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Displaying Bosnia: Imperialism, Orientalism,
and Exhibitionary Cultures in Vienna and Beyond:

N A D D I T I O N T O C R E A T I N G I N F R A S T R U C T U R E A N D S E C U R I N G R E S O U R C E S , the protection of
artistic traditions and the creation of an improved material culture were integral parts of the
Austro-Hungarian civilizing mission in the occupied territories of Bosnia and Herzegovina
after 1878.1 Although the Austrians were not imperialists in the classical sense, the scholars,
bureaucrats, and industrialists who flocked to the provinces used a variety of tropes involving
progress, technology, and education to describe their work, and their self-representation often
echoed the colonial, imperialist, and orientalist rhetoric of their European neighbors in the era
of the “new Imperialism.”2 For this reason, the application of postcolonial theory to the
Austrian experience in Bosnia has opened several interesting new lines of inquiry.3
But Austrians’ representations of Bosnia had several overlapping components, depending
upon their audiences. To outsiders, the imperialist rhetoric was useful, particularly insofar as
Austrians believed themselves to be exemplary colonial administrators. For those living
inside the Dual Monarchy, however, Bosnia had the potential for other meanings. First, it
could be interpreted as a “proximate” colony where Austrians could find wealth, adventure,
and opportunity for professional advancement in service of the civilizing mission. In
addition, from the military or strategic perspective, Bosnia represented the ability to both fill
the power vacuum created by Ottoman disintegration and expand the reach of the Imperial
and Royal Military into the Balkans. Next, Austrians simultaneously admired the remnants
of Ottoman material culture in Bosnia while acknowledging the opportunity to redeem the
Southern Slavs from an oriental stasis and decline imposed by Ottoman rule. This made

For the purposes of clarity and space in this essay, I shall use the term “Bosnia” to refer to the occupied provinces of
Bosnia and Herzegovina and the term “Austria” to refer to the Dual Monarchy and the Austro-Hungarian
administrators of the Regional Government (Zemaljska vlada, Landesregierung) of Bosnia after 1882. I also wish to
thank Robert J. Donia and the anonymous reader for the AHY for their helpful comments.
“Bosniche Hausirer in Wien,” Bosniche Post IV, Nr. 12 (13 Feb. 1889): 2–3.
See: Habsburg Postcolonial, ed. Johannes Feichtinger, Ursula Prutsch, and Moritz Csáky (Innsbruck, 2003); and
Wechselwirkungen: The Political, Social, and Cultural Impact of the Austro-Hungarian Occupation of Bosnia-
Herzegovina, ed. Clemens Ruthner, Raymond Detrez, Usha Reber, and Diana Reynolds (New York: Peter Lang 2014).

Austrian History Yearbook 46 (2015): 29–50 © Center for Austrian Studies, University of Minnesota 2015

Bosnia a place that contained elements of the dangerous, exotic, and strange while on the cusp
of becoming an increasingly tamed, benign, and accessible tourist destination.4
This multiplicity of discourses about Bosnia created a backdrop to the intellectual and
cultural life of Vienna at the end of the nineteenth century. A powerful example of this is in
Heimito von Doderer’s novel, Die Strudelhofstiege, whose hero, Melzer, was stationed in
Bosnia in the years before the outbreak of war in 1914. Throughout the novel, Melzer’s
recurring memories of Bosnia serve as a repository of an Austrian sensibility that
disappeared forever in 1918. Early in the book, Doderer provides this rendition of the young
Lieutenant Melzer attempting to please his imposing host—a railway engineer awaiting a
contract for Bosnia—at a meal in the countryside in the year 1910:

“So, Melzer when will we begin to build railroads for you and your Bosniaks down there?”
“Without a doubt very soon, Sir.” answered Melzer without the slightest hesitation.
“We are doing everything down there: Hotels, streets, bridges [he continued.] The land is beautiful; don’t
believe what they say about it being only a pile of hot rocks. Of course a railroad network will be built,
indeed—within the next few years.”5 [Emphases mine]

Melzer expresses the confidence, energy, and ambition of Austrians in Bosnia by envisioning
progress in terms of infrastructure and access, whereas his host, the engineer, is eager to
begin his own profitable enterprise in the territory. For these two protagonists, Bosnia is an
Austrian proving ground and symbol of its benevolence before 1914; this was the official
mind of the Habsburg Empire.
One of the chief conduits through which the official rhetoric of the Bosnian Administration
flowed into Cisleithanian Austria was the “exhibitionary complex” of museums and educational
institutions in Vienna. Drawing from Foucault, the historian Tony Bennett has proposed that
the exhibitionary complex was the manifestation of state power that combined new institutions
such as the public museum with new disciplines of knowledge—such as art history and
anthropology—after the Great London Exhibition of 1851.6 For Bennett, the rise of the
exhibitionary complex represented a softer form of state power; its denizens organized
knowledge for the purpose of “winning the hearts and minds” of citizens, educating the
masses, and communicating state ideologies.7
The following pages consider the fluidity of the Austrian imagination with regard to Bosnia.
They discuss ways in which Bosnia was invented and put on display for Austrian—and Western
European—audiences and suggests that the extent of the region’s material and imaginative
contribution to Vienna’s fin-de-siècle culture of the applied and visual arts has yet to be
explored. To accomplish this, we shall consider three representations of Bosnia in Vienna.
The first of these is the taming of the Ottoman threat in the region and the transformation
of its Muslim population into ornamental and grateful subalterns. Second is the

For the variety of colonial, imperial, and Orientalist discourses about Bosnia, see: Robert J. Donia, “The Proximate
Colony” in Wechselwirkungen, ed. Ruthner, et al.; Maximilian Hartmuth, “Insufficiently Oriental? An Early Episode in
the Study and Preservation of the Ottoman Architectural Heritage in the Balkans,” in Monuments, Patrons, Contexts:
Papers on Ottoman Europe Presented to Machiel Kiel (Nederlands Instituut voor Het Nabije Oosten, 2010), 171–85;
and André Gingrich, “Frontier Orientalism,“ in (2006).
Heimito von Doderer, Die Strudelhofstiege (Munich, 1966), 235. Author’s translation.
Tony Bennett, The Birth of the Museum: History, Theory, Politics (London, 1995).
The Austrian Museum for Art and Industry was an early site for proclaiming a multinational Austrian idea as early
as the 1870s. See: Rudolf von Eitelberger, “Die Kunstbestrebungen Österreichs” (1871) in Gesammelte Schriften vol Bd.
2 (Vienna, 1879).

improvement of Bosnian arts and crafts for sale and exhibition in Vienna. Finally, we consider
the gendered display of the Austrian-Bosnian relationship through ballet. Each of these events
delineates the process of staging Austria’s “civilizing mission” in Bosnia. We begin, however,
with a consideration of Austria and the problem of imperialism during the final quarter of
the nineteenth century.

