About Ban Kulin

The Kulin Initiative is inspired by Ban Kulin, a Bosnian Ban who ruled at the end of the 12th century and is considered by many to be the father of the Bosnian state. Ban Kulin is renowned for developing Bosnia’s economy and practising a policy of religious freedom that was almost unique during the era. 

The Charter of Kulin is the symbolic birth certificate of the Bosnian state, as it is the first written document that stipulates Bosnian borders (between the rivers of Drina, Sava and Una), its ruler, throne, political organisation and referenced the population for the first time as “Bošnjani” (Bosnians). The Charter itself was a trade agreement between Bosnia and Republic of Dubrovnik and was written in Bosančica - Old Bosnian Cyrillic language.

 

This Charter encouraged trade and established peaceful relations between the two states. Kulin is credited with opening up many important trade routes, fostering Bosnia’s economy. Sadly, Bosnia-Herzegovina does not hold a copy of The Charter, two copies remain in Dubrovnik while the original remains in St. Petersburg. 

It has been argued that the spirit of not merely tolerating diversity but of rejoicing in this, originally nurtured by Ban Kulin, proved an affront to the mono-religious way in which Bosnia's neighbours constructed their identities, which denied that a multi-religious state could thrive.

Rusmir Mahmutćehajić, Bosnian academic and former Deputy Prime Minister, referring to Ban Kulin's period of "historical pluralism" notes the following:

"Bosnia is the only European country that has been based throughout its existence upon a unity of religious diversity that was vital for the peace and stability of the world of the past."

He continues that in the face of external threats to this unity, the Bosnian people have consistently defended their right to "different sacred paths."

Ban Kulin’s iconic influence across the Balkan region is still remembered today by the saying “Od Kulina bana i dobrijeh dana" meaning from the days of Ban Kulin and better times.