(Chapter XII, section 13)

Albania and the Dinaric Race


The kingdom of Albania, lying directly south of Montenegro, contains a population of roughly one million people; another million at least live outside the borders of their own country, mostly in Yugoslavia, although there are large colonies in Greece and in Rumania, as well as in the United States. They are divided into two distinct ethnic groups, each with its own variety and dialects of the Albanian language, its own costume, and its own particular pattern of culture. These are the Toscs in the south, and in the north and on the plain of Kossovo, the Ghegs. The Ghegs still preserve their system of exogamous patrilineal clans, comparable to that of the Montenegrins; they are divided into ten tribes of which at least part of each lies in Albania itself, and three or perhaps more outside. The ten in Albania include Malsia ë Madhë, Dukagin, Malsia Jakovës and Has, all north of the Drin, and reading from west to east. Both Has and Malsia Jakovës extend eastward into Old Serbia, north of Prizren; Malsia e Madhe has clans in Old Montenegro. Entirely outside of Albania, in Montenegro and the Kossovo country, are Peia, Podrima, and a number of clans in the neighborhood of Mitrovitza. South of the Drin are Zadrima, immediately southeast of Shkodra; Puka, Mirdita, and Luma, part of which is Serbian-speaking; south of this band are Mati, the tribe of King Zog, and Dibra, which occupies the slopes on either side of the Black Drin.

Seventy per cent of the Albanians in Albania are Moslems, nearly all in Yugoslavia are. The remaining 30 per cent are equally divided between Catholics and Greek Orthodox. The Catholics are all Ghegs, the Orthodox all Toscs. Of the Ghegs, all of Mirdita, all of Dukagin, and parts of Zadrima, Malsia ë Madhë, Puka, Malsia Jakovës, Has, and Mati are Catholic. The Catholics are the most conservative culturally, and as a rule the most remote in their habitat. Neither Catholicism nor Islam have inhibited the functioning of the Gheg social system, which operates in an unusual manner. Each tribe is divided into geographical and political divisions known as bairaks, but independent of this is another concept known as the fis. The fis is an exogamous patrilineal kinship group, without geographical attachment; several whole bairaks may belong to one fis, and thus be excluded from intermarriage; on the other hand one small village may contain branches of several fis, some large and national, other small and local.

The fis is the body of descendants in the male line of one usually eponymous ancestor. In various tribes different rules hold as to the determination of when this relationship may become so remote that the marriage

restriction breaks down; in some, after one hundred generations; in others, only when the exact relationship is unknown. This exogamy has a close bearing upon the regional physical anthropology of the Ghegs, since it oversteps tribal boundaries and causes a trading of wives over large distances. Designed to prevent incest, it actually produces close in-breeding, since reciprocal matings amount in many cases to habitual cross-cousin marriage.

The most important fis is that to which the people of the famous bairaks of Shoshi and Shala, in Dukagin, belong, and also three of the five bairaks of Mirdita. The restrictions against intermarriage between Shoshi and Shala have broken down, as well even as unions between moieties within these bairaks, but in Mirdita all the young men of the three bairaks of Spaç, Orosh, and Kushnein must take their wives from the other two, Dibri and Fan. The original ancestors of this super-fis were brothers, who came from the plain of Kossovo into the mountains looking for refuge, at least 100 generations ago, according to the popular tradition. That many such movements must have taken place in the past is apparent; northern Albania is a refuge area of the first water. The Albanian language, a hybrid between Illyrian, Thracian, Latin, Slavic, Turkish, and other elements, reflects the ethnically composite origin of the Albanians.

The stature of the Ghegs is extremely variable geographically; the tribes which touch Montenegro have means of 173 cm. and 174 cm.; the northernmost bairaks of Malsia ë Madhë and Dukagin, which lie closest to Old Montenegro, are taller than the southern ones within their own tribes.127 On the south side of the Drin the means fall to 169 cm., and continues to the level of 167 cm. in Mati and Mirdita. The stature level of the Montenegrins tapers off much more rapidly to the south of its nucleus than it does to the north. The descent in stature level is steepest on the western side of the mountains; on the eastern side, from Has to Dibra, there is a drop of only 2 cm. The stature of the Albanians is chronologically constant; there is no internal evidence of recent increase.

