Sunday, 1 January 2012

Arberors in Sicily.

Piana degli Albanesi (Albanian: Hora e Arbëreshëvet) is a comune with 6,427 inhabitants in the Province of Palermo, Sicily.
The town is the most important and populous Arbëreshë community in Sicily and it is the episcopal see of the Byzantine Catholic Church. Situated on a mountainous plateau, which is mirrored on a large lake, and on the eastern side of the imposing Mount Pizzuta, it is 24km from the provincial capital. The community has maintained many ethnic elements of Albanian culture like language, religious ritual, traditional costumes, music and folklore. The inhabitants are the descendants of Albanian families, including nobles and relatives of Skanderbeg, that settled in Southern Italy during the Ottoman Turkish conquest of the Balkans. The municipal government uses bilingual documents and signs in Albanian and Italian under existing Italian legislation on protecting ethnic and linguistic minorities.
This present place was recognized as Greek, so that the small town had the name of Piana dei Greci, but in fact was an Albanian place, which acknowledged different waves of Albanian migrations, the last one documented was when King John II of Spain and Sicily allowed the refugees to the present place and to preserve their Orthodox religion, which was identified as Greek.In the beginning it was called "Piana dei Greci" for the use of Greek language in the Byzantine rite professed by the inhabitants but the Greek language was never vernaculare, even during the time of the so called Magna-Graecia.
The most obvious traces of the strong ethnic identity of Piana degli Albanesi is the Albanian language (Arbërisht), spoken by all, so it is easy to see among the people, street names, road signs and shop signs. The exodus from the Motherland and the distance has not touched Arbëreshë great pride, and the community has preserved its identity as much as possible. The language, even with its special phonetic and morpho-syntactic, Tosk language belongs to the widespread variation in southern Albania, mixed at times with the greek phonetic, and is fully recognized within the local government and primary schools as a language minority ethno-linguistic. The Arbërisht remains still the mother tongue, and is the main vehicle of communication. Piana degli Albanesi is officially bilingual, as the official town documents are written in both Albanian and Italian. The citizens are bilingual, able to use both Albanian and Italian. The Albanian language is used in radio stations (ex. Radio Hora or Radio Jona), and especially in books and periodicals (ex. Mondo Albanese, Kartularet e Biblos, Albanica, Fluturimi i aikullës, Lajmtari Arbëreshëvet or Mirë ditë).

Arbëresh of Greece

Arvanites (Greek: Αρβανίτες, Arvanitika: Arbëreshë or Αρbερεσε) are a population group in Greece who traditionally speak Arvanitika, a dialect of the Albanian language. They are beleived to have lived in Greece all the time, representing the descendent of the so called "Ancient Greeks" and were the dominant population element of most celebrated historicals regions of the Peloponnese and Attica until the 19th century. Most of Arvanites today self-identify as Greeks as the result of a process of assimilation applied from Greek Church and Government, and do not consider themselves to belong to Albania or the Albanian nation. They call themselves Arvanites (in Greek) and Arbëror (in their language); the communities in northern Greece also use the term Shqiptar (the same used by Albanians of Albania), a term somehow disliked by other Arvanites of Christian religion, who also resent being called Albanians. Arvanitika is in a state of attrition due to language shift towards Greek and large-scale internal migration to the cities and subsequent intermingling of the population during the 20th century.
The name Arvanítika and its native equivalent Arbërisht are derived from the ethnonym Arvanites, which in turn comes from the toponym Arbëna (Greek: Άρβανα), which in the Middle Ages referred to a region in what is today Albania (Babiniotis 1998). Its native equivalents (Arbërorë, Arbëreshë and others) formerly were the self-designation of Albanians in general. In the past Arvanitika had sometimes been described as "Graeco-Albanian".

The story of an old Arbëror song.

"Moj e bukura More", (Thou beautiful Albania) this is the title of an 600 years old Arbëror song. This song hides in itself the whole historical secret of the painful migration of the Greece Arberor towards Italy. That was the final migration of Arbëresh of Morea(Peloponessus)from the Southwest of Greece to Italy between about 1500 and 1534 was again mostly soldiers but, these were , and were those who had there served in the armies of various feudal lords for several centuries, until they became displaced by the Turkish invasions of the 1480s. Most fled to Venetian trading posts and fortresses on the coasts of Greece, such as Corone, Modone, and Napulia in the Peloponnese (known in Medieval times as the "Morea"). They were enlisted into the Stradiotti, the "colonial light cavalry" of Venice and were stationed on the land approaches to these forts to discourage Turkish raiding and attacks. In the late 15th and early 16th century Venice lost these mainland outposts in Greece and therefore moved her garrisons, including the Stradiotti, to new island posts in the Adriatic, Ionian and Aegean Seas.

