Neohelicon XXXII (2005) 1, 71–79

ANA MARTINOSKA

ETHNIC STEREOTYPES IN THE MACEDONIAN FOLKLORE AND THEIR REFLECTION IN THE MACEDONIAN CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE

Initially, the paper “Ethnic Stereotypes in the Macedonian Folklore and their Reflection in the Macedonian Contemporary Literature” is focusing on the ethnic stereotypes in folklore, knowing that it often reflects the historical reality in a fuller, more penetrating way than the other sources. In the Macedonian folklore, the positive image and the epic glorification of the Macedonian heroes are opposed to the manifested negative judgments about Others (mostly Turks and Arabs), often based upon ethnic stereotypes. The treatment of the motifs and the characters in them are quite typicalized and even overproportioned by frequent usage of hyperbolas and contrasts. The paper presents Bolen Dojcin and Marko Krale as typical heroes whose images succumb to stereotyping and the Crna Arapina as the perfect depiction of their enemy. These folklore images and stereotypes have significant implications and reflections in the Macedonian contemporary literature, especially in the poetry, so in the major part of the paper it deals mostly with these expressions. One of the main reasons for the usage of these “old-fashioned” stereotypes is to provoke familiar images in the people’s minds (both good and evil), and to use this touch of the tradition as a base for the new ideas and poetry innovations. This paper pursues their transformations in the contemporary poetry of a few Macedonian authors, such as Blaze Koneski, Vlada Urosevic, Radovan Pavlovski and others. We read their poetry as intertext, namely as restoration and resemantisation of the traditional oral poetry, and we follow up the modifications done in their composition, versification and basic poetry idea. Apart from the poetry, these images and stereotypes taken from the Macedonian folklore can be noted in the other genres of the Macedonian contemporary literature, who enclose rereading of the ethnic stereotypes, upgrading of mythical fables, unconventional, unconditional and often very complexed usage of the folklore elements, symbols, myths or motifs. The paper leads to the conclusion that Macedonian folklore accumulates knowledge and image of the Other, but at the same time abounds with ethnical stereotypes. In the text, they were viewed through their manifestations and their alterations mainly in contemporary Macedonian poetry, through a number of paradigms and poetic concepts, highlighting their ability to make use of the spirit of the tradition as fundamentals for the fresh ideas and expressive innovations.

Ana Martinoska, Ss Cyril and Methodius University, Institute of Macedonian Literature, ul. Vasil Gorgov 35, P.O.Box 455, 1000 Skopje, Macedonia; E-mail: anamar_mk@yahoo.com
0324–4652/$20.00 © 2005 Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest Springer, Dordrecht

They are as true as tradition. the conquering armies of many different nations crossed over this small country. and across time. and the jealous preservation of the folk tradition created circumstances for the maintenance. the folk songs were often about the fight of the Macedonians. withdrawal into themselves. and false beliefs (Taylor. Spencer: 251). heroes. No person can grow up in a society without having learned the stereotypes assigned to the major ethnic groups (Ehrlich. from which stereotypes emerge. irrational beliefs. confirmation and proclamation of identity (Krekovicova: 6). Cultural norms are the social system through which stereotypes are represented and perpetuated across individuals. it influenced a great deal the art creations of the Macedonians. Ethnic stereotypes are transmitted across generations as a component of the accumulated knowledge of society. development and the blossoming of oral poetry (Penuwliski. Often additional qualifiers are added to the definition to suggest their undesirability. therefore Macedonian folklore treasures many motifs taken from the country’s history and ideology. The conditions of life in slavery. Folklore frequently supplies a substitutional role as a bearer of real identification features. This particularly counts for the oral literature created during the ruling of the Ottoman Empire for over 500 years. across generations. myths. Due to its geographical and strategic position. sacrifices. their battles. cultural. prejudices). the political. in folklore it is possible to decode the reflection of identification features (images. Aboud: 331). The same is true for the folklore in Macedonia. more penetrating way than the other sources (Krekovicova: 5). customs and religion. Historically. or only of those which are presented as such. knowing that these often reflect the historical reality in a fuller.72 ANA MARTINOSKA Stereotypes are not new phenomena. so stereotypes have been described as overgeneralizations. They represent one aspect of the entire collective knowledge of a society. is such a basic process that it has always been – and likely always will be – an integral part of human existence. as well as its natural beauty. Clearly. religious and assimilative pressures of those nations had great impact on historical growth of the Macedonians and has been expressed in their ethno-physical as well as character features (Penuwliski. 2003: 8). Still. rigid generalizations. Social categorization. stereotypes. and folklore represents a mean for the constitution. Shaller: 3). The numerous military conflicts. symbols. ethnic stereotypes would not create a social problem if we did not use them so frequently in our interaction with others (Fein. when the Macedonians were trying to preserve the basic characteristics of their Slavic background. Psychology already provided some answers to the basic questions about stereotypes and what they are. ideas. as pervasive as folklore. victories. religions. and sciences. 1973). In this paper I want to focus on the ethnic stereotypes in folklore. Naturally. 2003:7). Stereotypes about ethnic groups appear as part of the social heritage of society and they are typically defined as a consensus among members of one group regarding the attributes of another. victims etc. which includes the society’s customs. their language. stereotypes were “considered to be the ‘pictures in the head’ of individuals looking out into their social worlds” and later proven that their effects are much more than this definition indicates (Stangor. In that sense when we .

