Information and research on Albanian language, uses and customs, including the funeral song and various aspects of the Albanian mortuary rite, the Albanian and foreign authors report as:
Pjetër Bogdani; Pjetër Budi; Frang Bardhi in a report of the 1641; Evlija Çelebi 1660-1664; Vincenzo Dorsa (Frascineto, 26 February 1823 - Cosenza, 4 December 1855) who was an Italian writer of arbëreshe origin; Johann Georg von Hahn in his book Albanesische Studien - "Albanian Studies" (1853); Robert Elsie (1950-2017); Elena Gjika known as Dora d'Istria, the latter, pseudonym of Princess Helena Koltsova-Massalskaya, (Bucharest, 22 January 1828 - Florence, 17 November 1888), who was a writer of Albanian origin but Russian and Italian by acquisition; Zef Jubani; Girolamo De Rada, Calabrian-Albanian poet and writer (Macchia Albanese, Cosenza, 1814- S. Demetrio Corone 1903); Luigj Gurakuqi, an intellectual, a very well-known character in the patriotic and democratic Albanian movement, poet and publicist, born in Scutari the 19 February of 1879; Vinçens Prenushi, a religious of Scutari, poet, interpreter, publicist, educator and martyr of the faith, persecuted and died in the 1949 under inhuman torture by the Albanian communist regime, in Durazzo prison; Maximilian Lambertz (1882-1963), Austrian albanologist; the transylvanian baron Franz von Nopcsa, paleontologist and albanologist etc ...
There are innumerable elements to analyze in the field of the funeral ritual in Albania, but I would like to dwell on two determinants, such as: "Gjama and burrave" – "The mortal cry of male lament" applied in the "Malësia e Madhe" - "The Great Mountains" - in the extreme North of Albania and the funeral or whining cry of the lamenting women of Southern Albania.
Throughout the world, the customs inherent in the crucial points of man's life phases, such as birth, way of life, marriage and death are peculiar on the one hand, and homologous on the other.
That is, there are common strands in the ethnological landscape of peoples regarding uses, rituals and customs, just as a people is differentiated from the other, due to its peculiarities in this regard.
With regard to the "death" event, the funeral rites and the set of ways in which the condolences to the family of the deceased are expressed are just as many as to constitute one of the most important elements of the study of a certain people from the point of view connected to the cultural anthropology, in particular that of mourning and ethnology.
Present in its history, in folklore and in the traditions of a people, mortal rites become its peculiarity in various aspects.
Since I am not an expert in the aforementioned branches of studies and even less a tanatologist, I could try to expose my modest impressions of experience and direct knowledge of some occasions for funeral rites celebrated in Albania only on a personal level.
Ergo, starting from the assumption that in Albania there is no single religion, it should be kept in mind that some notable differences in the celebration of the funeral rite from North to South of the Land of Eagles are also dictated by this religious diversity.
The ritual of the "Gjama", the typically masculine cry of death
One of the most significant rituals of condolence in the Great Albanian Mountains
According to various studies and researches, it seems that the custom by Albanian "malësorë" men, the mountaineers of the extreme North Albania to announce the death of a person known to the community, with loud shouts and shouts, arranged in a row or in a precise order accompanied by certain gestures for a specific time cutout, which varies from twenty minutes to an hour, it seems that it was born from the 1468 with the death of the Albanian National Hero, Scanderbeg.
And since then, it has become a real ritual mortal institution in the aforementioned areas, where the Kanun of Lekë Dukagjini used to exist - The Kanun (Canon) by Lekë Dukagjini is a code di customary laws that have been transmitted orally for centuries, especially in Northern Albania - in times of mourning, especially when it comes to people of depth, who have distinguished themselves above all for their honesty and fairness towards the entire community.
A ritual to be respected and cared for in detail by professional organizers such as: the number of men who are part of the group of "gjëmëtarë" to launch the cry of groaning, is usually a minimum of ten, a group that eventually came joining others.
The larger the group, the greater the sense of respect shown for the deceased. The gestures and movements that accompany the screams, both with regard to the people of the screaming group themselves, and with regard to their approach with the deceased, their steps, first their positioning at a distance from the deceased and gradually, approaching to it, their exclamations, the blows that were given with the fists to the chest, the scratching of the face to the point of bleeding, the type of exclamation that varied according to the age of the deceased, for the younger ones a certain cry was used and for the elderly, another, etc.
The birth of the rite in question is related to the death of Scanderbeg, but it is said that it is much older, also mentioned much earlier, in Homer's Odyssey.
"The funeral rite of the Gjama" and the dictatorship of Enver Hoxha
The ritual of the "Gjama", the male mortal cry or lament, typical of the Great Albanian Mountains began to be forbidden even from the 1945 with the establishment of the power of the dictatorial regime of Enver Hoxha, considering it as a ritual connected to the status vivendi of the popular cultural backwardness.
However, it remained preserved by the elderly and passed on to the new generations and then resumed with democracy in the early '90, but naturally in a smaller size and today it is in the process of dissolution or practically already dissolved, of which only the vague story of the old remains. generations.
The saying: "When in Rome do as the Romans do", I think that in this case, being the cult of the dead present in all popular cultures, despite different conceptions or measures, it catches us with an enlarged view on the fact that in many human and cultural aspects, our peoples have many points in common.
This is inevitable for all humanity, globally.
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