Culture of Albania

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The Culture of Albania is the pattern of human activity and symbolism associated with Albania and its people. It has been shaped by the geography and profound history of Albania.

Architecture[edit]

Left: Butrint Right: Apollonia

The Architecture of Albania is one of the most important evidence of the Albanian history, culture and identity. It has its origins back in the Antiquity, richly revealed by archaeological finds. It has kept its original features and has been enriched with Illyrian, Roman, Ancient Greek, Byzantine, Venetian, Ottoman and Western elements. In recent times Albanian architecture has flourished both at home and abroad. Recent years have also seen the emergence of several new architectural firms operating both in Albania and internationally.

The beginnings of architecture in Albania date to the middle Neolithic age with the discovery of prehistoric dwellings in Dunavec and Maliq. They were built on a wooden platform that rested on stakes stuck vertically into the soil. Prehistoric dwellings in Albania consist of three types: houses enclosed either completely on the ground or half underground, both found in Cakran near Fier, and houses constructed above ground.

From the 5th century BC, the Roman colonies of Apollonia and Dyrrachium flourished, while a number of Illyrian cities emerged such as Byllis, Amantia, Dimali, Albanopolis, and Lissus. They were built on top of the highest hills surrounded by heavily fortified walls.

Social structures were also constructed such as the Durrës Colosseum, the temples of Apollonia, Orik, Buthrotum, and various promenades (Stoa), theaters, and stadiums. Between the 1st and 5th centuries AD, the walls of Dyrrah were reinforced with three protective layers, a hypodrome was constructed, while run off and sanitation systems were perfected. Meanwhile, additional structures were added to the centre of Apollonia such as an odeon, library, and Agonothetes. The period also marks the construction of thermal baths that were of social importance as places of gathering.

During the Middle Ages, a variety of architecture styles developed in the form of dwelling, defense, worship, and engineering structures. However, some inherited historic structures were damaged by invading Ottoman forces.

In the 13th and 14th centuries, the consolidation of the Albanian feudal principalities gave rise to Varosha, or neighborhoods outside city walls. Examples of such developments are the Arberesh principalities centred in Petrele, Kruje and Gjirokastra originating from the feudal castle. In the 15th century, close attention was given to protective structures such as the castle fortifications of Lezha, Petrela, Devoll, Butrint, and Shkodra. More reconstructions took place in strategic points such as the Castle of Elbasan, Preza, Tepelena, and Vlora, the latter being the most important on the coast. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the great Pashaliks of the period such as the Bushati Family, Ahmet Kurt Pasha, and Ali Pashe Tepelena reconstructed several fortifications such as the Castle of Shkodra, Berat, and Tepelena respectively. It is important to note that Ali Pashe Tepelena embarked on a major castle building campaign throughout Epirus.

During the 18th century, the city silhouette in Albania began to include places of worship and the Clock Tower. These, together with other social structures such as thermal baths, fountains, and medrese further enriched the city centre and its neighborhoods. In the 19th century, the bazaar emerges as a production and exchange centre, while the city expands beyond the castle, which completely loses its function and inhabitants. During this period, Shkodra and Korca become important commerce and skilled crafts centres.

The first half of the 20th century begins with the Austro-Hungarian occupation, continues with Fan Noli’s government, King Zog’s kingdom, and ends with the Italian invasion. During this time, Albanian medieval towns underwent urban transformations by Austro-Hungarian architects, giving them the appearance of European cities The centre of Tirana was the project of Florestano Di Fausto and Armando Brasini, well known architects of the Benito Mussolini period in Italy. Brasini laid the basis for the modern-day arrangement of the ministerial buildings in the city centre. The plan underwent revisions by the Albanian architect Eshref Frashëri, the Italian architect Castellani, and the Austrian architects Weiss and Kohler. The rectangular parallel road system of Tirana e Re district took shape, while the northern portion of the main Boulevard was opened. These urban plans formed the basis of future developments in Albania after WW2.

From 1944 to 1991, cities experienced an ordered development with a decline in architectural quality. Massive socialist-styled apartment complexes, wide roads, and factories were constructed, while town squares were redesigned and a number of historic buildings demolished.

Left: Neo-Renaissance Ministry buildings in Tirana Right: National Historical Museum

The period after the fall of communism is often described negatively in terms of urban development. Kiosks and apartment buildings started to occupy former public areas without planning, while informal districts formed around cities from internal migrants leaving remote rural areas for the western lowland. Decreasing urban space and increased traffic congestion have become major problems as a result of lack of planning. As part of the 2014 Administrative Division Reform, all town centres in Albania are being physically redesigned and façades painted to reflect a more Mediterranean look.[1][2]

Although much has been achieved, critics argue that there is no clear vision on Tirana's future. Some of the pressing issues facing Tirana are loss of public space due to illegal and chaotic construction, unpaved roads in suburban areas, degradation of Tirana's Artificial Lake, rehabilitation of Skanderbeg Square, an ever present smog, the construction of a central bus station and lack of public parking space. Future plans include the construction of the Multimodal Station of Tirana and the tram line, rehabilitation of the Tiranë River area, construction of a new boulevard along the former Tirana Railway Station and the finishing of the Big Ring Road.