being related to the fairies and dragons or being born as the “chosen” ones. the central position in Macedonian heroic poetry is reserved for the victories of the Macedonian heroes in the battles against the Turks and the Arabs. The legendary heroes are images of the Macedonian longing for justice.ETHNIC STEREOTYPES IN THE MACEDONIAN FOLKLORE 73 understand how significant these processes are for a nation. using the hyperbola and contrast as the most frequent semantic figures. Of course this is not a unique Macedonian process. and this ethnical and nationalistic aspect is acknowledged as one of the most significant features of the Macedonian folklore in general. as well as the minor genres (and the folklore of the other South Slavic nations) abound with ethnic stereotypes attributing positive qualities to the group to which they belong and negative qualities to the others. According to it. 2003:91). which indicate its popularity among Macedonians. The image of the Macedonians in their own folklore creations is frequently opposed to the members of the other ethnic groups present in the country – Turks. personal name). which are often based on stereotypes and declarations of the opposition we-they. kill him and save himself. challenge the tyrant. The same motif can also be found in some legends and tales. presented in the folklore as fearless. It causes a process of becoming ethnically conscious (Ilomaki: 103–105). is composed upon an original motif: an Arab is violently attacking the honor of Dojcin’s home. such as the one in which “the botanists are still taking care of the 500 year old tree. which has approximately seventy-five variants. idealistic and always the winners. The plot of his people’s war and its legends and stories has a certain pattern. later transmitted among the other South Slavic nations as well. a sick hero finds the strength to get up from his bed. Typical examples are the anecdotes. invincible. Albanians and others. honest. strengthening the feeling of sameness within one’s own society. One of the most magnificent poetic accomplishments of the Macedonian folk poetry is the ballad song called “Bolen Dojcin” (meaning the Sick Dojcin. Telling these legends is a vehicle of pointing out the contradiction between the enemy and us. The basic ground for this motif is probably a poetic echo to the realistic situations experienced during the attempts to conquer on Macedonia. The song. whose roots conceal the grave of the slain Arab” (Penuwliski. In the same way. and on the other side the Arab is an image of . Treatment of the motifs and the characters in it is quite typicalized. because other European countries especially in the period of the romanticism witness such occurrences. his town and his people from the terrors of the foreigner. where ethno-identity is often actualized at a point of comparison. Greeks. The researcher Ilomaki from Finland claims that war is often what brought people in touch with each other. Macedonian folk poetry and prose. especially the ones about the national sage Itar Pejo and his opponent Nasredin Hodja. we see its self-centeredness expressed in the frequently manifested negative judgments about others. Everything about them is idealised and over-proportioned. There are even cases where they obtain mythological and supernatural features. We have an epic glorification of the Macedonian hero Dojcin as the savior and the winner. when coming across outsiders who do not belong to the same group as ours. a danger is caused by attacking the enemy and the situation is solved by the clever action of us.

