The Stories of Bovec's Past

Bovec

The exhibition was opened by Darinka Kravanja in 2010. Archives of the Tolmin museum.

In 2010, at the initiative of the Municipality of Bovec, the Tolmin Museum designed an exhibition The Stories of the House of Stergulc, set in the House of Stergulc. In 2018, the exhibition was completed and partially redesigned as part of the project Development of new products at the House of Stergulc Museum, which successfully applied for the Las Dolina Soča tender. The Municipality of Bovec and the Tolmin Museum participated in making additions to the museum exhibition. The Stories of Bovec’s Past exhibition, as it is now called, offers interesting stories, not only regarding The House of Stergulc, but also those written by Bovec through different time periods. In 2018, the archaeological image of Bovec was added to the exhibition.

Bovec archaeological stories is the archaeological part of the permanent exhibition at the House of Stergulc in Bovec. It displays the archaeological image of Bovec with individual finds that can be tracked all the way from the Bronze Age. It appears that the area has always been colonised in early Iron Age, which is indicated by sites such as the hillfort (fortified settlement) on Ravelnik, a partially explored cemetery at Srpenica and individual Iron Age burial grounds in Bovec. A very interesting find is a cremation grave from the period between the early Iron Age and the late Iron Age (4th–3rd centuries BC), which points to the interweaving of the local tradition with Celtic elements. In the Roman era, two settlements were established in the Bovec area. There was a central settlement on Ravelnik, as well as a shrine where, among other items (fragments of costumes, an iron key, Roman coins, two fragments of an iron ploughshare, iron arrowheads, a spear butt, fragments of ceramics), they discovered bronze statues of Minerva and Hercules, and fragments of three other statues. They were probably donated by travellers or merchants from Italy, who then continued their journey through the Predel Pass. Because of its position and the donated objects, the Ravelnik shrine is similar to a transregionally important shrine at Gradič pri Kobaridu.
Another settlement lay in the area of today's Church of Devica Marija v Polju (Virgin Mary in Polje), in the plane along the main road, as was usual for the Roman era. Remains of a large farm (Villa Rustica) or a roadside station that was active from the 1st to the 4th centuries were discovered here.
A lonely skeleton grave with a necklace of glass beads, which was discovered near the Church of the Virgin Mary in Polje, indicates the presence of the early medieval settlement of Bovško, probably from the middle or second half of the 8th century. In the valley of Možnica, an axe from the 9th or 10th century was found. By that time, Slovenes were already living in the Upper Soča Valley. The inhabitants had probably already converted to Christianity, although the first mention of churches in Bovec dates to 1192.

In spite of numerous war conflicts and the influence of various rulers, the territory of Bovec (Bovško) has always enjoyed the status of a strategically important border region. The people of Bovško have successfully maintained their nationality and the distinctive Bovec dialect. The history of Bovec is full of stories written by great people. The exhibition focuses on the Stergulc family, in particular Andrej Stergulc (1927–2002). He was an amateur explorer of local history, a collector, and the first mayor of the Municipality of Bovec in independent Slovenia (1995–1996). He enthusiastically studied family names in Bovec, and examined four numberings of houses in different periods: under the Habsburgs, in Fascist Italy, and two in the time of socialist Yugoslavia. Stergulc's personal items and recognitions are on display. The furniture, which was an integral part of the former Stergulc apartment, is set up in the exhibition area, the former bedroom. A dresser with a mirror from the beginning of the 20th century was probably made in one of the local carpentry workshops. In 1911, for example, there were five carpenters in Bovec: Ivan Durjava, Ivan Mihelič, Ivan Šolar, Josip Sovdat and Miha Ivančič. Such marble plate dressers were used for washing. Although nowadays the bathroom serves for morning and evening hygiene, in the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century burghers had similar cupboards with a bowl and a jug in the bedroom. The Stergulc family, who owned a butchery and a hotel, is drawn closer to us by testimonies from Stergulc's contemporaries in a documentary film that keeps alive the memory of the interesting fragments from the history of the town and its surroundings.

Many inhabitants of Bovec came into contact with the outside world through an activity that has since been abandoned: peddling. The right to peddle was given to them by Maria Theresa. They were allowed to peddle small items, thread, etc., while the villagers from Srpenica would peddle a variety of goods. Peddlers had to follow the Peddler's Order, which was issued as early as 1814. They were not allowed to peddle imported goods, so they mainly sold home-made crafts. Each peddler worked a designated area that was later taken over by a son or close relative. Due to complaints from traders, they were not permitted to use a cart. In 1852, an exception was made for drapers (“suknjarji”). The latter were allowed to use carts to sell textile products throughout the Empire, while other peddlers had to carry goods, weighing between 50 and 75 kg, in baskets and bundles. Those who sold small items, such as needles, threads, thimbles, pipes, mirrors, combs, buckles, necklaces and the like were called “cunjarji”. “Hauziravci” were people who sold haberdashery, perfumery, metal objects, shoes and textile goods. “Suknjarji” were considered better peddlers who sold their goods in the Czech Republic, Moravia, Austria and Hungary. The illustration of a peddler, created by Tina Volarič, shows a peddler putting a basket on his back. The basket was usually made of ash wood and shaped like a wooden crate. It had small drawers that opened from the side and a soft bag attached on the back. An example of such a basket, which is kept in the Tolmin Museum and displayed in the central cabinet, was worn by Jožef Kenda from Bovec, who held on to it until his death in 1950. The baskets were of different shapes, and were even worn by the Anglo-Americans after World War II. Opticians from Srpenica who sold glasses were particularly well-known. Ivan Kenda (1859–1941) from Bovec, one of the last peddlers in Bovec, was also an optician. The device he used to measure the dioptres has been preserved. The peddlers had special booklets based on which they could carry out their activity. The booklet Bukvice za pohišne kramarje (Books for Household Peddlers) owned by Andrej Mlekuž from Čezsoča 67 survives to this day.

