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Shkreli (tribe)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Shkreli is a historical Albanian tribe and region in the Malësia Madhe region of Northern Albania and is majority Catholic. With the expansion of the Ottoman Empire, part of the tribe migrated to Rugova in Western Kosovo beginning in ca. 1700, after which they continued to migrate into the Lower Pešter and Sandžak regions (today in Serbia and Montenegro). The Shkreli tribe that migrated to Kosovo converted to Islam in the 18th century and maintained the Albanian language as their mother tongue, the Shkreli in Pešter and Sandžak (known as Škrijelj/Serbian: Шкријељ) over time were Islamized and became Slavophone by the 20th century, so today they declare to be part of the Bosniak ethnicity, although in the Pešter plateau they partly utilized the Albanian tongue until the middle of the 20th century.[1] Shkreli in Albania and Montenegro is predominantly Catholic.The Shkreli tribes patron saint is St. Nicholas (Shen Kole) which feast day is celebrated on May 8th and 9th.(see Translation of the Relics of Saint Nicholas from Myra to Bari).


Various theories have been proposed for the etymology of the name Shkreli. It first appears as a patronymic and village name in 1416 in its present location. It has been spelled as Scirelli, Screlli, Strelli, Scrielli (1703) and Scarglieli (1614) in Latin. An older, unproven historically, etymology links it to Saint Charles (Shën Kërli in Albanian), who is hypothesized to have been the patron saint of an old church in the area.[2] In reality, the name of the region was given to it by the kin community, which apart from Shkreli appears throughout northern Albania in the middle Ages.[3] Another, more linguistically based approach links it to shkrelë, a word used in Gheg Albanian for big corn leaves. Corn is one of the few crops that are cultivated extensively in the available arable land of Shkreli. The people of the region are called Shkrelë. Those in the Sandžak region who have been Slavicized use the surname Škrijelj.


Shkreli is situated in Malësi e Madhe District, north of the city of Shkodra in the protected area of the Shkreli Regional Nature Park in the valley of Prroni i Thatë (Dry Creek). It forms part of the Shkrel municipal unit.In terms of historical and traditional geographical boundaries, to the north it borders Boga, to the south Lohja and to the west Kastrati. To the east of Shkreli are the slopes of the Northern Mountain Range.

Shkreli comprises four villages Vrith, Bzhetë, Zagorë, Dedaj. These four villages also have additional settlements in Grishaj, Vuç-Kurtaj, Sterkuj, Çekëdedaj, Xhaj, Makaj and Ducaj that are linked to them. A small settlement named Shkrel also exists in the Bushat municipal unit. Outside of Albania, people who trace their origin to Shkreli are found in particular in Ulqin(Ulcinj), Sandzak and the nearby Region in western Kosovo. The Montenegro-Kosovo borderlands are marked by many micro-toponyms like Skreljska Halja and Skreljiska Reka that are linked to Shkreli.



By Oral tradition, It is said by the tribe itself the first Shkreli to settle in this region of Albania is Lek Shkreli, and he had four sons Vrithin, Deden, Buzheten dhe Zogun, hence the names of the four main villages of Shkrel : Vrrithi, Dedajt, Bzheta dhe Zagora.

Vrithit, was the oldest of the sons, his family grew largest, and its people are Bajraktar of Shkreli as is custom according to Kanunit të Lekë Dukagjinit.

Deda, Leka’s second son, had three son’s: Çek Deden, Pap Deden and Vulet Deden, and from them also population grew.

Buzheta, his third son had three son’s as well: Preknicin, Ducin e Prekducin.

Leke’s fourth son, Zogu, Only had two sons: Andrean dhe Jusufin (this son ka islamizua).

When Shkreli tribe arrived in this region of Albania they found a population that was already there and this population was admitted into the tribe they are called “Anas”: 1. Xhaj në Xhaj

2. Vukaj ose Vukelaj në Preknicaj

3. Kolajt në Zagorë

4. Baushi ose Kapllajt në Dedaj

5. Luizi në Grykën e Lugjeve

6. Tuçajt të cilët jetojnë në Leskovec.

Oral traditions and fragmentary stories were collected and interpreted by writers who travelled in the region in the 19th century and early 20th century about the origins of Shkreli.

