The oral tradition about Shahids and their graves
Behar, as well as the other journals from the revival period failed, unfortunately, to enrich us ninety years ago with the multiple meaning articles about numerous oral traditions, particularly those of religious character, such as the stories of shahids, cephalophori and their tombs in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This does not mean that has no been such tales in the traditions of other people, and we are going to speak about them in this paper.
An oral tradition is a peculiar hybrid form with artistic and living functions. It appears in three basic manners of narration (a short summary, a memort and a fabulat). The basic inspiration of tradition can be seen in a human meeting with extraordinary and unusual, whereas the belief in truthfulness and the cognitive character of tradition, as a criterion for their determination, can be changed in the course of time. There are four fundamental types of tradition: etiological, historical, mythological, and legends or religious traditions.
The religious traditions are tales that have been made after apocrypha, or medieval biographies of saints (hagiographies). They were connected to churches and the places of worship. Therefore, their origin came from books, but they assumed certain folklore features in the process of oral transmission from one generation to another. They contain the elements of miraculous. People tend to believe in their truth. They are often bound to local situations, but their internal expression differs from the tradition. In Bosnia and Herzegovina one can hardly find an older Moslem cemetery without the oral tradition attached to it that claimed that in that place, in addition to the others, the Ottoman Turkish warriors had been buried. They were the shahids who lost their lives in the time of Sultan Mehmed el-Fatih (the Conqueror) during his conquest of Bosnia in 1463. We give as an illustration here a chronogram from a tombstone (tourbet) from the cemetery at Kozarac from 18th century: "Dear Lord, this is the cemetery where the martyrs found their final rest. May Allah make him the sign of its power, he has fought bravely for a while and he has come with his head cut off to this place"...)
Numerous local communities remember the names of their "good men" (evliyas), fallen warriors for the faith (shahids) and the brave ones (gaziyas). One can find some confirmations about them in the historical sources.