Author Topic: Full text of Mlogo dumish mlogo plachesh (documentary)  (Read 17480 times)

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Leonidas Liambey
In this documentary film, Pomak villagers in Greece – isolated by language, religion and politics and struggling to make a living through tobacco farming – continue to wear traditional folk costumes and are shown living in picturesque poverty. Children run through the streets, women use hand looms to weave traditional clothes and old men talk stoically about the masonry and tobacco farming in accented in Greek.

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Duration 82 min

Egg break, sun shine,
For little children, for little birds,
Where is your mother? Behind the door
Where is the door? The axe has cleaved it
Where is the axe?  The river has taken it
Where is the river? The oxen have drunk it
Where are the oxen?  On a high mountain, grazing green grass.

 “The population of the Thracians is the biggest of all nations, with the exception of the Indians. If the Thracians were united under one rule or if they formed a confederation, they would become the most powerful nation on earth and nobody would dare fight against them. This is my opinion.  However, practically speaking, such a thing is unlikely and will never happen”
Herodotus, Histories, [Terpsichore] 5,3

Thrace lies in the southeastern part of Europe, in the Balkan Peninsula. Being the daughter of the Ocean and Parthenope, Thrace seems to have inherited from her mythical parents her magnificence and her uninterrupted beauty through the centuries.
On the highest peaks of the Rhodope there used to be an oracle of Dionysus, equivalent to that of Apollo in Delphi. 
Rhodope and her husband Hemus were transformed by Zeus into mountains because they called themselves Hera and Zeus.
This is where the Pomaks live: In the mountain range of Rhodope, along the Greek-Bulgarian borders.

Raif  «Everybody knows us. We are Pomaks».

Pomaks…Slavic-speaking Muslims, residents of the Rhodope.  Their relationship with the area of Thrace, unbroken! The prevailing view about the Pomaks is that they are natives, originating from ancient Thracian tribes. On the other hand, the three states interested in the Pomaks present different theories about their origin. The Bulgarian researchers consider them to be islamized Bulgarians; Turkish researchers regard them as having a Turkish origin from various descents.  Lastly, in Greece there was a tendency to associate the origin of the Pomaks with the veterans of Alexander the Great. 

 «Sali, my son, Sali, 
Turks are searching for you, you aren’t here,
Bulgarians are asking for you, you aren’t here,
Have you been shot by a bullet?
Or have they chopped you with an axe?
Neither have I been shot by a bullet
Nor have I been chopped with an axe,
Yet, my mother, I was caught by ten guerrillas…….»

Those people, tied with the fate of their land, have undergone so much hardship from so many sides that we can imagine the words haunting the phrase: “mlogo dumish…mlogo plachesh”, “the more you speak... the more you cry”.

Kesif (Kotani) “The language spoken in all these villages is one language: Pomak”.

“Where did this language come from…
- Is the Pomak language the same as the Bulgarian?
- It is not the same but it is similar.”

Niazin (Dimario) “Beware of the Bulgarian whacking and the Greek pencil. Why not being written down?  Because whacking is easilyforgotten but the pencil does not forget.”

Hamdi: (Smolyan) “Look, history says that we were tortured by the Turks. In the past we were Bulgarians. But 500 years ago, the Turks came here and got into power. They forced us to get Turkish names. That is why the word “pomak” means tortured”.

Fotini Tsimpiridou anthropologist: “Issues of identity, origin and all these were for me the ones I did not want to discuss in any approach. Everybody was searching the origin of the Pomaks.”

Raif.(Oreon) “What can you say now? To say you are Greek, you are not Greek. To say you are a Turk, the Turk speaks another language. We speak another– Pomak. This “dil”, this language, blames us a lot, but what can we do?”

There are many interpretations on the derivation of the word “Pomak”. A Pomak is the one who recanted, who was Islamized or the one who helped the Turks, he is the veteran or the horse-fighter, the drinker from the word “pomax”, the patchinak,  the shepherd. No matter what the derivation of “Pomak”, the word was often used many times derogatorily from all those wishing to appropriate them.

