Žrnovo

The village of Žrnovo is located on the east side of the island Korčula. Like most other older rural settlements on the island, it is set in a spacious hill-encircled valley that includes a few large basins of fertile land, well-sheltered from the sea. Žrnovo consists of four hamlets: Prvo selo, Brdo, Kampuš and Postrana, which are organised around cultivation areas that were the basis of the villages’ economy in the past. For centuries, wine and olive growing set the basic rhythm of life for villagers, shaping their habits and routines as well as their living space. However, as the inhabitants of Žrnovo have turned to industry, trades and handicrafts and catering for a living, agriculture has come to play only a minor role in shaping their world. They take a special pride in stonemasonry, regarding it as their tradition. Various stone artefacts that can be found all around the village, such as nicely-built stone houses, courtyards, crosses, pillars, arches, etc., testify to the great skill of its stonemasons.

The Žrnovo village area includes a few bigger bays on both the south and north sides of the island that have always been important focal points for the villagers – in the past for fishing, wine-growing and stone exploitation, and today mostly because of tourism. On the south side there are the bays of Rasohatica, Pavja luka, Orlanduša and Bratinja luka, and on the north side there are the bays of Medvinjak, Žrnovska banja, Vrbovica and Tri žala.

Although the name of Žrnovo suggests a homogenous geographical and cultural unity, there is a pronounced awareness of mutual differences between the inhabitants of the northernmost hamlet of Prvo selo and the southernmost hamlet of Postrana, which makes the identity of this village rather complex.

Korčula Town, 4 kilometres distant, with its strong administrative, economic and cultural influences, has left a deep mark on both the material and spiritual culture of the inhabitants of Žrnovo, and has defined to a great extent their orientation to their living space.

The parish church of St Martin dominates the heart of the valley, which is streaked with dolomite rocks. The inhabitants of Žrnovo used to see their lives as being deeply connected with their religious beliefs; therefore, besides the rhythm of agricultural work, their yearly calendars were defined in accordance with religious holidays.

The most interesting personality of more recent Croatian literature whose origins, and in part work, are associated with Žrnovo is the writer Petar Šegedin. His 1946 novel “God’s Children”, besides being important for Croatian culture in general, includes a wealth of valuable anthropological information about Žrnovo in the first half of the 20th century.

Vinko Didović

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