French consul in Shkodra, Hyacinthe Hecquard in his 1858 Histoire et description de la haute Albanie ou Guégarie notes that Shkreli descend from an old Albanian family in the region of İpek, whose chief was called Kerli (Carl).[4] Sixty years later, Edith Durham who travelled in the region wrote in High Albania (1908) that she recorded a story in Shkreli that they came from an unknown region of Bosnia. In her 1928 book Some tribal origins, laws, and customs of the Balkans she also notes that this even must have happened around 1600.[5] Carleton S. Coon in his 1944 Mountains of Giants: A Racial and Cultural Study of the North Albanian Mountain Ghegs adopted her hypothesis and further added that the people of Shkreli 'took over a valley whose population was killed and church burned. The name of the church was St. Charles (Albanian: Shen Kerli) which became Shkrelli.[6]

Baron Nopcsa, a well-known scholar of the Albanian fis system, noted that the mention of an unknown region of Bosnia could well mean an area of the Sanjak of Novi Pazar or adjacent to it.[7] This region until the late 19th century was administratively part of the Eyalet of Bosnia. Indeed, Albanian pastoral communities from the Plav area used to move their herds in Bosnia during the winter months and then move back in the spring and summer months to their natural grazing lands.[8]

In the decades that followed analysis of recorded historical material, linguistics and comparative anthropology have provided more historically-grounded accounts. A particularly important work in this respect was the publication of the cadaster of Scutari of 1416-7 in 1942 and the subsequent registry of names of the cadaster in 1945 by Fulvio Cordignano. The full document was translated in Albanian in 1977. It is the first known historical document that mentions Shkreli both as a settlement and as a family name in 1416. The village of Shkreli appears in the cadaster of Scutari as a small settlement of eight households headed by a Vlash Shkreli.[9]

In 1416, Shkreli appears as a tribe in the process of formation as the village name is also the surname of most of its households, an indication of the kin organization of the settlement.[3] The fact that about half of the households who bore the surname Shkreli lived outside of the settlement points to the fact that Shkreli in 1416 was closer to being a bashkësi (tribe based on kinship relations but with no communal territorial control) than a fis (a kin community that is also identified with a given communal territory).


Tribesmen visiting the feast of Saint Nicholas at Bzheta in Shkreli territory, Albania, 1908
Tribesmen visiting the feast of Saint Nicholas at Bzheta in Shkreli territory, Albania, 1908

Scarglieli was mentioned by Mariano Bolizza in 1614, being part of the Sanjak of Scutari. It was Roman Catholic, had 20 houses, and 43 men at arms commanded by Gion Poruba.[10] In the late Ottoman period, the tribe of Shkreli consisted of 180 Muslim and 320 Catholic households.[11]

In 1901, study conducted by italian Antonio Baldacci, Shkreli has 4500 citizens Catholic and 750 Muslim.

In years 1916–1918 Franz Seiner observed Shkreli had 415 houses, 2680 individuals of which 2300 Catholics and 388 Muslims.

During the Ottoman Empire the Shkreli tribe was in constant warfare with the Ottoman Empire and enjoyed intermittent autonomy from the Porte. Years at war 1614,1621,1645 (which won them autonomy until 1700), 1803-1817,1834-1840, 1871 war with Turks of Shkodra over mistreatments of local Catholic population of city, Albanian revolts in 1910–1911, etc. Shkreli tribe participated In League of Prizren 1878-1881 represented by Bajraktar Marash Dashi.

During the Albanian revolt of 1911 on 23 June Albanian tribesmen and other revolutionaries gathered in Montenegro and drafted the Greçë Memorandum demanding Albanian sociopolitical and linguistic rights with four of the signatories being from Shkreli.[12] In later negotiations with the Ottomans, an amnesty was granted to the tribesmen with promises by the government to build one to two primary schools in the nahiye of Shkreli and pay the wages of teachers allocated to them.[12]

Before converting to Islam in the 18th century, most of the Kosovo part of tribe professed Catholicism, The descendants of this tribe in Kosovo have also maintained the Albanian language as their mother tongue. Majority of the Shkreli tribe is Catholic, speaks Albanian and they live in Albania (Shkrel-Shkodër-Lezha-Veliopoje) and Montenegro (ulqin).[13] The Tribes Patron Saint is St. Nicholas and feast day is celebrated on May 9th.

