Wikipedia on Malesors and Malesia Sept 20, 2008 9:16:11 GMT -5
Post by Bozur on Sept 20, 2008 9:16:11 GMT -5
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Malësia (Albanian Malësia e Madhe, Serbian: Малесија) is a geographical region in northern Albania and eastern Montenegro. It consists of the large area of land that stretches from the southeast of Podgorica to northern shores of Lake Scutari, and includes much of the Malësi e Madhe District of Albania.
* 1 Name
* 2 Population
* 3 The Seven Tribes
* 4 History
ooo 4.1 Ottoman Occupation
ooo 4.2 The League of Prizren
ooo 4.3 The Gertsche Memorandum
ooo 4.4 Political Division
ooo 4.5 Malesia under Communism
* 5 Modern Trends
* 6 Religion/Mythology
* 7 Anthropology
* 8 Prominent Figures
* 9 References
* 10 Citations
* 11 See also
Malësia e Madhe is the region's official name (or, alternately, Malcía, pronounced Malsia) which may be translated as "Greater Highlands." In the Middle Ages, the region was recorded as Pultí, though the earliest extant source in which the name "Malësia" is mentioned dates back to 1400 AD. Due to variations in the pre-standardized Albanian alphabet, the region may also be spelled as Malesia, Malcia, Malesi, Malesija and Maltsia.
visit the Malesia Portal Shkembi.com site
Malësia has a population of about 40,000 people and is mostly inhabited by ethnic Albanians.
The largest settlement in the area is the town of Tuzi, which has a population of about 4,000 people (over half of which are ethnic Albanians).
The Seven Tribes
The region consists of a congregation of seven tribes—Hoti, Gruda, Kelmendi, Kastrati, Shkreli, Trieshi, and Koja e Kuçit—the first five of which are documented to have lived together since at least the Middle Ages.
The histories of the respective tribes (and hence the whole region) are amalgamations of both historical events and genealogies passed along by oral transmission.
Hoti Hoti is a Catholic Albanian tribe that is the brother tribe of Trieshi. Geographically, Hoti lies the border separating Albania and Montenegro, on the north shore of Lake Scutari
Gruda is a tribe of Malësia that, along with Hoti was instrumental during the Ottoman resistance. The mountain of Dechiq (Dečić), where the famed battle against the Ottoman conquerors took place, is located here, as is Tuzi, the de facto "capital" of Malësia. Gruda is mostly Roman Catholic but with a sizeable Muslim minority (20-30%). The Church of Gruda, known as Prifti, is the oldest church in the region, and it is not only an Albanian landmark, but it, having been built in 1528, provides the most concrete date for tracing back ancestry.
Kelmendi is located in the northern-most region of Albania (on the eastern shores of Lake Scutari. The tribe is mostly Roman Catholic although there are some sizable Muslim populations on the outskirts of Kelmendi, such as in Rugova (located in Kosovo) or in the Vuthaj and Martinaj regions (located in Montenegro)
Kastrati, lies entirely within the political borders of Montenegro. It traces its descent from the famous fighting stock, Drekalović of Kuči, which in turn derives from Berisha, by tradition one of the oldest of all Albanian surnames. The people of Kastrati are Catholic and Muslim; and though they retain their Slavic names (most notably Popović) it is generally accepted that they are of Albanian origin.
Shkreli The largest of Malesia e Madhe. Shkreli led Malesia e Madhe in the resistance against communism, with their leader Major Marash Lleshi, during World War II.
Triesh is commonly considered the "younger brother" of Hoti, as they share a common ancestor, Keq Preka of Herzegovina. The people of Triesh were, along with their Hoti brethren, known for their role during the Ottoman resistance. Specifically, they are said never to have given in to political or religious suppression by the Ottomans; and, as a result, they not only retained an overwhelmingly Catholic population, but they never willingly paid any taxes or tribute to the Ottoman pashas. (It should be stated that there were some houses in Triesh that converted to Islam during the Ottoman occupation, though they were either exiled or left willingly shortly thereafter).
Koja e Kuçit, is a Catholic Albanian tribe near the Montenegrin Kuči tribe. The people of Koja have been praised for their resistance to the Slavic expansion, guarding their borders with life and blood from advancing Slavs into the Albanian Malesia region. Not one house in Koja was converted to Islam after nearly 500 years of the Ottoman occupation in the region. Pretash Zeka Ulaj Bajraktari Kojes was honored by the leaders of the other six malesia tribes and given the Albanian flag to mount on top of Dečić as a symbol of unity amongst the seven tribes after finally defeating the Ottoman Turks.
After the establishment of Albania as part of the Ottoman Empire, the Maltsia people sided with the Montenegrins for many centuries to come, fighting the Ottomans. However, when the famous Albanian Nobles, called Bushatli, ran northern Albania, the Malcia people gave up their alliance with the Montenegrins and allied with the Bushatli as they were of Albanian blood and heritage, although officials of the Ottoman Empire. Genes (or as Albanians call it, blood) is the most important component for Maltsia people. During the Ottoman occupation, Maltsia people have had the most rights among many peoples of the Balkans. Most of the time they have refused to pay taxes, give solders to the Ottoman Army, and accept the laws of the Ottoman Empire.
