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Photo: Bazerdžan archive
Long read

Bazerdžan - a concept store in Sarajevo's Baščaršija with a mission to preserve tradition

Tina Lončar

February 28, 2024

In Sarajevo, through which the sung Miljacka quietly flows and the turbulent rivers of the past roar, there in Baščaršija, where trade and creation have been tirelessly for centuries, has its place under the sun of a hot summer in 2016 found Bazerdžan.

Huddled behind the window of charming metal frames inscribed with sevdalinka verses, the conceptual store stood by the side of traditional Bazar residents who bear witness to Sarajevo’s rich legacy while resisting the persistent urges of modern times. However, although small, Bazerdžan set out on his journey with a great mission. Motivated by the desire to preserve the past and culture of BiH from the firm grip of oblivion, he gathered around him local talents, craftsmen, artists and special people, and in the years that followed, he interwoven the inspiration of tradition into a unique symbiosis with innovation, technology and the stamp of today. In the mind of its founder Zana Karkin, the idea of ​​Bazerdžan was brewing slowly, and it would resonate especially loudly when returning to Sarajevo from a trip. Then, walking through the streets of her hometown, she would become even more painfully aware of the impact of globalization and the demise of tradition, which is hijacked by generic plastic without a story or a soul. “In a city with such a rich and diverse history, it has become almost impossible to find something authentic and special,” recounts Zana, recalling the moments when Bazerdžan was just a thought.

Collection decorated with ornaments inspired by the traditional tattoos of Bosnian Catholic women, Photo: Ajla Salkić/zidajnerka
Photo: Ajla Salkić/@zidajnerka

Instead of standing idly by and waiting for someone else to deal with what is bothering her, she decided to be the change herself. In order to offer Sarajevo something valuable, she gathered around her a team of dedicated creatives, freelance artists and independent designers, and in this harmony and togetherness Bazerdžan became a monument to enthusiasm, tireless search for ideas and passion that refuses to be handed over to ignorance and pessimism. Bazerdžan also connected tanners, wool collectors and processors, tailors, craftsmen of all kinds to the community whose tireless hands still remember the knowledge of some past times, giving an opportunity to local communities in rural parts of the country that hardly anyone cares about. In a fast-moving world, things lose their value, and globalization swallows authenticity, Bazerdžan decided to make a difference and show what sustainability and socially responsible business mean in the full sense of those words. Celebrating the beauty of local creativity, impeccable craftsmanship intertwined with old artisan knowledge, natural materials of known origin, and the insistence that each object has a special story became part of his philosophy. The slogan “For Sarajevo, with love” summed it all up.

Zana Karkin

Cooperation is at the heart of Bazerdžan. “It is much more than a place for shopping, it is a hub which brings together hardworking and talented individuals whose creation we have been involved in from the very beginning,” explains Zana and adds: “We believe in good products, but more than that we believe in people who share our values.” Whether it is a young artist from Sarajevo who designs jewellery, to the unrepentant craftsman Ibra who diligently made leather bags, or to a group of women who knit, sew and embroider folk costumes in some remote village, everyone in Bazerdžan has their role and their indisputable contribution, and as a result, unique items in exclusive, limited collections are created However, apart from the values ​​and principles from which it does not deviate, the oasis of creativity in Baščaršija also differs from others in that it designs its own line of clothing and fashion accessories. of the in-house team, Bazerdžan Wear represents a real mecca of creative ideas that reflects the true wealth of individual talents, but also the power of dedication and teamwork, and through whose products history and tradition are intertwined with today in incredibly inventive ways.

Kemil Bekteši dedicated his collection to the ancient Butmir culture, Photo: Ajla Salkić/zidajnerka
Photo: Ajla Salkić/@zidajnerka

We will mention only a few. In order to preserve the memory of her grandparents with whom she grew up in Jajce, as well as a valuable part of our shared history, Ina Čano designed a collection of dresses and T-shirts decorated with ornaments inspired by the traditional tattoos of Bosnian Catholic women. The tattooing ceremony, which was called “sicanje” or “bojanje”, was carried out by drawing motifs with a needle, charcoal and honey, and typical tattoo motifs at the time of the Ottoman Empire’s invasion became a symbol of resistance, preservation of religious affiliation, and spiritual and cultural identity. In Ina’s collection for Bazerdžan, they became an ornament on clothes, but also a symbolic reminder of history and the diversity of cultural identities. In the second collection, the Bosnian letter, an almost forgotten version of the Bosnian script that was used in the Middle Ages, the iconic Sarajevo Town Hall and the impressive monument to the Battle of Sutjeska on Tjentište found its place under the spotlight. The witty Bazerdžan team also paid tribute to the mythical Bosnian fairies, and the young artist Kemil Bekteši dedicated his collection in earthy tones to the ancient Butmir culture, the Neolithic culture that developed along the banks of the Bosnia river, and whose art and craft skills continue to inspire us to this day. In cooperation with the women from the folklore ensemble “Blue Sailors” from the village of Šerići, dresses inspired by traditional Muslim clothing from Podrinje were created for Bazerdžan, made by hand from knitted cloth and decorated with embroidered floral motifs, and the popular brand Werkstatt created eccentric metal jewelry for Bazerdžan. wrote the verses of Sevdalinka. The list could go on forever.

Ibrahim Kazazič, Photo: Omar Hani

In addition to the authentic symbols of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which he likes to remind, Bazerdžan gathers truly exceptional individuals, encouraging all the rhapsody of talents and knowledge, especially the artisanal one, which often balances on the margins of oblivion. With special warmth in Zana’s voice, he remembers the tanner Ibrahim Kazazič, whose hardworking hands made all the leather bags until his last breath. “We miss Ibro”, says Zana, “and not only because every stitch had to be perfect with him, but also because of his business ethics, which is rarely seen today. Ibro would know in advance which of our ideas would not look good and would clearly tell us that. And the words ‘moving deadlines’ did not exist in his vocabulary”. After Ibra’s departure, his business was taken over by a family from Visoko, which has been engaged in tanning for generations. And speaking of the magic of old crafts, on the shelves of Bazerdžana there is also jewelry known as ELIRD, created by the hardworking hands of Ena Mulavdić and Ebrahima Mohammadian. In their workshop in Baščaršija, Ena and Ebrahim create wonderful phantasmagoric jewelry by intertwining as many as thirty different crafts, some of which, like the negative inlay technique, are extremely old and rare. Amazing jewelry is also made by the artist Benjamin Kavazović, who in a unique way connects sculpture and design in order to convey all the emotions that connect us in humanity with his work.


Because of all the talent he has gathered under the same roof, Bazerdžan got an extension at the beginning of last year – a sister concept store on the first floor of an apartment in one of Sarajevo’s busiest streets, Titova. In an environment filled with wonderful pieces of furniture from the company Zanat from Konjic, which raised traditional woodcarving to the world level, there are carefully selected fashion pieces by Bosnian designers, works of art, jewelry, details intended for decor and much more. The whole philosophy followed that original idea. To create a space where time flows more slowly and things have value.

For Sarajevo, with love. Because there is no other way.

Bags with Zmijanje embroidery, specific technique of embroidery