The last house at the Lanë

In 2000, restoration of the Lanë river began. Only one house was left to stand. It would take a decade for this house to be taken down too. In the year of 2010, the municipality of Tiranë started demolishing the last house. For all these years it had functioned as a symbol of the Kanun being still active in present-day Albania, for this house was sheltering a family that had incurred the blood-feud (gjakmarrja).

Although the place was shelter only to women and children, they may become a victim (ngujuar) in the feud between the men sometimes. Thusthe old Kanun states that “blood follows the finger”, and only the murderer itself must be revenged by the family of the victim, the later Kanun states that all males in the family of the murderer can be revenged, even an infant in the cradle. Women are excluded from the feud since when a woman is killed, her parents incur the blood.

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The Highland Lute

Gjergj Fishta (1871—1940) is the writer of the Albanian national epic Lahuta e malësisë (The Highland Lute). In 17.000 verses a panaroma of northern Albanian history in between 1862 en 1913 depicts the battles of the Northern highlanders aganst the Turks and Montenegrins. It was in 1902 when Gjergj Fishta had been sent to a northern Albanian mountain village to replace the local parish priest for a while. There he met and became friends with the aged peasant Marash Uci, who told the young priest of the heroic battles between the Albanian Highlanders and the Montenegrins.

ImageBeing the only intact heroic society in Europe, High Albania in the north of the country differed radically from the rest of Europe but even the more advanced and ‘civilized’ regions of the Tosk south of Albania. This patriarchal structure of society in the Highlands, a social system based on customs handed down for centuries by tribal law, in particular by the Kanun of Lekë Dukagjini is an interesting thing. All the aspects of life, such as birth, marriage and funerary customs, beliefs, the generous hospitality of the tribes, their endemic blood feuding, an acute perception of male honour and the ‘besa’, absolute fidelity to one’s word, are part of the The Highland Lute. This heroic aspect of life in the mountains is one of the many characteristics which the northern Albanian tribes have in common with their southern Slavic, and in particular Montenegrin, neighbours. The two peoples, divided as they are by language and by the bitter course of history, nonetheless share a largely common culture.

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Azra Akšamija’s kilim

A work by Azra Akšamija showing the recent history of Bosnia-Herzegovina in the traditional kilim making. The end result is quite beautiful, and makes you think of a rug to decorate your house or another place — but at the same moment the painful acts of history are shown.

Statement from her own website: “Monument in Waiting is a collective testimony of the ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Bosnia-Herzegovina, carried out by nationalist extremists during the war of 1992-95. This process of territorial and cultural ‘decontamination’ involved the eviction and mass murder of civilians, as well as the extermination of their cultural and historical traces. Places of worship being particularly targeted, destroying the previous period of peaceful co-habitation. While all ethnicities suffered destruction or damage of their cultural heritage, the quantity of destroyed mosques far outweighs the number of destroyed churches. The pattern of this hand-woven kilim tells the story of the systematic devastation of Islamic cultural heritage during the war and points at the impact of this erasure of memory on the Bosniaks’ religious, ethnic, and national identities today.”

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