Anti-Communist War

In 1945 Shkreli tribe Fought the first anti-communist war in Albania.

Led by Major Llesh Marashi. List of dead or imprisoned :

DEDAJ 1. Mark Sokol Sokolaj (20 vjet burg, djegur shtëpia)

2. Gjok Kola (pushkatuar në ushtri pas mobolizimit të dhunshëm)

3. Mirash Gjon Sokolaj (pushkatuar)

4. Pjeter Kole Sokolaj (pushkatuar)

5. Nikollë Prel Gjeka (pushkatuar)

6. Gjekë Mark Sokoli (burgosur)

7. Marash Kolë Sokoli (burgosur)

8. Kolë Tomë Stakaj (burgosur, djegur shtëpia)

ZAGORA l. Lukët Marashi (pushkatuar)

2 .Dan Coli (pushkatuar)

3. Prekë Leka (pushkatuar)

4. Pashko Leka (pushkatuar)

5. Rexhë Mehmeti (vdekur në burg)

6. Lesh Marashi ( varur në Shkoder, djegur shtëpia)

7. Fran Pjetri i nipi i Leshit (pushkatuar)

8. Vatë Gjelosh Marvukaj (pushkatuar në arratisje në Mamuras)

9 Ndue Gjelosh Marvukaj (pushkatuar në arratisje në Mamuras)

10.Rrok Kanto Marashi (10 vjet burg)

11. Ndrek Pjetër Zef Çulaj (pushkatuar)

12. Kolë Nikë Colaj (10 vjet burg)

13. Mark Gjokë Leknikaj (vdekur në burg)

14. Brahim Xhagji Vuçaj (burgosur)

15. Sadri Zekë Leknikaj (burgosur)

16. Dylë Çerimi (burgosur)

VRITHI 1. Pjetër Gjoka Milaj (101 burg)

2. Mirash Gjoka Lugaj (arratisur, vdekur në Mal të Zi)

3 Martin Frani Popaj (pushkatuar në arratisje)

4. Nikollë Kola (pushkatuar në arratisje)

5 Kolë Tomë Deda (pushkatuar)

6. Gjokë Deda Milaj (vdekur në internim, djegur shtëpia)

7. Preç Pjetër Vulaj (vdekur prej torturave)

8. Gjergj Kolë Lucë Purashi (burgosur)

9. Fran Çul Kroni (20 vjet burg)

10. Prekë Gjergj Dedë Milaj (l0 vjet burg)

11.Pjetër Prekë Pacaj (burgosur, djegur shtëpia)

12.Gjeto Prekë Ramaj (burgosur)

13.Luk Maç Tuçaj (burgosur)

ÇEKDEDAJ 1.Kolë Nikë Marçinaj (25 vjet burg)

2.Tomë Fran Brrakaj (burgosur)

3.Prelë Vatë Malotaj (burgosur)

4.Gjokë Zef Çekaj (l5 vjet burg)

5. Marash Zef Çekaj (l0 vjet burg)

6. Lulash Palokë Vruçaj (burgosur)

7.Gjelosh Nikë Vukelaj (5 vjet burg)

8.Zef Muran Luca (25 vjet burg)

9.Fran Zef Kolë Gjieli (25 vjet burg)

10.Pashko Vat Malota (burgosur, djegur shtëpia)

BZHET - MAKAJ - XHAJ l. Gjeto Lekë Mirukaj Xhaj (25 vjet burg)

2. Mark Tomë Gjeloshaj Makaj (pushkatuar)

3. Prel Tomë Gjeloshaj (20 vjet burg)

4. Gjon Lekë Mirukaj Xhaj (20 vjet burg, vdes nga torturat në burg)

5. Pjetër Lekë Mirukaj Xhaj (20 vjet burg)

6. Prelë Tomë Makaj (101 vjet burg)

7.Tereze Prekë Xhajaj ( turturua në mënyer çnjerzore)


Shkreli dispersal and self-identification
Geographical location Religion Language
Albania Roman Catholic (majority), Islam Albanian
Western Kosovo Islam Albanian
Pešter, Sandžak, Ulqin and it’s surrounding villages
(Serbia and Montenegro)
Roman Catholic (majority), Islam Albanian (majority), modern Bosniak

