TOKENS OF RASHKIA’S KINGDOM
TOKENS OF RASHKIA’S KINGDOM
Svetlana Stevic Vukosavljevic, treasurer of Serbian folk treasury
In the tradition of people from Homolje, language represents the treasury of entire knowledge and testament our ancestors have entrusted us with. It contains the keys and locks of life. This paper aims to illustrate this through the legend of Rashkia’s kingdom.
“Ancient Serbs had a different key in their speech, a different thought that guided them. They were very religious and they carefully listened to the voice of their Lord, to what the skies would tell them. If something were not to be mentioned, they would say: Word, key and lock.
Since different troubles and extermination threatened them, they saved the untouched knowledge and kept the unchanged quintessence from times immemorial of the substance of the race, of the Primordial, in the enigmas and secrets intelligible only to those who spoke the mother tongue, to those who were born within that tradition.
That is what I heard from Milutin Mitic, 62, from the village of Ribare, near Zagubica.
One of such enigmas is the legend of Rashkia and Rashkia’s kingdom. Here is the legend.
Once upon a time there was a King who had a daughter named Rashkia. She was as beautiful as the nymph. Rashkia had a birthmark: Golden Star on her forehead. She used to wear her braid over it, and would unveil it only on holy days. She had long, golden hear down to her heels. Whole kingdom was proud of her beauty. Suitors from the whole world came, but she did not want to marry any of them. Finally, a King came from far away … to ask her hand in marriage for his son. He brought loads of treasure and threw them in front of Rashkia. Her father and her brothers promised her hand, but Rashkia opposed and refused her father’s will in front of the King:
“I will only marry the man who has the same birth mark as mine”.
Her father and brothers were blind with rage and they took Rashkia to a huge field… She wore only a gold-embroidered gown. They tied her to horses’ tails, and the four horses tore her apart.
The messengers went around the country to tell everybody that the King denied having a daughter and forbade mentioning her name. Those who disobeyed were to be executed.
When horses tore Rashkia apart,
where her head fell
three monasteries emerged,
and young monks were there,
preaching Rashkia’s name.
Clear monastery springs
were clear Rashkia’s eyes.
Whoever drank their waters
would never forget her.
Wherever, in the field,
her golden hairs¹ fell,
the flat field was called Kosovo.
The wheat grew there as yellow as gold.
Whoever ate bread made from that wheat,
would mention Rashkia forever.
Where her body was torn apart,
in gold-embroidered gown,
Samodreza² church emerged.
Wherever a drop of her blood dropped,
the vines grew, which yielded altar wine.
Where her legs stopped,
wide roads emerged.
When all these things were created,
the Star rose to the skies!
After a short while, the king fell ill with grief and sorrow. He ordered his servants to take him to the wide field, to the very place where Rashkia was tied to horses’ tails. The moment he stepped there, he said:
“I’ve put³ myself here”. And he died. That part of the kingdom was called Metohija.
People of Homolje also say that birds fought over Rashkia’s golden hairs. They took them to make nests all over the kingdom. Wherever her golden hair fell, the settlement was called Kosa¹. Thus the birds marked the kingdom by their nests and golden Rashkia’s hairs. When they built new nests, they took golden hairs with them. For it was destined that Rashkia should inherit the kingdom, but her father and brothers did not understand that.
But, since golden hairs cannot be ruined and do not decay, they shine all over the kingdom even today. Those who have the gift to see that, should do the following: in summer, nearing the end of June, when the weather is bright and clear, go to a mountain peak such as Lisac in Beljanica mountain, or Glavcina in the Homolje mountains, and spend the night there. At dawn, when birds start singing, look as far as you can and you will see the golden hairs glowing and shining in the branches and nests, on the mountain slopes¹. And when the birds start singing the most beautiful song, with the first sunrays, all the nests start glowing, as well as all the settlements, and only at that very moment you can see how big the kingdom is. But, rare are the people who can see this. Only the birds know the whole secret of Rashkia’s kingdom.
My grandfather, Radovan Stevic, told me this as his mother, Nasta, who was born in the village of Suvi Do near Zagubica, told him. Inhabitants of the village Suvi Do moved from Metohija to Homolje four hundred years ago.
I asked many wise old men from Homolje to explain the meaning of the name Rashkia, and this is what one of the wisest told me. His name was Cha-Antonije Antonijevic, 80, from the village of Milatovac near Zagubica. Everybody came to listen to his teaching and advice. This is what he told me:
“RASHKI – JA!” (RASHKI – MYSELF)
The great man of Rashka – who must leave truth to posterity.
JA! (myself) is SOMEONE from that time, from those people, from that kingdom, who was the only one who could leave the true testimony about the extermination of his high blood and race primordial, like old Rashka – old Serbia, and about the extermination of old tokens.
Only Young King could make this testimony, the First prince, prepared by high priests to inherit the throne. That is how people thought at those times. Only someone that noble, could say for himself:
RASHKI – JA! (RASHKI – MYSELF) i.e. I am from Rashka, I am Serbian.
When he speaks in such manner, he represents his people in the face of the Almighty God, Patron Saint’s Day of the Throne, and glorious Ancestors. He speaks on the behalf of the people: from the people – to the world, saving the untouched knowledge so that it is never forgotten. We must not forget WHO we are and WHO our ancestors are.
Unworthy of life is the posterity oblivious of ANCESTORS.
¹ hair (kosa) sounds the same as mountain slope and Kosa, and similar to Kosovo
² was torn apart (se odreza) sounds similar to Samodreza
³ I’ve put (metoh) sounds similar to Metohija