The Albanian in His Own Habitat. A Dated Portrait
Viorel Stănilă
 

As for school, at the time when Tache Papahagi wrote, the bases for primary education in the Albanian language had been laid, since the Albanians could provide teachers for the fărşerot villages as well, as the author noticed (Tache Papahagi, 1920, p.8). Yet at the turn of the century, when Burileanu visited these sites, the attempts at a cultural life in a national language were only reserved, although efforts were certainly being made:

?Both the Orthodox and particularly the Muslims learn how to write in Albanian and are eager to absorb their national culture, although there is nobody to instruct them in this respect. All can write in Albanian, which is not permitted in Turkey, and they ask the Romanians to provide them with Albanian books. It is not to wonder, then, that a dependable Romanian of Coriţa said to me, bewailingly: ?See, Sir, we could not teach the Romanians with all the propaganda and all the books, while the Albanians, without schooling and who knows what else, know how to write and to read!?? (Burileanu, 1906, p.26-27)

Wherever they did not have the possibility of learning their maternal tongue, the Albanian children would attend the schools of the other ethnic groups, just as the Aromanian children would attend Turkish or Greek schools, according to the circumstances (Beza, 1938).

On their returning home, the children would gather by the side of their mothers who had been working in the fields (out there it was mostly the women who worked the soil) and their fathers, on their way home from some fight, hunting or vendetta. Men would eat supper aside from the rest of the family, while women and children would eat the left-overs of the master?s repast, and if the former had visitors, the supper would lengthen into the night, handsomely drenched in alcohol, which was a habit with this branch of Muslims. One would generally eat at a squat and round wooden table, too old or dirty to need a wrapper. More often than not, the wrapper was soiled, too, and swarming with bugs. The potage was eaten with wooden spoons, from a common pot, while the sauced steak was served directly on the table, after everyone had chosen a morsel from the frying pan with the hand, in case the host had not already served one. If plates and cutlery were completely missing, the water carafe and the basin for washing were always available, bindingly before and after supper. The supper came to an end with dairy products and tobacco: ??should they see you rolling your cigarette, there is always someone to be ahead of you and offer you his cigarette, and you are bound to accept it, before finishing to prepare your own, and you have to puff from it no matter how it had been sealed, that, of course, if you are not presented with a pipe!

This is the course of eating practices with the Albanians and the Romanians of Central Albania, as well as with a series of Muslim beys.? (Burileanu, 1906, p.167-168)

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