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date: 14 October 2019

Gjamalocked

  • Bledar Kondi

Extract

Albanian funeral crying. Gjama represents the most powerful form of male funeral crying in Albanian tradition. Though the communist regime repressed the violent expression of tribal gjamë (1955–90) in the inaccessible mountains of northern Albania, it was revived again after the fall of the Iron Curtain. The term gjamë comprises a rich spectrum of complementary meanings such as ‘catastrophe’, ‘bad news’, ‘thunderbolt’, ‘woe’, and ‘shouting’. According to their relationship with the deceased ‘it should be shouted three times for the dead, repeating nine times the words “woe is me …” and step towards the dead’; ‘men who shout and groan upon the dead beat their foreheads and temples with fists and scratch their faces’ (E Drejta Zakonore Shqipëtare 1989: 448-9). The men’s ritual gjamë in Malësia e Dukagjinit is composed of explosive parallel shouting and spasmodic cacophonic groaning (see ex.1), synchronized epic postures and free self-aggressive gesticulations, strategic martial moving and cultic veneration of the dead. ...

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