e. telling her how difficult it was to capture and defeat her son. Some researchers even claim that this is a genetic remnant of the presence of a “black god” from pagan times and the mythological stories. we find it easier to believe that it is a consequence of the actual Arab participation in some of the wars involving the South Slavic nations’ territories. the color of his skin. striking unprotected people’s freedom and dignity without any compassion. On the other hand. Still. Jusuf. Not even the Black Arab has a name in Macedonian folklore and even his physical description is rare. which is often a substantial contributing factor for determining stereotypes. Still. referring to the Arab king Udavin. In some variants “a little yellow Jewish guy” supplies him for free with a clothing to cover his wounds and his body. Another significant folklore figure. with a head as big as a kettle. a huge mouth extending from his belly to his forehead. His portrait is usually depicted indirectly with hyperbolisation of his monstrous acts. One of the non-typical elements found in the heroes’ songs is the episode of the Turk honouring the heroism of the killed fighter Stojan. This is in part because the needed handicrafts were usually performed by Turks. there are few songs where the attribute black is changed into “tzar” – the king. 2003: 114). the fight between them is usually a fair one. sometimes we find a portrayal of his physical appearance done according to the traditional folk image of the negative hero: he is ugly and fat. is Marko Krale (king Marko). Osman.74 ANA MARTINOSKA the brutal man reaching for the peace and the freedom of a nation. They include: Ali. but also because it demonstrates the stereotypical image that – like the proverb says – one can’t have faith in Turks (Penuwliski. Imer.” who fail to help him in his preparations for the fight with the Black Arab (or ask for his sister’s affections in return). in some variants he kills the girls after being with them). one as popular as Dojcin. i. but the Muslim ones are more frequent. eats three calves. violent and cruel man. In only one case this brother is a black Gypsy. but can also be a symbol for his cruelty. and others. asked for a different bride for every night. both Christian and Muslim. This “brothers by blood” have different names. This is one of the rare examples where the images of the enemy do not succumb to stereotyping and present the enemy to some extent in a positive manner. Asan. Mamut. rowdy. the horrors. like the Arab-Byzantine wars and conflicts. and abuse he has perpetrated. 2003: 130). drinks two bowls of wine and one of brandy. Along with these stereotypical images of the two opposing heroes. and so on (Penuwliski. a rough..” the same way as the epithet “sick” melted in the name of the Dojcin. a historical person actively involved in the struggle against the Turks. Hyperbolisation is used not only in the descriptions of his appearance. The attribute “black” mostly refers to the real facts about his appearance. but usually he is just a typical anti-hero. but also in the descriptions of the huge taxes he was taking from the Macedonian people and the other malicious things he did to them (didn’t allow them to get married for three years. done in accordance with the medieval knightly traditions. expressing condolences to the grieving mother. mainly Dojcin’s “blood brothers. He is an entirely negative character. The Arab’s character sometimes has monster’s features. The Arab is constantly caring the attribute “black” which even melted in the nickname “Black Arab. and each day he eats bread from a whole bakery. His po- . These types of songs have other characters.

Although the majority of such songs talk about becoming a Turkish bride. who fought under the motto “Freedom or Death” also became the subject of many revolutionary songs. Marko’s fight with Musa Kesedjija is not always a fair one. Their confidence in their choice not to change their religion by marrying a foreigner is so strong that they’re prepared to die for it. as well as some tricks and deceptions) to defeat him. but also among the other South Slavic nations and the Balkan Non-Slavic countries. the leaders of this movement. where Musa is wearing an Albanian folk costume. despots. and co-fighters. then brought to Germany (or in some variants to Moscow). there are few songs about a girl called Anka from Stip. On the other side. but Marko uses different means (his wisdom. and where she got three different names (probably an association with the Catholic tradition). where she was baptised in 9 churches by 9 priests. we have a dual standpoint toward the Turkish population. with the group of poor. Albanians and others. weapons. On the one side we have deep human and democratic position towards all the ethnic groups that fought on the same side with the Macedonians. Virgin Mary) in the village of Lopatica near Bitola in the middle of the nineteenth century. average Turks opposed to the group of violent Turks (tyrants. Some folklore creations show Marko’s fight with representatives of other nations. in some of the songs and stories he is also fighting Albanian heroes like Musa Kesedjija and Gino Arnautce (Djemo Brganin). Later in history. or snakes). The fight between these two heroes was also painted on a wall in the entry of the church of Sv. It is quite fascinating that Musa is presented as far greater warrior (with three or more hearts. in all probability making the point that there is a way to defeat any enemy however powerful they might be. wise and most of all. Bogorodica (St. all of them presented in a similarly stereotypical way. very brave. who was taken away from the city of her birth and her family by force.ETHNIC STEREOTYPES IN THE MACEDONIAN FOLKLORE 75 etic and idealised image is well-known not only among Macedonians. like Filip Madjarin (Philip the Hungarian). provoking suffering and misery). which again indicated that he was not a Turk. The Turks are once more illustrated as typical negative heroes. and he always succeeds. but fought on their side. The scheme of his hyperbolic depiction is quite similar to the one used in the already quoted examples. The leader of this movement Goce Delcev states in one of the stories: “I am not against the Turks. These folklore songs demonstrate the different attitudes of the Macedonian anonymous authors towards the other ethnic groups. who was most probably an Italian fighting for the Hungarian king Sigmund and some Jewish heroes (always described as “yellow” Jews) and others. namely Vlachs. during and after the famous Ilinden uprising of the Macedonian population in the 1903. His efforts to protect his own people and his goal to gain a national victory made him a stereotyped character of a hero: clever. Another very common pattern in Macedonian folklore is the theme about young women who refuse the Turks and their wish to make them Turkish brides. He has supernatural strength and even gets help from magical assistants like his horse. whose stereotypic images portray them as cruel slaughterers. Apart from the Turks. who like to cut people’s heads off and display the decapitated heads in order to scare the people from the Macedonian villages. I am against the ones that are making the chaos!” There is one more thing .

