La Vita Triestina – Panduri
This is from an article that appeared in “Il Piccolo” newspaper and that I thought very much illustrates how life in Trieste has been influenced by many cultures. The Triestine dialiect has its origins in the Venetian language. Having been under the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and having been given the status of a free port, it has always been a bit of a meeting place for many nationalities. Triestine has words and expressions that have Greek, Germanic, Slavic, and Hungarian roots.
The origin of the word “panduri” is said to be from the Hungarian “pandur”. In feudal times panduri were armed servants of the nobility and in Hungarian menas more or less “gendarme”.
But the name“panduro” was also given to a military corp formed by the Austrians in the mid-18th century to defend its borders against the Turks. It was put together by the Baron von Trenck and was made up of Serbs and Croats that were not only fierce in battle but also very bold and daring.
In the same way that we use the little stickers in the windows of our houses that say –Protected by surveillance camera- in the hopes of discouraging break-ins, the fierce looking sculpted head of a “panduro” was used over doorways to ward off potential thieves.
The Triestine dialect is very colorful and uses a lot of double entendres. “Panduro” is also used to describe someone who “refuses to understand anything, an idiot, someone who is hard headed”.
I went looking for them and sure enough I found a few “panduri” that you are still there and protecting the homes of Trieste!