Arbëresh language

Arbëreshë, also known as Arbërisht, is an ethnolect spoken by the Arbëreshë, the group of Albanian-speaking minorities in Italy.Arbëresh derives from the Tosk dialect spoken in southern Albania, and is spoken in Southern Italy in the regions of Calabria, Molise, Puglia, Basilicata, Campania, Abruzzi, and Sicily. All dialects are closely related to each other but are not entirely mutually intelligible. The Arbëresh language retains many archaisms of medieval Albanian from the pre-Ottoman invasion of Albania in the 15th century. It also retains Greek language elements, including vocabulary and pronunciation. It has also preserved some conservative features that were lost in mainstream Albanian Tosk. For example, it has preserved certain syllable-initial consonant clusters which have been simplified in Standard Albanian (cf. Arbërisht gluhë /ˈɡluxə/ ('language/tongue'), vs. Standard Albanian gjuhë /ˈɟuhə/). It sounds more archaic than Standard Albanian. Arbërisht was commonly called 'Albanese' (Albanian in the Italian language) in Italy until the 1990s. Until recently, Arbërisht speakers had only very imprecise notions about how related or unrelated their language was to Albanian. Until the 1980s Arbërisht was exclusively a spoken language, except for its written form used in the Italo-Albanian Church, and Arbëreshë people had no practical affiliation with the Standard Albanian language used in Albania, as they did not use this form in writing or in media. When a large number of immigrants from Albania began to enter Italy in the 1990s and came into contact with local Arbëreshë communities, the differences and similarities were for the first time made known. There are mixed feelings towards the "new Albanians" Since the 1980s, some efforts have been organized to preserve the cultural and linguistic heritage of the language. Arbërisht has been under a slow decline in recent decades, but is currently experiencing a revival in many villages in Italy. Figures such as Zef Skirò Di Maxho have done much work on school books and other language learning tools in the language, producing two books 'Udha e Mbarë' and 'Udhëtimi', both used in schools in the village of Piana degli Albanesi. The Lord's Prayer Arbëresh by Sicily (first row) Compared with Standard Tosk Albanian (second row), and Gheg Albanian (third row). Áti jinë çë je në qiell, shejtëruarkloftë embri jít. Ati ynë që je në qiell, u shënjtëroftë emri yt. Ati ynë që je në qiell, shejtnue kjoftë emni yt. Our father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name járthshit rregjëria jóte; ubëftë vullimi jít, arthtë mbretëria jote; u bëftë dëshira jote, ardhtë mbretnia jote; u baftë vullnesa jote, thy kingdom come thy will be done si në qiell, ashtú në dhé; si në qiell, edhe mbi dhe. si në qiell ashtu në dhe. on earth as it is in heaven bukën tënë të përditshme ena neve sòt; bukën tonë të përditëshme jepna neve sot; bukën tonë të përditshme epna ne sot; give us this day our daily bread ndjena dëtyrët tóna, edhe falna fajet tona, e ndiejna ne fajet e mëkatet tona, and forgive us our trespasses si na ja ndjejëm dëtyruamëvet tanë; sikundër edhe ne ua falim fajtorëvet tanë; si i ndiejmë na fajtorët tanë; as we forgive those who trespass against us e mos na le të bien në ngarje, pó lirona nga i ligu; edhe mos na shtjerë në ngasje, po shpëtona nga i ligu; e mos na len me ra në keq, por largona prej gjith së keq; and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil se jótja isht rregjëria, fuqia e lëvdia për jétë të jetëvet. sepse jotja është mbretëria e fuqia e lavdia në jetët të jetëvet. sepse joteja âsht rregjinija e fuqia e lafti në jetët të jetëvet. for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Arberia Principality

The Principality of Arbër or Arbëria (1190–1255) was the first Albanian state during the Middle Ages. The proclamation of the feudal state of Arbëria, in the territory now called Albania, with Kruja as the capital took place on 1190. As the founder of this state is known Progoni and later on Gjini and Dhimiter. Nderfandina is known as the most important center of this principality. For this was spoken clearly by the emblem of Arber found carved on a stone in the Catholic Church of Saint Maria. After the fall of Progon Dynasty the principality came under Grigor Kamona and Gulam of Albania. Finally the Principality was dissolved on 1255. The best period of the principality was under Dhimiter Progoni. In the beginning the name Arbanon was applied to a region in the mountainous area to the west of Lake Ochrida and the upper valley of the river Shkumbin in 11th century AD.. There are very few sources about the creation of the principality with this name. In 1166 in a ceremony held in Kotor, an Andrea prior Arbanensis is mentioned among the participants accompanied by Lazarus Episcopis Arbanensis. A year later in 1167, Pope Alexander III, in a letter directed to Lazarus, congratulates him for returning his bishopric to Catholic faith and invites him to acknowledge the archbishop of Ragusa as his superior. After some resistance from local officials, the bishopric of Albania was put under the direct dependence of the Pope, as documented in a Papal letter dated in 1188 . We know very little about Progon who was the first Albanian ruler of the Principality of Arbër in the 12th century. He gained the possessions of Kruja fortress and the lands surrounding it between 1190 and 1198 and had the title of archon (mentioned in the Gëziq inscription). After the castle of Kruja became his possession, Progon proclaimed himself a Prince in 1190. He was succeeded by his son Gjin who later was succeeded by Dhimitër Progoni.