Why Every Croatian Wants to Have As Many Martens as S/He Can?

It’s true! Every Croatian wants at least a couple of thousands martens every month. Having a million martens is every Croatian’s dream…

Now, now, don’t call PETA just yet. I’m not talking about the actual animals. The word for the animal, “marten” in Croatian is kuna. The same word is the name of our currency. That’s why we love and want kunas so much. And there is a logical link between this particular animal and the money that we use today in Croatia…

baummarder_01

Photo by Huhu Uet

This article is part of our April 2020 section “Croatian Thursday”. Every Thursday we present one aspect of our history, culture and traditions… This April 2020 all guided tours are cancelled, but Rilak’s Zagreb Guide is continuing online, with…

Croatian currency, kuna (kn or HRK) is in use since 1994. Approximately, 1 US dollar is 6.5 kunas, 1 euro is 7.5 kunas. Although a recent currency, its name and its connection to the animal “kuna”, a marten, goes all the way to the Roman times and the Middle Ages.

n-kov-ap1-jpg-1_kuna_l

Photo: 1 marten on the coin of 1 kuna. Source: Croatian National Bank.

During Roman times, in the province of Pannonia (today Hungary and Croatian region of Slavonia), taxes were collected in marten’s fur. Marten’s fur was considered highly valuable and even the Croatian Medieval word for “taxes” was marturina, coming from Medieval Latin word for “marten”, martus. Slavic and Croatian name for “marten, the animal” was kuna.

In late Middle Ages, the taxes were no longer paid in animals’ fur. Silver and gold coins started to develop. But the name stayed the same – kuna (“marten”), meaning now not only an animal but “money” or “tax” or generally “something that you have to pay”. Kuna was a currency unit in several Slavic states until the early 15th century. For many centuries, a marten remained a symbol of our Eastern region of Slavonia and can be found on the official coat of arms of the region.

HRV_Slavonia_COA.svg

Coat of arms of Slavonia.

And of course, coat of arms of Croatia is composed of a red and white checkerboard with a crown of Croatian regions, so a small marten can be found on the coat of arms and the flag of Croatia, as well.

2000px-Flag_of_Croatia.svg

Can you see it? It’s right there in the fifth part of the crown. Right next to a goat. Now, what’s a goat doing there? That’s a story for next Thursday…

This article is part of our April 2020 section “Croatian Thursday”. Every Thursday we present one aspect of our history, culture and traditions… This April 2020 all guided tours are cancelled, but Rilak’s Zagreb Guide is continuing online, with…

4 replies

    • it’s possible, Slavic people had this tradition of being sheep and goat herders, not only Slavic, there were many areas of the Balkans and Central Europe known for this… because of their coat of arms, today we maybe link martens more to Slavonia than to other regions or countries, but in reality martens are present all over Central Europe, maybe even more in other regions than in Slavonia itself.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.