A Brief History of the Sarap Brotherhood
Those who escaped the Turkish sword
Who did not blaspheme against their faith
Those who refused to be chained
All of us have gathered high in these mountains
To give our lives, to spill our blood
To preserve our heroic heritage –
Our glorious name and sacred liberty.
P. P. Njegoš
According to the tradition our forefather Božina Sarap, fleeing the Turkish cruelties, left his home village Sarapovina (now Podlugovi) near Sarajevo and settled in Zeta (later Montenegro) around 1468.
It is not quite certain whether his name was Sarap at the time he escaped from Bosnia, or he named himself after his native village when he settled in Zeta.
Who were Božina Sarap’s ancestors and where they came from is also unknown, although certain researches have been done. This is what the tradition says about Božina Sarap:
Master and ruler of Zeta Ivan Crnojević hired Božina Sarap to be one of his servants. For some time Božina served to the satisfaction of his master, however, one day he quarreled and fought with the others and, eventually, killed one of them. To punish Božina for this crime, Ivan Crnojević expelled him from the country.
The same tradition says that Božina left Zeta to go to Venice, where he took up trade business very soon. His only son Branko left Zeta with him.
In 1482 when Ivan Crnojević, the ruler of Zeta, visited Venice, the Doge and the Venetian nobility conspired to bring shame upon him. Having found out about their plot, Božina Sarap, disregarding the fact that Ivan had expelled him, decided to prevent the intention of the Venetians and save the ruler of Zeta from this disgrace.
Andrija Jovićević recorded this event in his book “The History of Riječka Nahija” with these words:
“Božina had a quarrel with Ivan’s servants and beat them; therefore Ivan ordered his men to break Božina’s right arm and expel him from the country. Soon after that Ivan went with the wedding attendants to Venice to ask for the bride. Božina lived in Venice at that time. Ivan invited the Doge and the nobility to lunch, but the Doge ordered secretly that no-one should sell wood to Ivan’s servants so that they could not cook their meal, and Ivan would be disgraced publicly.
Božina found out about this scheme, visited Ivan and saw that he was in trouble. Božina advised Ivan to send his servants to buy all the nuts and hazelnuts on the market and use their shells to make fire for the lunch. Ivan was relieved of the shame and brought Božina with him back to Montenegro …”
We can not be absolutely sure about this story involving nuts and hazelnuts, but it is definitely true that Božina did a great favor to Ivan in Venice, because upon return from Venice together with Božina and his son Branko, Ivan offered them a piece of land at Strugari, which they refused. Then Ivan said they might settle wherever they wanted. Božina chose Viranj Rupa (today’s Ljubotinj) in Boguti village and built a house at Ćipur, below Viranj. The house exists even today. Marko (Milo) Vukićević lives in it.
Božina Sarap’s land was in the Boguti field, and his hills were Prekornica, Tatarija, Viranj and Osmin.
He built a church nearby, and named it after St. Nicholas. The church was extended in late 19th century by Boguti villagers because it had been too small for the service. In front of this endowment Božina’s earthly remains were laid. During the reconstruction works conducted on the church, his remains were preserved and re-buried under the altar.
All Saraps descending from Božina celebrate the same patron’s day St. Nicholas on December 19 (Gregorian calendar). Only a few families have changed their patron saint.
In 1930 in front of this church the Saraps placed a modest monument dedicated to their forefather Božina to mark the place where the founder of the Sarap brotherhood was buried.
Eight brotherhoods still live in this region, while others live in other parts of former Yugoslavia and elsewhere.
Andrija Jovićević writes in his book “The History of Riječka Nahija” that Božina had five sons. This was believed to be true until Vaso (Đuro) Vukićević found an old genealogy tree compiled in 1912 by Stevo (Ivo) Vukićević, officer in the Russian army, which shows that the story told by our forefathers is true – Božina had only one son. Jovićević was not right when he wrote about five Božina’s sons.
Therefore, according to Sarap’s ‘hrisovulja’ (official gold- sealed document) and the family tree made by Stevo Vukićević, this fact has been confirmed – Božina Sarap had only one son, whereas his son Branko had four sons and 8 brotherhoods descend from his four sons (see the text below).
Landlord Branko Sarap
Landlord Branko Sarap was Božina’s son. His name is mentioned in the Charter of Đurđe Crnojević written in 1494 with reference to the establishment of the village Šišovići borderline. As a landowner during the reign of Đurđe Crnojević, and later when he became the captain of Ljubotinj, Branko was also the headman of the clan. Marjan Bolica in his history book entitled “Montenegro in 1614” printed in Venice, describes that Montenegro was divided in five parts, Ljubotinj being one of them, without mentioning Ceklin, which implies that Branko served as the supreme headman of both Ljubotinj and Ceklin.