Arts[edit]

Main article: Albanian art
Left: Motra Tone by Kolë Idromeno Right: The Resurrection of Lazarus; Byzantine icon painted by Onufri in the 16th century.

Albanian Art has a long and eventful history dating back to antiquity. Albania, a country of southeastern Europe, has a unique culture from that of other European countries. The Ottoman Empire ruled over Albania for nearly five centuries, which greatly affected the country's artwork and artistic forms. After Albania's joining with the Ottoman Empire in 1478, Ottoman influenced art forms such as mosaics and muralpaintings became prevalent, and no real artistic change occurred until Albanian Liberation in 1912.

Following mosaics and murals of antiquity and the Middle Ages, the first paintings were icons Byzantine Orthodox tradition. Albanian earliest icons date from the late thirteenth century and generally estimated that their artistic peak reached in the eighteenth century. Among the most prominent representatives of the Albanian iconographic art were Onufri and David Selenica. The museums of Berat, Korçë and Tirana good collections remaining icons. By the end of the Ottoman period, the painting was limited mostly to folk art and ornate mosques.[3]

Paintings and sculpture arose in the first half of the twentieth century and reached a modest peak in the 1930s and 1940s, when the first organized art exhibitions at national level.[3] Contemporary Albanian artwork captures the struggle of everyday Albanians, however new artists are utilizing different artistic styles to convey this message. Albanian artists continue to move art forward, while their art still remains distinctively Albanian in content. Though among Albanian artist post-modernism was fairly recently introduced, there is a number of artists and works known internationally. Among most famous Albanian post-modernist are considered Anri Sala, Sislej Xhafa, and Helidon Gjergji.

Dress[edit]

Left: Albanian headgear called Plis Middle: Folk singers in Gjirokastër Right: Traditional Albanian costumes of Piana degli Albanesi in Sicily.

Traditional Albanian clothing includes more than 200 different kind of clothings in all Albania and Albanian speaking territories. The Albanian folk dress is often decorated with symbolic elements of antique pagan origin, like suns, eagles, moons, stars, and snakes.[4] Almost every region in Albania has its own traditional dress with women clothing being particularly colorful and rich in detail.

Traditional Albanian clothing, dances, and folklore are showcased in several festivals including the Gjirokaster National Folklore Festival in Gjirokaster, Sofra Dardane every June in Bajram Curri, Oda Dibrane in Peshkopi, Logu i Bjeshkeve every August in Kelmend, Cham Dance Festival in Saranda, and other festivals in various Albanian cities. Today the daily clothing of Albanians is the same with that of the other European countries.

Education[edit]

Left: The building of the Polytechnic University of Tirana in the Mother Teresa Square Right: Albanian College in Durrës.
Main article: Education in Albania

The Education System in Albania is secular. The literacy rate for the adult population is 97.6% as well one of the highest in the world.[5] Elementary Education is compulsory (grades 1–9), but most students continue at least until a secondary education (grades 10–12). Students must pass graduation exams at the end of the 9th grade and at the end of the 12th grade in order to continue their education. There are about 5000, mostly public, schools throughout the country and the academic year is divided into two semesters. The school year begins in September and finishes in late May or early June. There are public and private universities all around the country and also an online university, WORLDWIDE University that offers different branch.

Folklore[edit]

Main article: Albanian folklore

Albanian myths can be divided into two major groups: legends of metamorphosis and historical legends. Some of the best known legends are: Rozafa, Besa e Kostandinit, Gjergj Elez Alia, Ymer Agë Ulqini, and Cikli i Kreshnikëve.

Literature[edit]

Main article: Albanian literature
Frontispiece of Historia de vita et gestis Scanderbegi, Epirotarum principis (History of Skanderbeg) by Marin Barleti.

Albanian was proved to be an Indo-European language in 1854 by the German philologist Franz Bopp. The Albanian language comprises its own branch of the Indo-European language family.

Most scholars argue that Albanian derives from Illyrian[6] while some others[7] claim that it derives from Daco-Thracian. (Illyrian and Daco-Thracian, however, might have been closely related languages; see Thraco-Illyrian.)

Left: Pantheist and romanticist writer Naim Frashëri. Right: National romanticist poet Ndre Mjeda.

