The history of Albanian art is lengthy and dramatic. Albania, a nation in southeastern Europe, has a distinct culture from the rest of Europe. Albania was governed by the Ottoman Empire for almost five centuries, which had a significant impact on the country’s artwork and creative traditions. Following Albania’s accession to the Ottoman Empire in 1478, Ottoman-influenced art styles such as mosaics and muralpaintings were popular, and no significant creative shift happened until Albanian liberation in 1912.
The earliest paintings, after mosaics and murals from antiquity and the Middle Ages, were icons from the Byzantine Orthodox tradition. Albanian icons originate from the late thirteenth century, and their artistic pinnacle is said to have occurred in the seventeenth century. Onufri and David Selenica were two of the most famous exponents of Albanian iconographic art. The museums at Berat, Korca, and Tirana continue to house important collections. Painting was largely confined to folk art and magnificent mosques towards the end of the Ottoman era.
Paintings and sculpture emerged in the first part of the twentieth century and reached a modest high in the 1930s and 1940s, when the first coordinated national art exhibits took place. Contemporary Albanian artwork reflects the suffering of ordinary Albanians, but new artists are expressing this message in a variety of creative forms. Albanian artists continue to push the boundaries of art while being uniquely Albanian in substance. Though postmodernism was just recently introduced to Albanian artists, there are a handful of artists and works that are well-known worldwide. Among the most well-known Albanian postmodernists are Anri Sala, Sislej Xhafa, and Helidon Gjergji.
Music and folklore
Albanian folk music is divided into three style groups, with additional significant music regions located around Shkodra and Tirana; the main groupings are the Ghegs of the north and south Labs and Tosks. The “rugged and heroic” tone of the north and the “relaxed” style of the south juxtapose the northern and southern traditions. The sedate kaba, an ensemble driven by a clarinet or violin with accordions and llauts, is a kind of southern instrumental music. The kaba is an improvisational and melancholy style with tunes described by Kim Burton as “both new and old,” “ornamented with swoops, glides, and growls of an almost vocal character,” and exemplifying the “mix of emotion with restraint that is the hallmark of Albanian culture.”
These many genres are united by “the passion that both performers and listeners devote to their music as a medium for patriotic expression and as a vehicle conveying the narrative of oral history,” as well as specific features such as the usage of rhythms such as 3/8, 5/8, and 10/8. The first collection of Albanian folk music was produced in Paris between 1929 and 1931 by two Himariots song artists, Neço Muka and Koço akali, during their interpretations with Albanian song diva Tefta Tashko Koço. Several phonograph collections were made by this delightful three of Albanian musicians during those years, which ultimately led to the Himariot Isopolyphonic Music being designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Albanian folk songs are classified into two categories: heroic epics from the north and beautifully melodic lullabies, love songs, wedding music, labor songs, and other types of song. The music of different festivals and holidays is also an important element of Albanian folk song, particularly those commemorating St. Lazarus Day, which marks the beginning of spring. Lullabies and vajtims are two types of Albanian folk songs that are often sung by single women.
Albanian language and literature
Franz Bopp, a German philologist, established Albanian as an Indo-European language in 1854. The Albanian language is classified as a separate branch of the Indo-European language family.
Most academics believe that Albanian is descended from Illyrian, while some believe it is descended from Daco-Thracian. (However, it is possible that Illyrian and Daco-Thracian were related languages; see Thraco-Illyrian.)
Albanian is often compared to Balto-Slavic on the one hand and Germanic on the other, both of which share a number of isoglosses with Albanian. Furthermore, Albanian has experienced a vowel shift in which stressed, long o has dropped to a, similar to and opposite to the former. Similarly, Albanian has taken the ancient relative jos and utilized it solely to qualify adjectives, similar to how Balto-Slavic has used this word to give the definite ending of adjectives.
The cultural renaissance was initially seen in the growth of the Albanian language in church texts and publications, mostly of the Catholic region in the north, but also of the Orthodox in the south. The Protestant reforms reawakened expectations for the growth of the native language and literary heritage when priest Gjon Buzuku translated the Catholic liturgy into Albanian, attempting to achieve for the Albanian language what Luther did for German.
Meshari (The Missal) by Gjon Buzuku, published in 1555, is regarded as the earliest written work in Albanian. The sophisticated quality of the language and the stable spelling must be the product of an older, little known heritage of written Albanian. However, there is some fragmentary evidence that predates Buzuku that shows Albanian was written as early as the 14th century.
