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three pairs of lovers with space



Two writings are presented here which suggest that the Greek love described in detail as having been practised by Albanians in the 1880s was still flourishing nearly a century later.

Letter to Pan magazine

Published in issue 1, Amsterdam, June 1979, p. 19

Many years ago I helped an Albanian clan-chief escape from an Italian concentration camp. In return he invited me to visit him as often as I wished for as long as I live, an invitation I have availed myself of so thoroughly that l have now learned to speak the language. One million Albanians live in the Kossovo area of Yugoslavia. There I have been able to gain some insight into their sexual customs. If you become a Probo or Probatin (the closest English equivalent I can come up with is ‘elective brother’) of a family or clan, nobody has any sexual secret from you.

              Albanian, 1960s

In the Kossovo district sexual relations with children, homophile as well as heterophile, are very common, although officially forbidden. Some orthodox priests even marry homophile men to ‘one another, or a man to a boy. Of course, such weddings are rare, secret and illegal, but they are, as far as I know, ecclesiastically valid.

Albanian paedophiles have developed a vocabulary to describe the various age groups of their loved ones. A tabaraki is a boy between 5 and 15, a cimili a boy between 6 and 9, a voca a boy between l0 and 14, a kalma a boy between 7 and around 10 or 12, a quimepadale (literally, hairless) a boy or girl who does not yet have pubic or auxilliary hair. In 1972 I published an essay (in the Albanian language) called ‘Paedophilia - an alternative way of life’ in Prishtina, Yugoslavia.

It is not difficult to find a boy or a girl for love-making in the larger cities of Macedonia like Prishtina, Prizren, Bitola, Skoplje, but these youngsters, like their counterparts everywhere, are commercial. In the small village, where the real Albanian life still is lived, boys and girls consider sexual relations a pleasure and not a business and if you offer a village lad money he will be insulted. Of course he will be delighted to receive gifts — knives, printed T-shirts, stamps, air rifles and so on, but he will probably only accept them if they are a gift from the heart.

The Albanians of Kossovo are an amiable and noble people, and l consider their land, more than any other, my home.

D. P. P., Stuttgart.

"'A sack for carrying things': The traditional role of women in northern Albanian society," by Ian Whitaker.

          Durrës boys, 1967

This article by an anthropologist showing that Greek love had also survived in Albania proper at least until the mid-1950s, when the research for it was done, was published in the Anthropological Quarterly 54 (1981).

We find a permissiveness towards homosexual conduct which recalls certain features of ancient Greece” (p. 146)

However, apart from the expectation of masculine virility being proven in heterosexual seduction, there was a permissive attitude to male homosexuality, particularly when shepherds were away from feminine company in the hills. … In these situations, homosexual attachments were common and were seen as the expected behaviour, particularly of the younger men. In my investigation of this phenomenon I have found among my informants a common expectation that young married men would engage in such relationships, having, as one informant put it, "just learned what his penis is for." The subject of homosexual unions does not arouse among the Albanian mountaineers feelings of either shame or amusement in the same way that they do among other ethnic groups. There is instead a pragmatic assumption that the male is entitled to frequent orgasms, however these might be procured. (p. 149)




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