I. Austria and the “New Imperialism”

Despite its lack of overseas colonies, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy often presented itself as a
colonial power in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In this, the Dual Monarchy was no different from
the other European great powers that were dividing the world among themselves in the late
nineteenth century. This was possible because the Austrian occupation of Bosnia in 1878 was
part of a greater European agreement (following the Russo-Turkish war) that also included
North Africa. The Berlin Conference of 1878 permitted Austrian occupation of the Ottoman
territories, but the great powers also gave the island of Cyprus to the British Empire, setting the
stage for its occupation of Egypt a few years later. In addition, Otto von Bismarck encouraged
the French to seize the “ripe Tunisian pear” as recompense for Great Britain’s gains. Once
England and France had acted on these opportunities, the Scramble for Africa began in earnest.
From a global perspective, therefore, the Austro-Hungarian occupation of Bosnia and
Herzegovina was one component of a greater colonial game being played among European powers.
Indeed, many contemporary onlookers interpreted Austria’s abstention from the Scramble
for Africa in the context of the Berlin Conference. Europeans outside of the Habsburg
monarchy viewed the occupation of Bosnia as the equivalent of (or substitute for) a stake in
Africa. As an anti-colonial parliamentarian in the German Reich suggested, perhaps the
Austrians had the better deal: “That little slice of Herzegovina could well be worth more
than the whole of East Africa.”8 A Habsburgertreu Czech used another popular metaphor:
“In terms of geographical science, Bosnia and Herzegovina have been very much like the
great white spaces on the maps of central Africa.”9 For some Western Europeans, Bosnia and
the Balkans surely seemed like Africa, a rugged, unknown space on the map of southeastern
Europe, waiting to be explored, civilized, and plumbed for raw materials and resources.
This view might not have been held among politicians within the Dual Monarchy—for
whom the Balkans and the Ottomans had been topics of concern for centuries. Nevertheless,
the rhetoric of imperialism created a set of shared tropes for interpreting Bosnia to outsiders.
In keeping with this rhetorical strategy, Benjamin von Kállay (1844–1902), the chief
Habsburg administrator in Bosnia after 1882 and the Joint Minister of Finance (and
Hungarian nobleman), believed that his enlightened administration of the territories served
as a model of colonial rule for other European great powers. Those wishing to understand
how to rule their overseas colonies wisely and well need only look at the Austrians in
Bosnia.10 This was also the argument of the Russian/Swiss Orientalist and weapons collector
Henri Moser (1844–1923), a booster for Kállay’s regime, whose defense of this idea won him
the position as general director of the Bosnian Pavilion at the Paris 1900 Exhibition.11

Bosniche Post (30 Jan. 1889): 1. “Das bisschen Hercegovina sei noch immer mehr werth, als ganz Ostafrika.”
Abel Luksić, Bosnien und die Hercegovina Lexikon (Prague, 1878), 1.
Henri Moser, Bosnie-Herzegovine: Une oeuvre de colonisation pacifique dans les Balkans (Paris, 1896).
Moser was renowned for his exploration of Central Asia and his vast collection of Islamic weaponry, most of
which was bequeathed upon his death to the Historical Museum in Berne.

But imperialism was not the whole story. For others, both the proximity of Bosnia to the Dual
Monarchy’s borders and the Ottoman legacy of the region also fueled the Orientalist fantasies of
its occupiers.12 This led Habsburg administrators not only to greater research and interest in
Islam, but also efforts to reform and rehabilitate the region. As Maximilian Hartmuth has
demonstrated, Austrian scholars did a great deal to catalog, comprehend, preserve, and
“restore” Islamic architecture and ornamental traditions in the region.13 Indeed, despite its
overzealousness in restoring some mosques, overall the Occupation Government’s behavior
toward Islam was exemplary in its evenhandedness.14 The government’s construction of the
Muslim theological school in Sarajevo in 1887–1889 was an effort to adapt the “neo-
Moorish” style (first displayed in the Egyptian pavilion at the Vienna World’s Fair of 1873)
for several government buildings. The style, derived from Spanish and Moorish art, was a
nod to the significance of Islam in the region. Sarajevo’s City Hall (Vijećnica), completed in
1896, was an additional example of this trend.15
But another aspect of Austrian rhetoric involved the traditional tropes of Orientalist
discourse: decline and stasis. Although Bosnia’s population was descended from the Slavic
races, they were seen as Orientalized through Ottoman rule, and therefore in need of help
from the West. During a visit to Sarajevo in 1888, Crown Prince Rudolf declared: “Our
mission [here] is to bring western culture to the Orient.”16 For other Slavs in the Dual
Monarchy, the task was to help their Southern Slavic brethren. As the Sarajevo Craft School
director, the Czech-born Alois Studnička wrote, “I was invited by Kállay to join the Bosnian
services, and I accepted this offer enthusiastically, looking forward to working with my
southern Slavic brothers.”17
There was, therefore, a variety of overlapping and sometimes contradictory ways to present
and invent Bosnia to audiences in Vienna and Western Europe. As we consider how imperial,
colonial, and Orientalist perceptions of the occupied territories merged with the exhibitionary
complex of Vienna, we begin with a case study: the Bosnian peddler, whose image shall
accompany us through our discussion.

II. The Bosnian Peddler

Vienna was a multicultural and cosmopolitan city in the late nineteenth century. As imperial capital
of a multinational empire and a growing industrial center, it was home to a variety of ethnic groups
ranging from Bohemian factory workers to Galician Jews. In the late 1880s, however, one more

See: Robert J. Donia, “The Proximate Colony” in Wechselwirkungen, n.p.
Maximilian Hartmuth (“Insufficiently Oriental?”) addresses some of the Regional Administration’s less-than-
successful attempts to “improve” some old Ottoman buildings, while also noting that Austrians were among their
earliest protectors and advocates as well.
Valeria Heuberger, “Politische Institutionen und Verwaltung in Bosnien und der Hercegovina 1878–1918” in Die
Habsburger Monarchie 1848–1918, Vol. VII (Vienna, 2000).
Hartmuth, “Insufficiently Oriental?”, discusses the Austrian addition of neo-Moorish elements to some existing
mosques as improvements after the Occupation in 1878. For neo-Moorish architecture at the Vienna World’s Fair of
1873, see: Zeynep Çelik, Displaying the Orient: Architecture of Islam at Nineteenth-Century World’s Fairs (Berkeley,
1992). The Theological Faculty of Sarajevo (Šerijatska sudačka škola) was completed in 1889.
Bosnische Post 48 (17 June 1888): 2.
Alois Studnička, Kállay’s Czech Guard in Bosnia: Recollections, Unpublished manuscript, Archives of the Museum
of Czech Literature, Prague, Estate of František Karel Studnička, trans. by Daniel Morgan. My thanks to Luda Hubova
for her help in obtaining this manuscript.

colorful figure could be seen on the streets of Vienna: the

Bosnian peddler, selling his wares from door to door. An
article in the Bosnian Post described him in the following way:

These peddlers from “new Austria” are clothed in the national

costume, wearing narrowly pleated pants, colorful bordered
jackets, the fez, and wide belts which hold a threatening array of
small weapons. Carrying practically an entire arsenal, these
peddlers are a walking warehouse of ivory-inlaid knives, [as well
as] match boxes, and cigar holders made of rosewood. … These
peddlers are a type of pioneer, who seek to find a market for
their admittedly modest goods in the great metropole of the
Empire. They give an Oriental flair to Vienna’s streets, but they
are also a constant reminder of our mission in the East.18

