Sarajevo Coppersmith Transforms Objects of Pain and Suffering into Art
We take war objects and transform them into something positive: a pen, a vase for a flower…
~ Kenan Hidić
Two Minimalists Walk into a Coppersmith Shop…
I’d like to say we happened upon Kenan’s shop in Baščaršija, Sarajevo’s Old Town, purely by accident. While we could have, we may not have walked down Kazandžiluk Street (Coppersmith Street) with an open mind had it not been for the free walking tour we went on the day before with Sarajevo Funky Tours. Our guide spoke of the authenticity of the items found on Kazandžiluk Street, evidenced by the coppersmiths hard at work in their shops.
Lovers of authenticity and aspiring minimalists, shopping is not high on our list of activities. In fact, it’s not on the list at all. Living overseas with an eventual goal of moving somewhere new, we aren’t eager to accumulate more things. Connecting with people who are passionate about what they do does make our list. This is how I ended up making one small purchase in Sarajevo.
Sarajevo Coppersmith Kenan Hidić
We were drawn into Kenan’s shop by the clanging sound of metal striking copper. We stayed for Kenan’s easygoing nature. As he spoke about how he created freehand masterpieces on materials ranging from small hand cut pieces of copper to shell casings from the war, his passion for his work was palpable.
Kenan set aside the piece he was working on, a bookmark we would later learn was being custom made for a woman based on one of her tattoos. He pulled out a blank form and began showing us his design method. It was fascinating. There was no sales pitch, no angle that made us want to gracefully make an exit and continue to our destination. As he showed us the different sizes of the metal tools he uses and how each one was used, an idea became to take shape in my mind, just as the images took shape on the copper.
A Gift from a Sarajevo Coppersmith
This is how I came to make a small purchase. I told Kenan I wanted to purchase the bookmark he started during the explanation of his craft (pictured above). It wouldn’t be for myself but would be a gift for the person who instilled a love of reading in me from a young age. He said I could have it inscribed. I wrote down what I wanted it to say, and he said it would be ready later that day.
I walked away happy, not because I had bought something, but because I had a memorable interaction with a passionate artisan.
29 Kazandžiluk Street
Hidić is located just a few minutes from Pigeon Square, at number 29 Kazandžiluk. It has been in this spot since 1996. Before that, the shop was in a smaller space. Hidić is a family business that has been in operation for about 70 years.
Stop in and ask Kenan to show you the picture of his grandfather from the sixties, doing the same work you can watch Kenan doing today. In a smaller version of the framed picture, you can see a date hanging behind the picture of his grandfather, showing all but the final number. The first three numbers are 196_, evidence of the long history of coppersmithing in the Hidić family.
Sarajevo: A Place of Connection
Each traveler’s experience is unique and different. What captivates one person may hold no interest at all for another. I often hesitate to make recommendations because the chances of replicating an experience is unlikely. However, there are those special moments and stories that ought to be shared. My time talking with Kenan Hidić, a Sarajevo coppersmith, is one experience I’m pretty confident can be replicated if you find Kenan at work in his shop.
Kenan is just one of many locals that I spoke to during our week in Sarajevo. Sarajevo turned out to be a place where locals were full of warmth, kindness, and stories to share. You can read more about some of those locals and our trip from Sarajevo to Srebrenica in Voices of Sarajevo.
What’s your experience?
Have you been to Sarajevo? Have you stopped into one of the coppersmith shops on Kazandžiluk Street? Share your experience or ask a question in the comment section below.
We hope our experiences help you find yours.
– E and T