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Neohelicon XXXII (2005) 1, 7179

ANA MARTINOSKA

ETHNIC STEREOTYPES IN THE MACEDONIAN FOLKLORE AND THEIR REFLECTION IN THE MACEDONIAN CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE

Initially, the paper Ethnic Stereotypes in the Macedonian Folklore and their Reflection in the Macedonian Contemporary Literature is focusing on the ethnic stereotypes in folklore, knowing that it often reflects the historical reality in a fuller, more penetrating way than the other sources. In the Macedonian folklore, the positive image and the epic glorification of the Macedonian heroes are opposed to the manifested negative judgments about Others (mostly Turks and Arabs), often based upon ethnic stereotypes. The treatment of the motifs and the characters in them are quite typicalized and even overproportioned by frequent usage of hyperbolas and contrasts. The paper presents Bolen Dojcin and Marko Krale as typical heroes whose images succumb to stereotyping and the Crna Arapina as the perfect depiction of their enemy. These folklore images and stereotypes have significant implications and reflections in the Macedonian contemporary literature, especially in the poetry, so in the major part of the paper it deals mostly with these expressions. One of the main reasons for the usage of these old-fashioned stereotypes is to provoke familiar images in the peoples minds (both good and evil), and to use this touch of the tradition as a base for the new ideas and poetry innovations. This paper pursues their transformations in the contemporary poetry of a few Macedonian authors, such as Blaze Koneski, Vlada Urosevic, Radovan Pavlovski and others. We read their poetry as intertext, namely as restoration and resemantisation of the traditional oral poetry, and we follow up the modifications done in their composition, versification and basic poetry idea. Apart from the poetry, these images and stereotypes taken from the Macedonian folklore can be noted in the other genres of the Macedonian contemporary literature, who enclose rereading of the ethnic stereotypes, upgrading of mythical fables, unconventional, unconditional and often very complexed usage of the folklore elements, symbols, myths or motifs. The paper leads to the conclusion that Macedonian folklore accumulates knowledge and image of the Other, but at the same time abounds with ethnical stereotypes. In the text, they were viewed through their manifestations and their alterations mainly in contemporary Macedonian poetry, through a number of paradigms and poetic concepts, highlighting their ability to make use of the spirit of the tradition as fundamentals for the fresh ideas and expressive innovations.

Ana Martinoska, Ss Cyril and Methodius University, Institute of Macedonian Literature, ul. Vasil Gorgov 35, P.O.Box 455, 1000 Skopje, Macedonia; E-mail: anamar_mk@yahoo.com
03244652/$20.00 2005 Akadmiai Kiad, Budapest Akadmiai Kiad, Budapest Springer, Dordrecht

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Stereotypes are not new phenomena. Social categorization, from which stereotypes emerge, is such a basic process that it has always been and likely always will be an integral part of human existence. Psychology already provided some answers to the basic questions about stereotypes and what they are. Historically, stereotypes were considered to be the pictures in the head of individuals looking out into their social worlds and later proven that their effects are much more than this definition indicates (Stangor, Shaller: 3). They represent one aspect of the entire collective knowledge of a society, which includes the societys customs, myths, ideas, religions, and sciences. Cultural norms are the social system through which stereotypes are represented and perpetuated across individuals, across generations, and across time. Stereotypes about ethnic groups appear as part of the social heritage of society and they are typically defined as a consensus among members of one group regarding the attributes of another. Often additional qualifiers are added to the definition to suggest their undesirability, so stereotypes have been described as overgeneralizations, irrational beliefs, rigid generalizations, and false beliefs (Taylor, Aboud: 331). Ethnic stereotypes are transmitted across generations as a component of the accumulated knowledge of society. They are as true as tradition, as pervasive as folklore. No person can grow up in a society without having learned the stereotypes assigned to the major ethnic groups (Ehrlich, 1973). Still, ethnic stereotypes would not create a social problem if we did not use them so frequently in our interaction with others (Fein, Spencer: 251). In this paper I want to focus on the ethnic stereotypes in folklore, knowing that these often reflect the historical reality in a fuller, more penetrating way than the other sources (Krekovicova: 5). Folklore frequently supplies a substitutional role as a bearer of real identification features, or only of those which are presented as such; in folklore it is possible to decode the reflection of identification features (images, symbols, stereotypes, prejudices), and folklore represents a mean for the constitution, confirmation and proclamation of identity (Krekovicova: 6). The same is true for the folklore in Macedonia. Due to its geographical and strategic position, as well as its natural beauty, the conquering armies of many different nations crossed over this small country. The numerous military conflicts, the political, cultural, religious and assimilative pressures of those nations had great impact on historical growth of the Macedonians and has been expressed in their ethno-physical as well as character features (Penuwliski, 2003:7). Clearly, it influenced a great deal the art creations of the Macedonians, therefore Macedonian folklore treasures many motifs taken from the countrys history and ideology. This particularly counts for the oral literature created during the ruling of the Ottoman Empire for over 500 years, when the Macedonians were trying to preserve the basic characteristics of their Slavic background, their language, customs and religion. The conditions of life in slavery, withdrawal into themselves, and the jealous preservation of the folk tradition created circumstances for the maintenance, development and the blossoming of oral poetry (Penuwliski, 2003: 8). Naturally, the folk songs were often about the fight of the Macedonians, their battles, victories, heroes, sacrifices, victims etc. In that sense when we