The relative span of the Ghegs is 104, higher than that of Montenegrins, and more in accordance with Dinaric standards. The relative sitting height of 52.8 is much the same, and show no regional differences of any importance. As in Montenegro, bodily build is not controlled by stature; the most thick-set individuals are often the tallest. The shoulder breadth-stature ratio is in fact highest in the tribes adjoining Montenegro.

The mean cephalic index of the Ghegs is 85, as with most Dinarics. Geographically, however, the highest indices are found in the west, in Malsia Jakovës, Zadrima, and Mati, the three tribes situated on the coastal side of the mountain chain; here the means lie between 86.5 and 87. A zone of relative long-headedness is found in the east, in Malsia Jakovës and Luma, where the means are 83. Thus the progression is from west to east, and not north to south, as with stature.

As one would expect, the head dimensions vary with stature; the mean head lengths in the north range from 186 mm. to 190 mm.; in the south from 183 mm. to 185 mm. The head breadths run from 162 mm. in Malsia ë Madhë to 165 mm. in Luma. The widest heads are thus found in proximity to Old Montenegro. The vaults of the Ghegs are moderately high; ranging from 129 mm. in the north, to 126 mm. in the south. The facial diameters show both a north-south and an east-west progression: the minimum frontal mean, for example, is 112 mm. in Malsia ë Madhë and 110 mm. in other tribes north of the Drin; elsewhere it falls to 107 mm. and 108 mm. The bizygomatic, with a mean of 144 mm. in the northwestern tribes, falls regularly to 140-141 mm. in the south and cast. The bigonial follows a similar progression from 109 mm. to 107 mm. In these facial diameters, as in stature, the northwesternmost Ghegs form a continuation of the oversized racial area of Old Montenegro; elsewhere there is a rapid tapering to a normal Dinaric condition. It is to be noted that among these Dinarics, patently the descendants of pre-Germanic and pre-Slavic mountain peoples, the forehead is wider than the mandible, and the face takes on the characteristic form of an inverted triangle.

Once outside the Montenegrin area, the face loses its excessive height; the mean menton-nasion diameter of the Ghegs is 124 mm., comparable to face heights in southern Germany and Switzerland. The greatest heights, reaching a mean of 126 mm. in Has, are found in the east, along the edges of the plain of Kossovo; the shortest, reaching 121 mm. in Mirdita, are located in the central mountain nucleus, from Dukagin to Mati. This regional pattern is clearly shown by the facial index, which runs from 86 in the center and west, to 89 in the east. All tribes but Has, however, are mesoprosopic. The upper facial index is even more variable: the mean for Mirdita is 49; for Has 54; this range is nearly as great as that for all of Europe. The noses of the Ghegs, 58 mm. high by 34 mm. wide, are among the world's most leptorrhine, with a mean nasal index of 58.

Metrically the Gheg tribes present a complex situation; the rapid progression from north to south in stature and in the breadths of the head and face show that the Borreby-like nucleus of Old Montenegro does not extend far southward into Albania. The tall, northern tribesmen are the most heavily built, the shorter southern ones the most sparely; a conven-tional Dinaric build goes with the shorter stature level. In the eastern tribes there is strong evidence of a moderately tall, long-faced, dolichocephalic element; while a short-faced element, metrically suggestive of Alpines, is centered in the very remote mountain valleys of Mirdita.

Almost all of the Ghegs are light-skinned, with the von Luschan #3 and 7 most frequently represented. Freckling, common in Montenegro, is rare here; what little there is is confined almost entirely to the tribes nearest Old Montenegro, and here it reaches but 5 per cent. The head hair is usually brunet, with black or near black reaching 40 per cent, and dark to medium brown 45 per cent. Light brown or blond hair, which is almost always on the golden or slightly rufous side, accounts for the other 15 per cent. Only two men out of 1100 were found to have ash-blond hair. As in Montenegro, the beards are much lighter than the head hair; the black contingent is reduced to 6 per cent, while 36 per cent are reddish brown or auburn, 3 per cent red, and 30 per cent golden blond or light brown with a golden tinge. The rufous tendency, while not as pronounced as in parts of Montenegro, exists to the virtual exclusion of ash-blondism. Regionally, the darkest hair is found in Mirdita and in the eastern border; the lightest in the west and south.

