The Canun

The Canun is the customary law that regulated all aspects of life in the northern part of Albania (and for the Albanians living  in parts of todays Kosove, Montenegro, Macedonia,  and Serbia. The rules are partly very old, some say from late Antiquety, but more rules were added during the centuries. It was first written down in the late 14hundreds but has comtinued to change afterwards.

I bought a book with all the articles translated to English. totally 1263 plus cases on their intepretation and consequences on some of the articles. It is devide into 12 books covering everything from The Bellwether goat or ram to Murder. The Blood-feud is may be the most strange and spectacular area, but hospitality and family roles are also important.

The chapters are:                                                                                                                                                                                     1. The church                                                                                                                                                                                           2. The family.                                                                                                                                                                                           3. Marriage.                                                                                                                                                                                             4. House, livestock and property.                                                                                                                                                         5. Work.                                                                                                                                                                                                   6. Transfer of property.                                                                                                                                                                           7. The spoken word.                                                                                                                                                                               8. Honor.                                                                                                                                                                                                   9. Damages.                                                                                                                                                                                            10. The law regarding crimes.                                                                                                                                                                11. Judicial law.                                                                                                                                                                                        12. Exemptions and exceptions-

Here are some more or less random articles:

§30. The rights of young men. The young man whose parents are alive does not have the right                                                       a. To concern himself about his own wedding.                                                                                                                                   b. To select the matchmaker.                                                                                                                                                                 c. To interfere in his own engagement.                                                                                                                                                 d. To interfere in the token of engagement, in arrangements for the clothes or shoes, or in the setting of the marriage date.

§31. The rights of the young woman. The young woman, even if her parents are not alive, does not have the right to concern herself about her own marriage; this right is held by her brothers or other relatives.                                                      The young woman does not have the right                                                                                                                                                a. To choose her own husband; she must go to the man to whom she has been betrothed                                                      b. To interfere in the selection of a matchmaker or in the engagement arrangements.                                                                c. To interfere in the arrangements for shoes or clothes.

§32. The duties of the husband toward his wife. The duties of the husband are:                                                                                    a. To provide clothing and shoes, and everything necessary for the conduct of life.                                                                    b. To preserve the honor of his wife and not give heer cause for complaint about any need.

§33. The duties of the wife towrd her husband. The duties of the wife are:                                                                                             a, To preserve the honor of her husband                                                                                                                                           b. To serve her husband in an unblemished manner.                                                                                                                       c. To submit to his domination.                                                                                                                                                             d. To fulfill her conjugal duties.                                                                                                                                                               e. To raise and nuture her children with honor.                                                                                                                                   f. To keep clothes and shoes in good order (by sewing)                                                                                                                   g. Not to interfere in the bethrothals of her sons and daughters.

§34. The right of the wife. The wife has the right to ask her husband for sustenence, clothes and shoes.

§57. …………It is true according to our Kanun “Blood follows finger” (i.e. the person who commits a murder incurs a blood.feud), but this law does not include women since “A woman does not incur blood” even if she happens to kill someone. If a woman kills her husband or anyone else, her parents incur that blood.                                                                 …….. A woman is a sack, made to endure as long as she lives in her husband’s house. Her parents do not interfere in her affairs, but they bear resposibility for her and must answer for anything dishonorable that she does.                                       ………For two acts, a woman may be shot in the back, and for one act her ribbon may be cut and she may be left:                       a. Fot adultery                                                                                                                                                                                         b. For betrayal of hospitality.

§58. The rights of the husband over his wife. The husband has the right:                                                                                            a. To counsel and correct his wife.                                                                                                                                                        b. To beat and bind his wife when she scorns his words and orders.

§59. The rights of the father over his sons- The father has the right:                                                                                                      a. Over the life and sustenance of his sons.                                                                                                                                        b. To beat, bind, imprison, or even kill his son and dayghter without being liable before the law, which considers this to be the same as suicide.

§602. “The house of the Albanians belong to God and the guest”.

§629. If your guest commits some evil act while under your protection, you are responsible for it.

§656. The guest must be the first to stop drinking raki and to stop eating.

It is in detail specified what should be prepared for a wedding with cheese, honey, coffee and so one, but it is worth noticing that it required to hae 17 times more raki than coffe, and 70% of the weight of the meat.

§844. As soon as the murderer has killed someone, he must inform the family of the victim, in order that there should be no confusion regarding his identity.

§847. The murderer may not dare to take the victim’s weapons, If he commits such a dishonorable act, he incurs two blood-feuds.

and so, and so on……


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