Filip Višnjić

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Filip Višnjić
Filip Visnjic guslar.jpg
Statue of Filip Višnjić, part of a larger monument dedicated to the Battle of Kosovo in Kruševac
Born Gornja Trnova, Ottoman Empire
Died Grk, Austrian Empire
Ethnicity Serb
Known for Serbian epic poetry
Religion Serbian Orthodox Christian

Filip Višnjić (pronounced [fîliːp ʋîʃɲitɕ], Serbian Cyrillic: Филип Вишњић ; 1767–1834) was a popular Serbian epic poet and guslar (gusle player), born in northern Bosnia. He is often described as the "Serbian Homer" both because he was blind and for his poetic gift. Living in a time of exceptional significance for Serbian history, the bard composed poems about these events, and they became a highly valued part of the Serbian epic poetry. Vuk Karadžić considered him the best ballad writer and singer of his time.

Life[edit]

He was born at Vilića Guvno in Gornja Trnova near Ugljevik, in the Eyalet of Bosnia of the Ottoman Empire (today in Bosnia and Herzegovina), and died in the village of Grk (later renamed Višnjićevo after him) near Šid, Serbia (then part of the Austrian Empire). Filip Višnjić's true surname was Vilić. According to some authors, he was called Višnjić either after his mother’s name Višnja, or after the Višnjica quarter of Međaši, where he lived until he moved to Serbia.

He lived in Gornja Trnova until three years of age, when Ottoman Turks destroyed his family. His mother remarried into the Mirkanović family and moved to the village of Međaši in the lowlands of Semberija, taking little Filip with her. There he learned to play the Serbian epic poets' beloved string instrument gusle, and composed his first verses. He would often play on the archaic gusle at the church in Brodac. Blind from early childhood, unable to earn for living otherwise, he sang the traditional epic songs and composed many by himself.

During the First Serbian Uprising against the Ottoman rule, unable to join the fight, Višnjić tried to boost the morale of compatriots and composed many songs himself, documenting the battles in form of epic chronicles. After the Turks re-conquered Serbia in 1813, he went into the village of Grk in Syrmia, where he met Vuk Stefanović Karadžić, who took him to the Šišatovac Monastery and recorded several songs of his. Karadžić recorded and published thirteen of Filip's songs, notably Početak bune protiv dahija (The Beginning of the Revolt against Dahijas), Boj na Čokešini (Battle of Čokešina), Boj na Mišaru (Battle of Mišar), Knez Ivo Knežević, etc. Višnjić's poetry often exceeds its traditional models: while faithfully describing the battles and events, his poems also carry convincing psychological portraits of the participants, such as Karageorge and Prince Ivo of Semberija, who lost all his property by ransoming slaves from the Ottoman Turks.

Commemoration[edit]

Each November, Filip's home village of Gornja Trnova hosts the cultural manifestation named Višnjićevi dani ("Višnjić's Days"). It is held at the site called Vilića Guvno, where the bard’s house once stood. Renowned writers, theoreticians and poets praise Filip Višnjić and his creations, and a commemorative service is held. A commemorative plaque has been raised at the library in Bijeljina, while his countenance is incorporated into the municipal coats of arms of Bijeljina and Ugljevik. At the 1994 Višnjićevi dani cultural event, a commemorative plaque was installed in Gornja Trnova, marking the location where Filip Višnjić was born.

The village of Grk was renamed Višnjićevo in his honour. Numerous streets and schools in Serbia and Republika Srpska are named after Višnjić. His picture is featured on the 20 convertible mark banknote issued in Republika Srpska. During the Second World War he was put on the Serbian 50 dinar bill, in 1941.

External links[edit]