Balkan is a very odd place. There, people are same but somehow different. Every person, plant or even rock on Balkan has its own opinion, and when it comes to history, well, that part depends on who is writing it. If you find yourself on Balkan, you will most likely hear a phrase “Od Kulina Bana” (From Ban Kulin), which means talking about something way too deep and long (boring the crap out of someone).
People on Balkan love that phrase, but when you ask them about the origin, rare ones know it. So, why “From Ban Kulin”?
Why from Ban Kulin?
First, you need to know that “ban” is a medieval title of rulers, and Kulin was a Bosnian ruler. The phrase “From Ban Kulin” comes from the folk memories of happy times (during the reign of Ban Kulin). Even though he was not the greatest ruler (Tvrtko I was a far greater emperor and during his reign was much better) why this phrase is “From Ban Kulin” and not From Tvrtko I? The reason for this lies in a small diplomatic document under the name of The Charter of Ban Kulin. Why is this document so important?
The Charter of Ban Kulin
The Charter of Ban Kulin is a document written on 29 august 1189. Since the situation on the Balkans today is tense, and every nation has its own historical review, the safest statement is that Charter of Ban Kulin is one of the oldest documents on these territories.
However, this small diplomatic document contains the Slavic name of the town of Dubrovnik, for the first time. It was written in Cyrillic and one of the most interesting things is that Charter is almost completely free of the Church Slavonic language and poetics, which is unusual for that period of time. When we talk about phonology, we can see some major changes in the text.
Apart from language, the journey of this document is also very interesting. Originally it was preserved in three copies. In the 19th century, one copy was stolen and sent to Saint Petersburg, one was sent to Vienna and the third one remained in Dubrovnik. In 1947, the copy from Vienna was sent back to Dubrovnik, but Russia keeps its copy to this day. The best part is that the original one is, most probably, Saint Petersburg’s copy.
If you want to read it in English, here is the translation of it, done by W. Browne.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. I, Kulin, ban of Bosnia, swear to be a true friend to you, o prince Kr’vash, and to all Dubrovnik citizens from now on and forever, and to keep true peace with you, and true faith, as long as I am alive. All Dubrovnik people who go through my domain trading, wherever anyone wants to move or wherever anyone passes, I will in true faith and with a true heart keep without any damage, unless someone of his own will gives me a gift, and let there be no violence against them by my officers, and as long as they are in my lands I will give them advice and help as I would to myself, as much as I am able, without any evil intention, so help me God and this holy Gospel. I Radoje the ban’s clerk wrote this document by the command of the ban, one thousand and one hundred and eighty and nine years from the birth of Christ, the month of August, the twenty-ninth day, [the day of] the beheading of John the Baptist.
This document is not only important for historians and linguists, but also for the ordinary people. The Charter has a national value and it is written in the genetic code of people from the Balkan. It lasts for centuries and remains in the collective memory, and it will be here for generations to come. That is why phrase “From Ban Kulin” is so common among Balkan people.