VISIT TO SARAJET – 1865
Rev. Henry Fanshawe Tozer, (1829 – 1916) was an English writer, teacher, traveler, and geographer. He traveled extensively in Greece and in European and Asiatic Turkey. He visited the Sarajet in 1865.
Below are excerpts from his book “Researches in the Highlands of Turkey, Including Visits to Mounts Ida, Athos, Olympus and Pelion, to the Mirdite Albanians and Other Remote Tribes” pub. London: John Murray, Albemarle Street, 1869.
Chapter XIII – pgs 300-301
“At last we struck up a side valley through the bed of a tributary stream, and about nine o’clock saw a bright light gleaming through the darkness, which we were told proceeded from the palace. Toward this we made our way, stumbling along over a rugged track, in the midst of the flashing light of numerous fire-flies, until at last we passed through a gateway, and entering a courtyard found ourselves in front of the dwelling of Prince Bib. While our letter of introduction is being read, and preparation made for our reception, let me endeavor to describe it.”
“The palace or castle of Orosh is an ideal residence of a mountain chieftain, and both the building itself and the life enacted within it carried our thoughts back in many respectes to the wildes times of the Middle Ages. The walls are massively constructed of stone, with loopholes at intervals, for purposes of defence, and the whole structure forms an irregular oblong, one end or wing of which is occupied by the Prince and his family. This part we did not enter, for the women were kept in as complete seclusion as in a Turkish harem; of the rest, the ground floor is taken up with stables, while a flight of stone steps leads up to a large hall, open to the air in front, which occupies the greater part of the upper storey. From the roof of this was suspended an iron frame, containing pieces of resinous pine-wood, whose pright flame sent forth the light that we had seen on our approach. The walls on three sides of it were hung with long guns, richly set with silver and beautifully polished, for this is the occupation of the men, while the women perform the more menial offices. At the back of this are large unfurnished chambers occupied by the retainers and guards, who, from their fierce look and the long locks that streamed from the backs of their heads, appeared some of the wildest of the human race; and its sides are flanked by two good-sized rooms, one of which formed the dining-hall, while the other was appropriated to our use as a bedroom. Both of these are roofed with the pinewood of the mountains, which was fragrant as cedar and beautifully carved. Round the walls, about a third of the way down, runs a cornice of the same material, below which stand handsome buffets for containing valuables. The windows are small, and carefully guarded with iron bars, and the hearths are open, the chimney not commencing until near the roof, which in consequence is blackened with smoke.
Chapter XIV – pg. 306
“On leaving my room the next morning, I found M. Finzi outside, and proceeded with him to a small Kiosk or summer-house, which projects from the front of the hall, and commands an extensive view, reaching almost to the sea, of the deep valley to the west, while close in front of the sloping green maize fields, interspersed with walnut and other trees, and a few cottages, form a refreshing object to the eye. Behind the house the mountain side rises steeply; and in consequence of its western aspect and the gully in which it lied, the place only sees the sun for a few hours in winter, while in the summer the heat is excessive during the afternoon. Both in the kiosk, and in a tent which had been set up in the court at the side of the house, I had long conversations with the Secretary at different times of the day: from these the information about the country which I have to communicate to the reader is mainly derived.”
“At ten o’clock we breakfasted with the Prince in the dining-hall: the party consisted of the Prince, his aide-de-camp and secretary, Don Giorgio, and ourselves. The entertainment had decidedly a martial appearance, for though the guests were not expected to “carve at the meal with gloves of steel,” yet the dishes were handed to us by fierce-looking warriors (among them was one of the captains), with their belts full of pistols and daggers. A German butler, a Prussian by extraction, acted as a majordomo, so that the room contained a curious mixture of nationalists – Italian, Hungarian, German, English and Albanian. Before we took our places it was carefully inquired which of us was the elder, that he might be seated on the Princes’ right hand; and when breakfast was half over, a boiled lamb’s head was brought in on a dish and placed before our host, who immediately transferred it to my plate, to my no slight astonishment, until it was explained to me that this is the highest compliment in Albania, and is given to them an whom the chief ‘delighted to honor’. His idea of hospitality consisted in ordering that we should be helped to as much as possible, and that the silver tankards which were placed before us should be continually refilled with the light wine of the country.”
Chapter XV – pg 327
“Early the following morning we started from Orosh on our way to Prisrend. The Prince had risen to see us off, and we took our leave of him and our other friends at the palace with many expressions of gratitude on our part and regret on theirs. A guard of three men had been appointed to accompany us, -two of them on foot, and the other one, one of the captains, who was the Prince’s financier or accountant, on horseback.”