The story of the lime kiln as a part of reviving the old way of life on the island.
On the island of Brač, there is an ongoing historical action – construction of vapnenica – old school lime kiln. It is historic because none has been built for decades, much less fired up. These traditional buildings were used for the production of lime, which was once called “pane di povere” – the bread of the poor. And Brač residents were mostly poor before tourism. On April 28. 2016 we bring you the story of a renewal of this ancient tradition of Brač island.
Lime was, apart from carved stone, the primary product of Brač. It was produced and sold overseas by islanders and was used for bleaching roofs. Because of so many old roofs in Pučišća being white, a poet once said that it snows there even in the summertime.
Lime kiln is basically a pile of limestone built as a huge furnace, with a small door at the foundation of the building, hollow inside, and filled with wood. Once it is built, it is lightened and after few weeks, stones melt and hot lime is what is left on the site. This is why there are not many limekilns around, as there can be only dust left after the process is finished.
A lime kiln is now being built on a hill Mlatinje, near Pučišća, in an olive grove of family Drpić Dido. The man overlooking the project is Jozo Martinić Meštronte, a great connoisseur of this craftsmanship, a man of enormous energy, even though he is in his eighties. His strength and vigor are overcoming those of many younger volunteers who have recently gathered in Pučišća to join this action.
Lime kiln grows from the earth quickly these days, in honor of all the bloody hands and faces of workers who spent days and nights in the construction and the lighting of the limekilns decades ago, all to earn their bread. Once when it is built, it should be fired up, and being watched over for two weeks steadily chipping branches to the fire. The stone is melted at temperatures of over 800 degrees, and ethnographic records say that people were to bleed from the eyes, ears and mouth while guarding limekilns.
This lime kiln will remain as a monument to efforts of our ancestors, not only Brač people but all that value this formidable tradition. The building is organized by “Zemlja za nas” Association and is financed by The Ministry of regional development and European funds. Partners for the project are Pučišća elementary school and USSOB Association. There are more associations involved, including Dragodid, association for island development Brač, and ANTROPOP – Association of ethnologists and anthropologists.
If you’re interested in joining in, volunteers are always welcome; food and transportation are secured, you just need to contact [email protected] and get a chance to be a part of the history. Heads up; hard work is expected.