Tribes of Albania

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This is a list of tribes of Albania, a region in south-west Balkans.

Northern Albania[edit]

The fact that the tribes of northern Albania were not completely subdued by the Ottomans is raised on the level of orthodoxy among the members of tribes. A possible explanation is that Ottomans did not have any reason to subdue northern Albanian tribes because they needed them as a stable source of mercenaries. The Ottomans implemented baryaktar system within northern Albanian tribes and granted some privileges to the baryaktars (banner chiefs) in exchange for their obligation to mobilize local fighters to support military actions of the Ottoman forces.[1]

In period without stable state control the tribe trialed its members. The usual punishments were, fine, exile or disarmament. The house of the exiled member of the tribe would be burned. In Albania the disarmament was regarded as the most embarrassing verdict.[2]

Members of the tribes of northern Albania believe their history is based on the notions of resistance and isolationism.[3] Some scholars connect this belief with the concept of "negotiated peripherality". Throughout history the territory northern Albanian tribes occupy has been contested and peripheral so northern Albanian tribes often exploited their position and negotiated their peripherality in profitable ways. This peripheral position also affected their national program which significance and challenges are different from those in southern Albania.[4] Such peripheral territories are zones of dynamic culture creation where it is possible to create and manipulate regional and national histories to the advantage of certain individuals and groups.[5]

Northern Albanian tribes have the tradition of Besa, usually translated as "faith", that means "to keep the promise" and "word of honor", which origin can be traced to the Kanun attributed to Lekë Dukagjini, a collection of Albanian traditional customs and cultural practices. Besa is an important part of personal and familial standing and is often used as an example of "Albanianism". Someone who breaks his besa may even be banished from his community.

Some authors[6] and scholars, including Jovan Cvijić and some other members of the Serbian Academy, asserted that tribes of northern Albania are of Albanian-Serb origin.[7][8][9] The Slavist scholar Konstantin Jireček asserts that there are traditional beliefs that support this idea, that in the "heart of Albania" there are the last remnants of a Slavic population who believe that certain Northern Albanian tribes are of mixed "Albano-Serb" origin[10], while Jovan Cvijić and other Serbian scholars have asserted that in fact the entire Northern Gheg division of the Albanian people are Serbian in origin.[9][11] According to some of these sources, many tribes of Northern Albania (such as Hoti, Nikaj, Kastrati, Kelmend, Shkreli and part of Gruda) have origin in (descend from) a region where the population today speaks Slavic[12] (Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia). An Albanian antithesis asserts that many Serbs and all Montenegrins, Bosniaks and Dalmatians are in fact descendants of Slavicized Albanian tribes.[11]

Tribal regions[edit]

Albanian bajraks (1918).

Malësia e Madhe[edit]

The tribes of Malësia e Madhe, in the Northern Albanian Alps, include ten tribes.[13] These are commonly called "highlanders" (Albanian: malësorët).


There are five tribes of the Pulat region.[24]


There are six tribes of the Dukagjin region.[30]

Another division is that of the Dukagjin highlands, in which Shala, Shoshi, Kiri, Xhani, Plani and Toplana are included.[37]

Gjakova highlands[edit]

There are five tribes of the Gjakova highlands (Albanian: Malësia e Gjakovës).[38]


The "seven tribes of Puka" (Albanian: shtatë bajrakët e Pukës), inhabit the Puka region.[45] Durham said of them: "Puka group ... sometimes reckoned a large tribe of seven bairaks. Sometimes as a group of tribes".[46]


  • Skana
  • Dibrri
  • Fani
  • Kushneni
  • Oroshi
  • Spaqi
  • Kthella
  • Selita

Lezha Highlands[edit]

  • Bulgëri
  • Kryezezi
  • Manatia
  • Vela

Kruja Highlands[edit]

  • Kurbini
  • Ranza
  • Benda

Mat region[edit]

  • Bushkashi
  • Mati

Upper Drin basin[edit]