Establishing longer relations, Albanian is often compared to Balto-Slavic on the one hand and Germanic on the other, both of which share a number of isoglosses with Albanian. Moreover, Albanian has undergone a vowel shift in which stressed, long o has fallen to a, much like in the former and opposite the latter. Likewise, Albanian has taken the old relative jos and innovatively used it exclusively to qualify adjectives, much in the way Balto-Slavic has used this word to provide the definite ending of adjectives.

The cultural renaissance was first of all expressed through the development of the Albanian language in the area of church texts and publications, mainly of the Catholic region in the North, but also of the Orthodox in the South. The Protestant reforms invigorated hopes for the development of the local language and literary tradition when cleric Gjon Buzuku brought into the Albanian language the Catholic liturgy, trying to do for the Albanian language what Luther did for German.

Meshari (The Missal) by Gjon Buzuku, published in 1555, is considered the first literary work of written Albanian. The refined level of the language and the stabilised orthography must be the result of an earlier tradition of written Albanian, a tradition that is not well understood. However, there is some fragmented evidence, pre-dating Buzuku, which indicates that Albanian was written from at least the 14th century.

Romantic writer and feminist Dora d'Istria.

The earliest evidence dates from 1332 AD with a Latin report from the French Dominican Guillelmus Adae, Archbishop of Antivari, who wrote that Albanians used Latin letters in their books although their language was quite different from Latin. Other significant examples include: a baptism formula (Unte paghesont premenit Atit et Birit et spertit senit) from 1462, written in Albanian within a Latin text by the Bishop of Durrës, Pal Engjëlli; a glossary of Albanian words of 1497 by Arnold von Harff, a German who had travelled through Albania, and a 15th-century fragment of the Bible from the Gospel of Matthew, also in Albanian, but written in Greek letters.

Excerpt from Meshari by Gjon Buzuku.

Albanian writings from these centuries must not have been religious texts only, but historical chronicles too. They are mentioned by the humanist Marin Barleti, who, in his book Rrethimi i Shkodrës (The Siege of Shkodër) (1504), confirms that he leafed through such chronicles written in the language of the people (in vernacula lingua) as well as his famous biography of Skanderbeg Historia de vita et gestis Scanderbegi Epirotarum principis (History of Skanderbeg) (1508). The History of Skanderbeg is still the foundation of Scanderbeg studies and is considered an Albanian cultural treasure, vital to the formation of Albanian national self-consciousness.

During the 16th to 17th centuries, the catechism E mbësuame krishterë (Christian Teachings) (1592) by Lekë Matrënga, Doktrina e krishterë (The Christian Doctrine) (1618) and Rituale romanum (1621) by Pjetër Budi, the first writer of original Albanian prose and poetry, an apology for George Castriot (1636) by Frang Bardhi, who also published a dictionary and folklore creations, the theological-philosophical treaty Cuneus Prophetarum (The Band of Prophets) (1685) by Pjetër Bogdani, the most universal personality of Albanian Middle Ages, were published in Albanian. The most famous Albanian writer is probably Ismail Kadare.

Sport[edit]

Main article: Football in Albania

Popular sports in Albania include Football, weightlifting, basketball, volleyball, tennis, swimming, rugby union, and gymnastics. Football is the most popular sport in Albania. It is governed by the Football Association of Albania (Albanian: Federata Shqiptare e Futbollit, F.SH.F.), which was created in 1930 and has membership in FIFA and UEFA.

Football arrived in Albania early in the 20th century when the inhabitants of the northern city of Shkodër were surprised to see a strange game being played by students at a Christian mission. The sport swiftly grew in popularity in a country then under Ottoman Empire rule. Albania was the winner of the 1946 Balkan Cup and the Malta Rothmans International Tournament 2000, but had never participated in any major UEFA or FIFA tournament, until UEFA Euro 2016, Albania's first ever appearance at the continental tournament and at a major men's football tournament. Albania scored their first ever goal in a major tournament and secured their first ever win in European Championship when they beat Romania by 1–0 in a UEFA Euro 2016 match on 19 June 2016.[8][9]

Theater[edit]

Music[edit]

Main article: Music of Albania

Dances[edit]

Main article: Albanian dances

Wedding Traditions[edit]

Dress of Muslim Shkodran Brides[edit]

Dasma Shkodrane by Kolë Idromeno

The dress of the Muslim bride is characterized by its elegance and transparency, in that of the Catholic one can see full colors. The Catholic bride's dress is characterized by its picturesque effects and harmony.