The Bosnian peddler might have resembled a poorer version

of a mannequin in Sarajevo’s Provincial Museum (Zemaljski
Muzej, Landesmuseum), which was created at about the same
time (fig. 1). The figure presents a Muslim aristocrat, whose
smiling eyes and gentle demeanor are in sharp contrast to
FIGURE 1: A Muslim Notable the weapons he carries. His right hand holds a flintlock,
from Sarajevo with Weapons and his fabric belt is stuffed with daggers and pistols as was
[“Mohamedaner (Aga) aus Sarajevo typical of Bosnian nobility. This particular mannequin
im Wafffenschmuck”]. From Karl traveled, with his compatriots, to an exhibition in Vienna
Masner, Die Costümausstellung im
k.k. österr. Museum 1891. (Wien:
in 1891, and we shall discuss this in detail later. For the
J. Löwy, 1894). moment, however, we can use this example to imagine our
Bosnian peddler: a more run-down and shabbily clad
version of the Bosnian’s traditional dress.
The text of the newspaper article provides a lively and humorous description of a Bosnian
bristling with weapons on the streets of Vienna. It is rich with the vocabulary of the Austrian
colonial/Orientalist discourse regarding Bosnia; the occupied territories are christened “new
Austria,” and the fierce-looking Bosnian is a cultural pioneer. He is not a threat but a sober
reminder of the Austrian civilizing mission to the East.
More important, however, is the interplay between fear and patronization we encounter in
the newspaper’s depiction of the peddler. The Bosnian nobleman and his doppelgänger, the
peddler, represent several of the richly textured material interconnections between Vienna
and the occupied territories. First, the newspaper account indicates how the sight of the
peddler evokes fear for a brief moment: the strange man, armed with weapons and dressed
in a fez, certainly seemed a bit like the Turkish bogeyman of old. Second, his arsenal of
metal objects—once dangerous but now sold as trinkets—represents a more recent memory:
the fierce Bosnian warrior who had put up such determined resistance to Austrian
occupation in 1878. Finally, his modest trinkets represent the Regional Government’s efforts
to rehabilitate Bosnian crafts in Sarajevo and other Bosnian towns. Let us consider the
taming of this warrior/peddler in Vienna.

“Bosniche Hausirer in Wien,” Bosniche Post IV, Nr. 12 (13 Feb. 1889): 2–3.

III. Frontier Orientalism

André Gingrich has described the interaction between Austria and Bosnia as “frontier
Orientalism,” a process that (departing slightly from Said’s definition of Orientalism) was
shaped by the lack of distance between Austria and the territories. This resulted in a feeling
of familiarity mixed with fear, a master narrative that had two components with regard to
the inhabitants of the region:

On one hand he [the Bosnian] appears as a dangerous Turkish soldier, an armed representative of
another high culture, an equal military foe whose defeat is necessary for one’s own imperial ascent.
On the other hand, he appears as a subjugated Bosnian colonial who remains loyal to the end,
fighting against the enemies of the Empire.”19

We see this ambivalence in the text: the peddler only seems to be forbidding; in reality he is
But this had not always been the case. The inhabitants of Vienna knew full well the effort it
had taken to pacify the region in 1878. Despite the Foreign Minister Count Andrássy’s
confidence that Austrian forces could occupy the territories with little effort (“a squadron of
Hussars and a regimental band”),20 the Habsburg forces met with serious resistance upon
entering Ottoman territory. The Ottomans retained de jure sovereignty until 1908, so these
were still Ottoman lands. This delayed the progress of Austrian troops, and the battle for
Bosnia was unexpectedly difficult. After entering Sarajevo on 19 August 1878, the Austro-
Hungarian commander Field Marshal Josip Philippovich requested reinforcements;
eventually over 250,000 men (roughly one third of the imperial and royal [k.u.k.] army) were
required to put an end to local resistance. The ferocity of the fighting was legendary, with
accounts of decapitation and mutilations by Bosnian insurgents.21 The Bosnian warrior was
a fearsome opponent, and the first assignment of Austro-Hungarian rule was to subjugate all
resistance forces.
This was largely accomplished by 1881, and the other component of frontier Orientalism—
winning over the former insurgent—began. The Austrians proceeded to integrate Bosnians into
the k.u.k. army by creating special regiments made up of Muslim troops, who wore a colorful
red fez and light blue trousers. The Bosniaks, as these soldiers were called, were lauded as the
fiercest of all the different ethnic groups of the army; their ornamental uniforms added an
“oriental flair” to the cities (like Graz) where its regiments were stationed. The ferocity of
1878 was slowly recast into a popular image of the Bosniaks as a superior martial race.22 The
British had their Ghurkas, and the Austrians had their Bosniaks.23
The Bosnian peddler was a reminder of those early insurgents, but his weapons were now
tamed. Indeed, the ornamental weapons in his belt—knives, pistols, and powder boxes—were
demilitarized into colorful trinkets. This was the second aspect of taming the former warrior.

André Gingrich, “Frontier Orientalism,” (2006).
Engelbert Deusch, “Andrassy und die Okkupation Bosniens und der Hercegovina,” in Oesterreichische Osthefte 12
(1970): 18–36.
For the fierce warrior tradition in the Balkans, see also: Ursula Reber, “Habsburgische Begegnungen mit
nomadischen Kriegerstämmen: Montenegro als strategischer Schauplatz,” in Kakanien Revisited, http://www.
Werner Schachinger, Die Bosniaken kommen: Elitetruppe in der k.u.k. Armee, 1879–1918 (Graz, 1989).
Heather Sheets, Martial Races: The Military, Race and Masculinity in British Imperial Culture, 1857–1914
(Manchester, 2011).

Turning Bosnian swords into tourist souvenirs was part of a larger administrative program of
arts and crafts reform in Bosnia. What the newspaper described as the peddler’s “modest wares”
in 1889 were already being cataloged, analyzed, and refined by experts from the metropole.

IV. Swords into Souvenirs—Craft Reform in Bosnia

The process of bringing the benefits of Western rule to Bosnia began after the pacification of the
territories was complete. In 1882, the military government withdrew and Kállay was appointed
civilian administrator of the region.24 Kállay firmly believed that institutions of modernization
and good government would eventually create loyal subjects. In an interview with the English
newspaper, The Daily Chronicle, he described his aims:

To make the people contented, to ensure justice, to develop agriculture, to render communication easy
and cheap, to spread education, to retain the ancient traditions of the land vivified and purified by
modern ideas—that is my administrative ideal. …. Austria … is a great Occidental Empire, charged
with the mission of carrying civilization to Oriental peoples.25

Within a few years of establishing civilian rule, Kállay turned his attention to the craft and artisanal
traditions of the former Ottoman territories. Noting the decline of local handicrafts in the face of
cheap Western imports, Kállay began to consider ways to revive them. In 1887, he began his
initiative for craft reform, establishing government ateliers and craft schools in Sarajevo and
other Bosnian towns to instruct a new generation of handworkers in traditional techniques.26
Kállay’s intention was the “vivification and purification” of the artisanal traditions of the
region in order to make them a source of income for both local peoples and the Regional
Government. In 1878, the Austrian and Hungarian delegations that approved the occupation
declined to authorize funds to support a civilian administration. Thus, Kállay had to find
new and creative ways to finance his government.27 No doubt he hoped that sales of Bosnian
crafts would ultimately contribute to the administration’s budget.
To accomplish his aesthetic and commercial goals, Kállay relied on an extensive structure of
craft education that was already well established in Cisleithanian Austria. In 1863, Emperor
Franz Joseph established the Austrian Museum for Art and Industry (das österreichische
Museum für Kunst und Industrie) to improve both public taste and Austrian manufactures.
This effort followed the pattern of industrial design reform practiced at the South
Kensington Museum (now the V&A Museum) in London. Over the following decades, the
Museum administrators developed industrial production alongside craft education through
its Central Applied Arts School (Kunstgewerbeschule) in Vienna.28 Graduates from this
school often went out to administer and teach at a secondary level of regional craft schools.
By the late 1870s, the Museum and its educators had become more deeply involved in the

