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KUMBARA - Old Serbian Words


The word "kumbara" is originally of Persian origin and it signifies a type of ancient grenade, bomb or the actual cannon that launched kumbaras.

Just like many other Serbian words and expressions, this one also came to us from the Turkish language. The dictionary "Turkish words in Serbo-Croatian language" by A. Skaljic quotes a verse from a traditional poem: "From kuduz the big cannon, that kumbara to towns launches". This word came from Turkish to our language with this meaning, although in Persian it also signifies a small jug. But if we recall what the cannons of Serbian rebels from the 19th century looked like, we could see that they actually had the form of long jugs that were loaded with cannonballs and lit by a fuse. Serbian rebels were making them of wood, while the Turks, the Austrians and the others were casting cannons out of metal. However, the word kumbara is nowadays in Serbia best known as the cannon used by Karadjordje's rebels during the First Serbian Uprising.

The cannon was constructed to be carried by three persons, two of them to carry it from the back and one from the front. It was made from a cherry wood log, reinforced with metal rings and hollowed out, and the rebels used it, it is said, to fire pressed gunpowder shots at the Turks.

Today you could also come across the surname Kumbara, especially in Bosnia, in two eparchies of Gradiska – Gradiska-Laminacka and Junuzovci. Kumbara families traditionally celebrate St. John's day. This last name cannot be found almost anywhere else in neighboring regions. It only appears in varieties Kumbare / Kumbarici in Muslims settled in towns Trnovci, Bulcici, Visoko, Zbilj and Grajani. According to tradition, they originated from Uzice, where they allegedly arrived from the old Herzegovina. It is quite possible that Kumbaras' ancestors were actually artillerymen or skilled armour craftsmen.
But that is just one of the assumptions. The other is that they originated from Boka, the seaside region of Herceg Novi, Montenegro, where there is a town named Kumbor, and in that very place, in the medieval period during the reign of the Balšić dinasty, there was a fortress-town Vrbanja. It is not impossible that some family from this town, skilled in constructing these cannons, had been forced to join the Turks in their conquests all the way to the Bosnian Frontier, and that their surname Kumbara was later derived from their profession or their old hometown.

Apart from being found in traditional epic poetry, kumbara found its place in a movie title. "A song from Kumbara" is a Yugoslavian movie filmed in 1955 and directed by Radoš Novaković.
The leading roles were played by Severin Bijelic, Milena Dapcevic and Branko Plesa, while Velimir Bata Zivojinovic made his acting debut in this movie. The plot takes place during the First Serbian Uprising, and it tells a story of a Serbian rebel who falls in love with a girl of Turkish descent.

Nevertheless, we are certain that most people, when mentioned the word "kumbara" – get hungry! And that is not at all surprising, for every genuine gourmet shares the same first association to this word – Kumbara Restaurant. And then it is enough to just head to Avala, and in no time abandon yourself to the pleasure of savory and sweet specialties.