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Bosnian Cyrillic
Script type
Cyrillic script
Time period
10th–19th century
 This article contains phonetic transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA. For the distinction between [ ], / / and ⟨ ⟩, see IPA § Brackets and transcription delimiters.

Bosnian Cyrillic, widely known as Bosančica,[1][2][3] is a variant of the Cyrillic alphabet that originated in medieval Bosnia.[2] The term was coined at the end of the 19th century by Ćiro Truhelka. It was widely used in modern-day Bosnia and Herzegovina and the bordering areas of modern-day Croatia (southern and middle Dalmatia and Dubrovnik regions). Its name in Serbo-Croatian is Bosančica and Bosanica[4] the latter of which might be translated as Bosnian script. Serb scholars call it Serbian script, Serbian–Bosnian script, Bosnian–Serb Cyrillic, as part of variant of Serbian Cyrillic and deem the term "bosančica" Austro-Hungarian propaganda.[5] Croat scholars also call it Croatian script, Croatian–Bosnian script, Bosnian–Croat Cyrillic, harvacko pismo, arvatica or Western Cyrillic.[6][7] For other names of Bosnian Cyrillic, see below.

The use of Bosančica amongst Bosnian Muslims was replaced by Arebica upon the introduction of Islam in Bosnia Eyalet, first amongst the elite, then amongst the wider public.[8] The first book in Bosančica was printed by Frančesko Micalović in 1512 in Venice.[9]

History and characteristic features

Main article: Bosnian medieval literacy

It is hard to ascertain when the earliest features of a characteristic Bosnian type of Cyrillic script had begun to appear, but paleographers consider the Humac tablet (a tablet written in Bosnian Cyrillic) to be the first document of this type of script and is believed to date from the 10th or 11th century.[10] Bosnian Cyrillic was used continuously until the 18th century, with sporadic usage even taking place in the 20th century.[11]

Historically, Bosnian Cyrillic is prominent in the following areas:

In conclusion, main traits of Bosnian Cyrillic include:


The polemic about "ethnic affiliation" of Bosnian Cyrillic started in the 19th century, then reappeared in the mid-1990s.[15] The polemic about attribution and affiliation of Bosnian Cyrillic texts seems to rest on following arguments:


Micalović's colophon of Officio, printed in Venice in 1512, using Bosančica script

In 2015, a group of artists started a project called "I write to you in Bosančica" which involved art and graphic design students from Banja Luka, Sarajevo, Široki Brijeg, and Trebinje. Exhibitions of the submitted artworks will be held in Sarajevo, Trebinje, Široki Brijeg, Zagreb, and Belgrade. The purpose of the project was to resurrect the ancient script and show the "common cultural past" of all the groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The first phase of the project was to reconstruct all of the ancient characters by using ancient, handwritten documents.[19][20]


The name bosančica was first used by Fran Kurelac in 1861.[21] Other instances of naming by individuals, in scholarship and literature or publications (chronological order, recent first):[22][23]


