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

The inhabitants of Moscopole and the fărşerot people ? the two extreme modes of being of the Aromanians: the former, sedentarized city-dwellers consistently given to commerce, craftsmanship, and banking, the latter nomads, people of the mountain, most significantly employed in sheep husbandry and as armatols. Between these two manners of existing as an Aromanian, an affluent polytropia, to borrow a term from Irina Nicolau (2001, p. 159), would be deployed. As a ?total man? (I. Nicolau, ibidem) of the Balkans, the Aromanian institutes a paradigm, and this is why it is proper to say that the others get to resemble him, instead of him resembling the others.

What else would the Aromanians and the Albanians have in common? A share of their legends, beliefs and customs, but above all, the Law. Of course, we firstly consider the Orthodox Albanians (the ?lealeni?, as were labeled those from Muzăchia by the Aromanians, that is, ?ne?er-do-well people?), who must have been once Aromanians, but were later denationalized (Burileanu, 1906, pp. 207-208, 261). The attitude towards them varies from scorn on the one hand and good will and solidarity on the other; the mark of this attitude is granted by the availability to commit to interethnic marriage (Burileanu, 1906, p.184, 210). The feeling, needless to say, was mutual.

When we speak of sharing the same confession we have in mind the islamicized Aromanians as well, who, in the times of Burileanu, still held intimate relations within the Orthodox communities. It was the case with the beys of Coriţa, Corteşi, Butca, Zăvăleni, Fraşeri (Neniţescu, 1897, p.505; Burileanu, 1906, pp.229-230). They would say to the Aromanians: ?We, Muslims, are divided from you, Romanians, merely by a cigarette-paper? (Burileanu, 1906, p.28).

?In Upper and Lower Beala, North of Ohrida Lake, where the islamicized Romanians abide, who are, nonetheless, Romanians, one can notice this. And one can comprehend that it is not only the Romanians of these villages that were islamicized, yet these were the only ones of the region to salvage themselves from the complete obliteration that had an adverse effect on others of their kin.? (Burileanu, 1906, p.210)

The Albanian thieves that passed for public servants on the road that connected Nicea and Lunca claimed that: ?The Vallachians and the Albanians are of the same kin, this is why the Albanians call us Vallachians, since the Albanian word for ?brother? is ?vla? (sic!)[iii].? (Burileanu, 1906, p.58)

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