Tsimpiridou Anthropologist: “When I sat down to write, the phrases of my informants in the field started coming up. When the issue of origin arose, the popular phrases were “they call us Pomaks”, “they say we are Pomaks”, “Pomaks they say we are, how should I know?” Everything was disputable. So I was forced, better I was led to the identity issue, but that was now the issue of the construction of an identity and the definition of the others, that is how those people are defined by others”.

Raif (Oreon) “What can we say here, friend? We are… We shouldn’t say we are hostages. What can you say? We here only know Greece. Only Greece do we know. From where did Turkey convert us, from where did they make us Turkish Pomaks, Turkish Muslims, Turkish Islam, I don’t know…”

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Μargarita Karamihova  Anthropologist
“I firmly believe that this “mountaineer identity” of those people, this “Rhodope identity” is one of the ways in which they are trying to reject their personal concerns of people who are different, both among themselves and in relation to others from the Bulgarian mainland. Because the search of the origin, especially here in the Balkans, contains a lot of tension and may easily become an object of exploitation”.

Being a crossroads of various cultures, Thrace is said to have been firstly inhabited by Pelasgian tribes, which are among the most ancient peoples of Europe.   
The first information on its history starts at the time of the establishment of the Greek colonies in its coast.
As time passed, Thrace was occupied by the Roman Empire and was invaded by northern peoples. 
At the beginning of the 7th century Slavs and Bulgarians were settled in the region, whereas Ottoman invasions in the Balkans began in the 14th century.

Raif: (Oreon) “For a very long time our kin has been here but when Turkey came before our time … they beat us … they converted us, they, I don’t know what they did to us, they converted us”.

 “The beginning of the issue for the Bulgarian Muslims or Pomaks – as they are known in Greece - coincides with the establishment of the Ottoman Empire in our fields. According to some historians the islamization of a big part of Bulgarians happened in a violent way.  This is part of the “national idea”. We do not have serious scientific evidence for such a violent massive islamization of Bulgarians. On the other hand, more and more scientific research focuses on the fact that the system gradually created the conditions for the acceptance of Islam by the people, in their attempt to search for security, change their social position and ensure better living conditions for them and for their children”.

Efstratios Zengines Islam specialist: “In the time of Gabriel, bishop of Philippoupolis (Plovdiv), the eminent Pomaks visited him and told him that they could not tolerate the oppression of the Muslim Turks. For that reason they had decided to adopt Islam”.

Hamdi (Smolyan): “There was a young, newly-wed girl. The Turks chased her and she climbed on that very rock, there, at the top. They surrounded her from all sides and ordered her to go down. And they told her “come down or we’ll shoot”. She answered “shoot me, I am not coming down”. And they shot her. She fell from the top to the bottom and from that time the rock is called “Neviastata” (the bride), till our days”.

Hasan (Madena) “It is usually called “Momski kamen” for the girls who went to the mountain to be killed. They chased them in order to catch them and change their religion. They would not accept that and decided to commit suicide. They tied their hair one next to the other, so that no one may refuse and threw one of the girls. Then everyone fell, one after the other”.

The first Ottomans who penetrated the Balkan region were not soldiers but dervishes, representatives of the Islamic mysticism. Today, a percentage of 10-12 % of the Balkan Muslims belongs to the Islamic mysticism and is represented by various dervish orders.

Islam specialist Zengines Efstratios
«The principal order, dervish order, which took action and facilitated, so to speak, the establishment of the Ottomans in the Balkans, were the Bektashi”.

The founder of Bektashism is said to have been Hajji Bektash Veli, the second leader of the order being Balim Sultan, abbot of the Roussa tekhe, which is the oldest tekhe in the Balkans. According to a legend, Seyit Ali Sultan got a piece of wood from the fire and threw it upwards. A mulberry grew at the point it fell and that is where they built the monastery complex of Roussa.  Balim Soultan, son of the tekhe abbot Sersem Ali Baba and a Serbian Christian mother, is considered to be the reformer of Bektashism, as he introduced many Christian models into it.

Efstratios Zengines
“When the Christians were in a practically difficult position and had to be islamized, they certainly preferred to become members of a dervish order, especially bektashism, to avoid their complete islamization, in order to have similar models there”.

