From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Girls in Mijak dress.

Mijaks (Macedonian: Мијаци/Mijaci) are an ethnographic group of Macedonians who live in the Lower Reka (Dolna Reka) region which is also known as Mijačija, along the Radika river, in western Republic of North Macedonia, numbering 30,000-60,000 people. The Mijaks practise predominantly animal husbandry, and are known for their ecclesiastical architecture, woodworking, iconography, and other rich traditions, as well as their characteristic Galičnik dialect of the Macedonian language.


Map of "Mijačija".
Mijak architecture.

The Mijaks have traditionally occupied the Mala Reka region along with the Torbeš, Macedonian-speaking Muslims and another sub-group of Macedonians. The area including the Bistra mountain and Radika region has been termed Mijačija (Мијачија). To the east is the ethnographic region of the Brsjaks.

As recorded by Jovan Cvijić in 1906, the Mijaks inhabited the villages of Galičnik, Lazaropole, Tresonče, Selce, Rosoki, Sušica, Gari and Osoj, while they also inhabited villages by the Radika, around the Monastery of Jovan Bigorski, where there are scarce predominantly Christian-inhabited villages, such as Bituše, Gorno Kosovrasti, Gorno Melničani, while the rest has mixed Christian-Muslim population, such as Trebište, Rostuša, and others.[1]

However, the majority of Mijak villages are uninhabited as the majority of the inhabitants left during the 20th century. Many villages in Mijačija are now uninhabited due to population shift towards the cities. Large Mijak concentrations can still be found in certain villages around Debar and Bitola. The villages Oreše, Papradište and Melnica in the Veles region were populated by Mijaci during Ottoman rule in Macedonia.[2] The village of Smilevo, in the Bitola region, is also considered to be a Mijak village, in regards to its architecture and history.[3] The north-western quarter of Kruševo was populated by Mijaks.[4]


Middle Ages–18th century[edit]

Their ethnonym is unclear.[5][full citation needed] A theory is that they derived the name from their way to say the first plural pronoun, mije, while their neighbours use nije.[6] There is a theory that the Mijaks were the first to permanently settle this area; they found mostly Vlachs, who seem to have not been permanently settled; the Mijaks pushed the Vlachs out of the pasture lands, some of whom they assimilated.[7] According to another theory the Miyaks are the remains of an old Slavic-Bulgarian tribe that inhabited the area of the Salonica field and was engaged mostly in the cattle breeding.[8] This theory is also confirmed by the legends for the founding of the one of the most significant Miyak settlements as Galichnik.[9]

The Brsjaks and Mijaks did not live geographically scattered prior to the Ottoman conquest.[10] With the fall of medieval Serbia, the Mijaks likely gathered in the Mala Reka region and continued to live as an autonomous tribe.[11] There is a tradition that the Mijaks, after participating at the Battle of Kosovo (1389), took the war flag and hid it at the village of Sušice, and that their commander, Damčul, fell at the battle; his village, now in ruins, Damčulice, is situated between Skudrinje and Prisojnica.[11] The Mijaks would fly the war flag (barjak) whenever needed.[11] There are claims that they supported the Sultan during Piccolomini's operation in 1689, having won at Vlainice; because of the victory, the Sultan acknowledged them the public use of the krstat barjak ("cross war flag").[11]

A proportion of Mijaks converted to Islam during the 16th and 17th centuries, and they are known by the name Torbeši.[12][13]

In the 18th century, the Mijaks had an armed conflict with the Islamized population regarding pasture lands.[14]

19th century[edit]

In the first half of the 19th century, a notable part of the population were Albanianized, and also, the Islamized population of Galicnik was re-Christianized in 1843.[5][full citation needed]

In 1822, an unpublished lexicographical work by Panajot Ginovski, "Mijački rečnik po našem govoru", was written, containing 20 000 words.[15]

In the summer of 1875, referendum was held on the church affiliation of the Christians in Debar county (kaza). The majority supported the accession to the Bulgarian Exarchate. Only 2 villages and 20 houses in Debar supported the Patriarchate of Constantinople, perceived by local Bulgarians as Greek church.[16]

After the Treaty of San Stefano (March 3, 1878), the Debar county, along with 11 other counties of Macedonia, sent deputies and appeals to Prince Milan of Serbia (r. 1868-1889), asking him to annex the region to Serbia.[17][full citation needed] This was made after the Principality of Bulgaria received most of the Macedonia region by the Ottoman Empire, and the earlier establishment and expansion of the Bulgarian Exarchate (February 28, 1870; in 1874, Skopje and Ohrid voted in favour of the Exarchate).

