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Balkan Outlaws and Bandits

William Bartlett

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. East Europe, Russia, and the Caucasus 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Medieval Balkan societies were predominantly rural. Gradually conquered by the Ottoman Turks from the mid-fourteenth to the mid-sixteenth centuries, they were increasingly taxed during Ottoman rule in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Tax exemptions were gradually rescinded, leading to the growth of banditry. The bandits, known as gusars, hajduks, klephtes, or uskoks, were often men unable or unwilling to pay increased taxes, who had been expelled from their land or had escaped from serfd

Albania

Andromaqi Gjergji

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. East Europe, Russia, and the Caucasus 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Dress is a rich source of information that aids the reconstruction of aspects of Albanians’ way of life in different periods. From the material used, an idea can be gathered of what was produced within the home, what tools were used, and which goods were bought in the market. The ways in which clothes were made and decorated show how people developed their taste for the beautiful and which were their favorite ornaments and colors. The great variety of regional permutations is a clear indication o

Edith Durham, Victorian Traveler and Dress Collector in the Balkans

Philippa Mackenzie

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. East Europe, Russia, and the Caucasus 2010

Encyclopedia entry

In 1900 Edith Durham followed medical advice to take an annual trip. She traveled to Montenegro, beginning an involvement with the Balkan peoples that lasted the rest of her life. In the next twenty years Durham traveled widely through areas broadly comprising the former Yugoslavia. She documents her early travels in her first book, Through the Lands of the Serb (1904). She was asked to undertake relief work in Macedonia in the winter of 1903–1904. The political situation was increasingly unstabl

Geography and Climate: Southeast Europe

Liz Mellish

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. East Europe, Russia, and the Caucasus 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Southeast Europe is predominantly mountainous, with steep valleys and flat plains; in the early twenty-first century it is occupied by Greece, Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Romania, Moldova, and Bulgaria. The geography here has always strongly influenced dress. Areas near trade routes had greater access to raw materials. The climate varies from continental in the inland and more northern areas to Mediterranean in coastal areas and south

Sworn Virgins

Antonia Young

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. East Europe, Russia, and the Caucasus 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Sworn virgin is the term used for a woman whose traditional role is that of a man in the southern Balkans. This role of gender reversal results from various social situations, either where the lack of a man in the household necessitates a woman taking that place to head the family and retain ownership of the home, or alternatively it is a role enabling a woman to refuse marriage to a specific assigned man. The institution represents a support to patriarchy, ensuring that no household is without i

The Portrayal of Balkan Dress in Western Travel Books

Antonia Young

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. East Europe, Russia, and the Caucasus 2010

Encyclopedia entry

Only a few Western travelers have focused specifically on the dress they encountered, and travel books generally devote a very small proportion of their texts and illustrations to clothes or national dress, often observing simply that they were “picturesque” or “colorful.” Most include at least one photograph of a woman in national dress, but without precise information. Many travel writers focused more on architecture, although this can include early dress depicted in frescoes, paintings, and th

Introduction

Antonia Young

Source: Women Who Become Men. Albanian Sworn Virgins 2000

Book chapter

The conditions and basic necessities on which the society was formed have maintained the social phenomenon of the ‘sworn virgin’: ‘It exists not as a fossil, but as an expression of the varied economic methods in this patriarchal society.’

Tree of Blood, Tree of Milk: Patriarchy and Patricentricity in Rural Albania

Antonia Young

Source: Women Who Become Men. Albanian Sworn Virgins 2000

Book chapter

In all its apparent backwardness and poverty, the Balkan world offered British women a chance of real equality with men. British women enjoyed a sort of ‘honorary male status’ in the Balkans. Many of them took little interest in Balkan women, except in a thoroughly patronising way. Durham, who rarely saw them as anything other than men’s chattels and overworked wretches, devoted more attention to the exotic Albanian ‘Virgins’, the women who dressed as men and vowed never to marry, than to any of

The ‘Kanun’: Laws of Honour and Hospitality

Antonia Young

Source: Women Who Become Men. Albanian Sworn Virgins 2000

Book chapter

‘A man who has been dishonoured is considered dead according to the Kanun.’

Who are the ‘Sworn Virgins’?

Antonia Young

Source: Women Who Become Men. Albanian Sworn Virgins 2000

Book chapter

Because it is such a powerful force in the world today, the Western Judeo-Christian tradition is often accepted as the arbiter of ‘natural’ behavior of humans. If Europeans and their descendant nations of North America accept something as normal, then anything different is seen as abnormal. Such a view ignores the great diversity of human existence.

Living as Men

Antonia Young

Source: Women Who Become Men. Albanian Sworn Virgins 2000

Book chapter

This is the most extraordinary custom of mountain Albania: If a girl refuses to marry the bridegroom chosen by her parents, to whom she may have been betrothed before birth, she must shear her head and turn herself as far as possible into a male. Sexless as an anchorite, she is expected to take part in tribal wars. Masculine labor is demanded of her. In a blood feud, she takes the same part as her brothers, but if she has a lover, it is the man whom she ought to have married who must avenge her c

Dress as a Signifier of Gender

Antonia Young

Source: Women Who Become Men. Albanian Sworn Virgins 2000

Book chapter

Several differences in clothing were used to designate civil status. For example, a married woman could by no means dress any longer ‘like a girl’, and this expresses also the double function of clothing, both as a practical object and as a symbol. The same is expressed also by the clothing of ‘virgins’ . . . In some zones they dressed entirely like men, whereas in others, partly in men’s clothes, partly in women’s clothes.

Asserting their Masculinity: Men and ‘Sworn Virgins’

Antonia Young

Source: Women Who Become Men. Albanian Sworn Virgins 2000

Book chapter

Gender is social practise that constantly refers to bodies and what bodies do, it is not social practise reduced to the body. Indeed reductionism presents the exact reverse of the real situation. Gender exists precisely to the extent that biology does not determine the social. It marks one of those points of transition where historical process supersedes biological evolution as the form of change. Gender is a scandal, an outrage, from the point of view of essentialism. Sociobiologists are constan

The Changing World: The Challenge Ahead

Antonia Young

Source: Women Who Become Men. Albanian Sworn Virgins 2000

Book chapter

‘The vital factor in assessing transformation within the village community is the way local individuals assess changes that have taken place within their lifetimes . . . we can gain some insight into the meaning of change by looking at the differing ways in which discrete historical patterns of experience are evaluated.’

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