Tuesday, June 23, 2009


The Vlachs (or, as they call themselves, Aromanians, Macedo-romanians or Tzantzarii ) are romance-speaking people scattered all over the Balkan peninsula. Not too many people heard about them, partly because many Vlachs live as wandering shepherds in remote and mountainous areas, partly beacause of their readiness to merge with other nationalities (the Vlachs are often difficult to distinguish from the medieval Bulgarians or, in modern times, from Greeks or from Serbs). However many of them managed to preserve rather well their language and a sense of cultural identity in spite of receiving so little support, both at home and abroad, as a minority group. The history of the Vlachs evolved at the crossroads of the complex realities and paradigms of the Balkan life so that, in a sense, their culture represents a synthesis of the Balkan model of humanity. The Vlach language falls within the eastern romance group of languages. The other eastern romance dialects are Daco-romanian (spoken today in Romania and Moldova ), Megleno-romanian and Istro-romanian . All of them are the by-products of a long process of romanization , taking place over areas extending both north and south of the Danube.

During the Middle Ages the Southeast-European world witnessed the emergence of a network of Valachiae or countries of romanized populations: the Dinaric Valachiae (the countries of the Maurovlachs or Nigri Latini, covering regions east of the Adriatic coast), the Southern Valachiae (Upper Valachia in Epirus, Valachia Major in Thessaly, Valachia Minor in Aetolia and Acarnania and a Valachia in southern Macedonia), the Eastern Valachiae (including the Balkan and Rhodope Valachiae and a group of Valachiae extending from the Dobrudja to Anchialos on the Black Sea) and finally the group of Northern Valachiae (Muntenia or the White Valachia on the left-bank lower Danube, Moldavia or the Black Valachia from the Carpathians to the Prut river, Oltenia or the Valachia Minor to the west of Muntenia, a group of Valachiae projecting from the Carpathians into Transylvania and a Mala Vlaska in Western Slavonia). The Vlachs played an important role in the transport services and in supplying goods of pastoral production like wool, skins, cheese and meat. One of the most beautiful books ever written about Vlachs is A.J.B. Wace and M.S. Thompson's "The nomads of the Balkans, an account of life and customs among the Vlachs of Northern Pindus" (London, Methuen & co., 1914).

source - The Little Vlach Corner

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