Andrija Jovićević and Mihailo Strugar in their work “Images from the History of Ceklin” affirm that Branko was in fact the headman of both clans.
Branko lived with his father in Venice where he obtained the level of education higher than it could be achieved in Montenegro in those times.
Certain historical records say that at that time the Turks appointed the spahija (landowner) to collect tax from the local people. However, the Montenegrin people living in these areas never considered themselves as ‘raja’ (common people paying taxes to the Turks) and refused to pay voluntarily, so that spahijas had to use force to collect money. According to some historical sources, one day spahija’s group came to the village called Smokovce to collect money but the people refused to pay. Therefore, Branko Sarap convened the whole village at Pelinovo Ždrijelo, where a dispute arose. Branko was killed trying to protect Smokovce.
Upon Branko’s death, his son Rade inherited the title of prince (headman). According to the line of succession Rade was most probably Branko’s eldest son. Branko had four sons:
Rade, the founder of the Banovići brotherhood;
Vučko, the founder of the Vučkovići brotherhood;
Lale, the founder of the Laličići brotherhood; and
Jovan, the founder of the Vukićevići, Karadaglići, Vujanovići, Đuraševići, Markišići, and Nikolići-Kaluđerovići brotherhoods.
Apart from the families that live in Ljubotinj, there are those who migrated, e.g. in Peroj, Istria there is the Popović family named after the priest (pop) Milo Nikolić who moved to Peroj with his brother headman Marko.
There are Vučković families in Zeta (some of them live in Belgrade), Ulcinj, Shkoder (they returned to Podgorica later), Bar, and many other places. Vukićević-Sarap families live in Zeta, at Vranjina and in Belgrade. Karadaglić (Vukićević) –Sarap families also settled in Zeta and Podgorica. There are families who converted to Islam: Vučković family in Mataguži (Zeta), Banović in Herzegovina. And Laličić near Gusinje. There is no evidence to prove that they are Saraps. Vučković families living at Njeguši and in Lješanska Nahija, and Vukićević families in Nikšić do not belong to the Sarap brotherhood.
Apart from the families mentioned above, some families moved on and settled throughout the former Yugoslavia and Europe; some emigrated to America and Australia. For most of them we can not establish when and where they emigrated, what names they assumed, and which patron saint’s day they celebrate. The most numerous are Saraps in Belgrade who settled there after the Second World War, but many live in Lovćenac, Novi Sad, Zagreb, Rijeka.
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An example of the Sarap brotherhood unity dating from 1929
Sarap’s letter to his brothers overseas
At the general assembly of all members of the Sarap brotherhood living in Boguti and Prekornica (Kaluđerović, Vujanović, Đurašević, Markišić, Vukićević, Vučković, Banović and Laličić ) held on November 5, 1928 in Prekornica, the following decisions were agreed upon:
- to resume our brotherly ties inherited from our ancestors, as they have been rather neglected in recent times, and strengthen them as much as our financial resources allow;
- to set aside all our family names and to assume the common family name SARAP for official and administrative purposes;
- to visit each other at Christmas united as brothers, and to start regular visits at Christmas of this year;
- to conduct wedding ceremonies, esp. ‘male’ weddings, within our community if possible;
- to build a modest monument in the remembrance of our forefather Božina Sarap and place it next to the St. Nicholas church in Boguti where he was buried.
That monument should be built through donations of 150 descending families and we should not allow anybody to comment on the monument for not being appropriate to the authority and size of our brotherhood. We have started collecting voluntary contributions; nevertheless, you are aware of our current difficult financial circumstances. There are families who can not afford a decent meal, still they contributed for this purpose. So far we have raised around 8,000 (eight thousand) dinars. We have contributed more than we could afford, but this sum of money is not enough for such an important investment. So we call upon you, our brother, for your contribution, because without your help this enterprise can not be carried through properly.
Letters like this one have been distributed among our brothers throughout the world, hoping that each one of them will help as much as possible.
A Board consisting of members of all Sarap branches has been appointed to take care of all the details.
Your contributions should be sent to the address of our brother Jovo N. Vukićević, Boguti, Ljubotinj, not later than July 1 of this year.
Voluntary contributions are to be accepted only from our Sarap brothers.
On behalf of the Board,
Priest Milo Vučković
Ljubotinj, April 1929
- Milo A. Markišić
- Tomo Vujanović
- Jošo Đurašević
- Joko F. Kaluđerović
- Pero N. Vučković
- Jovo N. Vukićević
- Marko N. Banović
- Risto S. Laličić