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

In connection to the social and historical context that determined the nature of the relations of Aromanians and Albanians, alongside denominations marking confessional differences (turţi, purinţi, păngăni), belongingness to a tribe (dibrani, coloniaţi, mirdiţi, malisori, ghegani) or official status (bei, păşe, nizani, satrazani, băctari), the Aromanians would also use, in order to identify the Albanians, a term that most explicitly defines the reports between these two ethnic groups: liufteanil?i = ?the looters? (Tache Papahagi, 1922, p.7). Additionally, there is a saying that pertains to the same symbolical field: ?Pri iu treaţe arbineslu, l?i seacă măna.? (Wherever the Albanian shall pass, may his hand desiccate). Saramandu also amasses a curse: ?Ianina s-ti-ardză.? (May Ianina burn you), by which collective mentality identifies Hell as the residence of the heinous Ali Pasha.

In the times of Bolintineanu (1985, p. 333) the image of the brigand gentleman Albanian was in vogue among the Westerners as well: ?The Romanians are wiser than the Albanians, while the latter are more cavalier and more belligerent than the Romanians.? This image is dimmer, yet still vivid with Neniţescu. Here he describes a ritual that apparently duplicates the cavalier investiture ceremonial: ?At the consecration of coming of age of the Albanian youth, there is the assortment of some facts of religious nature; and sometimes the hodja, at other times the Orthodox or Catholic priest, depending on the youth?s confession, holds the floor and heartens the young men to be valiant, by showing that God has made man so the latter should fight, and defend his honor and that of the distressed, and keep his promises, as well as friendship and hospitality.? (Neniţescu, 1895, p. 483)

Heroism and nobility, as expected, exclude the penchant for too humble dealings, such as work, because in open field, an implacable bullet can be discharged from anywhere: ?The Albanian is not quite industrious, yet as his education advances, he is sure to become more industrious as well, as even today it would be untrue to say that he has labor in loath, yet the talent of valiance restricts him from taking a wider look at practical life and from understanding it?? (Neniţescu, 1895, p. 483)

The difference of material status between the Albanians and the Aromanians, always in favor of the latter, is intensely marked by two other denominations that the Aromanians use to refer to the former: lealeni = ?the unworthy? and ghiusmăpingani = ?half a wader?.

There are, nevertheless, sayings that evoke the obedience and the necessity of adopting a more permissive, more able and more obsequious behavior in the Aromanians? relations to the Muslim beys: ?Nu ştii sî ş-da ginapea la beiu.? (He does not know how to give an answer to the bey.); ?Ti beiu suma, ti chihăie lâna, ş-ti picurari niţăl?i.? (The suma[v] goes to the bey, the wool goes to the chief and fleece to the shepherd.)

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