“In the name of the sublime God and the enlightenment of the Koran,(Qur’an)
The brothers visiting this house,
Let them say “ah” three times along with a wish
Because only in this way is God glorified.
This is Seyit Sultan.”

Part of the Pomaks today follows the Bektashi rituals. 
Their festival calendar begins in spring with the Hidrelez, which coincides with the St George festival, and ends with Kasim, on St Demetrius day, according to the old Christian calendar. This worship is associated with that of the Thracian horseman in the early Christian time. There are intermediate festivals – the kurbans – during which there are animal sacrifices and wrestling games. Most of their rituals take place on secret locations and only the initiated may participate.

Tsimpiridou: “If someone goes to the field, that is the region from Rhodope Prefecture to Evros Prefecture, there are a lot of villages and there are a lot of variations among them. There are those who are most religious, those who are not religious at all. There are the Kizilbashi. The others call them Kizilbashi, they consider themselves to be orthodox Sunni, however they have a series of religious practices that are different from the other Muslims. The “lowland” Muslims consider them all to be Pomaks, but they do not accept it, because they want them all to be Turks.”.

“Mountain, old mountain
Do me a favour, mountain
So many times have I come to you
Walking on your grass
Drinking your water
Sitting in your shade
Do me a favour, mountain
I have promised a double sacrifice(kurban)
I will feed the whole village
The upper and the lower neighborhood
Older and younger children
And the little girls
Do me a favour, mountain”.

Enchantress – therapist (Satovcha)
We were in a field with my younger son. It was there that a man appeared in front of me.  He just sat nearby and asked me to answer a few questions. I was so scared. I felt terrible stress.  In the end I agreed with him.
Zornitsa: Who is he?
Enchantress: Nobody knows him. He is a stranger.
Zornitsa: Does he appear now?
Enchantress: Yes, he does. I cannot “work” without him.
Zornitsa: Does he tell you what to do?
Enchantress: Yes, he tells me and I answer to the other people.
Zornitsa: What – if this is not a secret – is the way to break a magic spell?
Enchantress: No, it is not a secret. Why should it be?
Zornitsa: How do you understand that a person has been enchanted? And how do you break the spell?
Enchantress: For example, when somebody comes to me, he tells me his name. When he comes back in the morning, if he is enchanted… This is the bad part for me. In fact, I have to go to his house. From here, from my house, it cannot be done.
Zornitsa: How many people have you helped?
Enchantress: Oh-oh-oh-oh! Many!
Zornitsa: Can you help yourself?
Enchantress: But, due to this energy I cannot get well. I am the one who receives the “negative” energy. I have been operated twice at the heart, I am hypertensive.
Zornitsa: Since you have these problems, did you want to stop at a certain moment?
Enchantress: I can’t. Even if I want to. It can’t be done.

With the dissolution of the Ottoman empire at the end of the 19th century, wars broke out in the Balkans and Thrace was contested by Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey.
After three wars, two Balkan wars and one world war, and more peace treaties, Thrace was divided as follows: Bulgaria occupies Northern Thrace or Eastern Romylia, Turkey occupies Eastern Thrace or European Turkey and Greece has Western Thrace.  The new delimitation of borders was accompanied by mass population exchanges that changed the human mosaic of Thrace.

The villages of the Pomaks were divided among Greece and Bulgaria and in the case of the present Kalotyho or Ugurli, as it was called during the times of the Ottoman Empire, half the village was found in Bulgaria with the name Kushla (cottages) and the other half in Greece with the name Kalotyho.

Sami Kalotiho
 “Look! Kushla is over there!”

Red hat: “The biggest village, the cleverest people, let me tell you, were here, in this village. They are all gone”.

 White hair: “In 1912 they came here and built the sheepfolds, because it was very dense there. That happened till 1918.
Karamihova: How many families?
White hair: At that time they were 30 families. After 1918 the village was an administrative unit belonging to the community of Satres. The local administration was there, in Ugourli, and the community was in Satres, in Sinikovo. Then, in 1922, the borders were defined by the Neuilly Treaty. They crossed that hill over there and they continued up to Gotse Deltsev, up to Petrich.
Hodja: “France and England set those borders”.