20th century[edit]

During the Ilinden uprising in Kruševo (August 2–3, 1903), a known Mijak involved was Veljo Pecan.[18][full citation needed] During the guerilla period, the Mijaks were divided into Serbs and Bulgarians; one Serbian vojvoda was Doksim Mihailović from Galičnik, while a Bulgarian vojvods were Maksim N. Bogoja.[19], Tale Krastev, Ivan Pendarovski, Rade Yankulovski, Kiro Simonovski, Yanaki Tomov[20], Apostol Frachkovski etc. One of the leaders and founders of IMARO, Damyan Gruev is also a Mijak (from Smilevo) with a Bulgarian self-determination.


Intricate Mijak woodcarving in Saint Jovan Bigorski Monastery.

The Mijaks are well known for the extent to which old customs are preserved in their everyday life. The pečalba (seasonal work) was a deeply entrenched tradition of the Mijaks; males in their 20s would often leave the village for months, or even years, at a time, in order to work in more prosperous regions and create wealth for the family — this has contributed to the dispersion of Mijak families, with villages now deserted or sparsely populated.

Mijaks had mastered the craft of woodcarving, and for many years a wood carving school operated in the Mala Reka region. They were responsible for the intricate wood carving which is found inside the Saint Jovan Bigorski Monastery, which is considered to be the best in North Macedonia.

The Galičnik Wedding Festival (Галичка свадба) is the name of a traditional wedding and its characteristic ceremony, which is annually held on Petrovden (St. Peter feast day, 12 July), in which a couple is chosen to receive the wedding and be shown on national television. The Teškoto oro (lit. "the hard one"), a shepherd folk dance of the Mijaks, is one of the national dances of North Macedonia.

Some Mijaks believe that Skanderbeg, the Albanian military commander, hailed from Mijačija.[21][page needed]

According to the Serbian ethnographer Jovan Cvijić writing in 1922,[22] the older generation were familiar with the Battle of Kosovo (1389) and Tsar Lazar, and still held the Serbian feast days and sung the epic poetry regarding that time, but the songs were rarely sung as in earlier times, according to him because of Bulgarian pressure. The Mijaks were very familiar with Prince Marko, who according to them was "born in Legen-grad" (of which ruins exist above the Torbeš village of Prisojnica). From the same place, they said, a "Vojvoda Damjan" went and fought at Kosovo. Also, they had songs regarding the founding of the Hilandar monastery on Mount Athos. Every family had the slava (служба, veneration of protecting family saint). The center of spiritual life was in the Saint Jovan Bigorski Monastery, of which interior there was a very old memorial, describing its history, which spoke of the Nemanjić dynasty and the Serbian archbishops. Also, the external frescoes depicted Serbian rulers until the Battle of Kosovo, painted by a peasant from Lazaropole. The history of the monastery, and the Mijaks themselves, showed that they were always striving for independence. They constantly opposed the use of Greek as liturgical language in the churches, and when the Bulgarian Exarchate was imposed in the region, the Mijak monks maintained complete ecclesiastical freedom, and kept all old Serbian monuments of the St. John's monastery.[23]


Mijak architecture has become a defining factor in the culture of the Mijaks. The Mijaks were among the most skilled masons[24] and they helped wealthy Aromanians develop Kruševo into a large, prosperous and beautiful city in the 18th century. Apart from some masons from the Kriva Palanka region, they were the most proficient in all Macedonia and the Balkans. The Saint Jovan Bigorski Monastery is built in the Mijak style.


The Mijaks traditionally speak the Galičnik dialect and Reka dialect. Typical characteristics of the "Mijački govor" (Macedonian: Мијачки говор), Mijak speech, include:

Mijak speech Standard Macedonian English Notes
žamija džamija mosque reduced use of the phenome "dž" to only "ž"
roka raka hand the Big Yus is pronounced as a "o" and not an "a" as in Standard Macedonian
tužda/tuža tugja foreign use of the phenome "ž" or "žd" in place of the standard Macedonian "gj"
trebuvad/trebit treba need use of the suffix "-t" or "-d" for third person singular
stavajed stavaat they place use of the suffix "-ajed" for third person singular
glagolj zbor word from Proto-Slavic *glagoliti ("to speak"); cf. Glagolitic alphabet

Their speech include peculiarities (in relation to standard Macedonian), such as ovde, onde, kode, koga, zašto, dojdi, etc.[25]