Tomislav Kraljačić, Kalajev režim u Bosni I Hercegovini 1882–1903 [Kállay’s Regime in Bosnia and Hercegovina
1882–1903] (Sarajevo, 1987), 13–38.
“Round the Near East,” [Interview with Benjamin von Kállay] in The Daily Chronicle, 3 Oct. 1895.
Archiv Bosne i Hercegovine (hereafter Archiv BiH), Sarajevo, ZMF-prz., B.H. 91/1887; Kučna Radinost, No. 43/
14/7. Benjamin von Kállay, ”Zur Frage des kunstgewerblichen Reforms im Occupations Gebiet,” Vienna, 10 Feb. 1887.
Robert J. Donia, Islam under the Double Eagle: The Muslims of Bosnia and Hercegovina 1871–1914 (New York,
1981), 11.
For a detailed history of the origins of the Museum, see the exhibition catalog: Kunst und Industrie, ed. Peter
Noever (Vienna, 2000).

FIGURE 2: Workroom at the Metal School in Sarajevo. Postcard, ca. 1900.

improvement of the folk arts in the most peripheral regions of Cisleithania—where industrial
processes had not yet completely displaced local handicrafts.29 This was part of an effort to
sustain the local populations, give them livelihoods beyond agricultural work, and popularize
the folk arts in Vienna. By the time Kállay began his initiative in Bosnia, therefore, the
Museum in Vienna had already experienced great success in popularizing a variety of ethnic
crafts for consumers in Vienna through its nexus of education and display.
Kállay adopted the Cisleithanian model for Bosnia by establishing a central government craft
atelier in Sarajevo, with lesser schools in Livno, and Foča.30 His plan included schools for
carpets, embroideries, wood crafts, building, and metalworking. Local artisans’ willingness to
enter a government-sponsored atelier was probably an indicator of the degree to which craft
production in Bosnia had indeed suffered through political upheavals and war before 1878.
According to government reports, this effort came just in time. The crafts dedicated to wire
and mother-of-pearl inlay techniques for weapons, for example, were practiced exclusively by
Muslims, and according to official documents, by 1887 this artisanal tradition had almost
completely died out. Only one living practitioner of metal wire-inlay could be found that
year.31 Although he died less than twelve months later, government authorities prided
themselves in having created an environment where he could pass along his expertise to the
next generation (fig. 2). The imperialist and patriarchal subtext of their reportage was clear:
the revival of Bosnian crafts—in the form of help from Austrian administrators—had arrived
just in the nick of time.
Many of these metal crafts were carried into Vienna: transforming the Bosnian peddler’s
“modest goods” invariably meant improving them for the tastes of city consumers.32 As a
result, craft educators in Bosnia had the dual mandate to revive craft traditions and inculcate

For a discussion of the Museum’s policy for the rural crafts, see: Alois Riegl, Volkskunst, Hausfleiß und
Hausindustrie (Berlin, 1893).
Bericht über die Verwaltung von Bosnien und der Hercegovina 1906 (Vienna, 1906).
“Bericht über eine Reise nach Bosnien,” Khartoum, 11 Sept. 1905. Archiv BiH, ZVS 1905, Box 123 No. 115-29/05, 6.
Bosniche Post IV, Nr. 12 (13 Feb. 1889): 23.

FIGURE 3: Classical and Peasant Faces. From Alois Studnićka, Zbirka Pregledalcia za prostoruko crtanje III:
Nekoliko Motiva Narodnodnoga Veziva [Images for Freehand Drawing III: Various Motifs and People]
(Sarajevo: Zem Vlada, 1898), p. 8.

the aesthetic principles of the West. This meant exposing local artisans to the aesthetic
standards of the metropole. To that end, in 1889 a Sarajevo silversmith, Mustafa Bektić,
traveled to Vienna to study principles of classical drawing at the Museum for Art and
Industry’s school (Kunstgewerbeschule).33
Vienna came to the provinces, too. Craft teachers from Austria arrived in Bosnia after 1887.
Every instructor was a graduate of the craft education system in Vienna, and every one of them
brought their training with them. After arriving in Sarajevo in the 1890s, Alois Studnićka wrote
design handbooks in the local language that introduced the major historical styles for
application in mosaics, inlaid wood, or drawing. The classical influence of his education is
readily apparent in his adaptation of a local peasant girl’s face along classical lines34 (fig. 3).
In this regard, arts and crafts education in Sarajevo was a hegemonic discourse insofar as it
promoted a classical aesthetic that emanated from Vienna and was disseminated through the
government craft schools and ateliers.
The newly established Provincial Museum (Landesmuseum/Zemaljski Muzeji) in Sarajevo
also contributed to this educational project. Founded in 1888, the Museum’s curators (mostly
educated in Cisleithania) quickly amassed a large ethnographic collection of weapons,

Bektić was given a contract to teach in a government atelier in 1888. Archiv BiH, Allgemeine Landesregierung,
1888, Box 8/ K 58, 42–370, 137.
Alois Studnićka, Zbirka Pregledalica za prostoruko crtanje II: Intarzije [Images for Freehand Drawing II:
Decorative Wood Inlays] (Sarajevo: Zem Vlada, 1898).

textiles, costumes, and other objects.35 The Museum’s best examples of indigenous crafts items
circulated among the schools; this allowed students to observe and imitate well-made objects. In
this way, an institution of the emerging exhibitionary complex interacted with education,
artisanal traditions, and commerce in Sarajevo.
Although Maximilian Hartmuth has described the formation of the Museum as inspired by
local leaders, it also seems clear that other prime movers and educators were the bureaucrats
and scholars who came to Sarajevo from outside Bosnia—in search of professional
opportunities and quick advancement. Thus, while the Museum’s staff promoted research
into Bosnian design, they were also complicit in the project of improving its local
manufactures in accordance with a mediated view of what constituted an “original” or
“pure” Bosnian creation.
This had the outcome of creating an “invented tradition” for Bosnian wares. By 1900, the
metal inlay and incrustation techniques from Bosnian weapons were being applied to a new
range of consumer items for the tourist trade. In 1905, an observer remarked:

The products of these schools are … carefully made with the western market in mind. Instead of pistols
and powder boxes, nowadays only inlaid cigarette holders, hatpins, picture frames, brushes, and letter
openers are created.36

Old, albeit improved, techniques had been adapted for new consumer demands. And the
weapons craftsmen—having lost the local market because of Austrian restrictions—found a
new market in souvenir shops frequented by both a growing number of tourists and
successive contingents of k.u.k. troops from all over the monarchy. Doderer’s protagonist
Melzer made use of his Bosnian coffee service for many years after the end of World War I:

