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Desertation of Kraja



Hajrudin S. Muja

Popular wisdom has said that when you blame someone with your index finger, the other three fingers point at yourself, in other words "one fault you, three mine". But the accusation against the other somehow "calms you down" more, because it leaves you with the possibility of stagnation where you were, without accepting "to play the stone out of place". The same thing is happening with the emptying of Kraja, with accusers and accused. Those who are inside point the finger at those who are "outside" for "violating the place of the first", while the outsiders point the finger at the insiders "for political deviations", that they too would flee "if they had somewhere to go" they went". In this way, the divisions between "we" and "you" were created, which often take the wrong direction and do not heal the created wound.

However, the matter is not so simple, because the Kraja wasteland has an old history, even as old as the Kraja itself! In this context, the situation cannot be explained by "a drop of a pencil" and the reasons cannot be pointed out in the same way, for all periods and for all people. If the name "Kraja" itself is mentioned in the annals of the priest of Dukla, as early as 1149, even as an archbishopric center, then I don't think it contains a long history full of questions for us. But it is known that, being a country faced with difficult conditions, for reasons of security, wealth or convenience, the population of Kraja was always on the move. A small number of them returned to the Region, but most of them stayed in the places where they moved and over time, depending on the places where they settled, they assimilated and disappeared "without a trace or a mole".

Some faded writings or some rhapsodic verses, lead us to obscure testimonies, from which we cannot say much. In the absence of evidence, we are forced to take some variant of songs and legends, but even these are not enough for us, if we do not also use logic, which in most cases is called "guesswork", and often does not lead us anywhere! And that's why we can give history the version we want and justify things "with the language of reason". The statistical notes that we know so far are very late, and often half-hearted, while the situation is made even more difficult by the exterminating diseases from time to time, but also by other natural disasters.

Kraje's old bookstore

History records an exterminating epidemic from 146 to 180 of the new era, which also included Rome. What broke out in 545 in Istanbul, spread throughout Europe, including Albania. Marin Barleti, in "The Siege of Shkodra", tells us about the migration of the population of Shkodra and its surroundings, in 1479, to Vendik: "to escape the cholera epidemic" [Barleti:2007]. Then Shkodra was filled with highlanders - says Barleti. The plague disease is recorded as present in 1692, when Sulejman Pasha Bushatliu "in the war against the Montenegrins, he had with him a warrior from Kraja - the place of the plague" [Bushati:1999]. Dr. April counts 12 epidemic periods in Shkodër, from 1761-1821 [April: 1962]. Some foreign travelers with diplomatic functions in Northern Albania describe the spread of Cholera in Shkodër with districts in the 19th century. They describe the cholera of 1831, during the siege of Mustafa Pasha in the Castle. J. Spencer in 1853 gives data on the plague and cholera epidemics that spread in the years 1845-1850 [Shkodra through the centuries, II:1999]. The Austrian Fosell points out "the cholera of Shirokë village of Kraja" and adds that this epidemic had come from Montenegro and through Kraja, in 1868 it also passed to Shkodër, causing many deaths [Bushati:1999]. Today, the memory of these diseases is confirmed by the many cemeteries in the courtyards, in the gardens, by the roadside, in the fields, in the forests and elsewhere, since the victims of these diseases were buried as soon as possible, being pushed with nails into the pit, right where they died. The legends speak of the "black cat", which could hide behind the tail of the hoe, and she did not see it, but its victim had to be buried exactly at the place of death.

If we look at the data of Bici (1610), Bolica (1614), Budi (1621) and Bardhi (1639), Gjorga, etc., for the Region, it is difficult to define the villages, as the word goes: Mesigli, Vallasi [Zamputi: 1963 ], Karaci [Zamputi:1989], Brugari [Nika:2001], Gradoman, Bardhoj, Pod, Bacina, etc. etc. Of course, among many such names unknown to us today, there are settlements that today are known by another name, but there are also those that today, not only no longer exist, but not even the smallest traces of a former settlement! Many of these villages were depopulated as remnants of exterminating diseases. In such cases, the village was then repopulated by the inhabitants of other villages, by relatives or by daughters born in that village. Such was the village of Shiroke, that the "Plague" had not spared a single one. Jovičević had found there the tribes that came later with the surname Ftjani, Ljarja, Shestani, Arucajt, ​​Muriqi, Kraja and Kalicajt [Jovičević:1922]. It is also said about the village of Pod that an illness destroyed them, and then their daughters, married in Ljare, became the heirs of their lands. Maybe this is the reason why Mark Jorga calls it "Ljarja e Poshtme"?!.

[Koha Javore, November 24, 2016]

Kraje's old bookstore


This was the interrural of the locals, but not the only reason for this emigration. These were also done for better living conditions or because of the people. At the end of the cases, the only daughters married in another village, moved as a family to the immovable property of her deceased parents. Instead of the families extinguished by exterminating diseases, relatives from other villages are settled in their lands and houses. In rare cases, due to the narrowness, a family moved to another village, buying all the property of another family, who sold his goods, moving somewhere else. The same thing is that the new family that was separated, according to the canonical custom, had to take the land of the tribe to which it had moved, otherwise it did not have the right to share common assets, such as pastures, ublat, etc.

