Albanian Besa – Everything you need to know

albanian besa

Albanian Besa as a concept has guided Albanians in their social life for many years and decades. Albanian Besa is simply the word given. In Albania, when you give the word, there is no turning back. Besa or the cult of the word given is related in the source to the biblical myth. Specifically the saying In the beginning, there was the word.  This magnificent cult preserved the source language for the Albanians.

What does Kanun of Lekë Dukagjini says about Albanian Besa?

If we analyze the Kanun of Lekë Dukagjini by Shtjefën Gjeçovi (12 July 1874 – 14 October 1929), we see that Besa is divided into different genders and forms. Article 163 of Chapter III of the Kanun The importance of Besa is as follows: The truth.

The oath can only be made before authorities are recognized by the community by taking a solemn oath. There are three main rituals of the word that is expressed. On the stone, on the cross and the Gospel, and on the head of the boys.

The statement is made according to a predefined rule. First of all, the day of the meeting of the elders ‘ trial is set, and whoever wants to give the pledge will come before them. Then follow the statements of the judges and their relatives. The right of trust falls on those who have suffered an insult. Those who have witnessed the crime are not allowed to swear.

Besa in Albanian literature and folklore

Undoubtedly, the phenomenon of Besa is also present in Albanian literature. We find it in folklore, popular literature, folklore, and novels. For example, in the legend of Rozafat. Where it is shown that respect the Besa is silent even when it comes to the man of the heart. Or to Doruntina and Constantine, when to keep the promise given to his mother, Constantine also rises from the grave.

On the other hand, even in many novels, such as ‘Broken April’ by the writer Ismail Kadare. In novels like this, the importance of faith in Albanians and the weight of its respect are revealed. According to the rules of Albanian society, if someone vows with the word I give my promise for any issue, then you can trust him.

Foreigners on the Albanian Besa

The phenomenon of Besa among Albanians has always impressed foreigners and visitors. They have been amazed at the power of this commitment among Albanians. By respecting this code as if it were written law. Many foreign scholars write about how the ethical standard of Albanians is Besa, that is, the word given.

They show how regardless of the circumstances when an Albanian gives the floor, it can not be violated and there is no need for any kind of written agreement. Consequently, the meaning of the word “unfaithful” is a violation of the given word.

There is no need for written agreements with Albanians

In a series of trade maps accompanied by text, published in 1886 by the French Ministry of Trade, the file dedicated to Albania informs exporters that there is no need for written agreements for Albanians.

According to them, their word has a lot of weight and there is no known case that they have violated it.

Henry N. Brailsford, in his well-known book on Macedonia, has this anecdote: The most meaningful thing of all was the laconic question answered by a Bulgarian bishop. Do you trust him? I asked. – He is an Albanian. Or is not it? – was the answer. – For centuries Slavs and Albanians have been in constant hostility toward death. And this is one enemy’s comment on another’s character.



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