The Baška Tablet dates 1100 AD. It is found in the Church of St. Lucy in Jurandvor on the island of Krk. The Glagolitic text inscribed on the tablet is the oldest known Slavic alphabet created in the 9c by a Byzantine monk, St. Cyril. Some experts say brothers St. Cyril and St. Methodius devised Glagolotic script together. Glagolitic script is uniquely Croatian. For centuries it held a prestigious place in the Roman Catholic Church.
The text on the Baška tablet was translated by archeologist Dr. Branko Fumič (and cookbook author). It is a deed of gift from Croatian King Zvonimir to the Benedictine abbey with this warning, ’Whomever denies this, let him be cursed by God, the twelve apostles, and the four evangelists, and St. Lucia.’ But the Baška tablet in St. Lucy’s is a reproduction. The original, made of white karstic limestone is now held at the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Zagreb. Linguist and University of Zagreb Professor Damanović (and newspaper editor) called it the ‘baptismal certificate of Croatian culture.’
The Plomin Tablet is embedded in the outer walls of St. George the Elder in Plomin, Istria. This bas relief sculpture made of Istrian stone survived the elements since 1100—it is roughly the same age as the Baška tablet inviting academic debate about which tablet is older. Markings on the Plomin tablet in the upper corners are similar to Glagolitic but now are considered to be ‘graffiti.’ Also debated is whether the image of the man is St. George or the Roman god Sylvan. The preservation of these cultural gatekeepers points to the continuous presence of faith and tradition in Croatia.
If you visit The Glagolitic Script Exhibition at the University Library Rijeka you can type your name into computer interactive and receive a Glagolitic translation. The script looks like the Cyrllic alphabet, but it does not have any modern day counterpart. Each Glagolitic letter has a number and a name ascribed to it such as D dobro, E jest, and Ž živite—the alphabet writes its own poetry. The Glagolitic Script Exhibition is permanent. It opened in 1968.
This project was launched as part of Rijeka 2020 features permanent art installations by 11 artists, designers and architects from Croatia, Europe, Japan and Chile. This project features Sofie Thoreson’s installation ‘Potezi i Rezovi’ (Moves and Cuts) in Brseč. Stone slabs are inscribed with doodles inspired by actual student notebooks. The school those students attended closed in 2018 after 175 years. Croatian communities honor the past and memories of learning academic subjects along with a sense of belonging. According to recent data Croatia has a 99.1% literacy rate.
Photos Marie Scatena, Public Domain and FotoLuigi