Particularly tragic are the stories from World War I, when the battles of the Isonzo Front forced people from Bovec, and numerous inhabitants of the Soča Valley, to flee. Many were stationed at the Bruck an der Leitha refugee camp near Vienna. During the official visit of Archduchess Maria Josepha on April 27, 1916, the refugees prepared a cultural programme for their special guest. Women from the Primorska Region, among them Pepa Kravanja and Zofija Kravanja from Bovec, sang in folk costumes. The Pirc-Kravanja family took special care of the bodice that the then 27-year-old Zofija wore during the aforementioned visit of the archduchess. Today it occupies a special place in the exhibition.

After the Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo and the end of World War I, the people of Bovec returned to their homeland only to be awaited by wrecked houses and desolated land. With ingenuity and perseverance, they got back on their feet and revived numerous crafts and cultural activities.
Master carpenters who made the equipment also created musical instruments. Carpenter Miha Kenda-Puklcu (1857–1940) from Bovec, for example, used spruce wood to make citers, which were supposedly played for the last time in 2002 to Darinka Kravanja (Pirc).
With general progress, transportation developed along an important traffic connection with the Carinthia (Koroška). At the end of the 19th century, a horse-drawn carriage for four persons began driving people from Bovec to Tarvisio. It was owned by the innkeeper Černuta from Spodnji Log, and was only replaced by a bus from Tolmin in 1911. Better connections contributed to the development of tourism and the opening of hotels and other accommodation. Many owners issued various postcards, which today offer an insight into the development of Bovec at different times.

The last exhibition area is dedicated to the important people who co-created the stories of Bovec’s past. They are: civil engineer Mihael ŠTRUKELJ (1851–1923) from Log pod Mangartom; priest and historian Ivo JUVANČIČ (1899–1985) from Bovec; film actress Ida KRAVANJA – Ita Rina (1907–1979), whose parents were from Bovec; and literary historian, critic and academic Anton OCVIRK (1907–1980), born in Žaga. Even today, Bovško is home to important artists who are successful in various fields and are featured in the exhibition.

In recent years, several authors have focused on Bovec's past; attention is given to persons, historical events and to the Bovec dialect. This very dialect is probably the most notable feature of the cultural identity of the people of Bovec. That is why video recordings and sound recordings of dialectal folklore stories from Bovec are an integral part of the exhibition. The selected texts are mostly commemorative narratives about the period between the two world wars.

All this is the silver thread of the exhibition, which displays the archaeological image of Bovec and its pulse in the 19th and 20th centuries. Nowadays, the House of Stergulc, enriched with the museum collection of the Tolmin Museum, is an eloquent witness to the turbulent past of Bovec. We owe our thanks to numerous people from Bovec for their important contribution to preserving the living memory of the past.

mag. Damjana Fortunat Černilogar and mag. Miha Mlinar

 

Authors of the exhibition: mag. Damjana Fortunat Černilogar (Tolmin Museum), mag. Miha Mlinar (Tolmin Museum), dr. Jana Horvat (Institute of Archaeology, ZRC SAZU)
Designers: Mojca Turk and Polona Zupančič
Map creation: Mateja Rihtaršič
Authors of the contents of the maps: mag. Damjana Fortunat Černilogar, Jožica Kavs, Katja Mrakič
Lidar-derived DEM: Edisa Lozić
Photo material: Stergulc family collection, Pirc-Kravanja family collection, Tolmin Museum, National Museum of Slovenia, Archive of the Institute of Archaeology ZRC SAZU
Illustration: Tina Volarič, 2018
Audio and video recordings: Audio-visual laboratory of the Institute of Slovenian Ethnography ZRC SAZU, Institute of Ethnomusicology ZRC SAZU, TV Slovenia
Objects: Tolmin Museum, Stergulc family, Jelka Kašča, Rina Kenda, Ivan Šraj
Conservation of objects: mag. Jana Šubic Prislan and Andrej Ferletic, Goriška regional museum
Production of copies: mag. Miran Pflaum, National Museum of Slovenia

Documentary film:
Written and directed by: Jadran Sterle
Sound Designer: Boštjan Perovšek
Cameraman: Ivo Saksida
Production: Flux and decibel, Tolmin Museum 2010

Image processing: Marko Grego
Light Design: Marjan Viskovič
Computer presentation: Damjan Leban
Audio and video recordings: Selection and transcription of narratives: dr. Barbara Ivančič Kutin, Institute of Slovenian Ethnology, ZRC SAZU
English translation: Multilingual – translation agency, Leemeta, Poliglot – jezikovna točka

 

INFORMATION:

Municipality of Bovec, Trg golobarskih žrtev 8, SI-5230 Bovec
Phone: 05 38 41 900, 05 38 41 909
E-mail: obcina.neg@bovec.si
http://obcina.bovec.si

 

Opening time
Thursday to Sunday and Holiday: 16.00-20.00
Visits outside these hours are possible for prearranged groups. Contact: +386(0)51302239 (Matic Volarič).
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