Hasan “You said there were 350 families here, at this village. Was it with Kushla at that time?”
Red hat: “Together, together, together. It was together”.
Hasan “And why did they leave from here?”
Sami “Why did they leave? Because they set the borders up here. And then their side, their fields fell there and stayed there”.
Hasan “When they closed the borders, couldn’t you go and see each other?”
Red hat: “How could you go? Oh –oh – oh, army! They were beaten here… Where could you go?”
Hasan: “From which side were they beaten? From our side or from their side?”
Red hat: “From ours. The soldiers”.

White hair: “Look. In those years it was not easy to keep in touch. We communicated with letters. There were no telephones”.

The postman was coming from Ehinos, from Medousa… From there Kotani, Lykotopos. And he came here, he put the stamp. He came on foot. Whenever it rained, when it snowed, he came to my house to sleep. And in the morning, from here Tsalapeteinos, Dourgouti, Theotokato, Yannohori, Satres and Ehinos. Everywhere on foot. That man came three times a week.

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White hair: “From 1941 to 1943 the Germans liberated the borders here. They went down to the Aegean sea, in the Thrace of the Aegean. Then it was all different. We could move freely”.
Hodja: “It was free. You could go up to Xanthi”.
White hair:  “In 1944, it was over”.

Kasif ”When the Germans came, they came down here, we didn’t see anything. The Bulgarians followed afterwards. They stayed for around four years and then they went up again. Then we lived well when the Bulgarians came. They did not say anything to us. They neither gave us money nor got money from us”.

Sami “The Bulgarians …  These were graves. When the Bulgarians came, they broke all these stones that were Muslim…”.
Red hat “They did more…”.
Nikos  “Did they bring their own priest?”
Red hat “Yes”.
Sami “Yes, yes”.
Red hat: “Their own priest”.
Nikos “In order to baptize people?”
Red hat: “Yes”.
Sami “They baptized”.
Red hat: “They baptized. Indeed”.
Nikos “How did this happen?”
Sami “Here. Inside the mosque, they made it a church at that time. They made it a church and my grandmother, who was here, says that they changed people’s names. And they made them Greeks”.
Red hat: “Bulgarians. Not Greeks. Bulgarians…. ».
Mitkos “Christians”.
Sami “How should I know what they did to them? That’s what they did to them”.
Red hat: “They were others and the guerrillas were others”.
Sami “Yes. There were guerrillas here. Four guerrillas came and gathered the whole village. (in Pomak): Do you know how many guerrillas had come here to the mosque? – The old man knows how many guerrillas were gathered at the mosque. They locked them and got 160 persons from here. And from here they took them to Melitena, their headquarters in Melitena. That’s where they took them. And then they took them to Grammos…”

Red hat: “And they were lost there”
Sami “And they were lost there”
Red hat: “They were killed, all gone, Lost”.
Nikos “Not even one came back?”
Red hat: “Ah,  5 – 10 persons came back but most of them were lost”.

Red hat 2:  “Till that time we knew no other language. Just Pomak”.
Hasan “Up to 1944 only Pomak”.
Red hat: “Up to 1944 only Pomak”.
Hasan “Did the Turkish start with the guerrilla war when we went down?” 
Red hat: “The Turkish started later. And after that, Greek…”.

Hodja - prayer: “How did I become a hodja? Willingly. Because I saw that the metchit (school) was about to close, there was nobody to take over. And I thought that was a sin and I said I would open the metchit. I will be here for anyone who comes. If someone does not want, it’s his job”.

The establishment of a new world order in 1945, with the Yalta Conference, finds the Pomak communities divided between Greece and Bulgaria, being the object of appropriation from various types of national propaganda. From Bulgaria due to the language, from Turkey due to religion, while for the national policy of Greece both these elements made the mountain populations equally untrustworthy. This is the reason why they became marginal. Their language was devaluated. Their area was under military surveillance, because of the “danger from the north”, communism, number one enemy of Greece during the cold war era. Bars were placed which blocked the entrance in the Pomak areas without a special permit, while they themselves were forced to return to their villages before sunset.

