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The story of Đina

Đina is our jenny (female donkey) whom you will undoubtly meet whether you like it or not because she's expecting you at the gate of the Baćul's Court. She's talented for posing and doesn't like when the musicians become too lazy. In that case she warns them with her bray that it's time to awake and entertain the guests… these are just some of the adventures of our jenny Đina, serene and cheerful, although very old.

Have you known:

FACTS ABOUT DONKEYS (Equus asinus asinus) (due to their traditional role in the life of local population, there are a lot of Croatian names for donkeys: kenjac, sivac, tovar, osao, osel, magare; pule; ugota, kenja; in English, however, there are few names: in the western US, a small donkey is called a burro; a male donkey or ass is called a jack, a female a jenny, and an offspring less than one year old a foal – male: colt; female: filly). Donkeys are domestic animals spread all over the world. The ancestor of a donkey is the African (Wild) Ass (Equus asinus). Unlike horses, donkey's hoofs are adapted to rough stone surfaces (don't need to be shoed). Their hoofs provide safe footing, but they are not suitable for running fast. However, in some cases, they can reach a speed of up to 50 kmh. The typical donkey colour is gray or brown to black, sometimes reddish. Donkeys have, as a rule, longer lifespan than horses, and can be older than 40.

A Dalmatian donkey is well-known in these parts, since ancient times. It was a working animal, irreplaceable on difficult grounds. There are a number of entries on donkeys and their presence in Croatia. One of the earliest one is from the town statute of the island of Korčula, in 1214. A lot of Croatian writers have mentioned a donkey in their works: Gundulić, Držić, Marinković, Balog, Matvejević, Cettineo, Uvodić and others. Donkeys were brought to the Croatian region and the Adriatic coast with the development of commercial relations with the civilizations of Persia, Egypt and Greece.

Today's donkey is more the result of natural selection than a man's choice. It has lived in hard conditions of nursing and management and it is shorter and smaller than the original animal. For its outstanding endurance and modesty it's been used as a work animal in unfavourable conditions. Some fifty years ago their population was large (about 40 000). Today, the population of all donkeys (and about 80 % of all donkeys in Croatia are Dalmatian donkeys) under selection is about 1105 units. It's estimated that there are not more than 2 000 units.

Donkeys are animals that live in herds (they like company) and they can't stand loneliness. During history it has had the best work results in the rocky coastal area and on islands. That ground is planted with olive trees and vines and needs to be cultivated manually. Even on less forage a donkey is an ideal aid and working animal. It can carry up to 120 kg on long distances (over 6 km). It has a brisk pace and it's extremely persistent, contrary to the prejudices about its stubbornness and laziness. Donkeys are more used for carrying packs than for pulling carts. It has a very loud call that is referred to as a 'bray' (a donkey brays).

In fables and animal stories a donkey is usually described as stubborn, even stupid. That's why even today the word 'donkey/ass' is used in an insultive sense. In the allegory 'Buridan's ass', a donkey dies of starvation because it can't decide which one out of the two same haystacks it should eat. In fact, a donkey has a full right to be stubborn and self-willed since it's probably the most used and abused of all God's animals.

Donkeys are forced to wear a pack saddle, and the Croatian verb 'nasamariti' (derived from the word 'samar' which means 'pack saddle' ) means 'to deceive' someone or 'make someone (look like) a fool'. Instead of that verb, there's another one 'namagarčiti' derived from the Croatian word for donkey and has the same meaning (Anatolij Kudrjavcev) .

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