Kuči (Serbian Cyrillic: Кучи; pronounced [kût͡ʃi]) is a region in eastern Montenegro and a historical tribe. The region is located north-east of Podgorica, and extends along the border with Albania. The majority of inhabitants are Eastern Orthodox while a Muslim and Roman Catholic minority exists. Marko Miljanov (1833–1901) led the tribe against the Ottoman Empire in the wars of 1861–62 and 1876–78; he had unified Kuči with Montenegro in 1874.
The unofficial centre is the Ubli village, which has about 1,500 residents and houses several institutions like a culture hall, the "Đoko Prelević" elementary school, a hospital, police station, and a former fabric factory. Ubli is situated in central Kuči with the center and villages of Prelevići, Pavićevići, Živkovići, Kostrovići, etc. Other villages are: Medun, Orahovo, Fundina, Koći, Kržanja, Kosor, Vrbica, Stravče, Zagreda, Raći in Gornji Kuči and Doljani, Murtovina, Stara Zlatica, Zlatica in Donji Kuči.
The Kuči region itself can be divided into three major sub-regions:
- Old Kuči, Orthodox Christian sub-tribe, which celebrates the slava of Mitrovdan (Saint Demetrius).
- Drekalovići, Orthodox Christian sub-tribe, founded by Lale Drekalov, which celebrates the slava of Nikoljdan (Saint Nicholas).
- Zatrijebač (Triesh in Albanian), Catholic Albanian and Orthodox Serb mixed sub-clan, which celebrate the Nativity of the Theotokos.
The Serb Catholics of Kuči reverted to the Orthodox faith under the leadership of Lale Drekalov (fl. 1608–14). Venetian public servant Mariano Bolizza's 1614 report the Kuči, Bratonožići and part of Plava were under the soldiers of Medun, the spahee, but the commander was not named; and the highlanders would pay the Ottoman officials a portion of their income. Between 1614 and 1621 the Kuči were mentioned as Ottoman subjects. In 1658, the seven tribes of Kuči, Vasojevići, Bratonožići, Piperi, Klimenti, Hoti and Gruda allied themselves with the Republic of Venice, establishing the so-called "Seven-fold barjak" or "alaj-barjak", against the Ottomans. In 1688, the Kuči, with help from Klimenti and Piperi, destroyed the army of Sulejman-paša twice, took over Medun and got their hands of large quantities of weapons and equipment. In 1694 the Kuči allied themselves with the Hoti in yet another uprising against the Ottomans. Throughout the 18th century, the Kuči fought alongside the Vasojevići, Hoti, and Klimenti.
The Ottoman increase of taxes in October 1875 sparked the Great Eastern Crisis, which included a series of rebellions, firstly with the Herzegovina Uprising (1875–77), which prompted Serbia and Montenegro declaring war on the Ottoman Empire (see Serbian–Ottoman War and Montenegrin–Ottoman War) and culminated with the Russians following suit (Russo-Turkish War). In Kuči, chieftain Marko Miljanov Popović organized resistance against the Ottomans and joined forces with the Montenegrins. The Kuči, identifying as a Serb tribe, asked to be united with Montenegro. After the Berlin Congress, Kuči was included into the borders of the Principality of Montenegro.
The Old Kuči (Starokuči) are the founders of Kuči. According to folklore, the history of the Old Kuči begins with Gojko Mrnjavčević, brother of Serbian king Vukašin Mrnjavčević and Despot Jovan Uglješa, who, after the loss at Maritsa (1371) against the Ottomans, had fled with his family and settled in the Kuči mountains to avoid persecution.
Gojko had a son, Nenad, which in turn had Grča (Gavrilo) and Gojko. Grča had a son, Panto Grčin (or Grčić), and his sons: Petar, Đurađ, Tiho(mir), Mara (Marin/Marko) and L(j)eš (Aleksa). Gojko had a son named Đuro.
Panto, after gaining control of the governance of Orahovo and other nearby villages, had decided to relocate his sons to key places to which he would soon control. Panto and his youngest son, Tihomir, had settled in Berovo. Đurađ, first Duke of present-day Upper Kuči, had settled in the Dučići or Liješti village. Mara has settled in Bezjovo, Lješ in Krivi Do and Petar in Ubli. However, Tihomir soon left his father in Berovo and set out somewhere along the Cijevna River and was never mentioned in history from then on. After Tihomir left Berovo, Petar returned to his father in Orahovo.