At home the Major prepared quickly—from years of practice—his Turkish coffee in a beaker of
worked metal with a long handle. He used the service he had owned since Bosnia. The long, small
mill, whose form was determined by the way that the Arab carried it tied to his saddlebags, the
large copper serving tray with the tiny cups of white porcelain in copper holders, and the sugar can
with its half-moon standing tall and straight on its lid.
Der Major bereitete zuhause schnell—in alter Übung—türkischen Kaffee in einem getriebenen
Kännchen mit langem Stiele. Er benützte ein Service das er schon in Bosnien besessen hatte. Die
lange, schmale Mühle, deren Form daher kommt, daß der Araber sie an der Sattletasche geschnallt
mit sich führt, die große kupferne Servierplatte mit Ziselierungen, die winzigen Tassen vom
weißem Porzellan in kupernen Hältern, und die Zuckerdose mit dem aufrechtstehenden
Halbmonde über dem Deckel.37

Decorative weaponry was another craft that never disappeared completely. In 1875, an
English traveler noted: “In the small Turkish market there were many second-hand goods,

For an excellent description of the formation of the Provincial Museum, see: Maximilian Hartmuth, “The
Habsburg Landesmuseum in Sarajevo in Its Ideological and Architectural Contexts: A Reinterpretation,” Centropa
XII 2 (2012), 194–205, and Robert J. Donia, Sarajevo, A Biography (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press),
2006, 88–91. A contemporary account can be found in Constantin Hörmann, “Zur Geschichte des Bosnisch-
Hercegovinischen Landesmuseums,” in Wissenschaftliche Mittheilungen aus Bosnien 1 (1893): 1–25. See also:
Marian Wenzel, Bosanski stil na stećcima i metalu [Bosnian Style on Tombstones and Metal] (Sarajevo, 1999), 21–
30 and 171–80.
Archiv BiH, ZVS, 1905, Box 123, No. 115—29/05; “Bericht über eine Reise nach Bosnien,” Khartoum, 11 Sept.
1905, 8.
Doderer, Die Strudelhofstiege, 94.

and amongst them magnificent flintlocks of antique form, with stocks richly inlaid with mother
of pearl and golden arabesques.”38 This was part of local tradition. Another visitor noted how,
under the Ottomans, Bosnian men “armed themselves with damascene swords, daggers, pistols
and muskets. Hundreds of skilled craftsmen found work and were able to support
Nevertheless, traditional Bosnian uses of ornamental weaponry declined under Austrian
administration. Decades later, on the eve of the annexation, a visitor from Berlin noted the

These richly ornamented weapons can now be worn only by a few, privileged men. They may not
actually use them however, so it is a natural outcome that soon no one will expend the effort to
make them.40

The weaponry had become ornamental, its uses limited to either those Muslim aristocrats who
supported the Austrian administration or the tourist trade. Indeed, the presence of tens of
thousands of Austrian troops in the region over the next three decades created a new
market. Countless versions of these ornamental pistols, daggers, or coffee services were an
obligatory purchase for the soldiers who rotated through Bosnia until 1918. Many of the
weapons later found their way into Vienna’s antique shops and flea markets as “Turkish”
weapons left from the siege of 1683.41 Weapons as tourist trinkets: swords into plowshares.
The revival of Bosnian crafts testified to the success of the civilizing mission.
Yet the outcome of this process, for those who submitted to the demands of the craft schools,
was the creation of yet another subjugated and aestheticized Bosnian colonial. The Bosnian
craftsman working in the government workshop had replaced the Bosnian insurgent. The
warrior with sash and sabre was now an exotic anachronism.

V. The Bosnian Carpet

Another local craft tradition that attracted considerable attention in Vienna was carpet
manufacturing. According to Austrian authorities, this was another type of domestic
(household) production that was in “decline” before Austrian occupation, and it was revived
only through the combined efforts of experts at the museums in Vienna and Sarajevo. These
efforts proceeded in several phases: the establishment of a carpet factory in Sarajevo in 1879
through the auspices of a Viennese textile firm, Philip Haas and Sons, the absorption of that
project into the Austrian administration in 1892, and the creation of a government carpet school.42

Arthur Evans, Through Bosnia and Herzegovina on Foot during the Insurrection, August and September 1875
(New York, 1971), 274–75.
Arhiv BiH, ZVS 1905 Box 123, No. 115 29/05. Anonymous, “Bericht über eine Reise nach Bosnien” Khartoum, 11
Sept. 1905, 5. “... [in former times] … die Manner bewaffneten sich mit samarcierten Schwerten, Dochlen … Pistolen
und Musketen. Hunderte von geschichter Arbeiter fanden dadurch Arbeit und Lebensunterhalt.”
M. Bartels, “Hausgewerblichen Gegenstände aus Bosnien,” Verhandlung der Berliner Anthropologischen
Gesellschaft. Sitzung von 20 Feb. 1897, 98–99. “Die Kunstreichen Waffen dürfen nur noch von wenigen,
bevorzugten Männern getragen werden. Benutzen dürfen sie dieselben aber nicht, und so ist es wohl natürlich, das
man sich sehr bald nicht mehr die Mühe unterziehen wird, sie anzufertigen.”
My thanks to Dr. Christian Ortner of the Military Museum (Heeresgeschichtliches Museum), Vienna, for this
Because of the destruction of the Haas archive in Vienna, little information can be gathered about its activities in

One aspect of economic development of Bosnia

meant the creation of viable local industries that
could compete with Western products.43 In
1879, the Viennese carpet manufacturer Philip
Haas obtained a concession from the military
government to establish a carpet factory in
Sarajevo. This decision to form a production
facility in Sarajevo was inspired by several
considerations. First, the cheaper labor and raw
materials made economic sense; not until
annexation in 1908 did employers in Bosnia
have to comply with the increasingly regulated
manufacturing and workplace safety guidelines
of Western Europe. In addition, the flat-weave
carpet used in peasant households—called locally
the ćilim – was a popular consumer item among
urban populations who could not afford the
more expensive Oriental (knotted) rugs. It was
also more practical: the flat weave textile could
be displayed on both sides, making it useful for
FIGURE 4: Bosnian Carpet design(s) by Josepf von other functions such as bedcovers, wall hangings,
Storck. From Blätter für Kunstgewerbe 21 (1892), and cushions. Finally, the Haas venture in
Figure 59. Sarajevo was undergirded by a shift in consumer
tastes. In Vienna, public interest in artifacts from
Bosnia also reflected a growing interest in the folk arts from many of the regions of
Cisleithanian Austria that began after the Vienna World’s Fair (Weltausstellung) of 1873.44
Haas believed that, with a bit of refinement, Bosnian carpets could become suitable for sale
to urban consumers as well.
Haas also used the Austrian educational infrastructure for his carpet factory in Sarajevo. In
1879, he invited Josef von Storck (1830–1902), the director of the Museum for Art and
Industry’s Applied Arts School, to be the artistic consultant for the carpet factory.45 Storck’s
collaboration with the Haas enterprise began the process of “refinement” and study; this
eventually culminated in the creation of an official canon of Bosnian motifs that made their
way into official catalogs.46
One of the many paradoxes of Storck’s work was his inexperience with the actual designs of
the region, however. Storck published several of his so-called “Bosnian carpet designs” in the
applied arts journal Blätter für Kunstgewerbe (fig. 4). At first, Storck had no access to the
collections in Sarajevo. It is likely that he took his first designs from the few remnants of

For a discussion of industrialization in Bosnia, see: Peter F. Sugar, Industrialization of Bosnia and Hercegovina
1878–1918 (Seattle, 1963).
Bosnische Post IV, Nr. 98 (11 Dec. 1889): 54–55.
Matthew Rampley, “Peasants in Vienna: Ethnographic Display and the 1873 World’s Fair,” in Austrian History
Yearbook 42 (April 2011) 110–32.
Bosnische Post IV, Nr. 98 (11 Dec. 1889): 54–55. For Josef von Storck, the Museum’s Kunstgewerbeschule, and
Storck’s involvement in Bosnian crafts, see: Ulrike Scholda, Theorie und Praxis im Wiener Kunsstgewerbe des
Historismus am Beispiel von Josef Ritter von Storck 1830–1902 (PhD diss., Salzburg, 1991), 54–55.

