Albania: Oral histories from a student’s perspective

Legends, oral stories and myths are one of the most significant data about the intangible heritage of a Balkan country. It couldn’t be different with Albania.

Photo credit: Eroland Blini

If there’s something that the people of Albania are very proud is how rich our mythology and oral stories are. They date back since Before Christ and are mostly related with the history of our ancestors, Illyrians. Mostly, they talk about the magnificent and strong castles built by Illyrians in order to protect their territories or about the fact that they were people that maintained the given word. This in Albania is called ‘besa’.

First, when I started thinking about the theme of my documentary I decided to interview old people from the Tirana area and asked them about some oral stories that they knew, but then I thought that it would be more interesting to interview young people.

Photo credit: Rezart Llaps

I thought that from the point of view of students of ‘Archaeology and Cultural Heritage’ , I could gauge quite a bit. It would be nice to see how much they were involved in matters of intangible heritage.

And indeed like most young people from Albania, they had heard about our legends and traditions since they were children. This is because of the facts that they have heard them from their parents and grandparents. Some myths and legends are part of the literature book in our schools.

But, the moment when they began seeing these oral histories or traditions from another point of view was when they started university. They became aware of the fact that sometimes even the oral stories have something true in them and somehow show details about our country’s rich history.

Photo credit: Blerina Seitaj

From recording the video, what I enjoyed most was the fact that they were so happy to talk about the myths of the places that they came from. Also, what I will remember for a long time is how many times we had to record the video, because it was inevitable for everyone not to laugh at the middle of the interview.

To conclude, I just want to say: “Thank you guys for your time in helping me with the documentary so everyone can learn something about Albania’s mythology and history.”


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