Mijaks have been subject to ethnographic studies by Macedonian, Bulgarian and Serbian scholars. According to the 2002 census, in the Municipality of Mavrovo and Rostuša there were 4,349 Macedonians (50.46%), 2,680 Turks (31,10%), 1,483 Albanians (17.21%), and smaller numbers of Bosniaks (0.36%), Roma (0.12%), Serbs (0.07%) and others (0.68%); In the Municipality of Debar there were a total of 19,542 inhabitants, of which 11,348 Albanians, 3,911 Macedonians, 2,684 Turks, 1,080 Roma, 22 Serbs, 3 Bosniaks, 2 Vlachs and 492 others.[26][verification needed]

  • Serbian authors as Jovan Cvijić classified Mijaks into South Slavs, precisely the 'western Macedonian variety' of the 'central type'. His conclusion about the ethnic origin of Mijaks was that nomadic Aromanians mixed with native Slavs and later with Serbs who moved from Ottoman Albania to avoid process of Albanisation and Islamisation.[27] In views of historical consciousness, he noted that the Mijaks had preserved traces of Serbian history (folklore, art, slava).[23] Milojko Veselinović (1850–1913) and Đoko Slijepčević (1907–1993) also noted their Serbian cultural traditions.[28]
  • In their works from the beginning of the 20th century, Bulgarian ethnographers Vasil Kanchov and Dimitar Michev describe the local Mijak population as Bulgarian.[29][30] The researcher Georgi Traychev from Prilep also describes the Miyaks as part of the Bulgarian people, different from the other, neighboring ethnographic Bulgarian groups as the Barsjaks.[31]


  • Kargovci
  • Kauriovci
  • Babalijovci
  • Boškovci
  • Guržovski
  • Gugulevci
  • Gulovci
  • Kuculovci
  • Kutrevci
  • Tortevci
  • Tulevci
  • Kačevci
  • Damkovci, slava of Petkovden,
  • Čalčevci
  • Čaparovci
  • Čudulovci
  • Cergovci
  • Cincarevci
  • Žantevci
  • Pulevci (sing. Pulevski), slava of Petkovden, inhabited Osoj, Selce, Rostuša
  • Ramnina and Stepanci, slava of Prečista,
  • Popovci
  • Frčkovci
  • Alautovci
  • Kolovci
  • Kostovci
  • Kokosovci

