Biseri | Silvia Josephine Zele

Silvia Josephine Zele

Resource 3: Na jurški zemlji: o planini Juršič, nastanku vasi Juršče in o sledovih njenih prvih prebivalcev [Juršče and Its Environs: Its mountain pastures, the founding of the village, and information on its first inhabitants]

Irena Uršič, a curator at the National Museum of Contemporary History, is the author of this book that is written in Slovenian. It is rich in data for all those who have ancestors from the village of Juršče. It contains historically interesting photos, as well as more recent photos of people and places. The book includes information on the first surnames that appeared in the village: Benčič, Butkovič, Butkovič, Čekada, Česnik, Kalister, Knafelc, Magaš, Novak, Penko, Šajn, Sedmak, Šircelj, Skok, Štefančič, Urlih, Valenčič, Vatovec, Vodopivec, Zadel, and Žužek.

Založba Libris, Koper, 2007

ISBN 978-961-6618-03-8-348-8

Summary of information from the book on the surname ‘Šajn’.
[Some variations of the surname: Shine, Žejn, Shain, Shein, Schein, Schain, Šajina, Šain, Šajne]

The earliest mention of the surname ‘Šajn’ in the Dominions of Postojna and Prem occurs in 1564 in the village of Knežak.1 Though the earliest mention of the name in the village of Juršče is found in the 1755 Urbar for the fiefdom of Kalec2 and the earliest death register for the parish of Knežak (1784–1837)3.

Juršče was formed at a time where new settlements were established with new subjects. However, the new subjects there were not only refugees from Turkish territory. Feudal lords sometimes simply moved some of their vassals to abandoned or uninhabited land.

The book author, Irena Uršič, assumes that the feudal lord populated the uninhabited area with adult children from farms in the immediate vicinity within the dominion to which he belonged4 or from a nearby landed dominion. In fact, individual landowners invited new immigrants to settle because wars, disease, and scarcity took away their labour5.

The first subject with the surname Šajn had the first name Jurij. He first appears in Knežak in 1564 in the land register of the dominion of Postojna. The surname Šajn, which was the most plentiful surname in Juršče in the 18th century, was simultaneously the most common surname in Knežak. From the land register of the district of Postojna from the 18th century it is known that this surname, appeared only on the odd occasion in the villages of Bač and Dolnje Ležeče, while in Knežak, as many as a third of all the Hides6 were held by men of that surname.

The meaning of the surname Šajn

Its origin is found in the word sha(h)in, which is a Turkish name of Persian origin and means ‘falcon’7. The surname Šajn (as well as other variants: Šajina, Šain, Šajne, …) derived from this name and spread across the Balkans with the Vlachs, mostly Slavicized nomadic indigenous inhabitants of the Balkan Peninsula who migrated from the western part of the country. Vlachs, especially from Dalmatia and Albania, settled in Istria from the 15th to the end of the 17th century. On the Istrian peninsula, the surname in the form of Šajin or Šajn is still present today. As many as five places in Istria are called Šajini or Šajni. The Venetians and Istrians also called the Vlachs ‘Čiči’, after which Čičarija got its name8. They were mainly known for breeding sheep. They had to pay duties to their feudal lords for the use of pasture land (grass tax, part of their livestock) and perform various tasks (such as grazing livestock for a feudal lord)9. In addition to being traditionally engaged in seminomadic livestock farming, they forested and produced charcoal.


  1. Archives of the Republic of Slovenia, Viceroy of Carniola Archive, Theresian Cadastre for Carniola
  2. Archives of the Republic of Slovenia, Theresian Cadastre for Carniola
  3. Knežak Parish Archives, Death Register for Knežak 1784–1837
  4. Gospodarska in družbena zgodovina Slovencev, [Economic and Social History of Slovenes] Book 2
  5. Darovec, D., 2004: Davki nam pijejo kri. Gospodarstvo severozahodne Istre v novem veku v luči beneške davčne politike. Koper, Knjižnica Annales Majora, Univerza na Primorskem, Znanstveno – raziskovalno središče Koper, Zgodovinsko društvo za južno Primorsko
  6. [Hübe = A hide. A farm large enough to sustain one family. Buildings and land, subject to a manor.]
  7. Šimunović, P., 1995: Hrvatska prezimena – podrijetlo, značenje, razprostranjenost. Zagreb, Golden Marketing [Šimunović, P., 1995: Croatian surnames – origin, meaning, distribution. Zagreb, Golden Marketing]
  8. Rožac Darovec, V. in drugi, 2005: Meje in konfini. Koper, Annales, Šimunović, Hrvatska prezimena – podrijetlo, značenje, razprostranjenost [Rožac Darovec, V. et al., 2005: Borders and Boundaries. Koper, Annales, Šimunović, P., 1995: Croatian surnames – origin, meaning, distribution]
  9. Enciklopedija leksikografskog zavoda. Zv. 7, 1964, Zagreb, Jugoslavenski leksikografski zavod [Encyclopedia of the Lexicographic Institute. Book 7, 1964, Zagreb, Yugoslav Lexicographical Institute]