Mrgari – Baška’s Stone Flowers in Split


As of March 22, the Split Ethnographic Museum is hosting a photography exhibition by Sanjin Ilić, titled Mrgari – Baška’s Stone Flowers in Split.

Mrgari are these extremely rare, unique, and fragile flower-shaped dry-stone structures, constantly exposed to the sun, wind, and salt spray. Their timeless beauty deserves to be not only admired, but also preserved and protected. Accordingly, as of March 22, the Split Ethnographic Museum is hosting a photography exhibition by Sanjin Ilić, titled Mrgari – kameni cvjetovi Baške (Mrgari – Baška’s Stone Flowers in Split). The Baška-based Sinjali Association believes this mrgari exhibition is an important step toward completing the project of restoring and regularly maintaining the few existing mrgari, as well as preserving and marking the remaining mrgari in the Baška Valley. Besides Sinjali, the exhibition was organized by the Baška Tourist Board and Baška Municipality. - Mrgari are a sign of the times and a monument to the hard work of the locals. They remind us of our coexistence with nature, no matter how cruel it can be. They are also the most beautiful examples of the old dry-stone walling technique, which involves constructing walls by simply stacking stones on top of each other, without any mortar whatsoever. These multi-pen flower-shaped structures dominate the karst landscape on the plateaus above the Baška Valley. They were used for gathering and sorting sheep belonging to different people and grazing on communal pastures or komunade; however, these days, they are used increasingly less often. The need for their use and maintenance is dwindling as the shepherds are starting to disappear. There is a total of fifteen mrgari on the meager pastures above Baška and on the island of Prvić, and most of them have been abandoned – says Branka Polonijo, head of the Sinjali Association, adding that that is the reason why we need to preserve them for our future generations. According to her, similar structures are found on just two islands in all of Europe, in the UK, i.e. Wales, and Iceland, as well as in the Swiss Alps, i.e. Naters in the Canton of Valais. The author of the exhibition is also in awe of Baška’s stone flowers. – For years now, I have been drawn like a magnet to the beauty of this landscape, dotted with handmade mrgari and crisscrossed with endless dry-stone walls or gromače. Even now, I can somehow feel the presence of the people there, even though they have moved on to live elsewhere, by the sea and the hotels. I have enormous respect for our ancestors and their much more difficult, yet simpler way of life. I don’t want these new generations to forget about those who came before them and about all the hard work they did each day simply to survive – explains the author of the exhibition, Sanjin Ilić, while talking about the idea behind his photographs and the exhibition. Still, mrgari are more than just our cultural heritage. They represent an important and lasting legacy for the tourism industry. – Seeing as how rare they are, mrgari are quite interesting and intriguing for the tourists. It’s a well-known fact that tourists want much more than just the sun and the sea. Such a rare legacy should be safeguarded as it is our trump card, that special something about Baška, and the best told story about what life used to be in this region. It is precisely this combination of tradition and modern offer that today’s tourists want from us – concludes Ivana Topić, head of the Baška Tourist Board. The exhibition at the Split Ethnographic Museum will be open until May 14, 2023.