Posted on 07.02.2012 and 17.09.2014When Croatia has separated from Yugoslavia and it has declared independence, I thought that its territory's shape (as the jaws of a crocodile - isn't at all a political allusion) will be very difficult to defend. And probably so it's, but the war of four years that followed proved that this mission isn't impossible to accomplish. The upper "jaw" is Slavonia (closely linked with the Croatia itself in the last thousand years), and the lower "jaw" is Dalmatia. In fact the present border between Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina (located between "jaws") is, with certain approximation, the boundary which separated, for centuries, Austrian Empire and Ottoman Empire.
The area known as Croatia today was inhabited throughout the prehistoric period, fossils of Neanderthals being unearthed in northern Croatia, with the most famous and the best presented site in Krapina. The Iron Age left traces of the early Illyrian Hallstatt culture and the Celtic La Tène culture. Much later, the region was settled by Liburnians and Illyrians, the first Greek colonies were established on the islands of Korčula, Hvar and Vis. In 9 AD the territory became part of the Roman Empire. Emperor Diocletian built a large palace in Split when he retired in AD 305. The period ends with Avar and Croat invasions in the first half of the 7th century and destruction of almost all Roman towns. Tomislav became the first king by 925, elevating Croatia to the status of a kingdom, which retained its sovereignty for nearly two centuries. Croatia entered a personal union with Hungary in 1102, and in 1527, faced with Ottoman conquest, the Croatian Parliament elected Ferdinand I of the House of Habsburg to the throne.
The checkerboard (chequy) placed outside the outline of the country in the first postcard is the main coat of arms of Croatia, commonly known as šahovnica (chessboard in Croatian). The original consists of 13 red and 12 white fields, and, unlike in many countries, the Croatians uses the symbolism from the coat-of-arms, rather than from the Croatian flag. The origin of the design has often been purported as being medieval, assumption that the colours represented two ancient Croat states, Red Croatia and White Croatia, but there is no clear historical evidence to support this. Historic tradition states it to be the arms of King Stephen Držislav (r. 969-997). Also, the falcons on a stone plate from the time of Peter Krešimir IV (r. 1058-1074/5) carry something that resembles a chequy on their wings.
The checkerboard was first attested as an official symbol of Croatia on an Innsbruck tower depicting the emblem of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor in 1499. In 1848 it was adopted as an unofficial coat of arms of the Kingdom of Croatia, and since 1868 as an official one of the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia. In 1919 šahovnica was included in the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later the Kingdom of Yugoslavia) to represent Croats. During the WWII, the Ustaše regime overlapped their ideological symbol, the letter "U", above or around the šahovnica as the official national symbol during their rule.After the WWII, the new Socialist Republic of Croatia became a part of SFR Yugoslavia, and the šahovnica was included in the new socialist coat of arms with superimposed red star. On 21 December 1990, the post-socialist government of Croatia, passed a law prescribing the design created by the graphic designer Miroslav Šutej.
About the stamps
The stamp on the bouth postcards are part of the series Croatian Ethnographic heritage, about which I wrote here.
Croatia - Wikipedia
Coat of arms of Croatia - Wikipedia
Croatian Coat of Arms during centuries - Croatian History
Croatia - Flag of the World
Sender 1: Maja / Tulipan7 (postcrossing)
Sent from Zagreb (Zagreb / Croatia), on 11.01.2012
Sender 2: Anne Hippe
Sent from Poreč (Istria / Croatia), on 04.09.2014