It's about time I write something about the country that has been our host for the past 3 years, Croatia and more specifically, Zagreb since it is here that I got this special, handmade ashtray with those peculiar looking symbols.
More on the symbols later, now lets talk Zagreb...For starters it is the greenest city I've ever lived in. Apart from that, most of the northern part of the city is perched upon several densely forested hills, there is a huge park very close to the centre and tens of smaller parks and gardens dotted all over the city. It is a dog-walkers paradise and I don't exaggerate when I say that each Zagrebian has at least one dog in their household. There is also a river, the Sava, that flows through the southern part of the city but unlike other city rivers its banks have not been commercially or residentially developed. Maybe due to the fear of flooding which also led the city to invest into the creation of a series of man-made lakes, yet another source of green grass and white barked trees.
The river marks the boundary between Old Zagreb and New Zagreb (Novi Zagreb), an area that was developed during the communist years. Even if you want to forget this, the concrete square block architecture of the buildings won't let you and during the grey months of Autumn and Winter this part of the city is quite depressive. The old city is on the other hand highly reminiscend of it's Austro-Hungarian cousins, with a petite but equally gilted opera house, wide boulevards and yet more parks!
Life in Zagreb is nice and slow, sometimes too slow for my liking! It is a small city but it is slowly catching on. Zagreb's heart beats at and around the centre square, where I found this ashtray just before Easter 2010. There is always some sort of exhibition or traditional art and natural products market taking place on the square. I remember that it was an early spring day and I was heading to Georgie's office in Gorni Grad when I went past a stall with handmade earthenware decorative items. I was drown by the runic symbols on the ashtray and asked the older man behind the stall to tell me what they were. He turned to a teenage boy, his son, who told me in English that they were letters from the Glagolitic alphabet. But his English was not so good and soon he was destructed by other costumers and left me hanging with my questions.
I bought the ashtray. I think it is one of the most beautiful items in my collection and when I went home I looked this funny sounding word up. It turns out that it has nothing to do with runes. It is a Slavic script derived from the Greek cursive script around the middle of the 11th century by St. Cyril who translated the holy books from Greek into Old Slavic. The letters on the ashtray most probably mean
I played a bit with the colours of the picture....and created a funkier version