In 1954 the Greek government decided to substitute the term “Muslim” with the term “Turkish”.
As a result, greater confusion was created between the religious and the ethnic identity.

 Hodja : We had so many people here, so many lived in this place and we did not have a road. Now, after 30 years, there is a road but there are not any people. Now they have woken up, but what has been done, has been done. Now the people are gone. It is difficult for them to come back. There was a lot of army here. They got people and took them to Cavalla.

The Pomaks who were on the Bulgarian side of the border were no luckier. The chronicle of the attempts for their assimilation is most clearly depicted in the example of a Pomak, from Batchkovo village, who changed his name six times: In 1912-13 Hasan was forced to change his name into Dragan. However, the policy rapidly changed and Dragan became Hasan again. In the late ’30s Hasan became Dragan again, following the campaign of the Rodina organisation. When the communists came to power in 1944, Hasan found his initial name again. In the ’60s Hasan had to be renamed into Dragan again, in the frame of “national integration”. With the fall of communism in 1989 the Pomak from Batchkovo became Hasan again.

Aishell: “Anna. Anna is my previous name, the Christian name. My family and I retrieved our names two years ago, although we had that possibility directly after the democratic changes in 1990. Our children were still young at that time for us to present them that issue, so that they could choose. Whereas, two years ago, when they had to go to Sofia, to get away from this society, they should be very bravely self-determined as Muslims living in Bulgaria. So we decided to change our names in order not to hide the fact that we are Muslims. Because when my husband and I were students, we had to hide that. We shouldn’t say that we are Muslims and that we belong to the group of the so-called Pomaks. It was considered that the Pomaks are illiterate people, uncultivated, all the negative facts that may be said for a group of people. That was why we had to hide it and now I didn’t want my children to feel that way”.

Hamdi:  “We were hiding in order to slaughter the kurbans because some party members were watching who makes a sacrifice, and then that person lost his job. That was also the case for the person who went to the mosque. So, we were hiding on the mountain slopes, in order to slaughter the kurbans and then carried them with sacks and distributed them”.

It is worth mentioning the answer given during the 1992 census by a group of young people in a village of the Western Rhodope. They determined themselves as Eskimos and insisted on having that answer registered in the questionnaire. On the question “Why Eskimos?” they answered “because we feel so cold”.

Karamihova: “However, the fact that the people we met live in the mountain and have the tradition of the mountain life and the fact that they underwent a lot of political tension made them avoid the “labels” which were placed upon them in the past. Today we can clearly see and we can notice that there is a common mountain identity”.

“Go tell your mother to gather in  the garden,
All the tomatoes and the peppers
To keep them for winter time
Autumn is coming, it will rain,
Winter is coming, snow will fall,
My grandfather started with a donkey,
With an axe in his hand
He is carrying wood for winter
Slaughtering goats to make kavourma
He bought flour for bread
Tomorrow he will go to the bazaar”.

Snow, autumn, bread, mother.
The first time a human being calls objects by their names, language, springing directly from the past, comes loaded with words, interwoven with the wheaten smell of the house, with the eloquent sounds of the forest, the heat and the tenderness of the hug of a beloved person. In this way language acquires a body, molded by all those secret powers of an unprecedented world. We take resort to this body, returning to it in our whole life”.

Domna Michael Anthropologist “Language is an element of a person’ s identity. And when a mother tongue is depreciated, then it seems that part of his identity is also depreciated. And when that part of his identity is not accepted by the broader society that creates a problem of integration, a problem of identification and conscience.  I have met cases of children who managed to succeed in the University and changed their names when they went to University. I have met a Hasan being called Harry”.

Domna Michael Anthropologist
“In the Minority Primary schools education is bilingual, in Greek and Turkish. This is very strange for the region. Because the region here is immiscibly Pomak. Linguistically speaking, the Pomak language is a south-Slavic dialect and has no relationship with Turkish. From an educational point of view, it is the only case I have found in international bibliography, in which a population receives education in two languages, none of which is its native language.

Karamihova: “The people of Rhodope understand perfectly the Bulgarian language, they know it perfectly and have been trying for many years to use more formal expressions, especially when they come in touch with people from other regions or when they need to speak “formally”.
“When they sing, however, we notice that they have retained old forms of their speech and this is beautiful”.

