Signing Off on the Final Day in Gjirokastra

Written by Charlie Gamper

First thing this morning I travelled to meet local artist and traditional costume expert Stavri Cati, in his home studio where he has been working since at least the 1960s (…so long he can’t remember the exact date). Stavri is possibly the only person living today who holds within his mind and studio walls the complex and detailed historical knowledge of traditional folk costume from the eight Gjirokaster sub-regions. Preparations are underway for his extensive knowledge to be published and made accessible.

Following the studio tour and the serving (at 9am!) of raki, the local grape spirit, I returned to the Museum where all the other trainers and participants were continuing each of their assigned projects on their last day working on site before departing tomorrow. At the start of the week, a number of different tasks were identified and aside from a few last minute details we hope to complete before leaving, the participants have made really, it definitely has been a challenge to complete our projects in the timeframe available to us; especially when complications, like damp and mouldy textiles, kept cropping up along the way.

For the final hour of the working day the participants said “goodbye” to the Museum and enjoyed a talk on the rich history of traditional costume in the Gjirokaster sub-regions from Stavri.  Mela, Azra and I remained at the museum, finishing off some outstanding tasks.

Thanks to a wonderful group of enthusiastic participants training and working in the Ethnographic Museum has been an incredibly rewarding experience. This is all the Gjirokaster trainers signing off: Charley, Mela, Azra and Lindsey.