Črtomir and Bogomila buried by Slovenian Association Sydney

A few days ago Slovenians celebrated 'Prešernov dan', named after the great Slovenian poet France Prešeren. The day has always been cultural in nature: in Slovenian organisations around Australia functions are organised to recite Prešeren's and other poets' poems; in Slovenia, this is the day when the Slovenian equivalent of Oscars are awarded to the best Slovenian artists.

Ljenko Urbančič with his sculpture of Črtomir and Bogomila 
Since his death in 1849, Slovenians have considered France Prešeren the greatest Slovenian poet. His poem Zdravljica is used for the lyrics of the Slovenian national anthem.

One of Prešeren's main works is his epic Baptism at the Savica (Krst pri Savici)Baptism at the Savica is an epic poem about the Slovenian nation and the loss of its independence, presented through the story about the final battle between Christians and pagan Slavs, led by their heroic warrior Črtomir. In their highly dramatic battle in the Bled area, Slavs are defeated and survivor Črtomir moves to the Bohinj area where he considers committing suicide. The thought of his beloved Bogomila who used to be a priestess to the Slavic goddess Živa keeps him alive. He finds out that she converted and became Christian. When they meet she persuades Črtomir to get baptised at the Savica waterfall as well.

Photos: Florjan Auser
Since its first publication in 1836, this national epic has inspired many Slovenian artists to create dramas and poems, paintings and sculptures. In Australia, late Ljenko Urbančič chiselled in sandstone a sculpture of Črtomir and Bogomila that was initially located on his property on Mount Milena and later donated to the Slovenian Association Sydney in October 2005.

However, during current renovations taking place at the Slovenian Association Sydney, the sculpture was knocked over and buried. Considering the highly charged symbolism that the sculpture carried, perhaps we need to ask ourselves about the meaning of this removal. Is it a symbolic and sinister sign of times ahead or a sign of profound ignorance?

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