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ Jovan Cvijić (1966). Balkansko poluostrvo. p. 486. Мијачка група (западномакедонски варијетет) Група правих Мијака, који себе тако зову и које околно станов- ништво назива Мијацима, ограничена је поглавито на област Мале реке, леве Радикине притоке. Њихова су села Галичник, Лазаропоље, Тресонче, Селце, Росока, Сушица, Гаре и Осој, а има их још на Ра- дици, око манастира Јована Бигорског, где су ретка села чисто хриш- ћанска, као Битуша, Горње Косоврасти и Горње ...
  3. ^ 100 Years Ilinden Uprising - Smilevo, Monument of Culture Archived 2011-07-27 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Brown, Keith (2003). The past in question: modern Macedonia and the uncertainties of nation. Princeton University Press. p. 85. ISBN 0-691-09995-2.
  5. ^ a b Bernath & Nehring 1988, p. 392.
  6. ^ Južna Srbija. 1–2. 1922. p. 51. Мијаци, прича се, зову се тако за то што су личиу заменпцу првог липа множине изговарали мије, док су је суседи изговарали није. Има крај око Преспе, где жпвё Естевци, јер умет»у у говор »ести«, а то »ести« се чује и код Дебра.
  7. ^ Georgi Stardelov (1996). Jazicite na počvata na Makedonija: prilozi za istražuvanjeto na istorijata na kulturata na počvata na Makedonija. Makedonska akademija na naukite i umetnostite. Како изглсда, у овоме крају Мијаци су први створнлн стална насеља. Затскли су староседеоцс. нарочито Куцовлахе. који изглсда нису имали сталннх нассл.а. Мијаци су староседсоце потиснулн са пашк>ака, а неке привукли к ...
  8. ^ Трайчев, Георги. Книга за мияците (Историко-географски очерк), София, 1941, с. 10. (Traychev, Georgi. Book for the Miyaks (Historical and Geographical Sketch), Sofia, 1941, p. 10.) И така, мияците са малоброен остатък от старо-славяно-българско колено, което населявало Солунско с пастирски поминък, който поминък ги заставил да търсят удобни прибежища и пасбища за многобройните си стада от овце и коне...
  9. ^ Тодоровски, Глигор. Малореканскиот предел. Општествено-економски и просветни прилики во 80-те години на XIX век до крајот на Првата светска војна, Скопје 1970, с. 14. (Todorovski, Gligor. The area of Mala Reka. Socio-economic and educational opportunities from the 1880s to the end of the First World War, Skopje, 1970, p. 14.)
  10. ^ Simpozijum seoski dani Sretena Vukosavljevića. Opštinska zajednica obrazovanja. 1974. p. 35. Сретен Вукосав- л>евић је посветио извесну пажњу старим познатим Брсјацима и Мијацима. Говорећи о њима, он истиче: Брсјаци и Мијаци нису били разбијени пре турског освајања.
  11. ^ a b c d Južna Srbija. 1–2. 1922. p. 52. После пропасти наше средњевековне Државе, Мијаци су се вероватно прикупили на данаипьем месту и продужили су живети као аутономно племе. Постоји преданье да су Мијаци, после Косова, завили барјак и са- крили га код села Сушице. На Косову им је погинуо иојвода Дамчула, чији се град налазио код данапиье ру- шевине »Дамчулице«, измеЬу Скудриша и Присојнице. Али су Мијаци свој барјак развијали кад год им је тре- бало. За време похода Пиколоминијева 1689. године, има изгледа да су учествовали код Влаинице и допринели су победи султановој. Зато им је султан допустио да у будуће јавно носе »крстат барјак«. И Мијаци су у тур- ско .време развијали за време свадби »крстат барјак«, а суседи су наврх барјака стављали јабуку. Имамо тачиих података у народу да су Мијацн живели племенски. Племеном су управљали »главари«, или ...
  12. ^ Reka.org.mk, Who are the Macedonian Muslims? (Кои се македонските муслимани?) Archived January 2, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Bernath & Nehring 1988, p. 417.
  14. ^ др Слободан Зечевић. Гласник Етнографског музеја у Београду књ. 30: Bulletin du Musée Ethnographique de Belgrade. Etnografski muzej u Beogradu. pp. 23–. GGKEY:U1JY3YFUSNS. У XVIII веку Мијаци су водили борбу са Турцима Помацима због пашњака. Тома Смиљанић је нашао у заоставштини свога оца два „уџета“ из XVIII века у којима се помиње борба Мијака и Помака.
  15. ^ "Macedonian review, Vol 1–2", 1971, p. 307
  16. ^ Маркова, Зина. Българската екзархия 1870-1879, София, 1989, стр. 97. (Markova, Zina. The Bulgarian Exarchate 1870-1879, Sofia, Publishing House of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 1989, p. 97.) На 9 май 1875 г. екзарх Антим препраща на братя Робеви в Битоля правителствената заповед до вилаетското началство за провеждане на истилями в деборска епархия. Те се провеждат през летните месеци. Според информацията за техния ход в Дебърската каза само две села и 20 къщи в града са се изказали за гръцката църква. Въз основа на резултатите Дебърската община моли за отстраняването на гръцкия митрополит и за назначаването на екзархийски наместник.
  17. ^ T. R. Georgevitch (December 2009). Macedonia. Read Books Design. p. 182. ISBN 978-1-4446-7978-6.
  18. ^ Keith Brown, "The past in question: modern Macedonia and the uncertainties of nation" (2003), p. 82
  19. ^ Serbian ethnographic series. Srpska akademija nauka i umetnosti. 1925. p. 37. За време четничке акције Мијаци су били подељени уз Србе и Бугаре. Српски војвода је био Доксим Михаиловић из Галичника, који је погинуо 10. октобра 1912. г. код Куманова. Бугарски војвода је био Максим Н. Богоја, који је ...
