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

As always, ours have to be better than theirs, more gentleman-like, more valiant, better-to-do etc. How would the difference be created otherwise? The self-image is merely another facet of the image of the other. Unfortunately, the manner of representing the world gives rather an account of ourselves, than of the world we live in.

?The hajduks of Pind were Aromanians at that time, as always, for more than a century. They were the discontent of the Empire because of their suffering, of their loss of privilege, which had been denied them for one whole century, while the memory of such things made them sigh for the independent times? sake.? We have quoted Pericle Papahagi. In 1881, in the paternal abode of Avdela, he had met the fierce thief chaser Fezu-Dirvenaga:

?The proud, handsome and valiant Fezu, sitting there, with a serious yet composed figure, and a sever look, in the company of four of his dependable soldiers, four Sărcăceans[i], tried in battle and armed to the teeth, eager to carry out any order from the fierce Albanian, gathered all the celnics of Avdela, imperiously demanding them not to shelter the hajduks, who had become the pest of the small people and of the Empire, and to blow up their covers, as he and his men would see to the rest.? (Pericle Papahagi, 1925, p. 51)

The answer of the celnics was an example of diplomacy of how to survive in the Balkans. In exchange for divulging the hiding places of the hajduks, the Aromanian leaders asked for protection warrants, in case not all the reprobates were caught, which was altogether unlikely, given that at the very moment of negotiations between the Albanian and the Aromanians, the celnics would privily dispatch their confidence men in order to trumpet the peril to the hajduks. The quiescence and welfare of their settlements would have been the proper price of betrayal, yet how could the misers turn in their own brothers, cousins, or nephews!

Fezu understood that there was no assistance to conjure from the Vallachians and after a two days? stay in the village, he set off by himself to search the vicinity for hajduks, with the sole reinforcement of the celnics? regret of not having convinced him of the bounty of subduing the hajduks instead of obliterating them.

?The mere fact that during their stay, Fezu?s soldiers had not been on the rampage in the village, with beating and torturing, as was the way of the other alay-beys, turned Fezu into a character deer to the Aromanians. His visible magnanimity and his dispassionate judgment of court-cases and legal absolution, as well as his incorruptible nature, his lack of greed, unlike the other alay-beys?, had put him under a good light in the eyes of my conationals, rendering him also loveable.? (Pericle Papahagi, 1925, p. 54)

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