Ali Pashe Tepelena’s portrait in travel writings

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 5, 2019 13:34

Ali Pashe Tepelena’s portrait in travel writings

Story Highlights

  • “in appearance, Ali was very charming. There was the smell of sincerity and honesty and a cheerful smile. He had a beautiful forehead, wide and clear eyes described as vivid and appealing. A beautifully shaped nose and clean skin."

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TIRANA, July 1- The last period of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, which begins with the interest of the Great Powers for the Balkan region, corroborates with an increasing number of mostly English and French foreign travelers visiting the Pasha of Ioannina, in addition to the diplomatic and military presence of France, Russia and England in these territories.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the traditional travel of the Grand Tour underwent a fundamental change.

A host of travelers and scholars, sometimes as ordinary citizens, and even as explorers and messengers of their governments would cross the territory of Epirus and Greece to get closely acquainted with the territories where the ancient culture that had enchanted them, encouraging a widespread cultural process that was materialized with the production of a rich travel literature that revived the Balkans from the dust of oblivion.

At the same time, this period corroborated the emergence of a new era that had begun in Europe after the outbreak of the French Revolution, the era of nationalism, which materialized at the beginnings of the efforts of the Balkan peoples to form their national states.

We mention both these processes, the European travel literature for the Balkans, and the beginning of history writing from the Balkan ethnic schools that returned to nations, because they are two important historical moments that have left a mark on the development of the Balkan political history.

The first through oriental messages portrayed Ali Pashe Tepelena as an oriental, vampiric and treacherous despot, cynical and lusty, seeing him as an oppressor and a possessor of territories that they would like to see a projected “Hellas” of their school texts, while the latter labeled him as bloody and ruthless to give birth to their national myths. Among the texts of this not yet well-studied travel literature in Albania, we find passages that tell us how Ali Pashe Tepelena was present. Together with some of the European painters’ engravings and portraits, they are important evidence of the physical appearance and character of Ali Pashe Tepelena.

William Plomer writes in his book The Diamond of Jannina: Ali Pasha 1741-1822, that “in appearance, Ali was very charming. There was the smell of sincerity and honesty and a cheerful smile. He had a beautiful forehead, wide and clear eyes described as vivid and appealing. A beautifully shaped nose and clean skin.

His mouth and jaw were [now] hidden behind his beard. Above all, the zest of his reactions, the rapid change of expressions, and his deep laughter which was a bit dracoid in his severity, were his characteristics. He was a sweet-mouthed, logical and impressive.

Ali waited on his feet. He seemed short and sound with a pleasant expression. On his head was formed with many small coats of golden muslin, a high turban, and in his belt hung a long sword with diamonds in its grip. Ali’s face was very enjoyable, his blue and quick eyes, and his long and white beard.

There, on the couch, Ali sat on a lion’s skin. He held red fez with gold stripes, and here-and-there precious diamonds glittered. A hookah stood on his arm. He would bow his head with nobility. His beard, now wholly white, gave him a gentleness like the kindness of Santa Claus. His expression was sincere, impressive, and his voice sweet. He looked very good… He laughed full of modesty, his ways were so quiet and fatherly and so evocative in the sight of his goodness and perfect sincerity…”

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 5, 2019 13:34