Sarajevo Baščaršija is abundant with artisans who for several centuries have preserved ancient artisanship from oblivion and are visited by tourists coming to the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sarači (masters who make leather items) are among the oldest and one of the most important crafts. They have been appearing in 1489 and have survived to this day.
Previously, they were engaged in the production of horse equipment, passenger equipment, as well as production of clogs (nanule) and traditional peasants’ shoes (opanci). Today they are more oriented towards the production of equipment for dogs, leather goods, and from traditional products, they still produce nanule and slippers. In addition, they also deal with repairs of leather products.
Ejub Lazović is one of the oldest craftsmen in Baščaršija and has been working for more than half a century. He says that he studied the craft from the old master Muhammad Užičanin in 1954, when he was 14 years old.
– I worked with him for three years and learned all about this business. Later I was employed in the company “Bosna sport” where I worked for two years, and then went to the army. I opened my shop in 1967 in Sarači Street, where there were only previously shops that dealt with my crafts – says Lazović.
He points out that in Sarači Street, when he studied the craft, there were 36 shops of this kind, and today he remained alone. He says that no other artisan should have a store in that street and that craftsmen were housed in the streets bearing names by specific crafts they were engaged into.
– There were shoemakers, saddles… Today I’m here. This trade was transferred to my son Ibrahim who studied this craft in Visoko. I think that he is the last saddler in Bosnia and Herzegovina who has studied both theory and practice and now we do not have anyone to offer our knowledge to – emphasizes Lazović.
He emphasizes that it was easier to work before, because they were protected, and today they have big problems, primarily in the purchase of real leather.
– Before the war there were five factories where I could buy leather, and today they are all closed. I buy skin from people from Visoko, I also get something from Turkey. I’m finding my ways somehow – says Eub.
He points out that there is not that much work as it used to be. He says that foreigners buy most of his products and that he is mostly making a living thanks to that. In addition to production, he also repaires leather items and other materials.
According to him, out of all old crafts in Baščaršija the highest reputation still have coppersmiths and they are still working as they used to.
– Before the war, they were especially preserved and it was not allowed for each store to sell copper dishes. Now, these are sold everywhere, and most of them are imported from China, Turkey and Iran – says Lazović.