In remote Albania, a centuries-old code of honor survives

The Los Angeles Times features a story about traditions in a remote part of Albania, where a centuries-old code of honor survives.

It is in isolated pockets such as these that Albania’s traditions are strongest.

Many still live at least in part by the Kanun, a code handed down through the centuries in which "besa" — loosely translated as word of honor or sacred promise — is paramount. The code was adhered to by Albania’s Muslim majority and Catholic and Orthodox Christian minorities.

The code covers everything from inheritances and the rights of the church to the treatment of livestock. Disobeying the Kanun could lead to harsh penalties that might include banishment or the transgressor’s household being burned. A slight could lead to a blood feud that lasted for generations.

In Theth, nobody will sell land to an outsider, or even to another villager. Brides must come from outside the valley, a tradition that follows along the lines of the Kanun’s rule that marriage within the same clan is forbidden. [continue]

Thanks to Sarah for telling me about this story.