Woodworking in Konjic: The “Braća Nikšić” furniture recognized by UNESCO

PHOTO: VELIJA HASANBEGOVIĆ

Pieces of walnut tree, ash and cherry, after processing in their workshops, become art works. The tradition of woodworking in the Nikšić family from Konjic dates back to the 19th century, but Gano Nikšić, the great-grandfather of today’s owner Armin Nikšić, officially opened a woodcarving shop in 1920.

His son Adem inherited family tradition, then Mukelef, and Armin Nikšić, who belongs to the fourth generation of wood carvers, put a stamp on everything. He inherited the family tradition in 1996, and the shop “Braća Nikšić” was the peak of honor – the Commission for the Preservation of National Monuments of BiH proclaimed the furniture of this family a movable state heritage.

Protection of UNESCO

Woodworkers from Konjic guarded the legacy of their ancestors with dedication, and in 2017 they were also honored to note that the long tradition of wood carving was put under the protection of UNESCO. After the Zmijanje embroidery, this is another good from our country that is included in the Representative List of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

This big recognition is especially pleasing, since traditional furniture production comes from a small country like BiH, in which tradition, talent and capability go hand in hand with modern times.

Nikšić family did not rely solely on tradition, but in the promotion of furniture they went along with time. Adem Nikšić advertised its products in the first half of the last century, and exhibited furniture at fairs in the big cities of the region and even in Paris.

– Our furniture is intended for those who appreciate tradition and love art, as well as for objects of different types, which by their purpose should go hand in hand with cultural and historical values ​​of this region. We make trays, jewelry boxes, backgammons, bridal chests, candlestick stands, holders for the Qur’an, hexagonal tables, scorner shelves, raffs, sofas, wooden carved closets, custom made souvenirs, Bosnian rooms, bedrooms, dining sets – says Armin Nikšić.

Nikšić strives to “breathe” an additional tune into this work. He works with his sons of the masters who worked with his father, so this is almost a family relationship. He claims that one can become the top master in five years, and soon this skill should be studied at the College of Tourism and Management in Konjic, founded by prof. dr. Refik Hebibović.

With a smile on his face he says that his son Mirza shows affinity for woodworking. He is in his second year of secondary school and is active basketball player, as well as the daughter Azra, junior representative of BiH and a members of the women’s basketball club “Play off”. His wife Emira, he says, is in charge of paperwork.

Already in the European Union

We said that the best pieces of walnut, ash and cherry tree are used, because hardwood is needed for processing. Why not then oak, or hornbeam, which are even harder? Our host claims that they are not good for processing, which is divided into phases.

– The first phase is the drawing of ornaments, followed by work with specially made tools. In the third phase, processing is done by chisels, and the fourth is embellishment or repetition of some of the phases – explains Nikšić.

It takes five days to make one large wooden carved closet. For sofas, bedroom, diningrooms … much more. We have customers, regardles of the fact that when we compare ordinary furniture, ours is somewhat more expensive. Customers are officials of most embassies in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Furniture parts are at the Heritage Museum in Konjic. They decorate offices of the companies Igman, Bekto Precisa, the Islamic Community in BiH, Tower of Husein-Captain Gradaščević in Gradačac … They make souvenirs with the company logo Bosnalijek. Everything without support of the state, and Armin Nikšić says humorously:

– We are already in Europe, we have opened the way for politicians. Let them work at our pace, follow our path and bring the country as soon as possible in the EU. We will welcome them – he says.

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