The stecci (singular: Stećak), the monumental medieval tombstones that lie scattered across the landscape of Bosnia-Herzegovina are the country’s most legendary symbol.
Although a few are found in Croatia and Montenegro, the vast majority are found within the borders of Bosnia-Herzegovina – 60,000 in all, of which approximately 10,000 are decorated (and sometimes inscribed).
Appearing in the 12th century, the stecci reached their peak in the late 14th to 15th centuries, before dying away during the Ottoman occupation. Their most remarkable feature is their decorative motifs, many of which remain enigmatic to this day.
National Museum, Stećci
Spirals, arcades, rosettes, vine leaves and grapes, suns and crescent moons are among the images that appear. Figural motifs include processions of deer, dancing the kolo, hunting and, most famously, the image of the man with his right hand raised, perhaps in a gesture of fealty.
The most beautiful of the stećci graveyards is that at Radimlja, near Stolac. Although its origins are within the Bosnian Church, all evidence points to the fact that stecci were erected in due time by adherents of the Orthodox and Catholic Bosnians alike.
The most famous and decorated stećak (and maybe the last) is from Zgošća near Kakanj from 15th century. Since it has no engraved writing, but it was immaculately decorated, it is suggested that it belonged to King Stjepan II Kotromanić. Today it is placed in the garden of History Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo.