Albanian and Montenegrin Folklore Author(s): J. G. Frazer and Edith Durham Source: Folklore, Vol. 23, No. 2 (Jun., 1912), pp.

224-229 Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of Folklore Enterprises, Ltd. Stable URL: Accessed: 29/11/2010 15:57
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With reference to the arrangements for use by members of the Society's Library, now housed at University College, London, I am directed by the Council to state that a catalogue of the books is in preparation, and that an announcement of the conditions of use will be made as soon as the catalogue has been completed. Gifts of books and pamphlets on folklore and kindred subjects will be welcomed. I am also directed to draw the attention of members to the holding at Geneva in the first week of September, of the fourteenth meeting of the Congres Internationald'AnI912, thropologie et d Archeologieprehistoriques, when opportunity will be afforded for the discussion of the many important discoveries made since the last session, at Monaco in I906, and for excursions to places of scientific interest. Particulars may be obtained from the general secretary of the Congress, M. W. Deonna, 16 Boulevard des Tranchees, Geneva. F. A. MILNE, Secretary.

ALBANIANAND MONTENEGRIN FOLKLORE. [Communicated by Dr. J. G. Frazer.] Symbolic extinction of householdfire.-In Montenegro, when the last male of a family was shot, it was customary for the chief woman of the house to throw water on the hearth and extinguish the fire as a symbol of the extinction of the family. The custom



is not yet extinct among the peasants when the last male of a family dies. has been recently (about February, Communal justice.-There an extraordinary case of rude justice in the Fandi bariak of 1912) Mirdita. A certain family has long been a pest to its neighbours, robbing, shooting, and being generally objectionable. The local heads held a sitting and condemned the whole of the males of the family to death. Men were told off to ascertain the whereabouts of the various victims, and pick them off. On the appointed day the whole seventeen males were shot. Of them one was only five, and another twelve years old. To any protest against the brutality of killing a child in cold blood, the reply is,-" It was bad blood, and must not be propagated!" It seems incredible, but I was assured that it was actually intended to shoot a wretched woman because she was enceinte, and might bear a male who would continue the inherited evil. Three shots, which missed, were fired at her. She then rushed to a man and called on him to protect her, and he took her in besa (a peace oath), and she was spared. Mourning custom.-It is perhaps noteworthy that, whereas in Montenegro face-scratching as a sign of mourning is done by women, in North Albania it is only done by men, and it is not proper for women to do it. I was at a funeral at Skreli before Christmas, and all the men had already clawed their temples, which were red and inflamed with scratches; no women were clawed. is of interest just now to note what attention is Divination.-It to the signs on bladebones and fowl breastbones. being paid They are read eagerly, and, I am earnestly assured, foretell nothing but blood. Folk-medicine.-I was recently down on the plains of Bregu Mati distributing quinine to the luckless people who were penned on the plains by the troops throughout last fever season. I found a great many very bad cases of enlarged spleen. The local remedy for this is to take a sheep's spleen, lay it over the seat of disease, and then hang it by the fire and roast it all away, when the disease will disappear with it. If you see a snake swallowing a frog, this is a most valuable opportunity to obtain a cure for epilepsy. You must throw a



handkerchief, preferably a black one, over the snake. In its fright it will disgorge the frog. Keep the handkerchief and, when any one falls down in a fit, throw it over the patient's head. The patient will then likewise disgorge the disease. I am myself becoming the centre of a myth, and am supposed to have wrought a cure on a man I never touched. He was shot in the head during last year's revolution, and his recovery is entirely ascribed to me, and not to the doctor to whom it was due. Taboos at childbirth.-In Montenegro, though a woman is expected, among the peasants, to be fit to carry wood and water three days after childbirth, she is not allowed to cook and make bread until she has been "churched." I learnt this while living in a peasant house at Njegush, through commenting with horror on the case of a young married woman who, by carrying wood too early, brought on her death. I was told that fetching wood was quite a right and proper thing for her to do, but that, of course, she would not be allowed to make bread or cook. When I asked " Why ? I was told that bread so made could not possibly be eaten; it was not right; it was never done;-and so forth. All the company on this point. agreed I have recently learnt also that in Montenegro it is regarded as impossible for childbirth to be allowed at the house of the mother's parents. Should such a thing be permitted, it would bring the worst luck,-nay, absolute ruin,-on her brothers, who, of course, live in the parental home. I know of a case even among the upper and educated class. A young married lady went to visit her mother, and had to shorten her stay for the above reason. Her grandmother nearly drove her out of the house, and said on her departure,-"Thank God! you have gone, and haven't brought evil on the house !" I have been making enquiries on the subject here in Scutari. I find that a mother is not allowed to visit a married daughter till after the birth of her first child. I enquired if under any circumstances the daughter could go to her mother's for such an event, but this seemed quite a new idea. People did not definitely say that it was impossible, but they did not seem to imagine that any such necessity could ever occur. The mother is not allowed