There are two types of Muslim wedding dresses. One is worked on a "shajak" (large piece of wool) and with floral motives worked with "gajtan" (kind of rope) black cotton, sometimes mixed with green. The other one is worked in the same material but with red color. Different from the first here the motifs are enriched with full colors. The difference between this two dresses that at the first dress the motifs occupy all the area, at the second it occupies a little part in the front and back. These dresses have a belt worked with gold and grain necklaces in red, rose, orange creating all together a warm surface. Here the motifs are very small.

This gallery of costumes, richness of colors, sentiments are a big experience of lots of years of a population like ours, not only for the ability to conserve alive the tradition, inheriting it generations after generations, but also for conserving the high technique of elaboration or the high artistic level.

Kole Idromeno - Dasma Shkodrane[edit]

In 1924, Idromeno drew the picture Dasma Shkodrane ("Shkodra wedding"), which immediately became known to the general public and was an accurate description of the original customs of the country. The environment is characteristic of Shkodra, the houses enclosed by high walls, windows, trees, chimneys, and minarets.

Dress of Catholic Shkodran Bride[edit]

Newly weds posing in ancient site of Apollonia

The dress is tripped from the transparent white, shiny, soft, which spreads all over the body, and is intended to suggest tranquility and a warm purity. This concept of tradition is achieved through the white of the base material and the gold thread over. This dress is composed by the "barnaveke": some kind of very long pants which seem a skirt. In the upper part is worn a shirt and over it a "jelek" (waistcoat).

Paja[edit]

Bride's Paja

Ritual songs name various elements which contain "paja" (pronounced paya) of the girl, which are the goods parents give to the daughter to wear, to furnish the house, gifts for her husband and the intimate cousins. Elements are typically made by weaving clothes using looms. The preparation of the "paja" for the parents of the bride is a pleasure which means also accomplishing the obligations toward the daughter. This is also an expression of the love of parents, but is connected with the economical conditions of the family.

Dhuntia[edit]

"Dhunti" in Shkodra means the gifts that the groom prepares for the bride during the engagement, mainly clothes, jewelry, gold ornaments and tricks, which are sent to her a few days before the wedding. In addition to those received by the family of his father, the bride takes many gifts from the groom and his family. "Dhuntia", which had a considerable monetary value, was prepared with great care by the family of the boy, because in some way embodied respect and love for his young bride, to whom these gifts were made, love for their son that he married at the same time was also a representation of the family in its economic and aesthetic. In "dhunti" there were enough clothes and items for use at all times, in joy and in sorrow, which expressed particular attention to the role of women.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ndarja e re, mbeten 28 bashki, shkrihen komunat | Shekulli Online". Shekulli.com.al. 2014-01-10. Retrieved 2014-02-15. 
  2. ^ "Reforma Territoriale - KRYESORE". Reformaterritoriale.al. Retrieved 2014-08-15. 
  3. ^ a b "Robert Elsie: Arti Shqiptar". www.albanianart.net. Retrieved 22 November 2015. 
  4. ^ Leyla Belkaid (2013), "Albania", in Jill Condra, Encyclopedia of National Dress: Traditional Clothing Around the World, I, ABC-CLIO, p. 16, ISBN 9780313376368 
  5. ^ "Albania - Statistics". UNICEF. Retrieved 2012-09-17. 
  6. ^ Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture By J. P. Mallory, Douglas Q. Adams Edition: illustrated Published by Taylor & Francis, 1997 ISBN 978-1-884964-98-5, ISBN 978-1-884964-98-5 ("Although there are some lexical items that appear to be shared between Romanian (and by extension Dacian) and Albanian, by far the strongest connections can be argued between Albanian and Illyrian." page 11) Concise Encyclopedia of Languages of the World By Keith Brown, Sarah Ogilvie Contributor Keith Brown, Sarah Ogilvie Edition: illustrated Published by Elsevier, 2008 ISBN 978-0-08-087774-7, ISBN 978-0-08-087774-7 ("Albanian constitutes a single branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It is often held to be related to Illyrian, a poorly attested language spoken in the Western Balkans in classical times" page 22)
  7. ^ "The Thracian language". The Linguist List. Archived from the original on 3 February 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2008. An ancient language of Southern Balkans, belonging to the Satem group of Indo-European. This language is the most likely ancestor of modern Albanian (which is also a Satem language), though the evidence is scanty. 1st Millennium BC – 500 AD. 
  8. ^ "Euro 2016: Albania 0–1 Romania – Armando Sadiku scores the only goal to seal his country's first ever win at a major competition". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 19 June 2016. 
  9. ^ "Romania 0–1 Albania – Sadiku scores landmark goal to provide last 16 hope". mirror.co.uk. 19 June 2016. Retrieved 19 June 2016. 

External links[edit]

Artisan Skilled Crafts[edit]