Dukagjin highlands[a] refers to a historical and ethnographical mountainous region in northern Albania, east of Shkodra and north of the Drin, through which the Shala and Kir rivers flow. It is roughly equivalent to the northern half of the Shkodër District, with some minor parts in Malësi e Madhe District.
It is a mountainous region in northern Albania, east of Shkodra and north of the Drin, including parts of western and central Prokletije mountain range within the Albanian border (Northern Mountain Range), roughly centered in the northern half of the Shkodër District (some minor parts are located in Malësi e Madhe District). The highest point is Maja Jezerce (2694 m). The Shala river is located within the region.
To the west lies the Malësia tribal region, which includes the tribes of Hoti, Kastrati, Kelmend and Shkrel. To the east lies Malësia e Gjakovës, which includes the tribes of Krasniqe, Gashi and Bytyqi.
Middle Ages 
High Middle Ages 
Baleč and its surroundings were part of the Byzantine Theme of Dyrrhachium until the Serbian ruler Stefan Vojislav (1018–1043) conquered the region and gave Baleč the status of seat of the župa (county) of Barezi as part of Duklja. By the time of the reign of Constantine Bodin (1081–1101), all of northern Albania (north of Drin), and also some fortresses to the south of the Drin, were part of Vojislavljević's realm.
Pilot (Pult), including Dagno, was a county of Serbian Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja (1166-1196). The important Via de Zenta, a trade route connecting the Adriatic with Nemanjić' Serbia (see Serbian Grand Principality, Kingdom, Empire), crossed this region; It started from the mouth of the Bojana, the Skadar port, (alternatively Bar then Cetinje) along the Drin Valley to Prizren, then to Lipljan, then through Novo Brdo to Vranje and Niš. The Republic of Venice and Ragusa used the road for trade with Serbia and Bulgaria. The road ended its use with the conquering of this part of Serbia by the Ottoman Empire.
Late Middle Ages 
With the crowning of Stephen Uroš III Dečanski of Serbia, Stephen Uroš IV Dušan was crowned Young King of Zeta. Žarko held Lower Zeta during the reign of Emperor Dušan the Mighty. In 1360, Balša I and his sons are mentioned as "lords of Skadar", thus, Žarko may have either lost the rule or died. On 18 September 1385, Balša II was killed by the Ottomans at the Battle of Savra, and he was succeeded by his nephew Đurađ II Balšić who inherited the parts of Zeta and northern Albania, including the cities of Skadar, Drivast and Lješ, as per the Balšićs' traditional rule of seniority.
In Venetian documents, Lekë Dushmani and his relative Damian are mentioned as lords of Pult in 1446. In March 2, 1444 Dushmani became a founding member of the League of Lezhë. According to Noli, Peter Spani who also joined the League, ruled Shala and Shoshi. Pal Dukagjini and Nikola Dukagjini, who also joined the league as vassals to Lekë Zaharia, did not rule this area, but a region farther to the east, which included villages Buba, Salita, Gurichuchi, Baschina.
Visiting Theth in the early 20th century, the traveller Edith Durham said:
I think no place where human beings live has given me such an impression of majestic isolation from all the world.
Edith Durham described Theth as a "bariak" of some 180 houses and also observed that it was almost free from the tradition of blood feud (known in the Albanian language as Gjakmarrja) which so blighted other parts of the Albanian highlands.
In the First Balkan War, the Dukagjin region was occupied by the Principality of Montenegro. After the Treaty of London in May, 1913, the Great Powers recognized the independence of the Principality of Albania and appointed German Wilhelm Friedrich Heinrich as monarch. The Dukagjin region was subsequently included into Albania.
According to Bell (1931), "Upper Pulati, the region to the north-north-east of Shkodra, is inhabited by the Merturi, Nikay, Shala, Shoshi, Toplana, and Gimay clans, bairaks, or groups of bairaks.".
According to Myres (1945), "Malsi e vogel are included Shala, Shoshi, Plandi, and the tribes of the Toplane district".
According to Prothero (1973), "The Dukajin (in the Wider sense) include the six bairaks of the Pulati, Shala and Shoshi, Dushmani, Toplana, Nikai, and Merturi. Their territory lies between the Malzia e Mathe and the River Drin."
According to an Austrian map dating to 1918, the tribes had the following main settlements (including modern municipalities): Shala had Theth, Lekaj and Nicaj-Shalë (in Shalë); Shoshi had Goraj-Budishtë? (in Kastrat) or Zagorë (in Shkrel); Kiri had Kiri (in Pult); Gjaj had Xhan (in Pult); Plani had Plan (in Pult); Toplan had Toplanë (in Temal).
All six tribes today belong to the Roman Catholic faith by majority, and to a lesser degree Islam. They speak the Northwestern Gheg dialect of Albanian.