During history parts of the tribe emigrated from Albania to different locations: the Montenegro seaside, to Sandžak and to Rugova highland (located in northwestern Kosovo near Peć). Some of the Rugova Shkrelis moved to the territory of Rožaje and Tutin in 1700, after the Great Serb Migration.[14] They founded the village named Škrijelje (as they continued residing in Sandžak, by appropriating the yat vowel from the Slavic languages, the surname deviated from Shkrel to Škrijelj). Later in the century they populated the Lower Pešter region and the city of Novi Pazar. Shkrelis continued to migrate from Rugova to the territory of Pešter until the 19th century.[15] The vast majority of Shkreli were assimilated by the Slavic population in the Sandžak region. However, in the villages of Boroštica and Gradac at the Upper Pešter plateau, they managed to maintain the original Albanian language until today. Shkreli’s also migrated to Ulqin (Ulcinj) and its surrounding villages on the coast and along Bojana River. Shreli of Ulqin are all Albanian and Roman Catholic. Here they all have the surnames Shkreli, Shkrela, Shkrelja, Skrela, and Skrelja. Ulqin Shkrel have always and still maintain close relations with Albania’s Shkrel have always intermarried despite living on opposite borders and are still part of the same Bajrak. After the Second World War and especially with the beginning of the Yugoslav Wars they began migrating to Western Europe, United States of America and Australia.

Most of the Shkreli that are from Albania proper do not carry Shkreli as a surname. It is only the ones that emigrated from the mountains that carry Shkreli as surnames. Today, people bearing the surname Shkreli (or Škrijelj) live in the following locations:[citation needed]


Notable people

  • Major Llesh Marashi - Albanian nationalist and anti-communist
  • Father Zef Pllumi - Franciscan priest and author of book Live to Tell.

See also


  1. ^ Robert Elsie (30 May 2015). The Tribes of Albania: History, Society and Culture. I.B.Tauris. p. 81. ISBN 978-1-78453-401-1.
  2. ^ Topalli, Kolec (2004). Dukuritë fonetike të sistemit bashkëtingëllor të gjuhës shqipe. Shkenca. p. 286. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  3. ^ a b Pulaha, Selami (1975). "Kontribut për studimin e ngulitjes së katuneve dhe krijimin e fiseve në Shqipe ̈rine ̈ e veriut shekujt XV-XVI' [Contribution to the Study of Village Settlements and the Formation of the Tribes of Northern Albania in the 15th century]". Studime Historike. 12: 122. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  4. ^ The Tribes of Albania:History, Society and Culture. Robert Elsie. 24 April 2015. p. 183. ISBN 9780857739322.
  5. ^ Durham, Edith (1928). Some tribal origins, laws and customs of the Balkans. p. 28. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  6. ^ Carl Coleman Seltzer; Carleton Stevens Coon; Joseph Franklin Ewing (1950). The mountains of giants: a racial and cultural study of the north Albanian mountain Ghegs. The Museum. p. 45. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  7. ^ The Tribes of Albania:History, Society and Culture. Robert Elsie. 24 April 2015. p. 83. ISBN 9780857739322.
  8. ^ Ajeti, Idriz (2017). Studime për gjuhën shqipe [Studies on the Albanian language] (PDF). Academy of Sciences of Kosovo. p. 61. Retrieved 26 February 2020.
  9. ^ Zamputi, Injac (1977). Regjistri i kadastrēs dhe i koncesioneve pēr rrethin e Shkodrës 1416-1417. Academy of Sciences of Albania. p. 66. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  10. ^ Early Albania: A Reader of Historical Texts, 11th-17th Centuries. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. 2003. pp. 147–. ISBN 978-3-447-04783-8.
  11. ^ Gawrych 2006, p. 31.
  12. ^ a b Gawrych, George (2006). The Crescent and the Eagle: Ottoman rule, Islam and the Albanians, 1874–1913. London: IB Tauris. pp. 186–187. ISBN 9781845112875.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  13. ^ Balkanistica. 13-14. Slavica Publishers. 2000. p. 41.
  14. ^ Mušović, Ejup (1985). Tutin i okolina. Serbian Academy of Science and Arts. p. 27.
  15. ^ Glasnik Etnografskog instituta. 20. Naučno delo. 1980. p. 74.
This page was last edited on 22 September 2020, at 17:07
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