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understand how significant these processes are for a nation, we see its self-centeredness expressed in the frequently manifested negative judgments about others, which are often based on stereotypes and declarations of the opposition we-they. The image of the Macedonians in their own folklore creations is frequently opposed to the members of the other ethnic groups present in the country Turks, Greeks, Albanians and others, and this ethnical and nationalistic aspect is acknowledged as one of the most significant features of the Macedonian folklore in general. Macedonian folk poetry and prose, as well as the minor genres (and the folklore of the other South Slavic nations) abound with ethnic stereotypes attributing positive qualities to the group to which they belong and negative qualities to the others. Typical examples are the anecdotes, especially the ones about the national sage Itar Pejo and his opponent Nasredin Hodja. Of course this is not a unique Macedonian process, because other European countries especially in the period of the romanticism witness such occurrences, where ethno-identity is often actualized at a point of comparison, when coming across outsiders who do not belong to the same group as ours. The researcher Ilomaki from Finland claims that war is often what brought people in touch with each other. The plot of his peoples war and its legends and stories has a certain pattern. According to it, a danger is caused by attacking the enemy and the situation is solved by the clever action of us. Telling these legends is a vehicle of pointing out the contradiction between the enemy and us, strengthening the feeling of sameness within ones own society. It causes a process of becoming ethnically conscious (Ilomaki: 103105). In the same way, the central position in Macedonian heroic poetry is reserved for the victories of the Macedonian heroes in the battles against the Turks and the Arabs. Treatment of the motifs and the characters in it is quite typicalized. The legendary heroes are images of the Macedonian longing for justice, presented in the folklore as fearless, invincible, honest, idealistic and always the winners. Everything about them is idealised and over-proportioned, using the hyperbola and contrast as the most frequent semantic figures. There are even cases where they obtain mythological and supernatural features, being related to the fairies and dragons or being born as the chosen ones. One of the most magnificent poetic accomplishments of the Macedonian folk poetry is the ballad song called Bolen Dojcin (meaning the Sick Dojcin, personal name), which has approximately seventy-five variants, which indicate its popularity among Macedonians. The song, later transmitted among the other South Slavic nations as well, is composed upon an original motif: an Arab is violently attacking the honor of Dojcins home, a sick hero finds the strength to get up from his bed, challenge the tyrant, kill him and save himself, his town and his people from the terrors of the foreigner. The same motif can also be found in some legends and tales, such as the one in which the botanists are still taking care of the 500 year old tree, whose roots conceal the grave of the slain Arab (Penuwliski, 2003:91). The basic ground for this motif is probably a poetic echo to the realistic situations experienced during the attempts to conquer on Macedonia. We have an epic glorification of the Macedonian hero Dojcin as the savior and the winner, and on the other side the Arab is an image of