The Shala and Shoshi tribes are closely associated, have the same occupations and characteristics, and are sometimes called one bajrak.
The Gjâma e burrave, or "Men's Lament" is a death rite performed only by men and for men only, maintained exclusively by the Catholic Albanians in the highlands of Dukagjin, in Iballë and Đakovica (in Kosovo[a]).
A pagan tradition in Dukagjin and Malesia e Vogel was Shen Verbti ("the holy blind one"), the god of hailstorms who lived in the clouds. In Shala, he was known as Rmoria (possibly from Latin rumor, "shouting, noise, rumour.").
Edith Durham's High Albania and its customs (1908) 
Traveller Edith Durham visited North Albania in the 1900s. She collected the following information about the tribes of Dukagjin, whom she grouped into the Pulati, and then into the two groups of Lower Pulati (or Pulati proper) and those of the Diocese of Pulati. She said that Pulati was hard to define, as the ecclesiastical borders (Diocese of Pulati) extended farther than the Pulati tribes.
- Ghoanni: small Catholic tribe, one bariak.
- Plani: Catholic tribe, one bariak, tracing origin of three stocks which are intermarriageble. One descends from Kilmeni.
- Mgula: small Catholic tribe, one bariak.
- Kiri: Catholic tribe, one bariak.
Diocese of Pulati:
- Shala: very large entirely Catholic tribe, with four bariaks (Thethi, Petsaj, Lothaj and Lekaj). According to legend, all bariaks descend from a common ancestor, one of three brothers who fled Raška after the Ottoman conquest, the two other brothers established Shoshi and Mirdita, respectively. The three tribes reckon they are too nearly related to be intermarriageble. Thethi bariak occupy the head of the valley with 180 houses, all Catholic. Thethi is self-governing, and is almost independent from the rest of the Shala. Petsaj, Lothaj and Lekaj bariaks are said to have separated into three main houses 376 years earlier. Lothaj and Lekaj recently decided they are far enough removed to intermarry. Thethi and Petsaj do not intermarry within the tribe. Shala tells that, when it arrived in the land, there were already small dark people inhabiting it. With these, they intermarried. Eight houses near Abate, lower Shala, trace origin to these earlier folk, the rest emigrated to Dečani.
- Shoshi: origin as above. It lies south of Shala on the right bank of the Shala river.
- Toplana: small Catholic tribe, one bariak, lying east of Shala on the right bank of the Shala river. It is in a very wild district, and has the highest death-rate from gunshot wounds of all the Christian tribes. It tells that it is very old.
The whole district inhabited by the above tribes is called Maltsia e vogel ("Little Mountain Land"). Also included in the diocese of Pulati is:
- Nikaj: This is an offshoot of from the Moslem tribe of Krasnich (brother to Hoti). Its ancestor Nikol left Krasnich while Krasnich was yet Christian (Catholic or Orthodox ?). One hundred houses of Nikaj, the Tsuraj, trace descent from a daughter of Nikol who bore an illegitimate son by a gypsy which Nikol adopted. This is the only case of female descent I heard of. Nikaj is all Catholic. It is one of the wildest and most poverty-stricken of the tribes.
See also 
- Metohija in Kosovo[b], also called Rrafshi i Dukagjinit by Kosovo Albanians.
- List of Albanian tribes
- ^ Name: Dukagjin highlands, used by Elsie, is used as the article name. There are also ambiguous terms Dukagjin, or Dukagjini region. The toponym "Dukagjin" is said to derive from duka (duke) and Gjin (John) - "Duke John", but it may possibly be a folk etymology. Malësia e Vogël is a local name referring to the region. It has also been called Tribe of the six bajraks (Fis i gjasht bajrakvet). Another name is Shala-Shoshi, derived from the two centres, Shala and Shoshi.
- ^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Serbia and the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo. The latter declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. Kosovo's independence has been recognised by 99 out of 193 United Nations member states.
- Elsie 2010, p. 85
- Istorijski glasnik. Naučna knjiga. 1960. p. 189. Retrieved 9 May 2013. "У "брђане" у Малесији спадају...."
- Živković 2006, p. 105: "Među župama koje su pomenute kao sastavni delovi dukljanske države u trenutku smrti Stefana Vojislava, samo jedna nije bila deo Duklje (Zete) u prethodnom spisku župa koji donosi Pop Dukljanin, a koji bi se mogao opredeliti u polovinu X veka. U pitanju je župa Bareci koja je obuhvatala područje istočno od Skadra. Tako bi se moglo reći da je Stefan Vojislav izvršio prilično skromno teritorijalno proširewe svoje zemlje na račun dračkog temata"
- Bogdanović 1990, p. 36: "У доба највеће проширености дукљанске српске државе под Бодином (1081-1116) њеним границама је била обухваћена читава данашња северна Албанија, ...северно од Дрима, али и пространа облас јужно од Дрима укључујући све мале градове у скадарским жупама (Балеч, Дриваст, Сард, Дањ, Сапа, Шаст, Св. Срђ и Влах"
- Fajfrić 2000, ch. 9. Nemanja ustupa presto sinu Stefanu: "Nemanjina država je obuhvatala ... Na jugu ... Gornji i Donji Pilot na putu od Prizrena u Skadar."
