has however slipped through the Muslim defenses and gone to warn Antunić of the resistence awaiting him before Ograda. Antunić accordingly lies quietly with his army in the mountains until Mustajbeg's withdrawal, then he strikes, kills all seven of the Kumajlić brothers, all four of the Jakirlići, and extirpates the village of Ograda. Ajkuna he takes up behind him on the saddle of his own horse, and retires with his army toward the coastland.

    The Muslim forces with Mustajbeg converge again upon Ograda, but it is too late, there is nothing left of it to defend; he can only pursue the retreating raiders. Mustajbeg sends a courier ahead to the bridge at the frontier to detain any advance elements of the Muslim pursuers, lest in their eagerness they cross the bridge into Christian territory before he and his main force arrive. Otherwise the separate Muslim detachments may be met by the greater Christian army and be cut down piecemeal.

    Mustajbeg's courier thus interposes himself at the bridge and stops all except Vlahinjić Alija, who however ignores Mustajbeg's instructions and crosses the bridge alone. On the far side, Alija learns by calling to the enemy sentinels who the commander of their army is, and that he has possession of the girl Ajkuna. Vlahinjić then rushes the enemy camp, and Antunić flees before him with Ajkuna. While Vlahinjić pursues him, the main body of Muslims attacks across the bridge.

    Alija overtakes Antunić and would be able to cut him down with a sabre-stroke, but dares not because Ajka is between them. He calls to Ajka to shift herself in the saddle so that Antunić will be exposed to him, but she replies that she cannot because

u zō čas ga kosu odgojila,
a ugore stekla bilenzuke.
Sveza kosu oko pasa svoga,
a spučijo na silahu ruke,
pa ne mogu tamo ni ovamo.
Već me udri na mom konju doru!
Halal tebi moja krvca bila.

    Vlahinjić will not kill the girl in order to kill Antunić, however. Instead he urges his horse on until he comes squarely abreast of Antunić, and then cuts off his arm at the shoulder. Now he is able to disengage Ajkuna from Antunić, and remounting her on Jakirlić's horse, which Grga has been riding, he ties the armless Grga to his own horse so as to drag him back to the Muslims as a prisoner. They meanwhile have won their battle with the main Christian contingent, and captured its cannon. Vlahinjić turns Grga over to Tale Ličanin for execution. Tale says to Alija that, had Alija not succeeded in his single-handed salvation of Ajkuna, Tale himself would have beheaded him for his insubordination to Mustajbeg's command not to cross the bridge alone.

    Mustajbeg hangs Antunić, and gives the girl Ajkuna to be Alija Vlahinjić's bride.

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Avdo's Dictated Text

Avdo's Sung Text

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