An ancestor is a paternal or maternal blood relative from a distant past. The Serbian language has many differentiating word for a family and relatives, but also for ancestors in different relations. The closest ancestors are grandparents, then great grandparents, and we have also heard of great great grandparents (our great grandparents’ parents, or our grandparents’ grandparents or our parents’ great grandparents). But it does not end there. Then there is a host of words describing our ancestors back to the distant past:  navrdeda and navrbaba, kurđel and kurđela, askurđel and askurđela, kurđun and kurđuna, kurlebalo and kurlebala, sukurdol and sukurdola, surdepač and surdepača, parđupan and parđupana, ožmikura andožmikurka, sajkatava and sajkatavka and, finally, there is a white eagle and a white bee, as the sixteenth generation of our ancestors. In some areas, the white bee may denote just the fifth generation down, but white bees are actually every eighteenth generation down. Also, in some parts, an askurđelmay be a forefather, a progenitor – a distant ancestor, an originator of a line of descent, bearing his/her surname


Old nations, including the Slavs, before adopting Christianity, had a developed ancestors cult. They believed that after death the spirits of the ancestors were going to another world, from which they watched over the next generations. Many elements of the ancestors cult are preserved even today, particularly in burial rites.  Actually, in the cult of the patron saint, the Christian saint took over the place of a mythical ancestor. It is quite common that members of a clan celebrate the same patron saint’s day.


Ancestors are represented in a family tree. There are some famous frescoes depicting the lineage of the mediaeval ruling family of the Nemanjić family in the  Monasteries of Dečani, Gračanica, Patriarchy of Peć.