May 29, 2003
ERP KIM Newsletter 29-05-03
1. KFOR Soldiers attacked while
guarding Gorioc Serbian Orthodox Monastery
DIOCESE OF RASKA AND PRIZREN CONDEMNS ATTACK ON GORIOC MONASTERY
HISTORY IS REPEATING
travellers visit Old Serbia (Kosovo and Metohija)
From Pec to Novi Pazar - an extract from the picturesque travelogue by a Russian 19th century traveler Alexander Gilferding . Gilferding is focusing especially on the position of the second-class Serb Christian population in a priviledged Albanian-Turkish Moslem community.
Pec /Albanian and Turkish: Ipek, is quite a big city. It has been estimated that around 4.000 Moslem and 800 Christian families live there. From the latter, a few households belong to the Roman-Catholic church. The Moslems and Catholics are Albanians, and the Orthodox are Serbs. The majority of the Serbs can speak the Albanian language. The Moslems move about armed constantly, while the Christians are forbidden to wear arms in the city. They are usually exposed to various insults and oppressions. The Pec monks go in the bazaar unwillingly during the day time, especially on a bazaar day, and when there are a lot of people. If on those days monks have to go through the city, they avoid crowded streets, and sometimes they take a road round a settlement. Christian women wear white kerchiefs, the same as the Turkish women do. If they didn't do so, they would be exposed to humiliation and insults in the streets. It was really unusual to see a group of ostensibly Turkish women, with kerchiefs on their heads, enter a church and cross themselves. But, the Albanian women in villages do not cover their heads, and they walk bareheaded, like the Moslem women.
HELPLESSNESS OF THE OTTOMAN STATE TO IMPOSE LAW AND ORDER IN KOSOVO-METOHIJA
I've already described the difficult position of Christians in Pec. Daily, they suffer various insults and oppression by unrestrained and hot-tempered Albanians. I give credit to the new Pec governor Hurshi-aga /a fat, merry fellow, who joined the army long ago, and is very similar to some of our army majors, an experienced old soldier and bon vivante, who is doing his best to restrain and punish Albanian willfulness, and who deserves to be praised by Christians. But, what can be done by just one man, even with the best intentions, in the middle of and armed mass which knows nothing about the law and the courts, and which is accustomed to unlimited self-determination and tyranny, in one word, which is - according to the local proverb - afraid "a little of God, not at all of the Czar"? The situation would be quite different if the Pec leader could have at least one detachment of soldiers. But, in the whole of Old Serbia, the Turks do not have a single soldier, and all the executive power of the Pec governor consists of two or three dozen of guards, recruited from among those same Albanians who need to be constantly restrained.
LIFE OF DECANI MONASTERY MONKS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE 19TH CENTURY
In the evening I was quietly sitting in the monastery and conversing with the hosts when I suddenly heard a loud boom! boom! at the door. "It's nothing," the monks replied to my question what was the noise. "The Albanians have come to spend the night here. They have worked in the fields all day and they don't want to go home or it seems too far to them. That is why they stopped here to see us instead. They will lodge downstairs with your servants? They will eat supper and drink brandy, of course, free of charge." "How many of them have arrived?" "Now there are only 20 but in the past mobs of a hundred or more have come." "And why do you let them in?" "What else can we do? They would kill the first one they saw on the other side of the monastery fence." After these words they showed the traces of the bullets me on the ceiling of the Abbot's room - a sign of the Albanians' displeasure when he failed to please them. When there is a wedding in one of the neighboring villages, the Albanians came to the monastery and take riding horses, destroying the animals in their haste. They take spoons and dishes, and frequently also ask for the brocaded vestments, interlaced with gold threads, to decorate the bride during the festivities... (excrept from the text by A.F. Gilferding)
Through the Land of the Serbs - travelogue by an Englishwoman Mary Edith Durham who travelled around Serbia and Montenegro in the beginning of the XXth century. We are presenting two extracts covering her visit to "Old Serbia" - Pec and Decani, with picturesque impressions from the monasteries and contacts with the people.
SUFFERING OF CHRISTIAN POPULATION IN OLD SERBIA (KOSOVO-METOHIJA)
The story of Old Serbia is one of uninterrupted misery. The suffering of the Christian peoples in the Balkans is no new thing. It began with the advent of the Turk, and will continue while he remains. As long ago as 1690 the intolerable lot of the Serbs of Old Serbia induced no less than 37,000 zadrugas (family groups, including uncles and cousins) to migrate to Hungary. The Albanians then spread over the vacated lands, which they have been permitted to harry with impunity ever since. A small unarmed Christian population "regulated" by Albanians is not merely unable to rise, it is unable to cry loudly enough to be heard, and there was no foreign consul to make reports. It was not until the Russians (who with extraordinary diplomatic skill lose no opportunity of winning the love of the Slavs of the Balkans) forced Stcherbina into Mitrovitza in 1902 that any light was shed upon the condition of this hapless land. The Albanians promptly shot him. The Christians regard him as the man that died to save them, and cherish his portrait. Until Stcherbina came they lived in a state of terror, and all that the tax-gatherers spared the Albanians looted. Owing to his death, the Government had sent the Nizams to subdue the Albanians.
DECANI MONASTERY - "IT LIES PRECARIOUSLY ON THE BLOODY EDGE OF THINGS"
The monastery (Dechani), which lies about 1500 feet above sea-level, appeared as a white church surrounded by outbuildings at the entrance of a magnificently wooded valley, through which flows a small river, the Dechanski Bistritza, the one slope rich with stately chestnuts and the other fir-clad. Robbed of its broad lands, which have been swooped on by the Albanians, who at the time of my visit made further progress up the valley impossible, it lies precariously on the bloody edge of things, and only the wonderful white marble church tells of its former glory. It was being used as a military outpost, and twenty-five Nizams and an officer were quartered on the monastery, which had also a guard of its own, a set of Mohammedan Albanians, who were said to be very loyal. They looked like a wild-beast show, spoke nothing but Albanian, had the most elegant manners, and I was never allowed outside the monastery gate without a couple of them.
Pilgrimage to Devic Monastery - another text by Edit Durham with impressions from her visit to the Monastery of Devic during a religious celebration - sabor.
Around Kosovo - a text by Mary E. Durham in which she describes the city of Prizren and her travel from Prizren to Gracanica and Mitrovica.
Serbia and Grachanitsa
Rebecca West - from
her famous book:
Black Lamb and Grey Falcon
West versus Edith Durham
authors who disliked and criticised each others' work represented
the two opposing poles: while West was a Slavophile and a Serb
admirer, Durham was a Slavophobic and anti-Serb; while West
was inclined to think that lessons can be learnt from the Balkans,
Durham stubbornly maintained the air of superiority. For Durham,
the Serbian Byzantine heritage carried negative connotations
(since it was usually equated with the Oriental, therefore backward),
while for West Byzantine heritage constituted an inseparable
part of European culture - the Balkans were precisely the place
where this heritage was best preserved, the place where the
true reflection of European values was to be found.
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