  20. ^ Николов, Борис Й. Вътрешна македоно-одринска революционна организация . Войводи и ръководители (1893 – 1934). Биографично-библиографски справочник. София, 2001, стр. 86, 126, 168, 151, 196. (Nikolov, Boris Y. Internal Macedonian-Odrin Revolutionary Organization. Vojvods and leaders (1893 - 1934). Biographical-Bibliographic Reference Book. Sofia, 2001, p. 86, 126, 151, 168, 196.)
  21. ^ Петар Поповски (2005). Георгија Кастриот-Искендер: крал на Епир и Македонија и втор Александар Македонски : (660 години од раѓањето). Аз-Буки. ISBN 978-9989-151-28-6.
  22. ^ "The National Question in Yugoslavia. Origins, History, Politics", Ivo Banac, pp. 307-328, Cornell University Press, 1984.
  23. ^ a b "У погледу историске свести код њих има само трагова старе српске прошлости. Старији људи знају за косовску погибију и за „цара" Лазара и о „службама" (славама) још се певају песме којима се слави ово доба. Али сада, после јаке бугарске пропаганде, ређе их певају но у раније време. Мијаци врло много знају о Краљевићу Марку, за кога веле, да је родом „од Леген-град". Изнад торбешког села Присојнице има развалина од града. Мијаци причају, да је одатле војвода Дамјан отишао у бој на Косову. Имају и песме о зидању српског манастира Хилендара у Светој гори. Свака породица има славу („службу"). Средиште мијачког духовног живота је манастир Св. Јована Бигорског. Све што у њему има везано је у националном погледу за српску историју. У њему је врло стари поменик, ванредно лепо писан на пергаменту, чувен са своје израде, у коме је историја овог манастира; у њему се помињу само српски владаоци од лозе Немањића и српски архиепископи. Исто тако су на живопису на спољашњим манастирским зидовима насликани само српски владаоци до Косовске битке. Те је слике радио сељак зоограф из Лазаропоља. Уз то историја овог манастира, као и самих Мијака, показује, да су увек тежили за самосталношћу. Стално су се противили грчком језику у служби божјој. Кад се и њима хтела да наметне бугарска егзархија, њихови су калуђери умели одржати потпуну слободу према новој цркви и сачувати све српске старине којих је било у манастиру". Јован Цвијић, Балканско полуострво и Јужнословенске земље, Мијачка група (западномакедонски варијетет), Београд 1922, стр. 117. -. Вид. http://www.promacedonia.org/serb/cvijc/cvijic_balkansko_poluostrvo_2.pdf Балканско полуострво и Јужнословенске земље (2. део)].
  24. ^ Brown, Keith (2003). The past in question: modern Macedonia and the uncertainties of nation. Princeton University Press. p. 262. ISBN 0-691-09995-2.
  25. ^ Blaže Ristovski (1978). Dimitrija Čupovski (1878-1940) i Makedonskoto naučno-literaturno drugarstvo vo Petrograd: prilozi kon proučvanjeto na makedonsko-ruskite vrski i razvitokot na makedonskata nacionalna misla. 1. Kultura. p. 54. Жителите на селото се наречуваат Мијаци. Тие се разликуваат од Брсјаците, Курките, Торбешите, Улу- фите, Полјаните во Македонија. Нивниот јозик е отсебен7 Тие зборуваат вака: овде, онде, коде, кога, зашто, дојди; појди ...
  26. ^ Census of Population, Households and Dwellings in North Macedonia, 2002
  27. ^ Cvijić, Jovan (1922–1931). Balkansko poluostrvo i južnoslovenske zemlje : osnove antropogeografije [Balkan peninsula and southslavic lands, basics of anthropogeography] (in Serbian). Zagreb: Hrvatski Štamparski Zavod. p. 118. OCLC 4697040. Мијачка група (западномакедонски варијетет)...Ови су се Аромуни стопили са неким старим словенским становништвом.... Стару словенску основу појачали су многобројни досељени Словени из Арбаније. То је вероватно српско средњевековно становништво које је због све тежих прилика за живот напуштало Арбанију и повлачило се на исток....Међу Мијацима има дакле много српских досељеника из Арбаније, на које ћемо такође наилазити и по другим областима. Пред процесом арбанашења и помухамедањивања они су делимичн напуштали Арбанију и повлачили се ка средишту Полуострва. Уопште су Мијаци, који сада представљају одређен тип, знатно друкчији од типова околног словенског становништва, постали мешавином старог словенског становништва са Србима који су се доселили с оне стране Црног Дрима и с Аромунима.
  28. ^ Đoko M. Slijepčević (1958). The Macedonian Question: The Struggle for Southern Serbia. American Institute for Balkan Affairs. p. 151.
  29. ^ Kanchov, Vasil (1900), Македония. Етнография и статистика [Macedonia. Ethnography and statistics] (in Bulgarian), Sofia: Българско книжовно дружествово, p. 32
  30. ^ Brancoff, D.M. (1905), La Macedoine et sa Population Chretienne [Macedonia and its Christian population] (in French), Paris: Plon-Nourrit, pp. 118–119, 184–185, ISBN 978-1141777464
  31. ^ Трайчев, Георги. Книга за мияците (Историко-географски очерк), София, 1941, с. 1, 10-11, 93. (Traychev, Georgi. Book for the Miyaks (Historical and Geographical Sketch), Sofia, 1941, p. 1, 10-11, 93.)


  • Smiljanić, T. (1925). "Mijaci, Gornja Reka i Mavrovsko Polje". Srpski etnografski zbornik. 35: 1–122.
  • Hoddinott, R. F. (September 1954). "The Tradition of Wood Carving in Macedonia". The Burlington Magazine. 96 (618): 278–283.