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Sandžak (Region, Serbia, Montenegro)

Last modified: 2014-07-26 by ivan sache
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[Flag of the Bosniaks]         [Coat of arms of the Bosniaks]

Flag and arms of the Bosniak minority in Serbia and Montenegro - Images by Željko Heimer, 19 March 2005

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Presentation of Sandžak

The region of Sandžak is a wide area on borders between Montenegro and Serbia, south eastern ofBosnia and Herzegovina. The region that has remained in Ottoman Empire for the longest time (then known as the Sanjak of Novi Pazar), Sandžak is heavily Muslim populated.

The name of Sandžak means "a flag". B. Klaić's dictionary of foreign words used in Croatian (Rječnik stranih riječi, 1978), has the followin entry for for sandžak):

sandžak, Turkish,

  1. flag
  2. region, administrative unit during Turkish rule and its head (also sandžak-beg)
  3. military unit

Željko Heimer & Josh Fruhlinger, 15 November 1995

Symbols of the Bosniaks of Sandžak

The alleged coat of arms of Sandžak is nowadays the coat of arms of the Bosniak minority in Serbia and Montenegro. It was originally the coat of arms of the Bosniak National Council of Sandžak (Bošnjačko nacionalno vijeće Sandžaka, BNVS), which was founded on 11 May 1991 as the Muslim National Council of Sandžak (Muslimansko nacionalno vijeće Sandžaka, MNVS) and renamed on 10 May 1998, when its new Constitution was adopted. The Council was meant to be the highest political body of the Sandžak Bosniaks/Muslims and, as one of its declared goals was the autonomous status of Sandžak (both parts in Montenegro and in Serbia), its coat of arms and flag became used as those of Sandžak itself, although never officially. The Constitution of the Council deals with its symbols as follows:

Article 6.

BNVS has a seal and a stamp.
The text of the seal is: Bosniak National Council of Sandžak, BNVS, with the coat of arms in the centre.

BNVS has a coat of arms and a flag.
The coat of arms of the BNVS is in the form of a stylized heart-shaped shield divided into two parts by the diagonal which begins in the top left corner and goes through the centre of the shield.
In the upper right half of the coat of arms are drawn three white crescents on a green field turned towards the right side, while in the lower left half of the coat of arms are drawn three yellow fleurs-de-lis on a dark blue field.
The prototype and the sketch of the coat of arms are kept in the archive of the BNVS.

The flag of the BNVS is in white colour with the ratio of one to one-and-half.
In the centre of the flag is the coat of arms of the BNVS set on the transversal axis.

The text of Article 6 is translated to English as close to the original as possible, so it must be noted that:
- the words "seal" and "stamp" are used for two Serbo-Croat words which mean some difference in usage as well as in forms of the objects' prints (the first is circular and the second is usually rectangular)
- "heart-shaped" is often used, although not quite correct, Serbo-Croat term for "heater-shaped" (the form of the shield)
- "right" and "left" are used for "sinister" and "dexter", respectively
- "sketch" is used for "construction sheet".

The Constitution has replaced the Constitution of the Muslim National Council of Sandžak, adopted on 6 June 1993, whose Article 6 had the same text as above, except the Council's name and its abbreviation, which were as used then. The Constitution used previously, adopted on 11 January 1992 and replaced by this, is not available on the Internet, so it is still unknown if it did deal with the Council's symbols, but it is quite possible, as they seem to have appeared during the year 1992.

The description of the coat of arms is incomplete, as it does not mention the white bend, which actually separates green and blue fields, nor the gold/yellow fimbriation around the shield, and says nothing about the pattern in which the crescents are arranged, which can be represented as:


That is why so many incorrect images of the coat of arms have appeared on the Internet - sometimes even along with the correct image on the same page! The stars accompanying the crescents are definitely an error, as they are not mentioned in the Constitution at all. Also, the position of the white bend (which is never omitted, though) is sometimes wrong, the diagonal of the shield being its top edge instead of its axis, and unnecessary gold fimbriations are sometimes added to it. At present time, the image of the correct design of the coat of arms can be found only at the SandžakInfo website.

In 2003, the Bosniak National Council in Serbia and Montenegro was formed as the official representative body of the Bosniaques in the whole country, and the Bosniak National Council of Sandžak ceased to exist, but many of its members were elected into the new body. In the TV-reports from the constitutive session of the Bosniak National Council, broadcasted on the RTS 1 channel on 15 September 2003, the coat of arms (correctly drawn) was seen on the wall behind the councillors. Finally, on 13 May 2004, the Council officially adopted the coat of arms as that of the Bosniak minority (see Danas, Belgrade, 14 May 2005).
The white flag with the coat of arms in the centre was adopted as the flag of the minority, and 11th May, the day when the Muslim (later: Bosniak) National Council of Sandžak was formed, was proclaimed the Bosniak national holiday as the Bosniak National Flag Day (Dan bošnjačke nacionalne zastave) (see Danas, op. cit.). The flag, according to photos seen so far (see Reporter, Belgrade, #310, 22 September 2004), has the ratio of about 1:2, the height of the shield of arms is about three-fourths of the flag width and its colours are V+, W, B+ and Y (the last one is sometimes replaced with Y+ or Au, but that is incorrect).

Tomislav Todorović, 18 March 2005

The unofficial coat of arms of Sandžak is similar to the former arms of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and was derived from it. The difference is the upper triangle, which is replaced with a field of another colour, with fleurs-de-lis in it replaced with crescents.
The May 2004 Decision by the Bosniak National Council in Serbia and Montenegro prescribes the proportions of the flag as 1:1.625.

Željko Heimer, 19 March 2005