According to folk telling, Petar Pantin (or Pantović) had four sons, Marko, Andrija, Vuko (Vukašin) and Nikač. Vuko and Andrija were, however, never mentioned in any family tree in Orahovo, possibly because either they probably never bore any male offspring or had left Orahovo early in their lives. Vuko did indeed leave Orahovo and immigrated somewhere toward Malësia. Marko and Nikač, however, lived during the mid-15th century. According to folk telling, Nikač had two sons, Petar and Andrija. Petar's descendants were never mentioned, however, it is known that Andrija has a son named Nikola. Nikola had one son, named Stojan. Stojan had, according to folk telling, three sons, Vuko, Stefo and Periša. Vuko and Stefo had died due to the bubonic plague (Black Death), also called "čume" by the locals, which had caused an epidemic within the region. Soon, Stojan, and Periša's son, Stefan, had died and Periša, fearing the death of his remaining son, Vuk, left Berovo and settled in Lazorce, a village far north of Berovo, believing that the bubonic plague will not reach the village. Periša was quickly accepted by the population in Lazorce. Periša's descendants would later become known as the Perići, a clan still existing today in Lazorce.
It is also believed through folk telling that Grča had two brothers, Krsto and Šako, who were the founding fathers of the Kastrati and Shaljani tribes. Many Mrnjavčevićs crossed over to Islam, among the most notable the Ganići in Rožaje and Radonjičići (today Radončić) in Gusinje.
There are sources that point that the Kelmendi clan of Malësia are of Serb origin, that the founder came from the Morača i.e. Piperi i.e. Herzegovina. A certain Klmen (or Amati) from Kuči settled first in Hoti then re-settled in the present clan area. Among some Kelmends, Nikola Oštroumni Kolmendija (Nikola "Sharp-minded" Kolmendija) is the founding father.
- Đurđevići - Mrnjavčevići
- Bojovići (Baljušići)
- Mrnjavčići (descendants of Panta)
- Nikezići (descendants of Nikeza Marov)
- Muratagići (descendants of Nikola Nikezić)
- Nikčevići (descendants of Nikač)
The Drekalovići are a newer sub-tribe of Kuči. The etymology of the name is rooted in the personal name Drekale which is in turn derived from the archaic Slavic name Drek from the Verb Dreka (derati se) "to scream, shout, outcry", also connected to the word Drekalo (Drekavac, literally "the screamer"), the name for a mythological creature in Serbian folklore, a bogeyman (registered in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro).
There are various legends about a certain Drekale Panjković, who, if not descending of the Old Kuči, according to Montenegrin traditions had settled in Kuči with his mother (named Gruba or Irena) in the mid-16th century. The two main legends are: Drekale was a descendant of Serbian Emperor Dušan the Mighty through his mother, alternatively Gruba had been married to a Nikeza (Nikač, Nikola, possibly father/stepfather of Drekale) of the Mrnjavčević family (Old Kuči), great-great-grandson of Gojko, a brother of Vukašin Mrnjavčević, a 14th-century king of Serbia.
According to Albanian national tellings, Drekale was a grandson of George Kastrioti Scanderbey himself, through his son John.
Drekale's son Lale Drekalov is viewed of as the founder of the Drekalović brotherhood, from him sprang over 800 houses. Serbian Patriarch John II Kantul wanted to raise initiatives in an attempt to raise a general national rebellion against the Ottoman Empire, it organized meetings of Serb chiefs. In 1608 Lale attended one such in the Morača monastery and in 1613 the second one in the Kuči.
Lale Drekalov had married twice, he had Vuk from his first marriage and four sons in his second, the most important being Iliko. In 1658 Iliko became Duke of the Kuči. In the following 30 years Iliko's son Ivan came to prominence as also Duke. From then onwards sprang Iliković brotherhood, which made up to half of all Drekalovics. Vuk crossed over to Islam and became the forefather of the Turkovići in Podgorica. These all Kucis hence became known as "the New Kuči".
