Albanian Art

Robert Elsie

Albanian Costumes in Early Postcards

The wealth and variety of Albanian folk costumes was first captured in photographs in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Albania’s traditional isolation from the rest of Europe gave rise to much originality in dress and early foreign travellers were quite captivated by what they saw. In the harsh northern mountains of the country, each tribe, indeed each valley and settlement, had its own distinctive dress that was easily recognizable by the whole population. Costumes revealed not only tribal and religious affiliation, but for women in many cases also marital status. These traditional costumes were in general use well into the 1930s, and in some regions of the country until after the Second World War. Even in the first decades of the twenty-first century, it is no rarity to see traditional costumes worn by Albanian women daily, or at least on market day, in particular in the northern regions of Shkodra, Malësia e Madhe, Lezha and Mirdita and in some more isolated parts of southern Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and Macedonia. However, globalization is swiftly taking its toll.

In the first three decades of the twentieth century, the photographs made of folk costumes were turned into postcards and put on sale, as in other countries. The present collection of these early postcards was kindly made available from the archives of the Centre for Albanian Studies in London. It should be noted that southern Albanian costumes are underrepresented in this collection, not because they are any less spectacular, but simply because the earliest photographers and the earliest costume postcards happened to be from the north of the country.
CAS001 CAS002 CAS003
CAS004 CAS005 CAS006
CAS007 CAS008 CAS009
CAS010 CAS011 CAS012
CAS013 CAS014 CAS015
CAS016 CAS017 CAS018
CAS019 CAS020 CAS021
CAS022 CAS023 CAS024
CAS025 CAS026 CAS027
CAS028 CAS029 CAS030
CAS031 CAS032 CAS033
CAS034 CAS035 CAS036
CAS037 CAS038 CAS039
CAS040 CAS041 CAS042a
CAS042b CAS043 CAS044
CAS045 CAS046 CAS047
CAS048 CAS049 CAS050
CAS051 CAS052