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the brutal man reaching for the peace and the freedom of a nation. He is an entirely negative character, a rough, rowdy, violent and cruel man, striking unprotected peoples freedom and dignity without any compassion. The Arabs character sometimes has monsters features, but usually he is just a typical anti-hero. The Arab is constantly caring the attribute black which even melted in the nickname Black Arab, the same way as the epithet sick melted in the name of the Dojcin. The attribute black mostly refers to the real facts about his appearance, i.e., the color of his skin, which is often a substantial contributing factor for determining stereotypes, but can also be a symbol for his cruelty, the horrors, and abuse he has perpetrated. Some researchers even claim that this is a genetic remnant of the presence of a black god from pagan times and the mythological stories. Still, we find it easier to believe that it is a consequence of the actual Arab participation in some of the wars involving the South Slavic nations territories, like the Arab-Byzantine wars and conflicts. On the other hand, there are few songs where the attribute black is changed into tzar the king, referring to the Arab king Udavin. Not even the Black Arab has a name in Macedonian folklore and even his physical description is rare. His portrait is usually depicted indirectly with hyperbolisation of his monstrous acts. Still, sometimes we find a portrayal of his physical appearance done according to the traditional folk image of the negative hero: he is ugly and fat, with a head as big as a kettle, a huge mouth extending from his belly to his forehead, and each day he eats bread from a whole bakery, drinks two bowls of wine and one of brandy, eats three calves, and so on (Penuwliski, 2003: 114). Hyperbolisation is used not only in the descriptions of his appearance, but also in the descriptions of the huge taxes he was taking from the Macedonian people and the other malicious things he did to them (didnt allow them to get married for three years, asked for a different bride for every night, in some variants he kills the girls after being with them). Along with these stereotypical images of the two opposing heroes, the fight between them is usually a fair one, done in accordance with the medieval knightly traditions. These types of songs have other characters, mainly Dojcins blood brothers, who fail to help him in his preparations for the fight with the Black Arab (or ask for his sisters affections in return). In some variants a little yellow Jewish guy supplies him for free with a clothing to cover his wounds and his body. This brothers by blood have different names, both Christian and Muslim, but the Muslim ones are more frequent. They include: Ali, Asan, Imer, Jusuf, Mamut, Osman, and others. This is in part because the needed handicrafts were usually performed by Turks, but also because it demonstrates the stereotypical image that like the proverb says one cant have faith in Turks (Penuwliski, 2003: 130). In only one case this brother is a black Gypsy. One of the non-typical elements found in the heroes songs is the episode of the Turk honouring the heroism of the killed fighter Stojan, expressing condolences to the grieving mother, telling her how difficult it was to capture and defeat her son. This is one of the rare examples where the images of the enemy do not succumb to stereotyping and present the enemy to some extent in a positive manner. Another significant folklore figure, one as popular as Dojcin, is Marko Krale (king Marko), a historical person actively involved in the struggle against the Turks. His po-

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etic and idealised image is well-known not only among Macedonians, but also among the other South Slavic nations and the Balkan Non-Slavic countries. His efforts to protect his own people and his goal to gain a national victory made him a stereotyped character of a hero: clever, wise and most of all, very brave. The scheme of his hyperbolic depiction is quite similar to the one used in the already quoted examples. He has supernatural strength and even gets help from magical assistants like his horse, weapons, and co-fighters. The Turks are once more illustrated as typical negative heroes, whose stereotypic images portray them as cruel slaughterers, who like to cut peoples heads off and display the decapitated heads in order to scare the people from the Macedonian villages. Apart from the Turks, in some of the songs and stories he is also fighting Albanian heroes like Musa Kesedjija and Gino Arnautce (Djemo Brganin). Markos fight with Musa Kesedjija is not always a fair one. It is quite fascinating that Musa is presented as far greater warrior (with three or more hearts, or snakes), but Marko uses different means (his wisdom, as well as some tricks and deceptions) to defeat him; and he always succeeds, in all probability making the point that there is a way to defeat any enemy however powerful they might be. The fight between these two heroes was also painted on a wall in the entry of the church of Sv. Bogorodica (St. Virgin Mary) in the village of Lopatica near Bitola in the middle of the nineteenth century, where Musa is wearing an Albanian folk costume, which again indicated that he was not a Turk, but fought on their side. Some folklore creations show Markos fight with representatives of other nations, like Filip Madjarin (Philip the Hungarian), who was most probably an Italian fighting for the Hungarian king Sigmund and some Jewish heroes (always described as yellow Jews) and others, all of them presented in a similarly stereotypical way. Another very common pattern in Macedonian folklore is the theme about young women who refuse the Turks and their wish to make them Turkish brides. Their confidence in their choice not to change their religion by marrying a foreigner is so strong that theyre prepared to die for it. Although the majority of such songs talk about becoming a Turkish bride, there are few songs about a girl called Anka from Stip, who was taken away from the city of her birth and her family by force, then brought to Germany (or in some variants to Moscow), where she was baptised in 9 churches by 9 priests, and where she got three different names (probably an association with the Catholic tradition). Later in history, during and after the famous Ilinden uprising of the Macedonian population in the 1903, the leaders of this movement, who fought under the motto Freedom or Death also became the subject of many revolutionary songs. These folklore songs demonstrate the different attitudes of the Macedonian anonymous authors towards the other ethnic groups. On the one side we have deep human and democratic position towards all the ethnic groups that fought on the same side with the Macedonians, namely Vlachs, Albanians and others. On the other side, we have a dual standpoint toward the Turkish population, with the group of poor, average Turks opposed to the group of violent Turks (tyrants, despots, provoking suffering and misery). The leader of this movement Goce Delcev states in one of the stories: I am not against the Turks, I am against the ones that are making the chaos! There is one more thing

