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THE MEN-WOMEN OF ALBANIA.

SINGULAR FEATURE OF, NATIONAL _IFH. The man-women of Upper Albania acquire their peculiar status. Involving the possession of right, denied to other members of their sex, only by the announcement, made with the father's express permission, ln the presence of tho male kin of age, of intention to remain unmarried, The prime Incentive to "the assumption of this status (says a writer in the "Die Woche"), wit its renunciation of the privilege of motherhood, Is the pitiful position of the sex among the Albanian mountaineers - — the position of women among the Germans of, say, 1450 years ago. Another is the quite common practice of parents of arranging marriages for their children before the attainment of majority. Withdrawal of a party to such an arrangement is cans* for a blood feud. The young man who will not marry the fiancee selected for him can escape only by fleeing the country, the girl by becoming a man-woman. Moreover, as among the ancient Germans, the Albanian woman is unable to inherit. LAn exception is made in the case of the man-woman. She cannot actually Inherit, but after the death of the father the use of the property and Income is here for life. If there are brothers they must give up at least a part ot the family income to the virgin sister. A 'less unpleasant reason is often found In FAMILY CIRCUMSTANCES like those of Dill Mudschia, called Col (Nlkolaus). Dill is the diminutive for Dominica. Her father, to his great grief, had four daughters, but no son. In order to keep the property ln the family after his death Dominica took the vow of virginity. After her death the property, which she cannot dispose of, will pass to the male collateral lineage. The fourth and final Incentive is filial affection. Many a daughter assumes this peculiar status ln order to support her parents in their old age. Besides extraordinary privileges of heritage, the manwoman possesses the rights of carrying arms and wearing masculine clothes. Of these rights, however, they seldom avail themselves. Of two hundred or so menwomen, all but ten or fifteen wear women's clothing, and distinguish themselves only by the white turban of their order. The man-woman may be the head of a family If both parents are dead and she Is of age. Such a one Is Zupp-Dasehla. Zupp means "brigand," and Dascbla "goat." She is generally known by this nickname. She kept the farm going, toiled early and late, raised and married off her two younger brothers, and is universally respected. With the wearing of masculine garb the virgin assumes also the work of a man— ploughing, harvesting th.' "grain,, even fighting in family fueds. Maruk c Col Doz, for example, never goes without a revolver and ammunition. She wears her turban arranged man fashlon. Last year she took part in a furious feud. On another occasion she killed a man; and, her brothers being fugitives, she runs the farm, sows and reaps, tends the cattle, and, when need Is, guards the home with her weapons. One would suppose that the man-woman who had taken up a family feud would be open to attack from the other side, as a man would be; but here custom Is Illogical In spite of her masculine rights, garb, and name, the man-woman Is in this respect the woman still. To kill a woman Is the greatest dishonour. To avenge a killing by a man-woman one must shoot her father, brother, or male relative. Joseph, called Seph, had been brought up from Infancy as a boy. She had never wora girl's clothing. With her short hair, boyish face and manner, I would never have taken her for a girl. Yet Seph, only twelve years old, had killed "his" man. A NOTEWORTHY CHARACTERISTIC of the man-woman Is that she prefers male company, and avoids that of women. Many of them go as far ln copying the masculine appearance as not only to cut their hair short, but even to shave the forehead. The vow of virginity taken before the male kin Is a private family affair that has nothing to do with the vows of a nun, and bold. oDly so long as suits the woman herself. If she has a child, she and her betrayer are killed by her family. In fixing the age and origin of thlg strange institution, difficulty Is encountered owing to the lack of national written history. Tradition — which Is quite reliable in this case — has it that the custom was introduced by the Pulatl, who still shaw the ruins of a building known as the House of the Virgin. The men-women of this stock built the house as a common dwelling, but their project met with 111 favour and on a Sunday after the sermon of a missionary, the married women and the men stormed and demolished the "clubhouse." Since then no one has dared to suggest a similar undertaking. Tbe custom must be as old as the people itself, and perhaps goes back to the Pelasgians. At anyrat* It certainly antedates the coming ot the Turks (1420).

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THE MEN-WOMEN OF ALBANIA. Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 74, 27 March 1909

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