See also


  1. ^ Bošnjak & Dobrowolsky 1968, p. 24.
  2. ^ a b Balić, Smail (1978). Die Kultur der Bosniaken, Supplement I: Inventar des bosnischen literarischen Erbes in orientalischen Sprachen. Vienna: Adolf Holzhausens, Vienna. pp. 49–50, 111.
  3. ^ Algar, Hamid (1995). The Literature of the Bosnian Muslims: a Quadrilingual Heritage. Kuala Lumpur: Nadwah Ketakwaan Melalui Kreativiti. pp. 254–68.
  4. ^ Popovic, Alexandre (1971). La littérature ottomane des musulmans yougoslaves: essai de bibliographie raisonnée, JA 259. Paris: Alan Blaustein Publishing House. pp. 309–76.
  5. ^ Prilozi za književnost, jezik, istoriju i folklor. Vol. 22–23. Belgrade: Državna štamparija. 1956. p. 308.
  6. ^ Prosperov Novak & Katičić 1987, p. 73.
  7. ^ Superčić & Supčić 2009, p. 296.
  8. ^ Dobrača, Kasim (1963). Katalog arapskih, turskih i perzijskih rukopisa (Catalogue of the Arabic, Turkish and Persian Manuscripts in the Gazi Husrev-beg Library, Sarajevo). Sarajevo. pp. 35–38.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  9. ^ Bošnjak & Dobrowolsky 1968, pp. 23, 24, 26, 75, 76.
  10. ^ "Srećko M. Džaja vs. Ivan Lovrenović – polemika o kulturnom identitetu BiH Ivan Lovrenović". (in Croatian). Polemics appeared between Srećko M. Džaja & Ivan Lovrenović in Zagreb's biweekly "Vijenac", later in whole published in Journal of Franciscan theology in Sarajevo, "Bosna franciscana" No.42. 2014. Archived from the original on 11 April 2018. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  11. ^ a b c d Iliev, Ivan G. "Short history of the Cyrillic Alphabet". International Journal of Russian Studies. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  12. ^ Susan Baddeley; Anja Voeste (2012). Orthographies in Early Modern Europe. Walter de Gruyter. p. 275. ISBN 9783110288179. Retrieved 2013-01-24. [...] the first printed book in Cyrillic (or, to be more precise, in Bosančica) [...] (Dubrovnik Breviary of 1512; cf. Rešetar and Đaneli 1938: 1-109).[25]
  13. ^ Jakša Ravlić, ed. (1972). Zbornik proze XVI. i XVII. stoljeća. Pet stoljeća hrvatske književnosti (in Croatian). Vol. 11. Matica hrvatska - Zora. p. 21. UDC 821.163.42-3(082). Retrieved 2013-01-24. Ofičje blažene gospođe (Dubrovački molitvenik iz 1512.)
  14. ^ Cleminson, Ralph (2000). Cyrillic books printed before 1701 in British and Irish collections: a union catalogue. British Library. p. 2. ISBN 9780712347099. 2. Book of Hours, Venice, Franjo Ratković, Giorgio di Rusconi, 1512 (1512.08.02)
  15. ^ Tomasz Kamusella (15 January 2009). The Politics of Language and Nationalism in Modern Central Europe. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 976. ISBN 978-0-230-55070-4.
  16. ^ Prilozi za književnost, jezik, istoriju i folklor. Vol. 22–23. Belgrade: Državna štamparija. 1956. p. 308.
  17. ^ Književnost i jezik. Vol. 14. 1966. pp. 298–302.
  18. ^ Jahić, Dževad; Halilović, Senahid; Palić, Ismail (2000). Gramatika bosanskoga jezika (PDF). Zenica: Dom štampe. p. 49. ISBN 9789958420467. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 January 2020. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
  19. ^ Rodolfo Toe (10 December 2015). "Bosnian Arts Save Vanished Script From Oblivion". Balkan Insight. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  20. ^ Morton, Elise (11 December 2015). "Bosnian artists revive disused script". The Calvert Journal. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  21. ^ a b Vražalica, Edina (2018). "Bosančica u ćiriličnoj paleografiji i njen status u filološkoj nauci". Književni Jezik (in Bosnian). 29 (29). Institut za jezik: 7–27. doi:10.33669/KJ2018-29-01. ISSN 0350-3496. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  22. ^ Kempgen, Sebastian; Tomelleri, Vittorio Springfield (2019). Slavic Alphabets and Identities (in German). University of Bamberg Press. p. 202. ISBN 978-3-86309-617-5. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  23. ^ a b Midžić, Fikret (2018). "Bosančica (zapadna ćirilica) kroz odabrana krajišnička pisma". MemorabiLika: Časopis za Povijest, Kulturu i Geografiju Like (Jezik, Običaji, Krajolik i Arhivsko Gradivo) (in Croatian) (god. 1, br. 1): 47–62. ISSN 2623-9469. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  24. ^ Poljička glagoljica ili poljiška azbukvica
  25. ^ a b c Journal of Croatian Studies. Vol. 10. Croatian Academy of America. 1986. p. 133.
  26. ^ Jagić, Vatroslav (1867). Historija književnosti naroda hrvatskoga i srbskoga. Knj.l.Staro doba,, Opseg 1. Zagreb: Štamparija Dragutina Albrechta. p. 142. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
  27. ^ Fine, John V. A. (Jr ) (2010). When Ethnicity Did Not Matter in the Balkans: A Study of Identity in Pre-Nationalist Croatia, Dalmatia, and Slavonia in the Medieval and Early-Modern Periods. University of Michigan Press. pp. 304–305. ISBN 978-0-472-02560-2. Retrieved 7 May 2020. Jagić cites another seventeenth-century author, the Bosnian Matija Divković (1563–1631), who was born in Bosnia, educated in Italy, and then became a Franciscan back in Bosnia; Divković, though usually calling the language "Illyrian," at times called it "Bosnian." Georgijević disagrees, saying he usually called the language "Bosnian", "Slavic", or "ours" and goes on to cite a passage: that Divković had translated (a work) into Slavic language, in the way that in Bosnia they speak the Slavic language. Moreover, Ravlić provides excerpts from Divković's "Beside varhu evandjela nediljnieh priko svehga godišta" (Venice 1614), including the whole dedication to Makarska Bishop Bartol Kačić (spelled Kadčić by Divković). In that dedication Divković twice refers to the language he is employing; both times he calls it "Slavic" (Slovinski jezik). Divković also used the term "Slavic," at times for the people involved; Kombol notes that he published in Venice, in 1611, a work entitled "Christian Doctrine for the Slavic People" (Nauk krstjanski za narod slovinski). In its preface, he stated that he wrote for the Slavic folk in correct and true Bosnian language. Georgijević also notes that he referred to the Bosnian Cyrillic, which he wrote in, as Serbian letters."
  28. ^ Krešimir Georgijević (1969). Hrvatska književnost od XVI do XVIII stoljeća u Sjevernoj Hrvatskoj i Bosni (Katalog Knjižnica grada Zagreba - Detalji ed.). Matica hrvatska Zagreb. pp. 150, 158, 164, 165. Retrieved 7 May 2020.