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MONTENEGRIN



Geography & Topography

Capital: Podgorica

Population: 150,977 people

Area:   13,812 km²

Language: Montenegrin

Religion: Eastern Orthodox

Currency: Euro


History

In the 10th century, there were three different Slavic principalities on the territory of Montenegro. The southern half called Duklja, the west called Travunia and the north called Rascia. In 1042, Stefan Vojislav led a revolt, which led to the independence of the Southern part, Duklja, and the establishment of the Vojislavjevic dynasty.  The region knew its zenith under Vojislav’s son, Mihailo (1046-81), and his son Bodin (1081- 1101). Duklja was then replaced by Zeta in the 13th century. Zeta that was part of the Serbian Grand Principality of the Nemanjic dynasty. In the 14th century, the Serbian empire collapsed and Zeta came under the rule of the Balsic noble family followed by the Crnojević noble family. During the 15th century, Zeta was often referred to as Crna Gora. When the Crnojević dynasty disintegrated, its bishops ruled Montenegro until 1696, and then by the house of Petrović-Njegoš until 1918. From then, it was part of Yugoslavia.

 

 

 

 

Performing Arts

Music

The music of Montenegro represents the country’s distinctive musical traditions as well as various Western influences which have played a role in the country’s history and development. Montenegrin music was mainly composed of religious music from the 12th to 19th centuries. In the meantime, the first singing academy was established in Kotor, a coastal city located in the southwest region of the country. Most Montenegrin music is based on a relatively simple traditional instrument known as the Gusle.

A significant development of classical music occurred during the 19th century in Montenegro. Such an occurrence was in response to events which occurred during that time with regards to the country and its culture. During the 20th century, classical schools became more popular. Radio stations based in the country’s capital Podgorica, played a significantly important role in the development of Montenegrin music by broadcasting a diverse range of music every day. This is how composers began to introduce traditional instruments into modern compositions.

Traditional music differs according to the different regions of the country, with pronounced styles differing in the Kotor gulf, Old Montenegro and the Sandjak region. A lot of songs are adapted from fables, events and tales from Montenegrin tradition. Popular musicians in Montenegro include Brena Lepa, Ceca and Svetlana “Seka” Aleksić. Hip-hop evolved in the 1990’s with artists such as Rambo Amadeus, who rapped about everyday life stories in a humorous and light-hearted way. Whilst there is always a new stream of music artists emerging, a severe lack of financing has resulted in many record labels closing down due to their inability to sustain everyday operations.

Dance

 


Oro: A traditional folk dance form specific to the region of Montenegro, Oro is unofficially the dance form which is most associated with the country. Its origins lie in the Crminica region. The dance is more a form of communal gathering rather than a dance per se as it involves large groups of performers and involves high levels of interaction and spontaneity between dancers. Oro begins with young men and women forming a circle whilst starting to sing. The singing involves a playful mocking of participants on the other side of the circle challenging them to enter the circle and dance. The dancer who accepts the challenge enters the circle and begins a dance which involves imitating the movements and gestures of an eagle. The aim the imitative act is to impress other performers. The dance then progresses with other participants providing feedback on the first dancer’s performance, either in the form of praise or criticism. Oro culminates in the dancers forming a 2-storey circle whilst standing on each other’s shoulders, a scene which is the most famous and most photographed of the entire dance.

Sota

Sota is the dance of the Muslim population of Montenegro. It is especially popular in the Sandzak region of the country.  The dance is performed at weddings and other cultural gatherings where both men and women are present. The choreography involves steps which are difficult to perform due to their complexity and the speed with which they must be performed. Men and women move closer and farther away from each other according to the rhythm of the music. Whilst the dance is performed, it is common for the female dancer to wave her handkerchief around in the air whilst performing her steps. Sota is often performed to an accompaniment of music consisting of drums along with other traditional instruments.


Interesting facts

  • Montenegro means “Black Mountain”, a name which is likley to have originated from the thick “black” forests that covered Mount Lovcen in mediaval times
  • Montenegro has 293km of coastline with 117 beaches covering 73km
  • Montenegro was declared an Ecological State in 1991

Montenegrin Community in Australia

More information on Montenegro