Albanian Tribes of the north

albanian tribes

The Northern Albanian tribes were known for their rich culture and abundant numbers. In our previous discussion, we covered the five Kosovo tribes, including the Hoti tribe and the various epithets associated with them. A well-known proverb characterized these tribes, while their geographical location provided insight into their origins.

Northern Albania (Shqipëria Veriore) is one of the three Regions of Albania. This territory is sometimes called Ghegeria (Albanian: Gegëria), and also includes parts of the Albanian-inhabited territories of Kosovo, Montenegro, and North Macedonia.

This time we will bring you a tribe from several Albanian regions.

Albanian Tribes of the Lezha Highlands Region

The Tribe of Kryezinjë

The Kryezinjë tribe’s territory lies on the eastern bank of the Fan River in the northern region of Albania’s Mirdita district. It shares borders with the traditional territories of the Vela and Bulgar tribes to the north and south. The Kryezinje tribe was exclusively Catholic and governed by a single Bajrak.

Karl Steinmetz . on his Expedition into the Northern Albanian Mountains in 1904, said:

“Although members of this Albanian tribe often live in extreme poverty and may even succumb to hunger, they remain one of the most peaceful groups among all Catholic tribes in Albania. Remarkably, there have been no reported cases of murder within their territory for many years.”

Kruja Highlands Region – Kurbin Tribe

The terms Kurbin or Kurbini refer to the region of the tribe that lives there, from the Old Latin Corvinus. It was historically registered as the name Curbin in 1621, from the anonymous report on Albania, in the letter of Pjetër Budi. This tribe is located in the district of Kurbin (Lac) in Northern Albania. The meaning of the tribe’s name is thought to come from the word corvus, which means raven. This area was covered with ravens, and an Italian expression said: popolo dei capelli corvini, which roughly means people with raven feathers.

The men or women of this tribe were distinguished by their long black hair and bright blue or gray eyes. The tribe is entirely Catholic, and marriages within the tribe were allowed because they did not have a common ancestor.

Mirdita and its constituent tribes

Mirdita is bordered by the regions of the traditional Puka tribes (Kabashin, Berisha, etc.) in the north. With the tribes of the Lezha Highlands (Kryeziinjte, Bulgerin, etc.) in the west and southwest. The main settlement of Mirdita is Rresheni, which today is the administrative center. The other most important settlement is Rubiku, and several villages such as Oroshi, Spaci, Kurbneshi, etc.

Unlike the other tribes we mentioned, one for each region, the Mirdita have had a complicated but unchanging history. The French consul, Hajsint Hekard, who visited Mirdita in 1850, left these impressions: All the Mirditas affirm that they are Catholics and that no Turkish Muslim is allowed to settle in their mountains where they practice their religion. There is no case in Mirdita where a Mirditor has renounced the Catholic religion.

Mirdita had a group of tribes which, since they belonged to a barku, were not allowed to marry among themselves. These were the three main Bajratars who did not mix among themselves: Kushneni, Spaci and Oroshi who have their origin from the legendary brothers of Shala and Shoshi. According to the documents of that time, Mirdita was governed as an independent principality and was ruled by their Prince, who was the great-grandson of Skanderbeg.

Reference from the book: Albanian Tribes (History, Society, and Culture) by Robert Elsie

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