Seventeen per cent of Ghegs have pure brown eyes, and 7 per cent pure light ones. Half the group has green-brown iris combinations and 20 per cent blue-brown. Of the mixed eyes, 30 per cent are dark-mixed, and 48 per cent predominantly light, the rest nearly even. The Ghegs are, therefore, thoroughly mixed, or almost completely intermediate, in eye color, with the blond element or elements slightly more important than the brunet. The darkest eyes are found in Dukagin, and in Malsia Jakova, on the border of Old Serbia; there 25 per cent of eyes are brown. Elsewhere there is little regional differentiation.

The head hair of the Ghegs is usually wavy, and medium to fine in texture; it is of greater than average abundance for Europeans on mustache, cheek, jaw, and on the body; at the same time the correlative tendency to baldness is strong here. The eyebrows are usually thick, and are concurrent in 70 per cent of the group. As in Montenegro, the foreheads are seldom very sloping; the browridges are usually on the heavy side of medium. External eyefolds, found in 35 per cent of the group, are commonest in the tribes which form a continuation of the western mountain zone south of Old Montenegro; elsewhere the high Dinaric orbit precludes their development in most cases.

The nasal morphology of the Ghegs is usually more strictly Dinaric than that of the Montenegrins; the root and bridge are more consistently elevated, and the tip as a rule thinner. Well over 50 per cent have convex profiles; only 6 per cent concave. Less than half the tips are inclined downward; only in Malsia ë Madhë, closest to Montenegro, are depressed tips in the majority. With the thin nasal tip goes a high ratio of compressed nasal wings; the Gheg nose is truly leptorrhine morphologically as well as metrically.

The faces of the Ghegs often lack the strong bony relief so noticeable among Montenegrins; the lateral jut of the zygomatic arches is usually restricted, and the gonial angles are usually of but medium prominence. The cheeks are usually drawn and thin, and while this condition may be partly nutritional, it has its racial implications. The plump, fat-padded cheeks of the Ukrainian peasants stand at the opposite European extreme.

The morphology of the occipital region among the Ghegs, in view of their general Dinaric character, is of particular interest. The occipital protrusion is as a rule slight to medium; it is least in the western tribes. and greatest in the eastern. Actual occipital flattening is found in only 30 per cent of the group; tribal incidences range from 50 per cent in Malsia ë Madhë to 20 per cent in Dukagin, Malsia Jakovës, and Puka. On the whole the distribution is definitely west to east. Lambdoid flattening is found among 44 per cent of the Ghegs; it is thus more frequent than the occipital form. Its tribal distribution is exactly opposite to that of occipital flattening; the two phenomena are usually complementary, and a minority only of individuals lacks either.

There has been much discussion upon the subject of occipital flattening, both in Albania and in Asia Minor; there are two definite schools, one which believes that it is natural and racially determined, the other that it is a form of artificial deformation caused by cradling. My own position lies between these two extremes;128 occipital flattening is without doubt a phenomenon associated with the entire mechanical orientation of the cranium in the Dinaric race, and especially with the position of the foramen magnum to the rear of that usual in most races. As such, it is undeniably inherited.

At the same time, the use of the Albanian cradle, in which the shoulders are bound but the head is not, may in some instances have caused an intensification of this flattening, since the heads of some living Albanians are unquestionably deformed. However, since cradling practices are regionally uniform in Albania, the geographical distribution of this character is wholly racial in pattern.

At this point there arises the entire question of Dinaric origins, which may be approached on the basis of a statistical analysis of the Gheg material. Attempts to intercorrelate metrical and morphological characters with each other and with pigmentation reveal the presence of the following types in Ghegnia, each of which shows a tendency for the characters of which it is composed to associate themselves as a unit.

(1) A tall, large-headed, brachycephalic, wide-faced type, with intermediate pigmentation, and an especial tendency toward rufosity. This is the Borreby-like type prevalent in Montenegro; in Albania it is almost wholly confined to the tribe of Malsia ë Madhë, and within that tribe is concentrated in the bairak of Gruda.

