May 2, 2018 - A “Katun” is a temporary shepherd shelter in the mountains during the summer. They are usually very small and modest, built with stone, grass, mud or tree branches. “Katuni” served the shepherds as shelters from strong sun or blizzards and storms.
Throughout Montenegro's history, “katuni” were very common. On every Montenegrin mountain, one could find at least one “katun”, and each of them had their own stories and peculiarities that make them interesting. Some of the “katuni” that are still used today and are, for example, on the mountains Durmitor, Sinjajevina and Štitarica.
It is an amazing experience to observe the dawn when the mountain and the “katuni” are still peaceful, and during the day, when the pastures are scorched by the flocks of sheep and goats' cattle. When visiting the mountain, tourists usually have to opportunity to eat domestic meals prepared with the original recipes such as “planinska cicvara” or “smočani kačamak“. Also, the locals make homemade milk, sour cream, yogurt, and local cheese called “kajmak”. Bread and meat are usually made under the “sač”.
The locals that live in the mountains have built houses that can withstand the cold and snowy mountain climate. Even so, they still kept the old traditional simple huts that some may call primitive, where they make homemade cheese products. Occasional visits from wolfs, bears, foxes and sometimes rabbits do not surprise the locals. However, they had to work hard to protect their cattle.
“Katuni” resulted from livestock breeding, which was the primary source of food for the Montenegrin people throughout history. Based on this, it can be reliably stated that the necessary existence of the Montenegrin life was in the cattle and consequently the primary concern was how to maintain the livestock fund concerning reproduction or providing daily food. People have had multiple benefits from the livestock they kept. Sheep, for example, produce milk, wool, meat, lamb and skin. From cattle, one can obtain milk, meat, calf and leather, along with the labor. Goats give milk, meat, kernels and goat skin. Horses, mules and donkeys are also a workforce without which life in the countryside cannot be imagined.
“Katuni” were, indeed, essential for all shepherds regarding protection from the varying climate conditions. Tourists usually like to hear the tales that shepherds share with them - but don’t be deceived, some of them are true, and some of them are a result of all the free time shepherds have while keeping an eye on the cattle.