Once upon a time 50 locals of the village Orlac near Vitez worked in a factory for production of mill stones, which were distributed across all republics of the former Yugoslavia. Today, Ferid Džidić is the only one who enters the Orlac hill, sometimes together with his younger son Fehret.
“Being a carver of mill stones is something that saved me and my family from poverty three times. When I returned from the army in 1965, some agricultural reform was enforced and you couldn’t find a job. Before going to the army, my father told me to go work with him, to learn the craft, because I will need it one day. I listened to him and never regret it. I took his tools and started making mill stones. Stones were distributed from Vitez to Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia… After that, I got a job in chemical industry in Princip, in Vitez, but I never forgot the stones. It became my additional job. Prior to the outbreak of the war, management of the company told us to go home and wait for a call. The war ended and they never called me. Once again, I took my tools and started carving mill stones in Orlac,” said Džidić.
He repaired the first mills on Pliva with mill stones for grinding wheat in 1984, before the Sarajevo Olympics. Everything had to be excellent then, including the mills on Pliva.
“Pero Dumačić, former director of GIK Kozara from Banja Luka, came to my yard. He asked me to repair all mills on Pliva. That included 24 pairs of millstones – to make them and install them in the mills. I told him I could do it in two years. He laughed and told me that they need it done in two months. I accepted the offer because it was difficult to reject it. I did the job in two months, to mutual satisfaction,” Džidić recalled.
Olympics have passed, the war has passed, and Džidić did not have a job again. He was thinking about launching a business – production of mill stones.
“When a man makes a firm decision, even God helps him. More and more peoples started building mills, so they asked for mill stones. I was the only one who was still making them here in Orlac. Everyone else was either old or dead. The business was going well, life improved, when I receive a call from Jajce in 2006 to repair five mills. Mayor Branko Ćavara already prepared the contract. Of course, I completed the job. Not long ago I repaired stones on two mills in Jajce, and I also went to Krka. I installed thirteen pair of millstones, weighing one ton each, in mills of the National Park Krka near Šibenik,” said Džidić.
Džidić always believed in hard work and fairness. He knew he would be a good crafter back in 1962, when he entered the tunnels of Oralc to learn craft with his father for the first time.
“At that time, one older crafter asked me if I have dreams about carving stones from that hill. I told him I do. He then told me that I will be a good crafter” Ferid said.
The old man was right. Ferid is the only carver of millstones who still lives of his labor.