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

Therefore, for Papahagi, the last hundred years did not seem to have brought any amelioration in the state of the Aromanians. He was most particularly concerned with the condition of the Aromanians, enslaved on the properties of the beys and ever prone to the abuse of the latter. Yet, if we were to recall all the Aromanian settlements destroyed on Ali-Pasha?s order, we will understand that the problem was of serious consequence for the Aromanians in general: Pisuderi, Suli, Moscopole, Linotope, Niculiţa, Grădiştea, Şipisca, Jarcani, Gramostea. The destruction of all these settlements ? if we accept that a settlement is an imago mundi ? was equivalent for the Aromanians, on a symbolical level, to the annulment of cosmic order and the disintegration of the center around which their collective identity could be structured. It is only natural for an identity going through a crisis of the sort to activate negative representations of the other. Becoming the Opponent, the Other will resuscitate the archetype of the Hero, the Redeemer that will regain the Center for himself and for his community. This simple algebra of relations holding between identity and alterity does little else than describe the therapeutic value of the myth. The quoted Aromanian writers themselves mark their return to the Balkans as a return to an origin, while the description of this itinerary has more to do with the actualization, by means of the tale, of the encounter with the origin, rahter than with the attestation, by means of testimony, of some reality. We lack accounts by Aromanian travelers of the times of Ali-Pasha, yet collective memory has retained all these events under the guise of folk songs:

?Ună nil?e di-Arbineşi                                                                       ?One thousand Albanians

Şi-alţ ahînţ armatuladz                                                      And as many armatols

S?duc şi calcă Linătopea,                                                       Set off to pillage Linotope,

Linătopea ş?Niculiţa                                                                     Linotope and Niculiţa

Ş-giumate di Muscopol?e.?                                                   And half of Moscopole too.?

As to the description of the ruins of Moscopole, we possess the testimony of Ioan Neniţescu (1895, p. 342), traveler through the Albanian regions a quarter of a century before Tache Papahagi:

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