  1. ^ Helaine Silverman (1 January 2011). Contested Cultural Heritage: Religion, Nationalism, Erasure, and Exclusion in a Global World. Springer. p. 120. ISBN 978-1-4419-7305-4. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  2. ^ Balkanika. Srpska Akademija Nauka i Umetnosti, Balkanolos̆ki Institut. 2004. p. 252. Retrieved 21 May 2013. ...новчана глоба и изгон из племена (у северној Албанији редовно је паљена кућа изгоњеном члану племена). У Албанији се најсрамотнијом казном сматрало одузимање оружја. 
  3. ^ Helaine Silverman (1 January 2011). Contested Cultural Heritage: Religion, Nationalism, Erasure, and Exclusion in a Global World. Springer. p. 119. ISBN 978-1-4419-7305-4. Retrieved 31 May 2013. ... northern Albanians' belief about their own history, based on notions of isolationism and resistance. 
  4. ^ Helaine Silverman (1 January 2011). Contested Cultural Heritage: Religion, Nationalism, Erasure, and Exclusion in a Global World. Springer. p. 119. ISBN 978-1-4419-7305-4. Retrieved 31 May 2013. ... "negotiated peripherality"... the idea that people living in peripheral regions exploit their... position in important, often profitable ways... The implications and challenges of their national program.... in the Albanian Alps .. are very different from those that obtain in the south 
  5. ^ Helaine Silverman (1 January 2011). Contested Cultural Heritage: Religion, Nationalism, Erasure, and Exclusion in a Global World. Springer. p. 119. ISBN 978-1-4419-7305-4. Retrieved 31 May 2013. Most scholars of frontier life be zones of active cultural creation. .. individuals and groups are in unique position to actively create and manipulate regional and national histories to their own advantage, ... 
  6. ^ Edith Durham (1987). High Albania. LO Beacon Press. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-8070-7035-2. Retrieved 2 August 2013. As for the very large population that must have been of mixed Serbo-Illyrian blood... 
  7. ^ Ana S. Trbovich (2008). A legal geography of Yugoslavia's disintegration. Oxford Univ Press. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-19-533343-5. Retrieved 2 August 2013. Jovan Cvijić... asserts that tribes of northern Albania are of mixed Albanian-Serb origin... 
  8. ^ Julie Mertus (1999). Kosovo: How Myths and Truths Started a War. University of California Press. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-520-21865-9. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  9. ^ a b The South Slav Journal. Dositey Obradovich Circle. 2006. p. 84. Retrieved 2 August 2013. ...a claim by Serbian academicians that all Ghegs were actually Albanized Serbs 
  10. ^ Isaiah Bowman; G. M. Wrigley (1918). Geographical Review. American Geographical Society. p. 350. Retrieved 2 August 2013. At the time of the reign of the House of Anjou (1250-1350) there was still a Slav population in the coastal plains and around the Drin river. This population, according to the studies of K. Jireček, was considerably reinforced by settlers from Serbia during the Serbian rule, particularly during the fourteenth century. In the heart of Albania According to their traditions the tribes of northern Albania are of mixed origin, Albano-Serb. They consider themselves related to the Serbian tribes of Montenegro. 
  11. ^ a b Geert-Hinrich Ahrens (6 March 2007). Diplomacy on the Edge: Containment of Ethnic Conflict and the Minorities Working Group of the Conferences on Yugoslavia. Woodrow Wilson Center Press. p. 283. ISBN 978-0-8018-8557-0. Retrieved 2 August 2013. There are some imaginative theories, such as the Arnautaš theory held by some Serbs, according to which the whole northern Albanian tribe, the Gegs, are actually Albanized Serbs. An Albanian antithesis exists, which says that Montenegrins, Bošniaks, Dalmatians, but also parts of the Serb nation, are Slavicized Albanians. 
  12. ^ Glasnik Zemaljskog muzeja u Bosni i Hercegovini. Zemaljska štamparija. 1911. p. 374. Retrieved 21 May 2013. Племена Хоти, Никај, Шкрели, Клементи, Кастрати, и један дио племена Груда потјечу из краја гдје се данас говори словјенски 
  13. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 15–98.
  14. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 15–35.
  15. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 36–46.
  16. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 47–57.
  17. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 58–67.
  18. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 68–78.
  19. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 79–80.
  20. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 81–88.
  21. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 89–90.
  22. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 91–92.
  23. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 93–98.
  24. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 99–114.
  25. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 99–101.
  26. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 102–104.
  27. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 105–106.
  28. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 107–109.
  29. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 110–114.
  30. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 115–148.
  31. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 115–127.
  32. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 128–131.
  33. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 132–137.
  34. ^ Elsie 2015, p. 138.
  35. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 138–142.
  36. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 143–148.
  37. ^ Enke, Ferdinand (1955). Zeitschrift für vergleichende Rechtswissenschaft: einschliesslich der ethnologischen Rechtsforschung (in German). 58. Germany: Akademie für Deutsches Recht. p. 129. In den Bergen des Dukagjin: in Shala, Shoshi, Kir, Gjaj, Plan und Toplan. 
  38. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 149–174.
  39. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 149–156.
  40. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 157–159.
  41. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 160–165.
  42. ^ Elsie 2010, p. 248.
  43. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 166–169.
  44. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 170–174.
  45. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 175–196.
  46. ^ a b Durham 1928, p. 27.
  47. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 175–177.
  48. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 178–180.
  49. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 181–182.
  50. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 183–185.
  51. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 186–192.
  52. ^ Elsie 2015, pp. 193–196.
  53. ^ The Tribes of Albania; History, Society and Culture. Robert Elsie. 

External links[edit]