Satovcha-Bulgaria-Babes (sing)
Domna Michael
“However, I was impressed by how extremely easily they shift from one language code to the other and how they can adjust their body language to the code accordingly”.

«Ena kamen, bir kamen, bir is in Turkish again. Enno! Enno kamen e tesko na miasto».
«A stone is heavy at its place ».

Boucova Poliana-Boulgaria
Stone man “Now, you, with the languages that you have gathered, better not include it …”
Hasan “It will become like a Hungarian salad”.

Tsimpiridou: “In 1997, when I finished my work, I saw for the first time the following phrase being emphatically stated in writing: “We are Pomaks and we are proud of being Pomaks”. That was in the edition of the first newspaper published by a group of Pomaks who founded the association called Pomak Research Centre. “Right on, Pomaks, we should not be ashamed and be scared for being Pomaks. We should not be ashamed and scared for our language”.

The beginning has been done. The Pomak language is no longer unwritten and oral. It has its own dictionaries, readers, folk tales etc.
Today the first newspaper is added, written in the Pomak language, entitled Love.
Love for our language.
Love for our identity that is under extinction.
Love for all people, irrespective of race or language.
Love for all those who feel Pomaks, for those who are not ashamed and are not afraid to declare publicly that they are Pomaks, that our grandfathers and all their ancestors spoke and speak Pomak.
We are a part of Europe and we are no more ashamed or afraid to declare that we are Pomaks.
Right on, Pomaks!

Domna Michael.
As the rest of the society knew them better, those people did not need to change their names or adjust them, so that they would resemble Greek names, because now everybody knew that in Western Thrace there is also a part of Slavic-speaking population called Pomaks and the fact that they are Muslims does not mean that they are Turks, of a Turkish ethnic origin”.

Those people do not speak much. They spend hours silently. It is a society of silence. The code of communication is the eyes”.

Rado, oh white Rado,
Get your gun and shoot me
So that I do not disturb you
So that I don’t see your eyes
As black as cherries
Black and so beautiful
Anyone seeing them cries for them
And I saw them and I cried…”


Marriage Song:
“Crack, break girl’s mother,
Girl’s mother, girl’s father,
Haven’t we cheated you, haven’t we got
your first little daughter
At noon time under the bright sun”

Hasan “Whatever you do, if there is not a woman at home, it is all useless…”.

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Now, as you say, women do not bear many children. They may bear one, two… No more. They want life. To live. Many children “eat” both mother and father. What would happen, if I hadn’t tried? Ah, a child, a girl! Ah, a child, a girl! Seven girls! I have seven bridegrooms. And they say” “Diado (grandfather), we will kill you one day. Where is the money? And I tell him it is in his mother’s belly”.

Isn’t it good?

Mum is crying, dad doesn’t want”.

“The woman of Rhodope has a great experience in having her whole family depend on her work, on her participation in social life, on her care, whereas the man was the one who ensured the resources”. Of course, when men are at home, women enjoy supporting the myth of the “strong sex”, creating for their husbands the impression that they are significant, that their work is decisive. They like being looked after. At the same time, the woman of Rhodope is the one who carries the whole world on her back”.

 Irfan: Do you want my mother to make klin (rise pie)?
Grand father: Ei, they want klin.


 Memet“There is such pressure from work, from tobacco, that the children are neglected. The mother is left with the child, one or two or three children, struggling both with the tobacco and the children. So, at a certain time, she may either hit or beat the child. They will be neglected in the fields. The mother will run to earn a living from tobacco.

Grand mother “At half past three I get up and we go to the fields”. We walk on foot for two hours”.

 “In order to produce this tobacco, the tobacco grower follows a certain procedure. The year is 12 months, that process takes 13 months. It starts at the beginning of March. We plough the field three times from winter till March. We definitely have to plough it three times”.

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Aishell:  Tobacco is a chance for the whole family to gather in the summer and during the period of leaves. If it were not for tobacco, three children and the couple would not have the chance to meet, as each of us has one’s own commitments. Early in the morning we get out and each of us follows his way. Otherwise, at 5 o’clock in the morning we shall pick tobacco leaves, then we shall stitch them and that involves a lot of talking. A closer contact.