(2) A medium-statured, brachycephalic, short-faced type, with mixed pigmentation, which is fundamentally Alpine. It is found in all tribes, but is commonest in the refuge area of Mirdita.

(3) A tall, dolichocephalic or mesocephalic type with dark hair and dark brown eyes, a straight nasal profile, and a tendency toward a lesser leptorrhiny than the total group. This is an Atlanto-Mediterranean racial type which is also prevalent in other Balkan countries. It may also be sorted out of available statistical series of Greeks, while it is common in Bulgaria and easily distinguishable among Serbs. It, or a similar type, also occurs with Dinarics in northern Italy and the Tyrol. In northern Albania it is commonest in Malsia Jakovës and Dukagin.

(4) A very strongly differentiated type which is characterized by medium stature, exceptional brachycephaly, great narrowness and convexity of the nose, a high incidence of occipital flattening, and a tendency to light brown eye color in combination with dark brown hair. This type may be called Dinaric in the full or specific sense; most of the other Ghegs are Dinarics in a partial or a general sense. This ultra-Dinaric type is commonest in the tribe of Dibra.

(5) A blond, brachycephalic, convex-nosed Noric, of standard type. It is commonest in Zadrima.

(6) A few light brown-haired Nordics, centered in Luma.

As a result of the foregoing division of the Gheg material into natural sub-racial compartments, it becomes apparent that the Dinaric race, in the sense of a tall, convex-nosed, long-faced population inhabiting the mountain zone which stretches from Switzerland to Albania, is a composite aggregation of racial types. The specific nature of the Dinaric population of any given segment of this zone depends upon the local elements involved; thus there are regional Dinaric sub-types. There is one dominant set of characters which pervades the Dinaric group; high brachycephaly, nasal convexity, occipital flattening, and a tendency toward the attenuation of extremities. Aside from these features, the original ingredients in the Dinaric blend tend to retain their old linkages.

The peculiar facial and cranial features of the Dinarics seem to be the results of differential inheritance in hybridization; the primary mixture which brings them about is apparently an Alpine-Mediterranean crass, with Mediterranean used in the widest sense of the word. The Asiatic Dinarics, who appeared early in the Metal Age, were apparently Alpine-Cappadocian hybrids; many of those went to Europe and settled in widely separated places, including sections of the Dinaric Alps. The exaggerated Dinaric type of Albania, with its tendency to light brown eye color may conceivably be derived from this source. It is also to be found in considerable numbers in the Tyrol.

All European Dinarics, however, cannot be traced to this Near Eastern origin; most of them must be the result of primary blendings on European soil. Here the two principal ingredients are the tall, dark brown-eyed Adanto-Mediterranean which seems old and basic in southeastern Europa and an ordinary Alpine. Nordic accretions produce a Noric, Borreby-like accretions an Old Montenegnn. Neo-Danubian Slavic additions product the small-faced type common in Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia.

The blending of the Dinarics is never perfect in a chemical sense; in any Dinaric population there are ordinary Alpines and a few Atlanto-Mediterraneans along with their blended brethren. When the proportions of the ingredients are wrong, the type which is present in excess may be found in some numbers in its original form. That is why there are so many Alpines in France and Switzerland, and so many Atlanto-Mediterraneans in Malsia Jakovës.

Dinaricism is not a quality pertaining to a single race, it is a condition. This condition is common in Europe; it is also common in western Asia. Furthermore, it is not confined to the white racial stock; the principle of hybrid inheritance which produces Dinarics in Europe has also produced Papuans in New Guinea, the Arii aristocrats in Polynesia, and many American Indians.

The southern half of Albania, the homeland of the Toscs, lies outside the Dinaric racial area in the strictest sense. The Toscs are dwellers in compact villages, wearers of pleated kilts like the Greeks, and frequent emigrants to other lands. Like the Mzabites in Algeria, and the Hadhramis of southern Arabia, many of the male inhabitants of several southern Albanian towns, notably Korça, migrate to distant lands in their youth, work in factories or run shops, and return when they have accumulated enough money. It was this system which first led Albanians to migrate to America, a system which the Toscs share with the Greeks.