In the works of old legends and documentary writings, we can conclude that a significant number of rural inhabitants of the Kraja, make an interrural emigration, remain forgotten by the researchers, during the periods of their Islamization, who as a hated minority. and expelled, they flocked to other villages of Kraja, but also outside it. The most pronounced of these displacements took place in the villages of Shestan. Descendants of the village of the two expelled families of Shestan today in Muriq, Tegjemil, Merkot, and in other regions of Kraja, Ulqin and Tivari, etc. In such situations, Islam became undesirable not only "danger to the tribe" [Dabović:2006], but also to the closed family itself. Evidence of the Islamization of Shestan has remained in the patronymics that are still known today. In Lukiq (Upper Shestan), we find the toponym "Chogu i Hasani", "Gropa e Hasani", "Kulla e Canit", "Nën Čardak". In Dedaj: "Gropa e Hysen", "Gropa e Xhafer", "Lama e Hasanaga", "Ara e Dani", etc. In Maruçic (west of Shestan): "The pits of Brahim". In Gurzë, "Murva e Brahimi", "Ubla Beqanj", "Ubla e Brahimi", "Mani i Brahimi", "Te kufini", "Spella e Smokthi", etc. [Dabaj:2004]. Then the 'Tomb of Hasan Aga' in Pepiq, and so on [Erdeljanović:1997]. In Shestan, there are even cemeteries that say "Turkish Cemetery".

Andrija Jovićević mentions Martinaj and Vukmarkaj of Pinçi who came from Holy Dedaj. The Ardolics are of the same tribe as the Adovics of Godenja. Likewise, the Velaj e Besi with the Lekovičs of Godenja [Jovičević:1922]. Some families from Shestan became Islamized and moved to other villages, such as Krithë in Ulcin, Tegjemil, Tivar, etc. The Mujiqs of Mikuliq are said to be among those who were Islamized in Shestan, but they left and those who left Shestan settled in Mikuliq, while they remained and worked until recently.

In fact, we find the Islamization of Shestan in written documents. In the stories about the Battle of Krrica, in the defense from the Montenegrins, Huso Shestani is mentioned [Buzuku, #3/2001]. Among the Islamized Shestans was Mehmet Spahija - Lekiq (from Selca), an officer of one of the garrisons of the Ottoman army in Podgorica, which also makes its meaning. Shkodra Cadastre of 1582 in Shestanin 7 Muslim families, 3 families in Gurzë (Gurrza), two in Dedaj (Dedaj) and two more in Nënmal (Marković). In the 18th century, at the time of the migrations to Zara, others of Shestan and Mozhuri moved to Ulcinj Osman [Jovičević:1922]. Karl Poteni in 1845 we mention 5 Muslim families there.

The Curanaj, who lie on the other side of the Rashtishë village, are a brotherhood separated from the Cukaj of Kraja. It is related to the old story of the three Cukaj brothers, a legend of conflicts between the Islamized brotherhoods and those remaining "in the religion of the ancestors". According to the legend, the oldest brother, Curani, became a Muslim, but entered into a conflict with his two brothers, for which he had to leave Kraja and settle in Ana e Mali, from where the Curanas of Rashtishë village are descended. Afterwards, the two brothers spent it in a 'majlis' that was being held in 'Vani e Fiku', on the shores of Lake Shkodra. From the conversations we had there, or maybe with previous suspicions, the other brother in this 'majlis' became a Muslim, but also his own brother, who himself then became a Muslim [Muja:2009].

From early on, the Krajans began to move, for various reasons, to Tivar, Ulcinj and the surrounding villages. Most of those who settled in Tivarë were almost completely Slavified. In the creation of the "SKS" kingdom (1918), the Marnikaj tribe lived in the White Mountain (Bjela Gora) with their leader Mark Kola, who came from Brisku. The Junkaj family, who came from Ljarja, lived in Zogaj. In Valdanos, Menër and Zogaj, the Pepgjonaj brothers who came from Ftjan. All these families had moved around the 1880s. In the north of Nikaj of Rashtisha (Ana e Mali), there is the neighborhood of Krajani, whose inhabitants moved from the neighborhood of Matguesh e Kshtenje [Lemba, #1/1999]. Even the road that leads to this neighborhood is called "Rruaga e Krajanëve". "Mahalla e Krajanëve" is also called the Halili tribe, the youngest of the Millë village who came from Kraja [Lemba, #1/1999]. In the North of Milla are the "Ksollat e Hardojve", the Hardoj estates of Kraja.

At the beginning of the 16th century, Morea included many kingdoms and had a circle of 700 miles very prosperous with everything [Zamputi:1979], so it was an America of its time. For this reason, seeing the living conditions of the population of Kraja, it was normal for them to seek a better life, even in More. In a song that the researcher Ismail Doda recorded in Arbnesh (Kraje), the main character related to Morena is the emigrant Gjylë, who could have been a member of the collective exiles of Krajë, or was married there. Aristidh Kola, when he talks about the migration of Arbers to the south in More in the 14th century, says that they had found other exiled Arbers there before, when the despot of Mistra - Theodore I, the son of John V Paleologus, had invited 10,000 Albanians with their families to populate Morena [Kola:2007] sometime around 1405. There are even opinions that in this direction the Albanians from the north have begun to penetrate since the 8th century [Zakythinos:1949] .

In Zef Valentini's early study, it is about the patronymics that the Albanians who moved from the areas of Ulcinj, Kraja and Tivar took with them. Valentine has created a second homeland for them in the Morea and in the south of today's Greece, up to the Aegean Islands. Thus he mentions Muriq (Kraje), Merkosi (Mërkoti), Loveri (Livari - Ljare), Kruta e Krusta (Ana e Mali - Ulcin), etc.

[Koha Javore, December 1, 2016]

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