Arbresh MuseumA small Louvre of the Arbëreshe civilization
The Stages Of The Birth Of The Arbresh Museum
Housed in an ancient palace of Civita, which once was the municipal seat, it contains images, objects and documents that tell the tale of a culture that mixes elements of the Albanian motherland with others of the territories where it grew up. The result is a surprising journey into a world that is more than six centuries old, just waiting to be discovered and appreciated.
Themes of the museum
They are the descendants of the Albanians who, after the death of Skanderbeg in 1468, settled in southern Italy to escape the Ottoman Turkish domination that conquered the Balkans and Albania.
The Vallje are traditional ethno-choral dances, performed with choral chants (vjershë), evoking the victories of the national hero George Kastriota Skanderbeg against the Turks. They take place on the Tuesday after Easter; on this occasion the women wear the valuable traditional arbrësh costume.
The Pollino National Park
Gjitoni më se gjiri – “The neighbor is more intimate than a relative.”
The gjitonia, “the neighbourhood”, represents a central element for the life of the arbrësh community. The gjitonia is also an intangible heritage for the transmission of knowledge, and it establishes relationships of reciprocity and solidarity, establishing a relationship of trust between neighbours. It represents the fulcrum of sociality. Unlike wards, “gjitonia” are small clusters of houses often attached to each other (often understood as the smallest portion of urban fabric).
The Kodra Houses are anthropomorphic houses discovered in recent times and dedicated to the Albanian post-Cubist painter Ibrahim Kodra, defined “the primitive of a new civilization”. Kondra came to Italy from the court of King Zogu in 1939 and he moved to Milan where he came into contact with the artistic life of the post-Cubist movement. In 1997 Ibrahim Kodra visited Civita and the Arbëreshë countries, dedicating it the collection “Albania Fantastic”.
Another element that stands out are the chimney pots (çiminerja) characterized by original or geometric shapes, which interprets apotropaic values. They represent a sort of totem against evil spirits, protectors of the house and family property, the result of artistic inspiration, but also functional with respect to the technical requirements of good draught and contrast to the winds coming from the heights of Pollino and the Ionian coast.
The rural and artisan world
There are very few examples of a typical Albanian footprint in the labour world today, most of the original traces are preserved in the field of sheep-farming, in the phases of this work, and a set of anecdotes, tales, stories, songs, historical testimonies related to it that are still expressed in the Arbëreshe language.
Female handicraft is the second activity after agriculture practiced by the Arbereshe since they landed in Italy over 500 years ago. The rural handicraft, especially the feminine one, belongs to a very ancient tradition. This activity was not considered a peasant activity because in every house, even those owned by professionals, you could find a loom. A tradition that still lives on today, but in a very reduced form, is that of crochet and embroidery.
L’artigianato femminile è la seconda attività dopo l’agricoltura praticata dalle popolazioni che 500 anni fa sbarcarono sulle nostre coste. L’artigianato rurale specie quello femminile appartiene ad una tradizione antichissima. Questa attività non era considerata un’attività contadina perché anche nelle case dei professionisti c’era il telaio. Una tradizione che vive ancora oggi, ma in forma molto ridotta, è quella dell’arte dell’uncinetto e del ricamo.
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