Southern Slavic aprons in the Vienna Museum’s collection47

(fig. 5). Storck’s designs were lackluster in comparison with
designs originating in Sarajevo as administrators from the
Provincial Museum began bringing examples from real
carpets to light. These designs, often fragments, were
cataloged, studied, and standardized. And as looms were
both mechanized and enlarged, women at the carpet factory
began to work with paper patterns—now calibrated for
production in several sizes (fig. 6).
In 1889, several Bosnian carpets traveled to Vienna to adorn
the Museum for Art and Industry’s Twenty-fifth Anniversary
exhibition.48 The display of Bosnian carpets created a
sensation that nearly overshadowed the museum’s anniversary
celebration itself. They were, as one reporter exclaimed, the
“ball gown” (Festkleid) of the exhibition. The gendered
metaphor expressed both the colorful impression the rugs
made within what was ostensibly a display of historicist
originals and copies and the decorative (femininized) aspects
of Bosnia. The carpets were seen as the crowning achievement
of the exhibition—and a testament to the “new Austria” that
FIGURE 5: Apron Fragments in Kilim was emerging in the occupied territories. The excitement in
technique MAK- Austrian Museum Vienna was palpable.
of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art, The paradoxes of the carpet production process were
Vienna, Inv. T-7318 158 and 160.
ignored, however. As the reporter blithely praised the work
©MAK/Georg Mayer.
of the administrators in Sarajevo, he also unmasked some of
the contradictions inherent in the program of improvement:

The wool is of Bosnian origin ... [but] it is brought to Vienna to be dyed and then sent back down there
to be worked. Also the designs and motifs are old, but they have been happily updated and refined by
Storck’s artistic hands. 50

Wool from Bosnia was dyed in Vienna, returned to Bosnia, and woven into carpets based upon
the improved Viennese designs. It surprised no one that the revival of Bosnian carpets should
rightly occur under the supervision of Viennese educators utilizing the superior industrial
techniques of the metropole.
In 1892, control of the carpet factory reverted back to the administration government, which
subsequently combined a manufacturing center with a school for carpet workers. It produced
printed catalogs from designs that were now standardized and available for sale in several
sizes. Meanwhile, the practice of bringing in local women to teach them the standard designs
to reproduce at home continued. Naturally, the women produced according to the patterns
they had been taught (fig. 7). More important, the Regional Government was now able to
sell its products directly in Vienna.

The Lay Collection of Southern Slavic textiles entered the museum in the early 1870s. Allgemeine Kunst-Chronik
13 (1889): 233–35.
Ibid. See also, Bosnische Post IV, Nr. 98 (11 Dec. 1889): 54–55, and Scholda, 55.
Allgemeine Kunst-Chronik 13 (1889): 233. This article, entitled “New-Austria’s Arts and Crafts,” details the
activities of the craft schools and the Regional Museum in Sarajevo.
Ibid., 235.

FIGURE 6: Pattern for Design 24, Carpet Factory, Sarajevo. National Museum
of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Image by author.

FIGURE 7: Bosnian Women at Weaving Stool with Pattern. From Die

österreichisch-ungarische Monarchie in Wort und Bild, Volume 22: Bosnien und
Hercegowina (Vienna, 1901), p. 515.

VI. Selling Bosnia in Vienna

The Bosnian crafts were sold from the Bosnian Bureau for Arts and Crafts in Vienna’s first
district.51 Administrators worked on upper floors that were richly furnished with furniture
and carpets produced in Sarajevo. Meanwhile, the ground floor was a shop for Bosnian crafts
produced at the government ateliers in Sarajevo.52 All products were guaranteed by the
Regional Government. In this way, Kállay secured additional revenues to support his
administration. Advertisements in local journals enhanced sales (fig. 8).

The Bureau moved to larger spaces three times between 1881 and 1905.
Archiv BH, ZVS VI; Prz,B.H. 1892 4-41/92, Kunstgewerbe und Gewerberförderungsamt (1892) 44-1/KG. Carpet
design #2, weighing 24.5 kg, measuring 4.80m × 4.80m was delivered to Vienna “for the office of Herr Ministerialrath
Schmulmayer.” Most of the other carpets in this shipment were intended for sale. The cost to produce each carpet is
carefully noted in each shipment.

FIGURE 8: Letterhead and Correspondence from Office for Bosnian Arts and
Crafts, Vienna.

The Bosnian Bureau also sponsored regular exhibitions of Bosnian crafts at other locations in
Vienna. Starting in 1888, the administration participated in the annual Christmas Bazaar at the
Museum for Art and Industry, where invited manufacturers created special sales displays.
Because of their exotic appeal, the Bosnian crafts attracted a great deal of public attention
and sold out quickly. For the administration, this was an unmitigated public success: Bosnian
crafts were sold at every annual Christmas bazaar thereafter.
But displays of Bosnia in Vienna combined commerce with the exhibitionary complex. The
exotic appeal of Bosnia created another public sensation in 1891 at the Museum for Art and
Industry’s Costume Exhibition. The Museum had planned an extensive exhibition of historic
costumes, but at the last minute, its administrators accepted Benjamin von Kállay’s offer of a
collection of ethnographic costumes from the Regional Museum in Sarajevo. The costume
collection in Sarajevo had grown steadily and, inspired by the mannequins of Swedish folk
costumes at the Paris Exhibition of 1889, administrators in Sarajevo had recently ordered a
set of lifelike mannequins for their collection.53 When the two dozen figures from Sarajevo
were arrayed in the Museum’s entrance hall, they quickly became a major attraction (fig. 9).
Once again, the Bosnian costumes attracted more attention than the Museum’s more
conventional display of historical costumes.
The mannequins had been worth the effort and expense. Scholars in Sarajevo had taken
special care to order each figure with the proper skin tone, eye color, and facial
characteristics (according to the latest scholarly assumptions) to match the ethnic clothing

Archiv BiH, ZVS, Zemaljski musej, 1890, No. 41/ 77/ 17 41-77, 3–5. 1890 god. The document gives precise
instructions for the manufacturer and physical description of figurines, hairdos, and instructions for posing figures
with appropriate accessories, such as pipes, knives, or spinning tools.

FIGURE 9: Austrian Museum for Art and Industry, Vienna. Central hall, Costume
Exhibition 1891, from Illustrierte Frauen Zeitung (Berlin) XVIII, Heft 5, 1 März 1891,
p 36.

and trinkets adorning them. Twenty more figures were stationed throughout the museum,
blending scholarly accuracy with the public spectacle of colonial displays.54
For special effect our congenial Bosnian nobleman (see above fig. 1) was stationed in the
center of the entrance hall to the Museum in Vienna to welcome visitors. Over the next

Archiv BiH, ZVS, Zemaljski musej, 1890. Figurines. 41/70. 10 Nov. 1890. List of costumes for Vienna Costume
Exhibit; 37 Costumes, 10 Nov. 1890 telegram from Vienna.