Moustafa “O-ho! That’s why the cameras have loved me … how much. You have realized that, too. Well done!

Now we ’ll hang it and it will dry up.
Kid “Will you climb up?”
Moustafa “Yes. You don’t have to climb. Now we have hanged it to dry up. That’s it!”

“ Three persons have worked for a whole year.What have I produced?  550 kilos. Now the merchants want to buy them for 2.5 euros per kilo.
“Here we buy a Marlboro for 2.5 euros and we sell tobacco 2.5 euros per kilo”.
If I was occupied only with tobacco I would have died of hunger. Luckily, in between, I also work with the stone. In 1952 there were 18 of us. From that time till now and twenty years ago I was left alone. Everybody else disappeared. One of them was disabled, the other died, the other, I don’t know. I have been left alone. Now, whenever I have the chance, I plough the place, I prepare the field in order to give a job to the women and directly I get the hammer, I go to the stone. I am an artisan of the stone. Sometimes they ask me to go and teach young people who have the will to learn. I want them to have that will, I want such people to appear. Because, how long am I going to live? When I die, my art will also be lost.  Ι don’t want to take it with me. I want to pass this art to young children.
We don’t throw anything away. Remember this. We don’t throw anything away. You will say: “What do you need so much crumb for?” There! Look!

Μουσταφά: The old people had very beautiful things. A great talent.

Three brothers
Three brothers were building a bridge
They were building it the whole day, at night it collapsed
They sat and talked and decided to sacrifice the first woman who will come in the morning
She was the beautiful Yurke, the wife of the younger one,
She was coming, carrying hot bread and cold water.
Her beloved beckoned to warn her to go back but she went even faster.
- Why are you crying, my first love? She asked him.
- How can I not cry, beautiful Yurke? My ring has fallen in the middle of the bridge.
- Don’t cry, my first love, I will get in the middle of the foundation to find it, said the beautiful bride and got in the foundation.
- Throw, brothers, wood and stone to build beautiful Yurke in the middle of the bridge.
- Let me go, three brothers. I’ve left my child unswaddled, uncovered.
- Don’t you cry, beautiful Yurke, you have a mother who will take care of it.

What about the folklore of the Pomaks? I have never heard here any local music, of course during those two days …

It’s losing ground, like language. But this is a very long discussion. The thing is that the politics of Turkey were discouraging the manifestation of Pomak culture in the area. What they needed to prove was that there was not a second minority or a third minority, the Turkish gypsies, that there was only one minority, the ethnic Turks and that’s all. So, for Turks and for Turkish politics Pomaks did not exist.

Raif  My father died in ’54, in 1954. Till that time I had not held a bouzouki in my hands. My father was religious. He used to go to the mosque. My father was an imam, a hodja. If I had had a bouzouki, he would have broken it on my head.

Stand up, mother, and see,
The sun is rising
At the nearby village
It wasn’t the sun
It was a pretty girl.

Ali Roggo “That was my place. In the past we used to have goats here, I had my grandfather. When I was young, he used to bring me here and I helped him with the animals. My grandfather was playing the recorder. I admired my grandfather. I stole his recorder. He scolded me. He was forced to make a recorder for me, to pass my time”.

“Tell us, tell us, whom do you love,
Whom do you love, whom do you mock?
I love, I mock a handsome shepherd”.

Karamihova: “In the times of totalitarianism something very good happened: there were many attempts to explore the culture of the people of Rhodope. And there were attempts to preserve this culture through exhibitions in museums – in the best way, according to those views – and for the participation of the people of Rhodope in festivals in various national events, in order to present their culture”.

Aishel: “At the time of our grandmothers and our grandfathers, their daily life was mainly spent in the fields. And, since the fields in Satovcha and the neighboring area are on slopes, they used to sing a group on the one side and the other on the other side, girls and boys tried to outmatch each other, and songs were formed accordingly. As an outmatching with high voices. Some sing on one field, others sing on the other and between them…”

Woman: “Just like the way they are singing – i-i-i-i-i- – this is called “visoko peene”. That is the two groups support each other, repeating the verse, while those sing higher. This is what we call “high singing”.

