Transhumance of shepherds in central and western areas of the Balkans
Machová, Barbora (Translator)
Resslová, Zuzana (Translator)
Source document: . Tradiční agrární kultura v kontextu společenského vývoje střední Evropy a Balkánu. 1. vyd. Brno: Masarykova univerzita, 2012, pp. -196
According to the opinions of the greatest researchers into the Balkans (J. Cvijić, etc.), there are four large natural zones in the area of the Balkan Peninsula, differing in their morphological, ethnographic, and historical characteristics: central (Morava-Vardar), western (Pindus-Dinaric Alps), eastern (Bulgarian and Thracian territory) and southern (the Adriatic region and most of Greece). For a long historical period, the main characteristic of the life of shepherds – not only in central and western areas, but in the whole territory of the Balkans – became their seasonal movement. Large herds of smaller livestock (mainly sheep, fewer goats) and a smaller number of horses spent the summer season in the pastures in the mountains (letovišta), and the winter in warm seaside lowlands or basins (zimovišta). For a long time these seasonal movements of shepherds were qualified as nomadic pastoralism; however, the term transhumance is now universally used (it has previously been used in Spain and Italy). In the central and western areas of the Balkans, several transhumance varieties and zones came into existence in connection with the natural conditions or the contemporary social and political situations, or the division by country borders which changed considerably in particular historical eras (the Middle Ages, Ottoman period, post-Ottoman period). The number of shepherds decreased in the course of time, shepherds engaged more and more in agriculture, fruit-growing, commerce, longdistance (caravan) transport of goods, crafts and services, and also in military professions. The life of shepherds in the long-term regime of transhumance was the basis of the formation of a specific patriarchal culture of the Balkans, which was passed on from generation to generation and the remnants of which can still be seen today. In the work – on the basis of historical sources and extensive historical and ethnographic literature – the account of transhumance types can be found as well as the process of the transformation of transhumance of shepherds in the central and western areas of the Balkans in the period from the Middle Ages up to the modern era.
Tato studie vznikla v rámci projektu č. 177 022 Lidová kultura Srbů mezi Východem a Západem (2011–2014) Balkanologického ústavu Srbské akademie věd a umění v Bělehradě, který financuje Ministerstvo vědy a osvěty Republiky Srbska.
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