The League of Prizren
The People of Malcia participated actively in the League of Prizren, which was an alliance among the Albanians as a result of weakening of the Turks and raising new powers in the Balkans, namely the Serbs and the Greeks. The League was called by Ali Pasha of Gucia, a region culturally and ethnically belonging to that of the Malcia e Madhe region. The League chose its leader from the city Dibra, his name was Iljaz Pash Dibra. The League was divided into two main fractions, that of those who wanted Albania to remain under the Ottoman Empire, like Abdul Frasheri and Ali Pasha of Gucia, and those who sought total independence from both the Ottomans and the Slavs, like Marash Lula from the Dukagjini Region. Malcia sided with those who sought full independence. Later, as the Ottoman Empire betrayed Albanians by making a deal with the Slavs and Greeks to split Albanian into four of five pieces, all leaders of the League of Prizren fought against the Turks. Ali Pasha of Gucia became one of the most distinguished anti-Ottoman leaders.
The Gertsche Memorandum
In the Selca Village of Kelmendi, the Heads of Malcia along with the intellectuals and social and political activists from the city of Shkodër drafted a memorandum through which they requested the independence of Albania from the Ottomans. This was the first and the boldest kind of request during the 434 years of Ottoman Occupation. The meeting was considered so important that leaders from all over ethnic Albania participated. Some of the participants did not sign the memorandum out of fear of persecution.
On April 6, 1911, the Malsia fighters reached the top of the strategic high hill of Dečić (Deçiq). Many of them died that day, but they were able to crush the Ottoman resistance and raise the Flag of Albania after 442 years of occupation. This was the first time Albanians raised their Flag since the Castle of Shkodër had fallen in 1469. About a year and a half later, with the help of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Albanian Flag was risen officially in the southern town of Vlona.
In 1913 when the European Powers established the borders of the Balkans, they split Malsia in two parts. Gruda, Trieshi, Koja, Rugova, Vuthaj, Martinaj, part of Hoti and many villages around Lake Scutari and the Adriatic Sea that were descendants of Malsia, were given to Montenegro, while the rest of Malsia remained within the Albanian border.
Malesia under Communism
The people of Malesia, as they were relatively rich and relatively patriotic, were declared "Enemies of the People" by the communist government. They dared, however, to start the first revolt against the communist rule. The uprising was crushed. The leaders either escaped to Montenegro, died in jail, or were executed. Prenk Cali, the most distinguishable leader along with Llesh Marashi, are today held as heroes.
 Modern Trends
Malësia is predominately Catholic, with a minority of Muslims.
Due to its rich culture, the highland region has attracted more attention from anthropologists, artists, writers and scholars than any other region in Greater Albania. It is Malesia that has produced what has been considered the national epic of the Albanian people, Lahuta e Malcis (The Highland Lute). Author and Franciscan monk Gjergj Fishta spent 35 years composing this epic poem, in which is chronicled the whole range of the ethnic Albainan cultural experience (e.g. weddings, funerals, historical battles, mythology, genealogy, and tribal law). It is as interesting to modern readers as an anthropological document as it is a magnificent poem.
Anton Harapi, Albania's most distinguished Christian philosopher, dedicated his masterpiece "Andrra e Pretashit" (Pretash's Dream), initially called “The Wise Men along Cemi River” to the people of Malcia.
The oldest book of modern Albania was written by a Maltsia Priest, four and a half centuries ago. He, Gjon Buzuku, was a Catholic priest, who in the tradition of Martin Luther had decided to bring Reformation to Albania. The only copy of the book, written in the dialect of Kelmendi Rugova, and Kastrati, that survives has a few pages missing.
In 1908, anthropologist Edith Durham visited the Malesia region and catalogued her findings in her ethnographic work "High Albania," which was, for nearly a century, the most trusted source of information about the Albanian highlanders.
Albanian anthropologist Kole Berisha wrote, among other books, the four-volumes ethnography entitled "Malcia e Madhe" written between 1900 and 1945
Malësia’s Most Famous Two Gangs
They two main “gangs” of the mystic region of Yútbinah are the one led by Gjeto Basho Muji and the other led by the elder Dizdar Osman Aga. The warriors come from those Valleys and they do not fight each other. They are all from Jutbina.
Accursed Highlands (Bjeshket e Namuna)
Malësia people were relatively independent from the Ottoman empire, meaning they did not pay taxes, did not give them solders and did not acknowledge their law. Hence, their enemy was the one that had been their “enemy” for a millennium before the appearance of the ottomans – namely Slavs. For this reason the majority of the confrontations in the “Knight Songs” happen among the Albanians and the Slavs.
The songs have been preserved as an authentic cultural heritage against musical heritage introduced by the Turkish occupying army in the low lands. The Turkish music is accompanied by “çiftelia”, a two string musical instrument in rural areas, and “aheng” a small gypsy orchestra in urban areas. In the Kosovo region developed another kind of music which also was brought into Balkans by the occupying Turks. The music is accompanied by an instrument with many strings, called “shargia”. It sounds like the classical Persian music of Iran.
There have been very few changes in the way the Albanian Lute is used. The main drive was to save themselves from “trukization” through “çiftelia” “shargia” and “aheng” music.
A lot of information has been lost too, but there are a few names that affirm the authenticity of the epic as having been developed in Maltsia/Rugova region. The city of the Slavs is the New Kotor. Kotor is the name for a nearby Montenegrin city by the Adriatic sea. Accursed Highlands stretch from Maltsia to Rugova. The smiths/horse-shoe makers are from the city of Shkodra.
Robert Elsie has translated the “Lute of Malcia” in English (he titled it the Highland Lute) and about 30 songs from the “Albanian Epic”.
* Ded Gjo Luli
* Pretash Zeka Ulaj
* Prek Cali
* Nora of Kelmendi
* Tringa Smail Martini
"ALBANIAN JOAN OF ARC.; Handsome Heroine Takes Father's Place and Vanquishes Turks.", New York Times: Page C3, May 21, 1911