Albanian Folktales and Legends

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Albanian Folktales and Legends

Post  AuLoNa on Sun Feb 01, 2009 1:33 pm

INTRODUCTION

Folk tales and legends are still very much alive in the mountains of Albania, a land of haunted history. They are recited in the evenings after a day's work or out in the fields, are learned by heart and pass, as if immortal, from one generation to the next. Whose imagination could not be captured by the cunning of the Scurfhead, by the demands of the Earthly Beauty, by the heroic feats of Mujo and Halil or by the appearance of a fiery Kulshedra in the forest?
The fundamental theme of Albanian folk tales, as no doubt of folk tales everywhere, is the struggle between good and evil, a reflection of social values as we perceive them. The cautious reader may rest assured from the start that in the fantastic world of Albanian folk literature the good always win out.
Oral literature is known to preserve many archaic elements. Albanian folk tales reveal not only a number of oriental features from the centuries when Albania formed an integral part of the Ottoman Empire but indeed also the occasional trace of the ancient world of Greco-Roman mythology. Pashas and dervishes abound in an otherwise eminently European context. The evident patriarchal structure in the tales and the passive, secondary roles attributed to female characters reflect Albania's traditionally Moslem society. In the first half of the twentieth century, about 70% of the Albanian population was Moslem, 20% Orthodox and 10% Catholic.
Yet despite their oriental background and the remoteness of Albanian culture, one of the last in Europe to withstand the onslaught of our high-tech monoculture, many of the tales will have a surprisingly familiar ring to the Western reader.
Albanian folk tales were first recorded in the middle of the nineteenth century by European scholars such as Johann Georg von Hahn (1854), the Austrian consul in Janina (Ioannina), Karl H. Reinhold (1855) and Giuseppe Pitrè (1875). The next generation of scholars to take an interest in the collection of Albanian folk tales were primarily philologists, among them well-known Indo-European linguists concerned with recording and analyzing a hitherto little known European language: Auguste Dozon (1879, 1881), Jan Jarnik (1883), Gustav Meyer (1884, 1888), Holger Pedersen (1895), Gustav Weigand (1913) and August Leskien (1915).
The nationalist movement in Albania in the second half of the nineteenth century, the so-called Rilindja period, gave rise to native collections of folklore material such as the 'Albanian Bee' (Albanike melissa / Belietta sskiypetare) by Thimi Mitko (1878), the 'Albanian Spelling Book' (Albanikon alfavetarion / Avabatar arbëror) by the Greco-Albanian Anastas Kullurioti (1882) and the 'Waves of the Sea' (Valët e Detit) by Spiro Dine (1908). In the last thirty years, much field work has been done by the Institute of Folk Culture in Tirana and by the Institute of Albanian Studies in Prishtina, which have published numerous collections of folk tales and legends. Unfortunately, very little of this substantial material has been translated into other languages.
The only substantial collections of Albanian folk tales to have appeared in English up to the present, as far as I am aware, are Tricks of women and other Albanian tales by Paul Fenimore Cooper (New York 1928), which was translated from the collections of Dozon and Pedersen, and Albanian wonder tales by Post Wheeler (London 1936). The present volume of Albanian tales endeavors to be as faithful as possible in style and content to the original Albanian texts which were recorded from word of mouth in a relatively unelaborate code.
Included in this collection are not only folk tales but prose versions of a selection of well-known Albanian legends (based originally on historical or mythological events and figures). The adventures of Mujo and Halil and their band of mountain warriors are still told and indeed sung in epic verse in the northern Albanian mountains, and the exploits of the great Scanderbeg, the Albanian national hero who freed large parts of the country from Turkish rule in the fifteenth century, are recounted everywhere Albanians gather, as if events five centuries old had taken place yesterday.
It remains for me to thank the many people who have assisted me in this project, among whom the late Qemal Haxhihasani of the Institute of Folk Culture (Tirana), staff members of the Institute of Linguistics and Literature (Tirana) and of the Institute of Albanian Studies (Prishtina), as well as Barbara Schultz (Ottawa) for her kind revision of the manuscript.

Robert Elsie
Eifel mountains, Germany

SOURCE

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Folktales

Post  AuLoNa on Sun Feb 01, 2009 1:53 pm

The Translator of these Folktales and legends has done a very good job illustrating with pictures and paintings form all regions of Albania.
Click on the links to read each story!


The Boy and the Earthly Beauty

The Scurfhead

The Three Friends and the Earthly Beauty

The Three Brothers and the Three Sisters

The Youth and the Maiden with Stars on their Foreheads and Crescents on their Breasts

The Shoes

The Girl who Became a Boy

The Maiden in the Box

The Tale of the Youth who Understood the Language of the Animals

The Stirrup Moor

The King's Daughter and the Skull

The Bear and the Dervish

The Snake and the King's Daughter

Gjizar the Nightingale

Half Rooster

The Boy with No Name

The Barefaced Man and the Pasha's Brother

The Foolish Youth and the Ring

The Princess of China

The Jealous Sisters

The Grateful Snake and the Magic Case

The Maiden who was Promised to the Sun


Last edited by AuLoNa on Mon Feb 09, 2009 11:46 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Oral Verses

Post  AuLoNa on Sun Feb 01, 2009 2:10 pm

The Songs of the Frontier Warriors (Këngë Kreshnikësh) are the best-known cycle of northern Albanian epic verse. Still sung by elderly men playing the one stringed "lahuta," these epic rhapsodies are the literary reflections of legends portraying and glorifying the heroic feats of warriors of the past. The main cycle, that of "Mujo and Halili," preserves much of the flavour of other heroic cultures such as those mirrored in Homer's Iliad in Greek, Beowulf in English, El Cid in Spanish, the Chanson de Roland in French, the Nibelungenlied in German and the Russian Byliny. The leaders of this band of thirty "agas" or warriors are Gjeto Basho Mujo and his brother Halili, who inhabit a frontier region between the Ottoman Empire and Austria Hungary. The Albanian songs of Mujo and Halili parallel the Bosnian versions of the cycle sung in Serbo-Croatian, or more properly, Bosnian. This heroic and epic verse occurs in both oral literatures and cultures, since the singers in southern Bosnia, the Sandjak, and Montenegro at the time were to a good extent bilingual, i.e. reciting alternatively in Bosnian and Albanian.
While the Bosnian Slav epic seems to have died out as a living tradition, the Albanian epic is still very much alive. Even as the twenty-first century marches on, one can still find a good number of "lahutars" in Kosova, in particular in the Rugova highlands west of Peja, and in northern Albania, as well as some rare souls in Montenegro, who are able to sing and recite the heroic deeds of Mujo and Halili and their thirty "agas," as part of an unbroken oral tradition. One can safely assume that these elderly men constitute the very last traditional native singers of epic verse in Europe.

The Cycle of Mujo and Halili

The Song of Gjergj Elez Alia

Eufrozina of Janina

The Ballad of Constantine and Dhoqina

Fog Hung Heavy O’er the Buna

Oh, my Beautiful Morea

At the Plane Tree of Mashkullore

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Legends

Post  AuLoNa on Sun Feb 01, 2009 2:51 pm

Baba Tomor

Sari Salltëk

Aga Ymeri of Ulqin

Gjergj Elez Alia

Legends of Mujo and Halili

The Legend of Rozafat Castle

Scanderbeg and Ballaban

Shega and Vllastar

The Lover’s Grave

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Re: Albanian Folktales and Legends

Post  AuLoNa on Sun Mar 29, 2009 10:55 pm


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Re: Albanian Folktales and Legends

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