because the authors from this generation were generously using their talent in the name of their people and their national and revolutionary ideals. still the poet describes them with positive human features as well. Many other poets sing their songs in the style of the folklore tradition: Rajko Zinzifov. These songs as all the others mentioned above are characterized by a constant system of epithets. It continues to glorify this hero. Folklore stereotypes also have significant implications and reflections in contemporary Macedonian literature. As Koneski . the Albanians who honor him. he has created incredibly original poetry” (Momirovska: 242). whose inspiration for it came from the folk songs about the triumphs of a hero called Kuzman Kapidan. “Relying on the mythological. the cursed and ruthless Turks. and to use this touch of the tradition as a base for the new ideas and poetry innovations. constant epithets and hyperbolas. Kole Nedelkovski. Mite Bogoevski. Italian or similar. ethnical and inherently mosaic Macedonian folklore. Nikola Jonkov Vapcarov. This relationship to folklore is a natural process. both good and evil. who is a historical figure. stylistics and semantic figures. and others. So. Atanas Razdolov. Not only most of their songs are based upon folklore poetry motifs. The paper pursues their transformations in the contemporary literary work of a few Macedonian authors. so we noted changes of the word Turk with the word German. bloody and cursed enemies. as a perfect example of the influence and inspiration of Macedonian oral literature upon the contemporary writers. but usually depended on the main motif and developed from the circumstances or the occasion described in it. folklore typical metaphors. The poem starts with the death of the hero. which to an author of his caliber is an empirical verifier. is mostly created upon the roots and the tradition of Macedonian folklore. There are examples of adaptations of old songs with implementation of new words. from 1945 till present day. Macedonian artistic literature.76 ANA MARTINOSKA that ought to be underlined at this point and that is the fact that Macedonian relations towards the Turks usually did not emerge as a basic element of folklore creation. one of the greatest Macedonian poets ever. specially in its first phase. The crowning achievement of nineteenth-century Macedonian literature was the poem “Serdarot” by Grigor Prlicev. formulas and stereotypical images of the rotten. A number of songs about Krale Marko are using the already defined contrast and the same stereotypes as the folklore songs about the good Macedonian hero opposed to the negative image of the enemies.. known for his struggles against various Albanian groups in the Ohrid region during the nineteenth century. but they are also using the folklore language.e. a reflection of the same motif from the folklore songs and its stylization. at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. poetics. i. One of the key reasons for the usage of these conventional stereotypes is to provoke familiar images in people’s minds. Nikola Kirov Majski. even though the poem describes the horrifying things those Albanians did to the Macedonian people. whose body is brought to his mother by four of his enemies. The same folklore tradition continued during the Second World War with numerous creations about the partisans and their fight against the fascists. Many researchers have pointed out Blaze Koneski.