- Bulajići (descendants of Boroje Dragojev Drekalović)
- Milinići (descendants of knez Milin Borojev Bulajić)
- Radani (descendants of Radan Škeranov Bulajić)
- Todorovići (descendants of Todor Borojev Bulajić)
- Vukajlovići (descendants of Vukajlo Škeranov Bulajić)
- Čejovići (descendants of Čejo Lalev Drekalović)
- Božovići (descendants of Božo Popov Čejović)
- Mićkovići (descendants of Mićko Božov Čejović)
- Camovići (descendants of Camo Vujov Čejović)
- Pavićevići (descendants of Pavić Popov Čejović)
- Prelevići (descendants of Prele Popov Čejović)
- Radevići (descendants of Rade Popov Čejović)
- Radonjići (descendants of Radonja Popov Čejović)
- Božovići (descendants of Božo Popov Čejović)
- Ivanovići (descendants of Ivan Ilikov Drekalović)
- Ljakovići (descendants of Ljaka Ilikov Drekalović)
- Mijovići (descendants of Mijo Lalev Drekalović)
- Milačići (descendants of Milač Ilikov Drekalović)
- Kalači (descendants of Vušo (Mušo) Perov Milačić)
- Kalači (descendants of Vušo (Mušo) Perov Milačić)
- Popovići (descendants of pop (priest) Mirčeta Ilikov Drekalović)
- Petrovići (descendants of Petar Ilikov Drekalović)
- Radonjići (descendants of Radonja Petrov Drekalović)
- Turkovići (descendants of Vujaš (Vuk) Lalev Drekalović)
- Vučetići (descendants of Luka Radojev Drekalović)
- Vujačići (descendants of Šoroje Dragojev Drekalović)
- Vujoševići (descendants of Vujoš Lalev Drekalović)
- Vukoslavčevići (Vukoslavovići / Vukoslavljevići) (descendants of Vukoslav Ilikov Drekalović)
- Vuksanovići (descendants of Vuksan Ilikov Drekalović)
Zatrijebač (Albanian: Triesh) is a sub-region of Kuči, located in the "Kuči frontier" (Kučka Krajina), which also compose Orahovo, Koći and Fundina. From Albanian point of view, Zatrijebač is an extension of the northern Albanian Malësia region. The population is Roman Catholic by majority.
The historical tribe of Zatrijebač, as well as Hot, claim descendance from a certain Keq Preka. The mythological founder of the other half of Zatrijebač was Ban Keqi, who is said to have arrived some 100 years after Keq Preka. In Albanian, the inhabitants are called "Trieshjan" (males) and "Trieshjane".
Trieshi was known for starting an Albanian highlander uprising against the Ottomans in 1907 with the victory in the Battle of Lemaja, fought at the Cemi River, in which 150 Trieshjan participated. According to the locals, the only thing separating the two forces was a bridge over Cemi. Other battles that followed in the region include the Battle of Deçiq (1911).
