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

?A few years ago, the people of Adalciani were the terror of their neighbours and even of more remote areas. Terribly poor, but daring, courageous and driven by starvation, they would rob in broad daylight and even murder the travellers. The town of Cruşova and its inhabitants were under threat day and night. But the inhabitants of Adalciani were in their turn hounded like wild beasts, banned from the world and damaged by numerous revenges. As they paid with their own blood, without being able to eliminate poverty and lack, nine or ten years ago, they set their minds on labour and started agricultural work on the beautiful and fertile fields that surrounded them. This said and done, the inhabitants of Adalciani became well-to-do and demure people.?

Burileanu, an Aromanian this time, who published his travel impressions in 1906, gives a picture of a similarly disastruous situation, evoking a truthlike siege:

?In its last few days, there was vent in Moscopole of the looting feats of the Muslim Albanians from the region of Tomor: that they had pillaged the fărşeroţi in Duşari, that in Ostroviţa they had perpetrated the huts of the fărşeroţi, looting for money and clothes, that in Darda they had taken hostage a Romanian celnic and asked for a high ransom in return, and many such stories. In Moscopole as well, they had mugged cattle and some chasers could notice suspect persons in the neighboring forests; two days short of my departure, a dweller of Moscopole had a narrow escape from some bandits who had crossed his way, somewhere between Moscopole and Şipsca. As it were, the people of the region are so much accustomed to these feats of looting, that they are not so easily impressed. (?)

And it is not only isolated packs that pollute the region spanned by Tomor and the lakes, but even entire villages of Muslims are notorious for their thieves. For example: Duşari, Grabova and the neighboring regions, ?a hell hole?, as the Turks call it, and above all Griba, where, the Muslims themselves admit, everyone is a bandit!? (C. Burileanu, 1906, pp. 20-21)

This was the state of affairs encountered by Burileanu wherever he went in his voyage through Albania, yet the Albanians were not in a position of monopoly. Around that time, Lunca, an Aromanian settlement, sieged by the Albanian Fezu-Feta (dispatched by Petru Rovina, an Aromanian from Pogradeţ in order to kill the priest of Lunca), was the headquarters of the Coconeş Vallachian bandit family:

"Notorious bandits in Albania, from father to son, by heritage, as tradition and reality have it (?). The father of contemporary Coconeş, Tună Coconeş, passed away last year in Cavaia. From what I have heard, he was the terror of all Albanians, as his fame accrued on account of his thieving, while both Turks and Christians would tremble hearing his name mentioned; and it is only seldom that he would spare the lives of the Romanians.? (C. Burileanu, 1906, p. 65)

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