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that ought to be underlined at this point and that is the fact that Macedonian relations towards the Turks usually did not emerge as a basic element of folklore creation, but usually depended on the main motif and developed from the circumstances or the occasion described in it. The same folklore tradition continued during the Second World War with numerous creations about the partisans and their fight against the fascists. There are examples of adaptations of old songs with implementation of new words, so we noted changes of the word Turk with the word German, Italian or similar. These songs as all the others mentioned above are characterized by a constant system of epithets, formulas and stereotypical images of the rotten, bloody and cursed enemies. Macedonian artistic literature, specially in its first phase, at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century, is mostly created upon the roots and the tradition of Macedonian folklore. This relationship to folklore is a natural process, because the authors from this generation were generously using their talent in the name of their people and their national and revolutionary ideals. The crowning achievement of nineteenth-century Macedonian literature was the poem Serdarot by Grigor Prlicev, whose inspiration for it came from the folk songs about the triumphs of a hero called Kuzman Kapidan. It continues to glorify this hero, who is a historical figure, known for his struggles against various Albanian groups in the Ohrid region during the nineteenth century. The poem starts with the death of the hero, whose body is brought to his mother by four of his enemies, the Albanians who honor him. So, even though the poem describes the horrifying things those Albanians did to the Macedonian people, still the poet describes them with positive human features as well, a reflection of the same motif from the folklore songs and its stylization. Many other poets sing their songs in the style of the folklore tradition: Rajko Zinzifov, Nikola Jonkov Vapcarov, Atanas Razdolov, Nikola Kirov Majski, Kole Nedelkovski, Mite Bogoevski, and others. Not only most of their songs are based upon folklore poetry motifs, but they are also using the folklore language, poetics, stylistics and semantic figures, folklore typical metaphors, constant epithets and hyperbolas. A number of songs about Krale Marko are using the already defined contrast and the same stereotypes as the folklore songs about the good Macedonian hero opposed to the negative image of the enemies, the cursed and ruthless Turks. Folklore stereotypes also have significant implications and reflections in contemporary Macedonian literature, i.e., from 1945 till present day. One of the key reasons for the usage of these conventional stereotypes is to provoke familiar images in peoples minds, both good and evil, and to use this touch of the tradition as a base for the new ideas and poetry innovations. The paper pursues their transformations in the contemporary literary work of a few Macedonian authors. Many researchers have pointed out Blaze Koneski, one of the greatest Macedonian poets ever, as a perfect example of the influence and inspiration of Macedonian oral literature upon the contemporary writers. Relying on the mythological, ethnical and inherently mosaic Macedonian folklore, which to an author of his caliber is an empirical verifier, he has created incredibly original poetry (Momirovska: 242). As Koneski