- Milići (originally from Bjelica in Cetinje)
- Bankanji (claim descent from Crnojević)
- Bekteši or Bekteševići (descendants of Bekteš)
- Bekteši or Bekteševići (descendants of Bekteš)
- Bankanji (claim descent from Crnojević)
- Arapaj (Arapaj, Arapović)
- Cacaj (Cacaj, Cacović)
- Dedivanaj (Dedivanaj, Dedivanović)
- Dukaj (Dukaj, Dukić)
- Gegaj (Gegaj, Gegović)
- Gjeloshaj (Đeljošević)
- Gjokaj (Đokaj, Đokić)
- Gjonaj (Đonaj, Đonović)
- Gjonlekaj (Đonlekić)
- Gjurashaj (Đurašević)
- Gjuravçaj (Đuravčaj, Đuravčević)
- Hasanaj (Hasanović)
- Lekoçaj (Ljekočaj, Ljekočević)
- Lucaj (Ljucaj, Ljucović) - Flagbearer (Bajraktar)
- Margilaj (Margiljaj, Margiljić)
- Memçaj (Memčević)
- Micakaj (Micaković)
- Nikollaj (Nikolić)
- Nikprelaj (Nikpreljaj, Nikprelević, Nikpreljević)
- Palushaj (Paljušaj, Palušević, Paljušević)
- Prenkoçaj (Prenkočaj, Prenkočević)
- Ujkaj (Ujkaj, Ujković) - Flagbearer (Bajraktar)
- Families elsewhere descending from Zatrijebač families
- Curanaj (Curanaj, Curanović) - migrated to Gusinje
- Vataj (Vatić) - migrated to Kosovo
- Gjekaj (Đeković) - migrated to Gusinje
Other families in Kuči
- Milićevići i Savici
- Mihailovići (descendants of Mihailo Braunović)
- Bulatovići (originally from the Nikšić tribe)
A famous story about the Kuči is one from the 18th century; the Turks advanced in Zeta towards Kuči and the troops organized themselves at the village of Begović. The Vezir of Shkodër sat in the Begović tower. Soldiers where standing outside when the Vezir shouted to two Serbs from Oraovac who were in Ottoman service, Đulja Jovanov from Podgrađe and Iveza Vukov from Kuđani: ”Đulja, I will give you the Sultan's barjak (war flag) and you will carry it towards Kuci!", the Vezir ordered the flag to be taken by Djula. Djulja answered "My Pasha, my honour does not permit me carrying your flag towards my brothers" in which the Vezir lowered a rope from his window "Either you take the flag and carry it in front of the army, or you take this rope around your neck!". Djulja replied "God help me, for I will take the rope instead of the flag against Kuči!" and he went up on the gallows, pushed the flag to the side and took the rope, tightening it around his neck and stood himself on the batten. The Vezir warned "I will tell you this only once again, take the flag or we will remove the batten that you stand on", Djulja "I will remove it myself so that you won't need to exert your Turks, I stand by my relatives and would proudly die for them." Then a Muslim Slav named Punan Dedin, himself from the same tribe, said "At whos house is the Crow shrieking today?" Djulja replied "At mine today and yours tomorrow!" and kicked the batten, hanging himself. The Vezir turned to Iveza: "What will you take, the flag or rope?" Iveza answered: "the same as Djulja, never the flag" and walked up towards the gallows, another Muslim Slav, Sulejman Kut, a close relative of Iveza, turns to Ali-paša Osmanagić and begs "If you are a good Turk, don't let him die!", Ali-paša stops Iveza and asks the Vezir "Honorable Pasha, can I pay for his life?" - "No" - "Can I give my son instead of him?" - "No" - "Then I will give money, my son, myself, everything for his sake, I will not let him die!". The Vezir looked carefully "Okay, I will give him to you", the soldiers cheered at the honorable gesture.
There are over 15,000 residents in Kuči, with over 3,000 homes. Two major ethnic groups inhabit the region: ethnic Montenegrins and ethnic Serbs (see Montenegrin Serbs), though these may be regarded as one, as some families may politically be split between the two, i.e. with one brother opting for a Montenegrin identity and another a Serb. Most of the inhabitants are followers of the Serbian Orthodox Church, while a minority are Muslims by nationality. There is an enclave of Roman Catholic Albanians in the village of Koći (Koja in Albanian).
Christian Orthodox residents used to be split into two distinct groups: Old Kuči ("Starokuči") and Drekalovićs/New Kuči. The Old Kuči is generally seen as being of Serb descent and are native or have settled in the area at the time of the Serbian Empire in the 14th century. The New Kuči (generally referred to as "Drekalovići") are a large group of clans (bratstva) that were formed after the 17th century and share a legendary ancestor - Drekale.
The Islamization of Kuči has made a minority of inhabitants declaring as simply Montenegrins or Muslims by nationality and Bosniaks although they trace the same origin with that of their Christian brethren.
