Three Albanian Tribes of Northern Albania

by Flogerta Driza

Apparently, the Albanian tribes were numerous and full of culture. Last time we talked about the five tribes of Kosovo and the epithets related to them. A popular proverb described them, and their geographical range indicated where they came from.

This time we will bring you a tribe from several Albanian regions.

The Tribe of the Lezha Highlands Region – The Tribe of Kryezinjë

Albanian tribes

Photo: Taken from the cover of the book “Albanian Tribes”

The region of the Kryezinjë tribe is located in the district of Mirdita, in the north of Albania. It is located on the right side of the Fan River. This family borders the traditional region of the Vela tribes in the north and the Bulgar tribes in the south. The Kryezinje tribe was Catholic and consisted of only one Bajrak. According to the impressions of Karl Shtejnmetci, he said:

“The population of this tribe is very poor and there are probably cases when they even die of hunger. Despite this, this tribe is the most peace-loving among all the Catholic tribes of Albania. For years, no murder has been committed in their territory.” Despite the composite tribes of Mirdita, from which it is said that 5000 men have been trained as mercenaries. 

Kruja Highlands Region – Kurbin Tribe 

The terms Kurbin or Kurbini refer to the region of the tribe that lives there, from the Old Latin Corvinus. It was historically registered as the name Curbin in 1621, from the anonymous report on Albania, in the letter of Pjetër Budi. This tribe is located in the district of Kurbin (Lac) in Northern Albania. The meaning of the tribe’s name is thought to come from the word corvus, which means raven. This area was covered with ravens, and an Italian expression said: “popolo dei capelli corvini,” which roughly means “people with raven feathers.” 

The men or women of this tribe were distinguished by their long black hair and bright blue or gray eyes. The tribe is entirely Catholic, and marriages within the tribe were allowed because they did not have a common ancestor. 

Mirdita and its constituent tribes 

Albanian Tribes

Foto Marubi

Mirdita is bordered by the regions of the traditional Puka tribes (Kabashin, Berisha, etc.) in the north . With the tribes of the Lezha Highlands (Kryeziinjte, Bulgerin, etc.) in the west and southwest. The main settlement of Mirdita is Rresheni, which today is the administrative center. The other most important settlement is Rubiku, and several villages such as Oroshi, Spaci, Kurbneshi, etc.

Unlike the other tribes we mentioned, one for each region, the Mirdita have had a complicated but unchanging history. The French consul, Hajsint Hekard, who visited Mirdita in 1850, left these impressions: “All the Mirditas affirm that they are Catholics and that no Turkish Muslim is allowed to settle in their mountains where they practice their religion.” There is no case in Mirdita where a Mirditor has renounced the Catholic religion. 

Mirdita had a group of tribes which, since they belonged to a barku, were not allowed to marry among themselves. These were the three main Bajratars who did not mix among themselves: Kushneni, Spaci and Oroshi who have their origin from the legendary brothers of Shala and Shoshi. According to the documents of that time, Mirdita was governed as an independent principality and was ruled by their Prince, who was the great-grandson of Skanderbeg.

Reference from the book: Albanian Tribes (History, Society, and Culture) by Robert Elsie