to attend at the birth of her daughter's child, at any rate never the first time. Later on it appears not to matter so much,-but there was uncertainty, and I gather that it is not done. Should no child be borne after a year of marriage, the prohibition of the mother's visit is removed. It is customary to break an egg over the face of a newborn child. Therefore eggs are a correct present to take to a house after the occurrence of a birth. The breaking of the egg is, so far as I can make out, to avert the Evil Eye. Foundation sacrifices.-Cocks and lambs are still often sacrificed when foundations of houses are laid in North Albania. The citadel at Scutari is one of the many buildings of which it is told that a human being was built into the foundations. This particular event, according to an old and powerfully dramatic ballad, occurred early in the fourteenth century, when this place was under Serb rule. Devils destroyed by night what was built by day, and only after sacrificing the young wife of one of the three young Princes could the building be reared. The tradition of such burials in foundations has survived till recent years. An Austrian engineer in Bosnia told me in I906 that some twelve years previously a panic was caused by a report that the Austrians were going to brick a child into the foundations of a bridge. This bridge was being built over the Lim, and, owing to the incapacity of the engineer, was so badly constructed that it fell twice. When the third attempt to erect it was made, the people took fright, and were only with difficulty persuaded that no human sacrifice would take place. late Mr. Holman Hunt has Objection to portraits.l-The repeatedly told me that, when he began his painting in Palestine, he had the greatest difficulty in getting people to sit to him as models, owing to a belief that, when the Day of Judgment came, the portrait might arrive first at the Gates of Heaven and be admitted, and the rightful owner of the name be dismissed as an impostor. A month or two ago I met again the aged man who was afraid lest my sketch of him might cause his death, as mentioned in Dr. Frazer's book.2 He had not forgotten the

'olk-Lore, vol. xviii., p. 83 (Vaud). The GoldenBough, (3rd edition), Part ii., Tabooetc., p. Io0.



episode, and was glad to hear that the sketch was locked up quite safely. have been for the last seven months Tabu on names.-I engaged in distributing relief (clothing, roofing material, etc.) to the luckless Albanians whose property was entirely destroyed in the disturbances last year. This necessitates keeping a list of the families who have received relief, and it is usually only with great difficulty that a woman can be induced to give her husband's name. She always gives her own maiden name. When pressed as to her husband's name, she very often says,"Ask that other woman," pointing to a comrade, "she knows." The only reason I can obtain for this is,-" Modesty; of course she is too modest to say to which man she belongs." Even here in Scutari, until very recently, it was never the custom of a (Christian) man and wife to recognise each other in the street, and they very seldom, if ever, went out together. I was given the same reason,-" She would not like people to know he was her husband." The last ten years, however, have seen rapid changes. It was fortunate that I visited the Albanian mountaineers when I did, for that year (I908) was the last in which they were to be seen in their primitive state. Burial customfs.-It is customary in the mountains of Shalu and Dushmani, and possibly elsewhere, to leave some iron article in a new-made grave until the corpse is brought for interment. It is unlucky to step over an empty grave. Bridal customs.-In the Crmnica valley in Montenegro (and possibly in other parts), it was, and among peasants may still be, the duty of the two djevers (bride-leaders) who came to fetch the bride to see that no one tied knots in the fringe of her strukka (a long straight shawl, worn like a Scottish plaid and with very long fringes at each end). Should some malevolent person succeed in doing this, the bride would either miscarry with her first child or bear a cripple. Divine right.-It is amazing how greatly the tribesmen believe in "the divine right of kings." The hereditary chief of the Mirdites, Prenk Pasha, was looked on as but little short of a god when he returned from exile in I908. Now, although after three years' experiences the Mirdites and other tribes are



disappointedin him, they still have a superstitiousbelief in his power. I have frequentlybeen told that "The Mirdites cannot do [so and so], because Prenk will not allow them. They would like to, of course. But what can they do?" When I have pointed out that one man cannot possibly prevent thirty thousand people taking separate action if they wish, I am always told,"But he was born chief. He is sent by God. They have to do what he says."





I was, many years ago, at Panda-ma-tenka,-then the terminus of the wagon-road towards the Zambesi,-in company with the late George Westbeach, one of the last of the old-time farinterior traders, and a man so intimatelyconversant with native life and customs that he was usually described as a "white induna." Westbeach had a dog named Tau (Lion), almost as well known as himself, and a powerful mongrel animal famous for having three distinct types of deportment for as many classes of humanity,-one of cordiality and submission for his master and, in a lesser degree, his master's most special intimates, another of a sort of indifferent friendliness (not amounting to bonhomie)for white men generally, and a third of uncompromising hostility towards all natives not included in the first category. Whilst I was at the place mentioned,a party of Bushmen(not Kaffirs,if I rememberrightly)came in, with some honeycombfor barter. They found it difficult to approach on account of the dog, and at last one man was bitten. The bite was a bad one, and the suffererwas not satisfied until he had obtained, through Westbeach, some of the dog's hairs, which he placed upon the wound. This incident was brought back to my mind by reading, some years afterwards, in Cervantes' La Gitanilla, how a stranger, bitten in approachingan encampment of gipsies, is treated by

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