Mladen “Taking into consideration the fact that every song of the Rhodope concerns a fate, no matter if it is god or bad, these are the fates (the stories) of our people. If you know, let’s say 350 songs, you know 350 fates of our people. Is there anything more beautiful than that?”

“Beautiful girl, for you…”

Moustafa “This here is called pastilak. I have had it for 25 years. Here you are! I have had it for 25 years. My mother had it for 40 years and it still exists. As if we put it yesterday. It can’t be damaged easily. It’s very… it resists. And if you have heard that they are coming to shoot you, lift it, get under it to be covered, no bullet can reach you. Lay it down over the ice, lie on it and sleep, you won’t understand that there is ice under it”.

It’s very interesting, from an anthropological point of view, how the hopes and strategies of people, for Bulgarian Muslims are directed toward Greece and for Greek Pomaks towards Bulgaria. It means some feeling of “old bridges”.

Karamihova: “And did they keep their relationship, their friendship…?”
Hodja: “Yes. Wait…”, There is no friendship. We are from there”, “The parents… as I have told you, my mother and my father were born there”.

Hasan. “So you are of the same parentage”.
Red hat “We are one parentage”.

“The older people at the village, who were born before 1925 have identity cards from Kalotyho village of Satres community, Xanthi Prefecture”.

What we have here is the human way of experiencing Geography. Because human Geography is something else. It has no borders and, I mean, the extended area of Thrace is one thing. I mean that socially and culturally they have so much in common. It’s so natural that these people want to come in contact.

Valya Balkansca
“I am 63 years old. I have been singing maybe for 60 years”.

Moustafa: A lot of pesticides. Since we started using these pesticides there are no bees at the village. They all disappeared. Even the fruit get dried up. We use strong pesticides. We wanted to save tobacco but the others disappear. No bees left at the village, none. All of them died”.

“It is a marginal minority not only after 1920, that is after the incorporation of Thrace into the Greek state, it has been a marginal community for a lot of years for various reasons”.

«Even if the language, the Turkish or the Pomak or the Greek, was used in the past so, with an ethnic attitude on their part or on the part of others who wanted to appropriate this population for nationalistic reasons. In the end the “European identity” prevailed. The children themselves, when the Glafki Senior High School was created with European funding, asked for the European flag to be raised next to the Greek flag. And, many times, when they ask them “what are you? Are you Pomaks?” they say “we are Europeans”.

 Man with birds
“That female over there is called Madonna. And this one, behind the male is Monica Lewinski. Whereas, this one is Bill Clinton.

Karamihova However, even today it seems that these people belong to  the post-modern world, which is constantly becoming globalized. It is part both of the general movement of people and all the modern professional activities aiming at the future.

Man with birds
The only disease of the ostrich is stress. That is the case with humans as well. They are attached a lot and they easily guess human intentions.

Looking back to the banks of the past, Thrace seems to be uncoiling, like a colorful rug, woven by races and cultures with the endurance and knowledge of centuries.
Dissimilar woofs scattered here and there, sometimes interwoven, sometimes divided, till they are united in one way. In an unsaid pattern of life, that mythical Rhodope seems to be imposing upon her subjects.
Eloquent eyes, moderate words as the days are measured by the time at work, at home, in the tobacco fields.
People who know that in this place their ancestors have articulated their own speech at the beat of the loom, in order to answer the call of the mountain in the murmur and the whispers of the forest. In the same way, they spoke about the gurgle of the big river of every day at work, in festivals, in joy and sorrow, in singing.
And so, day and night the colourful rug is being worked on. And anyone who has admired its beauty feels obliged to protect it so, that the holy embrace of the mother tongue does not unravel. So that the ramparts of tolerance and respect for the other, the different, do not tumble. Because then – justly or not – they will fall upon us all.
The end, beginning and end, the right for self-determination. A right springing from a deeper, ancestral knowledge that people have for the history of their place.
As it has been said:  Time brings truth to light

The end

Fragman 1

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