The Legend of Jastra

The story of the origin of the names Jastrebac, Rasina and Morava is derived from the drama “Jastra” by Dragoslav Šaulić.

Once, long ago, in ancient times, at the spot where the Rasina River now empties into the Morava, there lived a free tribe, headed by a chieftain named Panon. Panon had a beautiful daughter Jastra who was admired by everyone.

When Jastra became old enough to get married, Panon declared that he would get her to marry any young man who proved to be the bravest, the wisest, and the most respecteful. So the brave, the honest, and the wise came to compete for a hand in marriage of the beautiful girl. Among them the two young men stood out: Ras and Mor. Jastra could not decide whom to choose for her husband.

Expecting his daughter’s choice, her father Panon went with his large suite to a nearby mountain to catch wild game for his daughter’s wedding feast. At that moment, one of the oppressive tribes attacked Panon’s people with the desire to abduct the beautiful Jastra and enslave them. When the young men, who were competing for Jastra’s hand in marriage, saw the unprotected people, they forgot all about the competition and entered the fight against the abductors of freedom. Mor and Ras were among the first to join the battle, but they fell one after the other before the overwhelming conquerors. Upon seeing that her best suitors had perished, Jastra grabbed the spear and rushed among the enemies. But the cruel invaders instantly slayed her. At that moment Panon returned with his courageous companions and came to the rescue. In their aggravated charge, they defeated the enemy, but the best, the bravest, and the most respectable young men had died at the battlefield. Crushed by grief for his lost daughter and her two best suitors, Panon ordered as follows:

“Bury Ras by the clear river that swings from the south to the north so that the gurgle of its water can always tell about a brave young man called Ras! Bury Mor by that large river flowing from the west to the east, so that the courage and beauty of this young man will be passed down from generation to generation by the people who live there! And bury my dear Jastra at the foot of the mountain that hovers over our tribe. Let it unbraid the branches of the fir and birch trees instead of her hair. And whenever there is a threat to my people, may Jastra spread her arms and protect the brave, wise and honest young men in the fight for the freedom of their people.”

People fulfilled the desire of their chieftain. And from that time on, the two rivers were named Rasina and Morava, and the mountain was called Jastrebac.

“The river Angro flows from Illyria towards the North and empties into the Brong, in the Tribal Plain, and the Brong empties into the Istar River. And so the Istar receives these two rivers.”

Herodotus, a Greek historian (the fifth century B.C.)

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