The history and tradition of dining tables in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The history and tradition of dining tables in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

There are many traditions that came to Bosnia and Herzegovina during the rule of Ottoman Empire and even today stayed as part of the culture among people. Among them is the regional specialty, favorite national dish called čevapi, read more on our previous post.

Today we will be talking about traditional objects which serve as a dining table or so called sofra.

The respect for family and tradition was among the core values of each family. The family life was organized around food, dining and spending time together so that they would have a sense of peace and strength (kuvet). Sofra needed to be full of food and drinks. The table needed to be large enough for the whole family to sit around and eat.

In the Ottoman and Turkish worlds, a yer sofra is traditionally a low table or tray used as a dining table. In modern Turkish language, sofra means a table prepared or set for eating a meal. It has the same meaning in Bosnia and Herzegovina but also there are a few different kinds of sofra.

Demirlija or so called mjedenica is a big and round casserole made of brass. It had engraved ornaments and decorations. Usually, from ten to twelve people could sit around demirlija and eat together. Santra is the solid table made of wrought iron and it was used by placing it under demirlija so that it would provide stability for the whole sofra.

Sinija is a low round table made of wood, similar to ancient Greek tables. In Bosnia, sinija is a sign of good household where the housewife judges pies. Every house had a sinija hung on the outside wall of the house.

People also came up with the idea of having a practical sofra to take it with them when traveling. It was round shape and made of leather. It could be stretched when installed and assembled into a bundle when disassembled.

There is also the pesikun sofra, which is a smaller table used for serving drinks, sherbet and coffee. When people needed to keep their meal warm, they used the mangala sofra. Mangala was made of copper, iron or clay and had decorations on it .

Sofra pes¡kun in the Muslibegovic house in Mostar.
Sinija prepared for meal in the Muslibegovic house in Mostar.

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