- Andrija Veselinović Radoš Ljušić, „Srpske dinastije“ , Novi Sad, 2001. ISBN 86-83639-01-0
- Acta Albaniae Veneta saeculorum XIV et XV.. Typis Josephi Tosini. 1967. p. 319. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
- Noli, Fan (1947). George Castrioti Scanderbeg (1405-1468). International Universities Press. p. 36. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
- Noli 1947, p. 36
- Schmitt 2001, p. 300
Am folgenden Tag bestätigte Querini Paul Dukagjin und Leka Dukagjin, dem Sohn Tanushs – wohl des in Padua internierten, oben erwähnten Tanush Dukagjin – ihren Besitz auf dem Gebiet des verstorbenen Leka Zaharia. Die Dukagjin anerkannten Venedigs Herrschaft über Dagno, und „kamen freudigen Sinnes zu Übergabe und Gehorsam an die Dogenherrschaft von Venedig noch eifriger zu deinen als dem Herrn Leke Zaharia". Paul und Leka Dukagjin waren also fur ihren besitz bei Dagno vassalen Leka Zaharias.
- Božić 1979, p. 364
Нову власт прихватила је и Лекина породица, приклонили су јој се и његови дворани. Зато им је Франћеско Квирин потврдио поседе и стечена права. Павлу и Леки Дукађину призната су села Buba, Salita, Gurichuchi и Baschina
- Edith Durham, High Albania (London, Edward Arnold, 1909; republished by the Echo Library, 2009), at page 82
- "Upper Pulati, the region to the north-north-east of Shkodra, is inhabited by the Merturi, Nikay, Shala, Shoshi, Toplana, and Gimay clans, bairaks, or groups of bairaks."
- "Malsi e vogel are included Shala, Shoshi, Plandi, and the tribes of the Toplane district"
- Enke 1955, p. 129: "In den Bergen des Dukagjin: in Shala, Shoshi, Kir, Gjaj, Plan und Toplan."
- Naval Intelligence Division 1945: "Shala and Shoshi are closely associated, have the same occupations and characteristics, and are sometimes called one bajrak. Shala is also declared part of the Dukagjin 'clan of the six bajraks'"
- The Dukajin (in the Wider sense) include the six bairaks of the Pulati, Shala and Shoshi, Dushmani, Toplana, Nikai, and Merturi. Their territory lies between the Malzia e Mathe and the River Drin. 4. The seven bairaks of the Dukajin (in a stricter ...
- Islam Qerimi, Vjollca Salihu 2011, Some Aspects of Research on Social Organization and ..., p. 5
- Gjovalin Shkurtaj, Etnografi e të folurit të shqipes: (përmbledhje studimesh socio dhe etnolinguistike). Shtëpia Botuese e Librit Universitar, 2004. p. 42
- Elsie 2001, p. 259
- Durham 1908, Table of the tribes of North Albania, Pulati Group
- Bogdanović, Dimitrije (1990). Knjiga o Kosovu: razgovori o Kosovu (in Serbian). Književne novine. p. 36. Retrieved 21 January 2012. More than one of
- Božić, Ivan (1979), Nemirno pomorje XV veka (in Serbian), Beograd: Srpska književna zadruga, OCLC 5845972
- Elsie, Robert (2010). "Historical Dictionary of Kosovo". Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0810872315, 9780810872318 Check
- Fajfrić, Željko (2000) , Sveta loza Stefana Nemanje (in Serbian), Belgrade: "Tehnologije, izdavastvo, agencija Janus", "Rastko"
- Enke, Ferdinand (1955). Zeitschrift für vergleichende Rechtswissenschaft: einschliesslich der ethnologischen Rechtsforschung, Volume 58 (in German). Germany: Akademie für Deutsches Recht.
- Naval Intelligence Division, Sir John Linton Myres, Harold St. John Loyd Winterbotham, F. Longland (1945). Albania. Great Britain.
- Noli, Fan Stilian (1947), George Castrioti Scanderbeg (1405–1468), International Universities Press, OCLC 732882
- Schmitt, Oliver Jens (2001), Das venezianische Albanien (1392–1479) (in German), München: R. Oldenbourg Verlag GmbH München, ISBN 3-486-56569—9
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