The Seljan brothers, Mirko (5/4/1871 - 1913) and Stevo (19/8/1875 - 7/6/1936)
were Croatian explorers. They were born and educated in Karlovac. Mirko worked in St.
Petersburg over a period, where he started being actively involved in athletics. Hence, in 1898
he set off for a one hundred-day journey on foot from Saint Petersburg to Paris. After that, the
brothers met in their hometown and on 23rd January 1899 they set off for another journey
"around the world on foot". Their destination was Ethiopia, where they resided whilst they
were in the service of the Emperor Menelik II until the end of 1901. The Seljan brothers were
appointed respectively as the governor and the deputy of the Southern Equatorial Provinces
and assigned a task to strengthen and expand the Emperor’s power. Furthermore, the Seljan
brothers were involved in geographical and ethnographic exploration throughout this
In 1903 they set off for South America where they explored the areas of Brazil and Paraguay.
They were assigned the task by the local authorities to explore the possibility of establishing
traffic connections between important trade hubs. In addition, they established connections
with Croatian expatriates and intensively focused on raising their national awareness. They
signed a contract with the Peruvian government about the construction of the road intended to
connect the rich lowlands with the coast. Consequently, Mirko set off for another journey
through Peru with an expedition and he died in the rainforest, probably in May 1913.
After his brother’s death, Stevo continued travelling and searching for ores. He lived and
founded a family in the Brazilian state Minas Gerais where he died in 1936.
The Ethnographic Museum preserves the valuable legacy of the Seljan brothers. This
project is intended increase the availability of the holdings of the Ethnographic Museum, as
well as those of other Croatian institutions. Our specific objective is to bring together in one
venue all the materials available to date that show the activity of the Seljan brothers.
All the materials from the holdings of the Ethnographic Museum are available. They comprise
of different objects that originate from Ethiopia and South America, photographs taken by the
Seljan brothers in South America, their letters, diaries, notebooks about the journeys,
postcards and mailing-cards, as well as the book entitled "Salto del Guaira" (in French and
The National and University Library in Zagreb has digitised two books written by the Seljan
brothers (in Croatian) and the Karlovac City Museum has presented the Seljan Brothers
Collection, which has enriched this project.
Moreover, the texts published between 1902 and 1911 by the Seljan brothers in the magazine
entitled "Prosvjeta" have also been made available (in Croatian). The list of References
highlights the books published by the Seljan brothers, as well as the scientific and popular
materials that address the issue of their activity.
A comic strip by the reputable comic-book writer Andrija Maurović entitled "A Grave in the
Jungle" (the text was written by Franjo Fuis and Marcel Čukli – in Croatian) used to be
published in the magazine entitled "Zabavnik" (1943 - 1944), based on the book by Zlatko
Milković "The Seljan Brothers“.
Striving to provide a deeper insight into this issue, we have created interactive maps showing
the routes passed by the Seljan brothers. In addition, we have provided the descriptions of
their expeditions and additional material. We are hoping this project will be expanding, as the
insight into the rich activity of the Seljan brothers deepens. Moreover, we are hoping that the
information about these exceptional explorers and travellers will easily cross the borders and
connect cultures in the same way as the Seljan brothers did.