Stonemasonry workshop
Dražen Jakšić

1903

Donji Humac 75, 21423 Nerežišća
Island of Brač, Croatia

The Brač stone story

In the beginning was stone, and stone was at Brač, Brač on stone. Stone cold, rough and defiant. And the man settled on stone, and fell in love with stone. The stone of Brač became his roof and table, wall and floor, stone record, capital lace and sculpture.

The beauty of the Brač stone was resisted by neither Diocletian nor the builders of the Šibenik Cathedral, the White House and many more buildings worldwide.

Stone nurtured generations of the Brač stone-dressers. It became and remained the symbol of human persistence and skills. Stone symbolises firmness and steadiness of the men of Brač in their struggle for life and survival on this large rock proudly rising between the mainland and other islands.

Since birth in a stone house, baptising in a stone baptistery, to the first steps on stone cobbles, to the last rest in a stone grave, our entire lives are bound to stone.

As the Brač poet, Stjepan Pulišelić, beautifully put it:

And, so,
By stone always troubled
To stone forever attached

Donji Humac

Like a herd of timid sheep, some hundred stone houses packed by the Humac hillock, amidst the carst of Brač, at the edge of a fertile field. Here, not far from the Kopačina cave where artefacts several millennia old have been discovered, and near the 10th century St. Elia's church, built on top of a Roman mausoleum. Far from the sea, people lived of grapes, olives and stone for centuries.

Although the name of Humac was first mentioned only in 1305, this place exercised a significant influence to the development of Brač, since the entire north-western part of the island, with the villages of Sutivan and Mirca, was under its administration. Vicinity of large deposits of the best quality stone of Brač, very much determined the development of this place.

Numerous old quarries, similar to the dressed-stone Roman mausoleums, stone churches and mansions testify the centuries old tradition of stone dressing of Donji Humac. Application of modern technologies of stone collecting and treatment in the last two centuries, however, caused this trade to flourish.

Most of its about two hundred inhabitants make their living from stone dressing. In the village there are about a dozen of companies and tradesmen, the development of stone dressing and sculpture being also contributed by two academy-trained sculptors and an expert restorer-conservator, now living and working in Donji Humac.

Skills and affections were also presented here by eight sculptors at the first International Sculpture Symposium, held here under the high auspices of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia. The symposium still takes place, with minor pauses, wherefore Donji Humac, Nerežišća and Dračevica have been decorated with splendid stone sculptures, works of the sculptors who participated these events.

Stone dressing

The man's wish to shape stone, to cut signs and symbols in it is as old as the man himself. Our ancient forefathers dug cattle feeding and watering troughs in stone, built water cisterns, dug sarcophagi and shelters. By digging of holes for wooden wedges, the man started collecting stone.
The collected blocks were then shaped and broken into smaller pieces by the technologies available.

From the earliest times the man transferred to stone and created in stone all his inner humours, his religious believes and images of his deities. Such endeavours are evident at numerous sites of stone palaces, sanctuaries and other cult objects, because stone is steady and, therefore, has preserved for us many testimonies of the past, has became a book for us to learn from.

Technology and tool advancements made stone treatment, stone dressing and sculpture develop as well. The present-day technological achievements enable cutting and treating of stone to the man's wishes.

Without sensitive approach to stone, without listening how it sounds, without tracing its veins, there is no true stone dressing.

The tradition of treating of stone has been preserved at Brač by its transferring from father to son. An important role in preserving this tradition has been played by the stone-dressing school in Pučišća, the only such school in Croatia, as well as by the practical stone-dressing training performed for half a century now in the Jakšić stone-dressing workshop.