FIGURE 10: Bosnian Pavilion, Paris 1900. Sarajevo, National Museum of

Bosnia and Herzegovina. Inf. Br. 2179, Foto: F Topić, 1900.

decade, this mannequin became a standard image of Austrian rule in Bosnia. His smile
indicated that, despite his weapons, Austrians now had nothing to fear from this Bosnian.
A wise and tolerant occupation government had won over the urbane Muslim leaders within
the local population. The nobleman and his compatriots became the administration’s silent
ambassadors, gracing every subsequent international exhibition of Bosnia in Europe.
With displays such as this, Bosnian crafts gained international attention elsewhere on the
continent: Karlsruhe 1891, Budapest 1896, Brussels 1897, and Paris 1900.55 Exhibition
organizers used heraldic arrangements of weaponry, glass vitrines, and armor-clad
mannequins to display both old traditions and new products from the craft schools, and
many items were for sale. This trajectory culminated in the spectacular stand-alone pavilion
(fig. 10), constructed in a vernacular style, at the Paris Exhibition of 1900. By this time, the
neo-Moorish style had been abandoned, replaced by a studied rehabilitation of Bosnian
domestic architecture. This blended the scholarship and spectacle of the exhibitionary
complex with the colonial/Orientalist rhetoric of a civilizing mission—and a twist of
commerce thrown in for good measure. The revival of a putative Bosnian style was taken as
proof of Austria’s benign administration of its proximate colony.

Das Kunstgewerbe in Bosnien und der Hercegovina auf der deutschen Fächer-Ausstellung in Karlsruhe 1891
(Vienna, 1891).

FIGURE 11: A Wedding in Bosnia, Stage design by Antonio Brioschi (1885–1920),

Theatermuseum, Vienna.

VII. A Wedding in Bosnia

Bosnia’s place in the Viennese popular imagination can also be seen in a ballet performed in
the Royal Opera House in 1893. Here, too, the expertise of Vienna’s exhibitionary complex
merged with music, dance, and theatre to create a Gesamtkunstwerk of imperial fantasy.
The ballet was performed in the Royal Opera as part of the engagement festivities of
Archduchess Margarete Sophie on 21 January 1893. The title was, appropriately enough, “A
Wedding in Bosnia.”
The stage design showed a peaceful, prosperous, and multi-confessional Bosnian village
(fig. 11). Religious buildings frame the scene, and the shop windows are full. The plot of the
ballet was straightforward: a group of Austrian (Viennese) tourists find themselves in this
quaint village on the morning of a wedding. They begin to watch the preparations. They stay
on to observe the proceedings as outsiders, but little by little, the Viennese are drawn in to the
festivities and begin to mingle with the locals. After a while, they join in the local dances,
which they have trouble learning. Spirits rise, friendships solidify, and at the climax of the
ballet, the tourists begin to teach the Bosnians their dance: the waltz. The young Bosnian men
and women look on with curiosity, but soon they want to learn the new steps as well. The
music shifts imperceptibly into 3:4 time, and in the climax of the ballet, the Austrian tourists
have taught the Bosnians how to waltz. Urbane Austrians and Bosnian rustics waltz around
the stage in a display of harmony in diversity. The Bosnians have learned to keep step with
Vienna’s civilizing cadence. The message of this ballet was clear. As the Neue Freie Presse
reported the next day, the ballet depicted the “moral conquest of Bosnia” through Austrian
grace and elegance. A waltz, not a military march, had been the instrument of seduction.56
Austria’s use of “soft power,” not military might, was to carry the civilizing mission in
Bosnia forward.

Neue Freie Presse, 22 Jan. 1892, 6.

Just as remarkable was the reporter’s description of Emperor Franz Joseph’s reaction: “As the
Bosnians began dancing the waltz, suddenly laughter could be heard coming from the center
loge. With surprise, everyone turned to look. It was the Emperor, laughing heartily, and all
the archdukes and archduchesses quickly followed his example.”57 Given the emperor’s well-
known reserve, his laughter on this occasion must have been a remarkable moment for
the audience and performers. Its meaning is clear: he was delighted with this version of the
Austrian civilizing mission in Bosnia. This made for great entertainment, and the ballet was
performed in Vienna for three more years.
Less obvious, perhaps, but just as important, was the ballet’s putative accuracy. Every aspect
of the ballet was a product of Vienna’s exhibitionary complex. The stage set was conceived by
Antonio Brioschi, who had studied under Joseph von Storck at the Applied Arts School. It
faithfully replicated “typical” examples of Bosnian architecture. The costumes by Alfred
Roller (who later became an important Secessionist) were copied from the costumes and
mannequins on display at the Museum in 1891, which had been carefully photographed and
cataloged. Finally, the music of the ballet, before it drifted into a waltz, used “national
motifs” that had been gathered from research into the folk songs, particularly the
Gusarenlieder, of the Southern Slavs.58 In these ways, Vienna’s scholarly culture provided a
guarantee of the ballet’s truthfulness.
The ballet also presented a gendered version of the Habsburg rule. The tourists from Vienna
represented a masculine form of Austrian rule that observes the rustics with generous, albeit
patronizing, amusement. But this was a special kind of male: a chivalrous and charming
suitor, not a rough and militaristic conqueror. The instrument of domination was a waltz—
the symbol of Vienna’s musical and slightly frivolous side. What a contrast to the militarism
of the German Reich. The emperor had to be pleased with this image of Austria as a genteel
and gracious conqueror who charms his way into the Bosnian heart.

VIII. “That Is Austria!”

Bosnia was more than a far-off place in the minds of the Viennese before 1900; it was the stage
and screen that held the power to receive any number of projections about Austria, its identity
in Central Europe, and its role in the Balkans—while hiding any unpleasant realities. Bosnia was
a popular tourist destination, a proximate colony, and a nearby frontier. Above all, it was a
symbol of the Austrian idea. At the same time, it was comfortably Oriental, a place where
one could experience the new, witness the exotic, and take pride in a civilizing mission. It
could even be a substitute for an unexplored white space on the map: a wild region of rivers
and valleys awaiting railroads, bridges, hotels, and mines. Bosnia was familiar because it was
staged and exhibited in a multiplicity of forms in Vienna well before 1900. Museum
exhibitions, Christmas bazaars, a retail store, a ballet, Bosnian troops, and Bosnian peddlers

Bosniche Post 10 (1893) Nr. 7 (25 Jan. 1893): 4; Neue Freie Presse, 22 Jan. 1893, 7. See also: Theatermuseum,
Vienna (Österreichisches Theatermuseum), “Eine Hochzeit in Bosnien,” C. Th. 733.042, n.p.; Franz Xaver Gaul
(1837–1906) supervised furnishings at the Royal Opera 1879–1900; Joseph Bayer (1852–1913), “after 1883
Kapellmeister of the Royal Opera Kapellmeister, after 1885 Ballettkapellmeister.” Stage design by Antonio Brioschi
(1885–1920). See: Franz Hadamowsky, Die Wiener Hoftheater Teil II (Vienna, 1975), 205. My thanks to Dr.
Elisabeth Grossegger (Vienna) for this information.