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has himself stated, he was brought up with a strong sense of respect towards the anonymous authors of folklore creations, he grew up listening to those songs and stories, and they lived inside him as long as he has been alive. Thats how his lifes philosophy was innovated in his poetry, how he found a way to implement the old messages into contemporary expression, and varying them in a way that suits the interests of today (Koneski: 910). This corresponds with the literary theories about literature as art of ambivalence, resemantisation, restoration of the tradition, magical rennaisance, actualization, and the like, as well as about the literary text defined as intertext. Macedonian folklore is the intertext in Koneskis poetry, actualising mythical images, historical-legendary collective and cult memories, folk speech and the oral transmission, the biblical stylistics and the orthodox topics and his personal view of the world (ulafkova: 249). The central position in this poetry is without any doubt the cycle of songs about Marko Krale as well as the song about Bolen Dojcin, resembling the epic folk songs on the same topic. These songs achieved the highest artistic level of the poetry of expression. The two persons, both Marko Krale and Bolen Dojcin, in Koneskis interpretation are extraordinary people that are expressing a specific uniqueness. They have both been blessed with a spiritual and physical strength that make them men capable of achieving any success. They are both persons who, at the end, are suffering exactly due to their extra strength, this special mark that is turning in some kind of curse. So we can say that these two epic heroes are suffering from hybris, the same as many persons from Greek mythology and antique drama (Urowevi: 190). Hibris is a result of the possession of an extraordinary power, which gives a person an exaggerated sense of self-confidence that results in imprudent gestures, entering conflicts with gods and their principles. Marko Krale in Koneskis song is endowed with unbelievable strength and he grows as muscular, as a tree; Bolen Dojcin is brimming with strength, which is swelling like a muddy river. But that gift is by itself a challenge from fate. This excessiveness is disturbing to the balance of the cosmos and leading the person into disaster. Marko Krale feels that he is like a dry underground river whose darkness still isnt calmed down from the roar of the waves; Bolen Dojcin in talking about himself says, I bend like a cherry tree with too much fruit. In the same way as characters from antique drama, Oedipus for example, Marko Krales and Bolen Dojcins fate, their self-confidence and defiance carry within them the basis of the tragic mistake, whose final consequences are horrible. Hibris is a Balkan fate, reaching out for the ones that are on the top of their fame, power, and glory, the ones born with the feeling that they are the chosen ones. This Balkan curse derived from antique mythology and entered Greek tragedies, from there into the folklore, and from folklore into the poetry of Blaze Koneski (Urowevi: 191). This shows that Koneskis songs are not just about changing the composition and the metrics with free prosodian organisation of the verse, but about complete modification of the idea and theme basic. Compared to the folklore songs which always have a happy ending with the triumph of the Macedonian heroes, the final message of Koneskis poetry is profoundly tragic. This opinion of academic Vlada Urosevic, among other things, are

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proving the attractiveness of the topic itself, that found reflection in his own poetic achivements. In the song Bolen Dojcin Urosevic is borrowing his characters from folklore, but not the other features or the poetics of the folk song. His Dojcin is depicted as a difficult man who cannot be satisfied, nervous and edgy, even unbearable, who as the poet says is thinking how good it would be to get sick, so that he could read in peace the thick novels about the Black Arab ((Urowevi: 1986:25). Next on the list of the Macedonian authors, whose contemporary writings also witness the transmission of the well known stereotypes from the Macedonian folklore, is Radovan Pavlovski. He is a poet whose songs are incomparably fresh, authentic and metaphorically rich, which awarded him the nickname the Macedonian prince of metaphors. Still, even his poetry reflects these stereotypes, like the already explicated stereotype of the Black Arab.1 In Pavlovskis poetry he remains a stereotyped negative hero, but presented in slightly surreal images of grief, bells, white roads, an unsheathed black sward, and the scent of a rose. And even more, the Black Arab is becoming an incarnation of the entire metaphysical evil that is intimidating people (urhinov: 139). One of the youngest authors whose poetry includes comparable reflections is Jovica Tasevski Eternijan, whose song Bolen Dojcin in spite of the title is not completely the equivalent to the folklore motif, but nevertheless uses the typical epithet black in a few variants the beat of the black drums in his veins, the victory over the wild black dog, and in one verse he expresses his desire to kill personally the Black Arab. Apart from the poetry, these images and stereotypes taken from Macedonian folklore can be noted in the other genres of the Macedonian contemporary literature, like the novels Marko Krale by Slobodan Mickovic, the dramas Bolen Dojcin and Angelina by Georgi Stalev, Beautiful Angelina by Blagoja Risteski-Platnarot and others. Each and every one of them have thematic composition based upon a folklore motif, which is often directly quoted in the texts themselves; but at the same time we have a continuation of the action from the poetic folk variants or rereading and upgrading the mythical fable. In the meantime, the usage of these elements, symbols, myths or motifs are extremely unconventional, unconditional and often very complex, which factors depend on the individual features of their writers, as well as on the particular demands of their personal poetics (urhinov: 140). This paper has led to the conclusion that Macedonian folklore accumulates knowledge and images of the Other, but at the same time abounds with ethnical stereotypes. In our text these images and stereotypes were viewed through their manifestations and their alterations in the contemporary Macedonian poetry, through a number of paradigms and poetic concepts, highlighting their ability to make use of the spirit of the tradition as fundamentals for fresh ideas and expressive innovations.

O Crna Arapina vo poxod^ Troglava pesna za priglavata Arapina etc.

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