historical-legendary collective and cult memories. how he found a way to implement the old messages into contemporary expression. Marko Krale in Koneski’s song is endowed with “unbelievable strength” and he grows as “muscular. the ones born with the feeling that they are the chosen ones. and glory. They are both persons who. So we can say that these two epic heroes are suffering from hybris. This excessiveness is disturbing to the balance of the cosmos and leading the person into disaster. resembling the epic folk songs on the same topic. which gives a person an exaggerated sense of self-confidence that results in imprudent gestures. Marko Krale’s and Bolen Dojcin’s fate. resemantisation. The two persons. Bolen Dojcin in talking about himself says. Hibris is a Balkan fate. are suffering exactly due to their extra strength. This corresponds with the literary theories about literature as art of ambivalence. their self-confidence and defiance carry within them the basis of the tragic mistake. actualising mythical images. Hibris is a result of the possession of an extraordinary power. They have both been blessed with a spiritual and physical strength that make them men capable of achieving any success. and the like. both Marko Krale and Bolen Dojcin. Marko Krale feels that he is like a “dry underground river whose darkness still isn’t calmed down from the roar of the waves”. and varying them in a way that suits the interests of today (Koneski: 9–10). the biblical stylistics and the orthodox topics and his personal view of the world (Þulafkova: 249). This shows that Koneski’s songs are not just about changing the composition and the metrics with free prosodian organisation of the verse. Macedonian folklore is the intertext in Koneski’s poetry. this special mark that is turning in some kind of curse. whose final consequences are horrible. That’s how his life’s philosophy was innovated in his poetry. Bolen Dojcin is “brimming with strength. folk speech and the oral transmission. and from folklore into the poetry of Blaze Koneski (Uroweviß: 191). This Balkan curse derived from antique mythology and entered Greek tragedies. “I bend like a cherry tree with too much fruit. actualization. as well as about the literary text defined as intertext. Compared to the folklore songs which always have a happy ending with the triumph of the Macedonian heroes. power. Oedipus for example.” In the same way as characters from antique drama. and they lived inside him as long as he has been alive. he was brought up with a strong sense of respect towards the anonymous authors of folklore creations. he grew up listening to those songs and stories. which is swelling like a muddy river. entering conflicts with gods and their principles.ETHNIC STEREOTYPES IN THE MACEDONIAN FOLKLORE 77 has himself stated. among other things. This opinion of academic Vlada Urosevic. the final message of Koneski’s poetry is profoundly tragic.” But that gift is by itself a challenge from fate. restoration of the tradition. as a tree”. These songs achieved the highest artistic level of the poetry of expression. the same as many persons from Greek mythology and antique drama (Uroweviß: 190). The central position in this poetry is without any doubt the cycle of songs about Marko Krale as well as the song about Bolen Dojcin. but about complete modification of the idea and theme basic. from there into the folklore. are . in Koneski’s interpretation are extraordinary people that are expressing a specific uniqueness. at the end. reaching out for the ones that are on the top of their fame. magical rennaisance.

highlighting their ability to make use of the spirit of the tradition as fundamentals for fresh ideas and expressive innovations. bells. 1 O Crna Arapina vo poxod^ Troglava pesna za priglavata Arapina etc. authentic and metaphorically rich. “Beautiful Angelina” by Blagoja Risteski-Platnarot and others. Next on the list of the Macedonian authors. even his poetry reflects these stereotypes. the dramas “Bolen Dojcin” and “Angelina” by Georgi Stalev. but at the same time we have a continuation of the action from the poetic folk variants or rereading and upgrading the mythical fable. but presented in slightly surreal images of grief. these images and stereotypes taken from Macedonian folklore can be noted in the other genres of the Macedonian contemporary literature. This paper has led to the conclusion that Macedonian folklore accumulates knowledge and images of the “Other. In the song “Bolen Dojcin” Urosevic is borrowing his characters from folklore. and the scent of a rose.” but at the same time abounds with ethnical stereotypes. One of the youngest authors whose poetry includes comparable reflections is Jovica Tasevski – Eternijan. the victory over the wild black dog. but not the other features or the poetics of the folk song. the usage of these elements. His Dojcin is depicted as a difficult man who cannot be satisfied. myths or motifs are extremely unconventional. And even more. nervous and edgy. the Black Arab is becoming “an incarnation of the entire metaphysical evil that is intimidating people” (ºurhinov: 139). like the already explicated stereotype of the Black Arab. In our text these images and stereotypes were viewed through their manifestations and their alterations in the contemporary Macedonian poetry. and in one verse he expresses his desire to kill personally the Black Arab. . like the novels “Marko Krale” by Slobodan Mickovic. through a number of paradigms and poetic concepts.1 In Pavlovski’s poetry he remains a stereotyped negative hero. whose song “Bolen Dojcin” in spite of the title is not completely the equivalent to the folklore motif. Each and every one of them have thematic composition based upon a folklore motif.78 ANA MARTINOSKA proving the attractiveness of the topic itself. unconditional and often very complex. whose contemporary writings also witness the transmission of the well known stereotypes from the Macedonian folklore. who as the poet says “is thinking how good it would be to get sick.” Still. which is often directly quoted in the texts themselves. which awarded him the nickname “the Macedonian prince of metaphors. as well as on the particular demands of their personal poetics (ºurhinov: 140). white roads. which factors depend on the individual features of their writers. Apart from the poetry. an unsheathed black sward. In the meantime. is Radovan Pavlovski. so that he could read in peace the thick novels about the Black Arab” ((Uroweviß: 1986:25). even unbearable. symbols. He is a poet whose songs are incomparably fresh. that found reflection in his own poetic achivements. but nevertheless uses the typical epithet “black” in a few variants – the beat of the black drums in his veins.

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