all shaped the Viennese awareness of the provinces and stoked its pride in the good work being
done in Bosnia.
Scholarly research and popular entertainments indicate the ways in which the workers within
the exhibitionary complexes of Vienna and Sarajevo were complicit in an exchange of a
multiplicity of imperial, colonial, and Orientalist discourses regarding Bosnia. For scholars in
Vienna, Bosnia was just one more of Austria’s colorful territories to be both curated and
copied. Although these hegemonic discourses radiated out from Vienna, they also raise
several questions about how much awareness of Bosnia permeated the everyday lives of the
peoples of Cisleithanian Austria.
If, as Homi Bhabha has pointed out, the construction of national identities occurs through
both pedagogic institutions and performative events (exhibitions and competitions),59 the
Austrian idea and its civilizing mission in the Balkans were also part of this discursive field,
which started to take shape after the formation of the German Reich in 1871. In general, this
followed the pattern established at that time by Rudolf von Eitelberger, the director of the
Austrian Museum for Art and Industry, who began to promote a multinational Austrian
Idea based upon its many nationalities and their folk designs. His rhetoric of Austrian
identity emphasized a diverse and aestheticized pluralism that, after 1878, expanded to
include the Orientalized Southern Slavs. To be Austrian meant to respect, revive, and
consume the variety of crafts available from the many ethnic groups of the monarchy. The
image of Austria as a “colorful ethnic mosaic” of primitive crafts, all of which were
continually exhibited in regional and international events, was a constituent element of an
Austrian identity that, by 1900, was striving to rise above local nationalisms.60 In the case of
Bosnia, it was as if a multinational Austria was uniquely qualified to administer and civilize
an equally diverse colony, perhaps better than any of the other European nations. As Kállay
remarked, “We like Europe to know what we have done [in Bosnia] … and to say, ‘That is
Austria!’”61 This was not only a rhetoric that was imposed upon Bosnia; it was also a
supranationalist strategy for a multinational empire.
Yet, the aesthetic education of the Bosnian man had several critics. It seemed clear to outside
observers that there was little about Austrian rule that was actually liberating, for its goal was
the creation of subalterns, not equals. As Markus Nani, the Czech-born director of the
Holzbauschule (Wood School), told his graduating students in 1900, it was their task to
remain grateful to the government. “Do not forget,” he admonished, “the fatherly care that
the government has dedicated to your education.”62 Despite the seemingly generous
investment of the administration, craft education in Bosnia was not intended to turn the
“sons into the fathers.”63 The rehabilitation of Bosnian craft was a mixture of paternalist
pedagogy and colonialist rhetoric, and despite the other gains made in Bosnian infrastructure
and capital investment, it still had elements of fakery.
As time went by, some craft school educators seemed to agree. A young teacher in Mostar,
Jelica Belović, claimed that the schools often submitted fake drawings or embroidery samples to
exhibitions—teachers did the work and passed it off as student work—all with the full

Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (Princeton, 2000), 10.
Homi Bhabha, “DissemiNation” in The Location of Culture (London, 1994), 153.
“Volkskunde: Vergleichende europäsiche Ethnographie” in Ur-Ethnographie. Auf der Suche nach dem
Elementaren in der Kultur. Die Sammlung Eugenie Goldstern, ed. Franz Grieshofer, 14, Kataloge des
Österreichischen Museums für Volkskunde, Vol. 85 (Vienna, 2004).
The Daily Chronicle, London, 3 Oct. 1985.
Bosnische Post (3 January 1900): 3.
Bosnische Post (10 Dec. 1889): 1.

knowledge and cooperation of school authorities.64 The Czech-born Alois Studnička tried to
eradicate such practices at his school in Sarajevo.65 Both of these sincere educators attested
to the high levels of corruption and graft in the Austrian administration; both suffered
professionally for their criticism of the Regional Government.
Following Kállay’s death in 1902 and the annexation of the provinces in 1908, criticism of
Kállay’s initiative increased. In 1910, an outside inspector from Vienna suggested that the
handicraft educational systems had created an “education in deracination.”66 He observed that
the reforming impulse of the Regional Government was creating an atmosphere of resistance to
Austrian rule. Everything, he observed, from the imposition of a standardized building style for
school buildings to the preponderance of foreign bureaucrats and teachers, seemed to
communicate only one thing to the inhabitants of Bosnia: “Everything here is bad! Everything
here needs improvement!”67 This message could only produce an undesirable radicalism among
the young people of the newly annexed territories. In addition, the changes imposed on Bosnian
crafts by well-meaning improvers created products (created by a new proletariat) that were
neither appealing nor Bosnian.68 Describing the local carpets, he wrote:

To my astonishment I learned that in the Sarajevo weaving center they now only work according to
established patterns, which was not the case years ago [before Austrian occupation]. When one
restricts the weavers from the freedom to create their own patterns, which used to be determined
by the local dyes and motifs, we are allowed to ask the question: what is specially “Bosnian” about
these products?69

This observer suggested that Bosnian crafts had had too much of a good thing and were
disappearing under the weight of overmanagement and consumer demand. On the eve of the
assassination, the distance between the staging of the Austrian civilizing mission in Vienna
and the realities on the ground in Bosnia had grown wide indeed.

IX. Conclusion

The display of Bosnia in Vienna was one component of a large system of education and
exhibition in Cisleithanian Austria after 1866. The process of introducing Bosnia into Vienna
occurred through staging and presenting the occupied territories as a place where Austria
could expand, explore, and extract while doing all manner of good work on behalf of a
civilizing mission. The rhetorical strategies of these processes included a multiplicity of
claims about Austrian identity in Europe and its role as a great power in international affairs.
Vienna’s impact on Bosnia was, and remains, visible in its hotels, buildings, bridges, and
railroads. In addition, Austrian craft education in the region established a canon of “Bosnian
style” in carpets and other craft traditions that continued well into the twentieth century. Yet

Istorijski arhiv Sarajevo (Historical Archive of Sarajevo), Family and individual collection, Jelica Belović-
Bernadzikowski (1875–1909), personal memoirs to 1909.
Alois Studnička, Kállay’s Czech Guard in Bosnia: Recollections.
A. Vetter, Bericht über eine Studienreise nach Bosnien und der Herzegowina (September–October 1910).
Unpublished manuscript, Austrian Museum of Ethnography (Öesterreichisches Museum für Volkskunde), Vienna,
34. Vetter was Director of the Imperial-Royal Office for the Promotion of Trades.
Vetter, Bericht, 33–34.
Ibid., 42–43.
Ibid. The National Museum of Bosnia and Hercegovina recently staged an exhibition of Bosnian carpets with
illustrations of the patterns: Carpets in Bosnia and Hercegovina: The Collection of the National Museum of B-H
(Sarajevo, 2006).

this essay has explored how Bosnia was “known” in Vienna through a variety of discourses, and
suggests that Bosnia, both real and imagined, was part of the background cadence of daily life in
Cisleithanian Austria. How much that beat accompanied the development of an Austrian
identity and the explosion of creativity and innovation of Vienna’s fin-de-siècle culture is a
topic that requires more investigation.

DIANA REYNOLDS-CORDILEONE is Professor of History at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego,
California. In addition to her book, Alois Riegl in Vienna 1878-1905: An Institutional Biography
(Ashgate, 2014), she is the author of numerous articles on the collection, display, and rehabilitation of
folk arts in Bosnia and Cisleithanian Austria.