- Marko Miljanov Popović
- Evgenije Popović
- Mihailo Ivanović
- Vasa Čarapić
- vojvoda Radonja Petrović, duke
- Novak Milošev Vujadinovic, standard-bearer
- Mitar Laković, commander of the Montenegrin army at Shkodra
- Šćepo Spaić, Montenegrin army general
- pop Milisav Drakulović, priest
- pop Pero Ivanović, priest
- pop Božo Vujosević, priest
- Ana Ivanovic, famous Serbian tennis player
- Đoko Prelević, national hero
- Božina Ivanović, President of Presidency of the Socialist Republic of Montenegro
- Branimir Popović, actor
- Mladen Nelević, actor
- Branislav Milačić, football coach
- Dušan Perović, Assistant of finance ministry
- Duško Vujošević, a basketball coach
- Dejan Radonjić, former basketball player and current coach
- Branislav Prelević, former Serbian and Greek basketball player
- Aleksandar Vujošević, former basketball player and member of Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro
- Djordje Bozovic "Giska", notable Serbian gangster and paramilitary leader
- Ratko Đokić "Cobra", Serbian-Swedish Mob boss
- Branko Rašović, former Montenegrin football player
- Vuk Rašović, former Serbian football player and current manager of Partizan Belgrade, son of above-mentioned Branko
- Bogdan Milić, Montenegrin footballer
- Miroslav Vujadinović, Montenegrin footballer
- Pavle Delibašić, Serbian footballer
- Ante Miročević, former Montenegrin footballer
- Vesna Milačić, Montenegrin singer and songwriter
- Marina Kuč, Montenegrin swimmer
- Suzana Lazović, Montenegrin handball player
- Kuç, an Albanian toponym
- M. Vasić (1990), Etnički odnosi u jugoslovensko-albanskom graničnom području prema popisnom defteru sandžaka Skadar iz 1582/83. godine
- Mitološki zbornik. Centar za mitološki studije Srbije. 2004. pp. 24, 41–45.
- Elsie, p. 152
- Марко Миљанов (1904). Племе Кучи у народној причи и пјесми.
а Кучи су се, јамачно под повољнијем условима, измирили између 1614. и
- Zapisi; Glasnik cetinjskog istorijskog društva. 1935.
Комисија је била десет дана у Кучима и добила увјерење, да су сви Кучи једно, српско племе, да су њима, као једној породици измијешане земље и куће, да сви Кучи од Мораче до Цијевне имају своје комунице, заједничке пашњаке, једном ријечи, да је Куче немогуће подијелити. Кучи из Кучке крајине молили су сами комисију, исто као и Мркојевићи, да их не цијепају на двоје, но на једно придруже Црној Гори. Према свој овој јасности, комисија је била везана изричним наређењем берлинског уговора, да се Кучка крајина остави Турској, на што је конгрес непознавањем одношаја био заведен. Црногорски комесари из разлога, што су Кучи српско племе, што их је немогућно раздијелити, што је сам конгрес истакао начело, да се новом границом српско од арбанашкога племена одвоји — предложили су комисији линију, ...
- Hyacinthe Hecquard, Histoire et description de la HauteAlbanie ou Ghégarie, Paris 1859
- Miloš Velimirović, Na Komovima, Bratstvo 5, Beograd 1892, 24
- A. Jovićević, Malesija
- Jovan N. Tomić, O Arnautima u Staroj Srbiji i Sandžaku /About the Albanians in the Old Serbia and Sanjak/ (Belgrade: Geca Kon. 1913)
- Andrija Luburić, Vojvoda Jovan Mrkšić Klimenta Karađorđev ded i plavski Turci, Beograd 1937. 17.
- Milan Šufflay, Povijest sjev. Arb., Arhiv za arbanašku stranu II, 2, Beograd 1924, 197 (Croatian)
- Rječnik osobnih imena
- Levi, Pavle (2007) Disintegration in frames: aesthetics and ideology in the Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav cinema Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, page 181, ISBN 978-0-8047-5368-5
- Š. Kulišić; P. Ž. Petrović; N. Pantelić (1970). "Дрекавац". Српски митолошки речник (in Serbian). Belgrade: Nolit. p. 110.
- Sabrana djela, Volume 5. Grafički zavod. 1967. p. 30.
... дана позваће Марко, раније спомену- тога, Јуса Мучина из Подгорице, који је послије био поглавар над Кучком Крајином (Орахово, За- тријебач, Коће и Фундина). Јусо дође у Дољане. Ту је Марко тражио да му ваљадне Кучима,