The charter of the Bosnian Ban Kulin was written on August 29, 1189, in the old Bosnian language and with the Bosancica, and today we mark its 829th birthday.
The diplomatic document that was issued by the Bosnian ruler to Prince Krvas from Dubrovnik and other citizens of Dubrovnik is the oldest preserved Bosnian state document and one of the oldest documents of the South Slavic states as well.
This priceless document testifies about the deep roots of BH cultural-historical and linguistic heritage of medieval Bosnia. The Charter confirmed that Kulin was an independent ruler on the territory of the Bosnian medieval state and many people are referring to this document as “the birth certificate of Bosnian statehood.”
The charter was preserved in three copies, two of which are in the Dubrovnik Archives, and one in St. Petersburg (Russia) and under the authority of the Federal Agency for Scientific Organizations (FANO). While trying to determine the relationship between these three items, experts assumed that one of them is the original, and the other two are older and younger transcripts. However, they never agreed which one is the original one.
It is believed that the Charter of Kulin Ban is located in Russia and that Russian Consul Jeremija Gagic bought it in 1817 in a marketplace in Dubrovnik where it was used to wrap fish. It is assumed that it ended up in the marketplace after a fire.
BiH has been trying to return the Charter of Kulin Ban several times since the end of the war, but every attempt was unsuccessful because it is not entirely clear who has a right to it since it was taken from Dubrovnik. Moreover, Russia considers this document as one of the Slavic documents, the second most important for the history of Slavic people, and the request for its return has never received a real support at the state level.
Director of “Vecernjakov pecat” Jozo Pavkovic announced in Mostar in May last year that the Charter of Kulin Ban will be temporarily returned to BiH, but it is still unknown when this might happen, where the Charter will be exhibited and for how long will it stay in BiH.
The other copies were brought to Vienna back in 1832 and again returned to Dubrovnik after the World War II. It was the result of an agreement between Yugoslavia and Austria on the return of archival material. Two preserved transcripts of the Charter were used by the Office in Dubrovnik as a model for writing contracts for other countries or for other rulers after Kulin Ban.