This dictionary makes available for the first time a broad range of knowledge unknown or little-known to the western world, and indeed much information that is now lost to present-day Albanians. As such, it serves as a basic work of reference for readers and scholars specialising in the societies of the Balkans, th study of religious and anthropology. The presence of the Albanians in south-eastern Europe has been documented for about a thousand years. Originally a small herding community, with time, as well as innate vigour, unconsciousness persistence and much luck, they came to take their place among the nations of Europe. The historical, political and economic development of the Albanians has been arduous and only in one sense have they been rich, namely in the breadth and complexity of their traditional folk culture. Yet this culture remains little known in the western world, even among anthropologists and ethnographers specialising in the Balkans.
Albanian folk culture and religion suffered dreadfully at the hands of the Stalinist regime of Enver Hoxha and this book seeks to reduce for posterity many practices and beliefs which were, or were nearly, extinguished during the years of isolation and repression. The author's work focuses on Albanian mythology, religious beliefs, religious communities, orders and sects; on saints and holy men who have had an impact on Albanian beliefs, cult sanctuaries, calendar feasts, rituals and popular superstitions; on birth, marriage and funeral customs, sexual mores, blood feuding an Albanian customary law; and on the three principal religions of the Albanians, including their unique local variants: Islam, especially Sufism; Orthodox Christianity; and Roman Catholicism.