Okolo Kere Pa Na Mala Vrata

"Okolo kere pa na mala vrata" was a phrase often heard around the family farms in Gadsden, Arizona and Tornillo, Texas.

It was imported from Novi Vinodolski, where it had come to assume several meanings. Originally, the phrase was believed to have been the directions for entering the walled fortress of Novi Vinodolski, during an attack, directing the residents not to go to the main gates that would be locked to thwart cavalry attacks, but around (the corner) through the little doors in back that could not accommodate a mounted horseman.

Currently, the word "kere" is not used, although it is understood by the Novljanski. "Kere" is Turkish (as some say is the original origins of the name Segulja). Perhaps both words pre-existed the Slavic invasion following the collapse of the Byzantine Empire. "Kere" means dog.

Presently, the word "kere" has been supplanted by the word "torno," another foreign word--this time Italian, meaning tower. A word left, perhaps, by Roman Legionnaires.

Going around the tower and through the little doors seems vastly different than going around the dog and through the little doors, unless you realize that the directions are to enter the town undetected by the watch tower or the watch dog.

Today, with the absence of mounted cavalry attacks, the phrase "okolo torno pa na mala vrata" has come to mean: to achieve the goal by way of going roundabout (by way of avoiding the main road and the main entrance).

Some people use it in the sense of "to beat around the bush."

Special thanks to Marija Segulja's friend "Gora D." for the translation. View the tower and the little [blue] doors in the painting below.


digital photography by Lex Boswell


Check out Margaret Segulja Pottorff and Cece (Mike's girlfriend) inside the mala vrata nearest the ancestral Segulja home.


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