Albania Houses

Albania Houses

According to topschoolsintheusa, the characteristics of the Albanian houses have been the subject of systematic studies by NOPCSA for northern Albania, while for the Albania of the S. there are more scattered or less recent indications and observations; but on the whole the main types can now be said to be well known. The permanent rural home of northern Albania is, in some mountainous districts still rich in woods, built of wood; in the low and marshy areas, also with reeds and other marsh plants intertwined and then covered with plaster; but more commonly it is made of squared stones, and in any case it appears as a massive and low quadrilateral, being sometimes made up of only the ground floor, more often the ground floor and the first floor. Both contain only one environment; the land used as a stable and storage of agricultural furniture etc., the upper one used as a dwelling; it is sometimes divided by a thin partition into two parts, one of which is for the family, the other for guests; the environment is extremely poor in furnishings; the windows are very few and small; the roof is flat or slightly sloping. These residences, which could be called unicellular, are almost always gathered in small groups to form a masseria, which is the home of the “big family” and is often enclosed by high walls, or at least by a thick hedge, which prevents also the exit of the small cattle. Sometimes the upper floor has a balcony or veranda; indeed often the only upper room is extended – on the best exposed side – by a long and wide veranda supported by poles, and on which the roof protrudes, also supported by poles; not infrequently then the veranda is closed to the outside by a high carved wooden railing. On the veranda we eat and sometimes even sleep in the summer. In the internal region of the whole north-central Albania we find the characteristic house defense or kulla, tall, massive, tower-like building with thick walls; in addition to the ground floor, it includes two or sometimes three floors, all made up of a single room, with very small windows, often shaped like slits. The kulla serves as a refuge against revenge, and is therefore frequent especially where revenge is more rooted and widespread. The need to save space in order to make room for ammunition and supplies deposits means that the communication stairs, all naturally internal, are very narrow; the ground floor is used not only as a stable, but sometimes also as a dwelling for women, who are exempt from revenge; or they have a separate building, of a common type, not far from the kulla. Often several neighboring mansions have only one kulla in common, erected in the safest position, on an eminence of the ground.

In flat central Albania and in Musacchia you can find the house made of sun-hardened clay, or, more often, built with a skeleton of poles or a framework of reeds, then coated with a compact and well-polished clay plaster. ; it has the ground floor and the first floor, which is accessed by a wooden staircase; the upper room is normally divided in two and often equipped with a balcony. Three or four buildings enclosed by hedges form the çiflìk or masseria; but usually only one of them serves as a dwelling, the others are used as stables, warehouses, etc. In hilly central Albania, stone again replaces clay as a building material, but the type remains unchanged.

In southern and eastern Albania, where the population lives preferably concentrated in villages, a very different type of house prevails, which can be called the Macedonian type, consisting of the ground floor, the first and sometimes even a second floor, characteristic for the numerous large windows, which pierce all the walls, and also due to the fact that the upper floor (or at least its central part) protrudes on the lower one forming a kind of closed veranda. The roof is made of tiles, sometimes with wide slopes (Berat), sometimes flat (Còrizza), or even replaced by a terrace (Ochrida).

The utensils and household furnishings have also been studied at length by the Nopcsa. Some represent a purely indigenous heritage and perpetuate forms and types of remote antiquity; others, on the other hand, reveal external imports from various sources. Among the first are probably some domestic furnishings, such as the very simple wooden bed, supported by four poles, sometimes up to a meter and a half high from the ground, which is typical of mountainous Albania; the wooden cradle, very short, shaped so that it can be carried on the back; also the distaff with the handle decorated with rich carvings, a kind of billhook or curved knife (kmès), etc.; among the weapons the long dagger, called hanxhar, actually no longer in use today; among the agricultural tools, a type of oil press and above all the characteristic two-wheeled cart, tall and massive, often pulled by buffaloes. Among the tools of external origin, the plow must be included, at least in the four types existing today (an older type has now disappeared), which are distributed in very distinct areas.

Albania Houses