The currency of a country speaks volumes about its history and culture. Serbia is a country rich in history. When I arrived in Serbia, one of the first things (besides the Rakia) that caught my attention was the Serbian Dinar. To understand the history of Serbia, I started my exploration with its multicolored currency. The currency of Serbia is Serbian Dinar. 1 Euro is roughly equivalent to 118 Serbian Dinars and 1 Indian Rupee is equivalent to 1.41 Serbian Dinar (RSD).
In India, we have Mahatma Gandhi on all the currency notes, irrespective of their denominations. However, in Serbia, each denomination of currency note has a different personality.
I couldn’t contain my curiosity and ended up asking Maja, a local resident of Belgrade who runs a restaurant about these famous people. Here is the link to my YouTube video.
Famous Personalities on Serbian Dinars
The Serbian language uses Cyrillic letters/scripts. Therefore, the currency note also features Cyrillic letters. Here is a brief history of Serbia through the currency notes.
1. 10 RSD
The famous personality on this 10 Serbian Dinar note is Vuk Stefanović Karadžić. You can also see his name written at the bottom of the note. Vuk Karadzic was a major reformer of the Serbian language. He standardized the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet. He is also known as the ”Father of Serbian Folk Literature”.
Vuk’s literary works were critically acclaimed by Grimm Brothers, Goethe, and Humbolt. He didn’t get the honour he deserved amongst Serbians in the first half of the 19th century during his prime time. Many of his works were banned from publishing in Serbia during the 1820s and 1830s when Prince Miloš Obrenović I was the ruler of Serbia. Moreover, several established contemporaries were reluctant to adopt the changes in Serbian literature suggested by him.
However, in the late 1840s and early 1850s, some of his literary works were published in Serbia. His works resonated with the young intellectuals. He had translated the ‘New Testament’ into the Serbian language which made it very simple to understand for the common people. Other folk poems like ‘The Serbian Revolution’ and ‘Montenegro and Montenegrins’ also resonated with the common mass.
By the way, ‘Vuk’ in Serbian means ‘Wolf’. He was definitely the lone wolf of his time who fought with the establishments to bring the Serbian language to its glory.
2. 20 RSD
The green coloured 20 Serbian Dinar banknote features the 19th-century Prince-Bishop, philosopher, and poet from Montenegro, Petar II Petrović-Njegoš. You can also see the Njegos mausoleum in Lovćen national park near Cetinje, Montenegro in the currency note.
Njegoš is one of the founders of the philosophy of ‘Yugoslavism’ even before Yugoslavia came into existence. He united the tribes of Montenegro and established a centralized state.
He also wrote Gorski vijenac (The Mountain Wreath) which is one of the most important Serbian epics written as a play. It is a play in the form of poetic verse that talks about the mass execution of a tribe of Montenegro on a Christmas day by the Ottomans.
3. 50 RSD
The 50 Serbian Dinar currency note features Stevan Stojanović Mokranjac. He is a famous composer and hailed as the ”Father of Serbian Music”.
He founded the first string quartet of Serbia which toured several parts of Europe in the early 1900s. Mokranjac used to play cello in the quartet. You can see the cello on the 50 Serbian dinar note.
He also founded the ‘The Serbian School of Music’ which was later renamed Mokranjac Music School in his honour.
4. 100 RSD
Well, this is my absolute favourite. The 100 Serbian Dinar features the great Nikola Tesla. The front of the 100 RSD bank note even has the formula for Tesla (T) which is the unit of Magnetic Field. ‘Wb’ is Weber which is the unit for magnetic flux.
It is interesting to note that the 100 RSD note is blue in colour which represents the blue light seen in sparks on Tesla coil. The Tesla coil was designed to transmit Alternating Current (AC). Tesla worked on wireless electricity too.
The portrait of Nikola Tesla in the back of the 100 Serbian Dinar note is very similar to the famous ”Blue Tesla Painting” in the Tesla Museum, Belgrade.
5. 200 RSD
Nadežda Petrović lived a short life of mere 41 years. However, she was one of the most influential ‘Impressionist’ painters in the late 19th and early 20th century Serbia. Impressionist is a style of painting which has an open composition, thin and light brush strokes.
When the Balkan wars broke in 1912, she aided the injured soldiers as a nurse.
One of her most famous paintings had the Gračanica Monastery (now in Kosovo) as a subject. Therefore, you can see the Gračanica Monastery on the 200 RSD bank note.
6. 500 RSD