The mountain village of Kuterevo is famous for its carpenters, known for the high-quality barrels, bukara (wooden mug for wine drinking), chairs, and especially the long-necked lute tamburica dangubica or samica, usually known also as kuterevka. It is made of hard raw wood which is carefully chosen by a master,making sure that the tree grew on skimpy terrain away from tall trees, in order to have the proper texture and clean grain, with no lumps. The best tamburitzas are made from white maple wood, which gives the best and clear sound.
Unfortunately, as we found out in Traditional Crafts Centre, a small number of masters today are making wooden chairs, tables and benches, and a variety of dishes that are still sometimes used in rural households and rarely in restaurants, hotels and tourist facilities, such as wooden barrels, bukara or drinking mugs, fruit bowls, while the churn, which produced butter for ages, is mostly made as a souvenir.
Wood and stone is natural material in Lika, and especially in Kuterevo, where many traditional houses still exist. Between these houses stands a grand household of Butina Family:
Owing to its geographic location in North Velebit in the vicinity of an area densely populated by bear habitats, Kuterevo has become home to the first Bear Orphanage in Croatia, providing shelter to young, abandoned bears.
The bear orphanage project (popularly known as: The Velebit Bear) has been initiated by the Croatian Centre “Knowledge for Environment” and is implemented on site by the Velebit association Kuterevo – VUK. The project is aimed to build and establish the first bear orphanage in Croatia in order to help efficiently protect the brown bear species and to contribute, through education of the local population and visitors, to a better awareness of the valuable biodiversity in the Velebit Nature Park area and the need for its preservation.
The Kuterevo Orphanage is run by a team of nature lovers composed of biology and environmental protection experts and layman volunteers who are motivated by their great love of bears. They all selflessly care for the bear inhabitants of Kuterevo and are anxious to provide the young animals with a safer future and the living conditions as similar as possible to their original habitat.
The Velebit Bear Orphanage in Kuterevo will serve as part of the visitor centre as well as being an attractive site for the promotion of the Velebit Nature Park. The first inhabitants of the Orphanage are the bear couple Mrnjo Brundo and Janja Zora.
Text: Vedran Obućina; Kuterevo Bear Orphanage; TZ Otočac
Photos: TZ Otočac