Kanfanar – Canfanaro: “Boskarin is one of the protected Istrian animals and is considered to be the oldest cattle species in Europe”
The Church of St. Agatha holds one of the earliest preserved Istrian Medieval frescoes. The frescoes are of the early Romanesque character with an influence of Byzantine art and were probably made in the 11th – 12th century.
Kanfanar is today famous in Istria for the Boskarin’s gathering on St. Jacob’s Day. Boskarin is autochthonous Istrian ox. It is one of the protected animals in Istria and is considered to be the oldest cattle species in Europe. It is huge and can reach over 1.300 kilograms. It remains the symbol of Istrian man’s hard work on the land.
The agricultural industrialization brought Boskarin to the edge of extinction but owing to the government intervention the Istrian Boskarin should be saved. When I was a kid I used to go with my grandfather Mate to Bartulja in Zminj and at the time it was possible to see Boskarin with other animals.
Only few decades ago almost every Istrian family in the countryside had Boskarin in house because was used in agriculture. Today it is very rare to find it and an opportunity to see it is during the St. Jacob’s Day in Kanfanar when various Boskarins from Istria gather to compete on the election of the most beautiful one.
Few years ago I was reading the story about how Europe got its name and that old myth reminded me on our Boskarin. There is a Greek myth on how Europe got the name and the ox play an important role in that legend. Boskarin could become part of the story.
Probably even many Europeans do not know the myth and Boskarin could be an interesting and easy way to remember it.
According to this old Greek myth there was a Princes Europe playing with Princes Asia.
They were both playing and collecting flowers nearby the sea, close to the city of Tiro in todays Lebanon, when God Zeus transformed him self in ox and took away the Princess Europe to the current European continent. He left her in Europe and this way Europe’s got its name. This is very shortly the myth about Europe’s name origin.
Dvigrad, as Istrian Pompei, from whom Kanfanar developed, could become the hosting place for the selection of the most beautiful ox and the most beautiful women that would represent Europe in the above mentioned old Greek myth.
It is a nice story that people all around Europe could enjoy. For sure Boskarin would get new visibility and would be safer from the possible extinction.
KANFANAR – HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
Kanfanar started to develop in the 17th century after the fall of Dvigrad although nearby Kanfanar a prehistoric hill fort settlements were found and also Kanfanar was settled by refugees from the Balkan area before the life completely ceased in Dvigrad.
With the fall of Venice in 1797, Kanfanar became a part of the Austrian Empire and for a short period of time was under Napoleon domination. The railroad was built in Kanfanar in 1876 and was important for Kanfanar development at the time.
After the First World War and fall of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, Kanfanar, was part of Italy and after the Second World War became part of Yugoslavia (Croatia).
During the Italian Fascist period in Istria many Istrian families suffered from the regime or had to leave Istria. Fascism in Istria applied various repressive measures mostly towards Slav populations and this created the Antifascist Movement.
The Second World War was a very painful experience for the Istrian population and many innocent Istrians, both Slav and Latin, died during that war.