The only adequate anthropometric data extant which deals with the Toscs is a series from southwestern Albania, from the town of Gjinokastër and its neighborhood.129 These Aginocastrians are on the short side of medium in stature, with a mean of 164 cm.; they are long-bodied, with a mean relative sitting height of 53.7, and medium in arm extension (rel. span = 103.4). They are, as a rule, medium to lateral in bodily build. Their cephalic index mean, 90.8, is by far the highest recorded in Europe. Their head length, 177 mm., is extremely small, its breadth, 161 mm., great. The auricular height of 122 mm. is moderate to low. The forehead is rather broad, with a minimum frontal of 109 mm., the mandible less so, with a bigonial of 107 mm., while the face breadth, 141 mm., like the other facial dimensions, falls into the Alpine range. The face height, 119 mm., is moderately short; the facial index, 84.4, barely mesoprosopic. The nose, however, with a length of 56.3 mm. and a breadth of 34.4 mm., is very leptorrhine, in a typical Albanian manner, with a nasal index of 61.

Toscs measured in Rumania have a mean cephalic index of 87; members of the Tosc colonies of southern Italy, who fled across the Adriatic from the Turks in the sixteenth century, a mean of 80. It seems probable that the extreme index mean of the Gjinokastër neighborhood is higher than that for the Tosc country as a whole; yet individual Toscs measured in Massachusetts run well into the 90's. The Italian Toscs may owe their relative dolichocephaly to (a) mixture with Italians, (b) selection at source of migration, or (c) the possibility that the high brachycephaly of the Tosc country may be a recent phenomenon, as in southern Germany, Bohemia, and so many other central European countries. It is very possible that the high brachycephaly of the Toscs at home may be partly due to cradling; it is a commonplace in the Albanian colony of Massachusetts that the newer generation born in Stockbridge and Brockton licks in many cases the extreme occipital brevity of its parents.

Further exposition concerning the physical anthropology of the Toscs must take the form of subjective observations and remarks, which are permissible only in lieu of adequate data. In the first place, the fundamental Tosc type is Alpine. The head form, with or without occipital flattening, is usually globular, the forehead high and often bulbous, the face frequently round in contour. The nose in many cases lacks the high-bridged Dinaric character found among the Ghegs, as well as the common depression of the tip. This Alpine type is well represented by photographs on Plate 14. Beside the Alpines, there are many Dinarics in southern Albania, but they probably form a minority, and in any case are extremely variable. In Albania it is very easy to distinguish a Gheg; they have a racial hall-mark which is hard to define and easy to recognize; the Toscs are much less homogeneous, and in America they pass for the most part unnoticed in the general racial hodge-podge. Most Bostonians, who possibly see fifty to one hundred Toscs in a week, are unaware of their presence, while they have definite ideas, formed upon first sight, as to who is an Italian, an Armenian, or a Jew.

It is my opinion that the Toscs, in pigmentation as well as in bodily and facial characters, resemble the southern and central French very closely; that they and the French form the two ends of the Alpine racial area in Europe, the center of which is largely taken up by the Dinaric amalgam.


127 This section is based upon a series of 1100 Ghegs measured by the author in 1929-30. In each of the ten tribes within Albania, the sample includes over 100 men; within each tribe the bairak and village distribution is approximately even. Other sources dealing with the Ghegs include:

Haberlandt, A., and Lebzelter, V., AFA, vol. 45, 1919, pp. 123-142.
Pittard, E., Les Peuples des Balkans.
Tildesley, M. L., Biometrika, vol. 25, 1933, pp. 21-51.
Weninger, J., Rasseukundliche Untersuchungen an Albanern, RPN, ser. A. vol. 4, 1934.

128 A detailed study of this question will be published in the author's The Physical Anthropology of Northern Albania.

129 Tildesley, M. L, Biometrika, vol. 25, 1933, pp. 21-51.

See also:

Pittard, E., Les Peuples des Balkans; RA, vol. 40, 1930, pp. 109-115 (for Toscs in Rumania);
Zampa, R., RDAP, ser. 3, vol. 1, pp. 625-648 (for Toscs in Italy).