Although the Albanian lands remained under Turkish rule for almost 500 years and many foods, clothes and traditions were adopted by the Albanian population, there were some things that never changed.

During the time that the Turkish government was finally established in the Albanian lands, although from the outside these Albanian rulers had embraced the Turkish way of life, it was something extremely rare and highly reprehensible to have more than one wife or worse to keep a slave at home. The descent from a mother that didn't come from a good family was not seen favorably and was a stain on the name of that son.

Likewise, in none of the properties of the Albanian rulers you could find a harem in the Turkish sense. Haremllek in Albania, in its literal sense, was nothing but the kemenate of the German castles (the part of the medieval castle inhabited by women).

The service personnel, the pazhet (boys) and kopilet (girls) were usually the sons and daughters of the previous servants or the sons and daughters of the peasants who were sent to work in order to get a job or to make the dowry. Bey and his wife took care to marry their maids as best as possible, and when the time came, they took their children again, because whether they were young or old, they were already considered part of the family.

On the contrary, the kitchen staff, especially in the early days, were black people captured by Ulcinian and Tunisian pirates and then sold in Albania. One such center of this human trafficking was in Vlora, in the square in front of the castle. That's why today we find some rare old photos where we see people of color who lived in Albania and wore traditional Albanian clothes.

"However, even these people have never been true slaves. Even they, after some time, were treated the same as the Albanian maids, even, for their special diligence, they were sometimes even more appreciated"- writes Eqrem bey Vlora in one of his books. 

Rudina Selami