The oldest proof comes from 1332 AD, when the French Dominican Guillelmus Adae, Archbishop of Antivari, wrote in Latin that Albanians employed Latin characters in their books despite the fact that their language was very different from Latin. Other notable examples include: a baptism formula (Unte paghesont premenit Atit et Birit et spertit senit) written in Albanian within a Latin text in 1462 by the Bishop of Durrs, Pal Engjlli; a glossary of Albanian words written in 1497 by Arnold von Harff, a German who had traveled through Albania; and a 15th-century fragment of the Bible from the Gospel of Matthew, also in
Albanian literature from these centuries must have included not just religious texts, but also historical records. They are mentioned by the humanist Marin Barleti, who confirms in his book Rrethimi I Shkodrs (1504), that he leafed through such chronicles written in the people’s language (in vernacula lingua), as well as his famous biography of Skanderbeg Historia de vita et gestis Scanderbegi Epirotarum principis (History of Skanderbeg) (1508). The History of Skanderbeg is the cornerstone of Scanderbeg studies and is regarded as an Albanian cultural treasure critical to the development of Albanian national self-consciousness.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, the catechism E mbsuame krishter (Christian Teachings) (1592) by Lek Matrnga, Doktrina e krishter (1618) and Rituale romanum (1621) by Pjetr Budi, the first writer of original Albanian prose and poetry, an apology for George Castriot (1636) by Frang Bardhi, who also published a dictionary and folklor Ismail Kadare is arguably the most well-known Albanian writer.
Football, weightlifting, basketball, volleyball, tennis, swimming, rugby union, and gymnastics are all popular sports in Albania. Football is Albania’s most popular sport. It is controlled by the Albanian Football Association (Albanian: Federata Shqiptare e Futbollit, F.SH.F.), which was founded in 1930 and is a member of FIFA and UEFA.
Football came in Albania early in the twentieth century, when residents of the northern city of Shkodr were startled to find students at a Christian mission playing a strange game. The sport quickly gained popularity in a nation ruled by the Ottoman Empire at the time. Albania won the 1946 Balkan Cup and the Malta Rothmans International Event in 2000, but had never competed in a major UEFA or FIFA tournament until UEFA Euro 2016, the country’s first participation in a continental tournament and a major men’s football tournament. Albania scored their first goal in a major tournament and won their first European Championship when they defeated Romania 1–0 in a UEFA Euro 2016 match on June 19, 2016.
Radio Televizioni Shqiptar (RTSH) is Albania’s public radio and television broadcaster, established in 1938 by King Zog. RTSH operates three analogue television stations under the brand TVSH Televizioni Shqiptar, four digital theme channels under the brand RTSH, and three radio stations under the brand Radio Tirana. In addition, four regional radio stations serve Albania’s four extremes. The international service transmits radio programs in Albanian and seven other languages across medium and short wave frequencies (SW). The melody from the song “Keputa nj gjethe dafine” serves as the international service’s trademark music. Since 1993, the worldwide satellite television service has served Albanian populations in Kosovo, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and northern Greece, as well as the Albanian diaspora across Europe. RTSH has a history of being strongly influenced by the governing party, whether it is left or right wing, in its reporting.
Albania has an estimated 257 media outlets, including 66 radio stations and 67 television stations, with three national, 62 local, and more than 50 cable TV channels, according to the Albanian Media Authority, AMA. In recent years, Albania has hosted a number of programs as part of international series such as Dancing with the Stars, Big Brother Albania, Albanians Got Talent, The Voice of Albania, and X Factor Albania.
Albanian cuisine, like that of other Mediterranean and Balkan countries, is heavily influenced by its lengthy history. The area that is now Albania has been claimed or occupied at various times by Greece, Serbia, Italy, and the Ottoman Turks, and each group has left their imprint on Albanian cuisine. Albanians have their main meal around noon, which is typically followed with a salad of fresh vegetables like as tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, and olives dressed in olive oil, vinegar, and salt. It also comes with a main course of veggies and meat. Though pumpkins are used in a variety of cuisines, they are more frequently exhibited and historically given as presents across Albania, particularly in the Berat area. Seafood is also popular in the coastal cities of Durrs, Sarand, and Vlor. Smoked meat and pickled preserves are popular in high elevation areas.