Exhibition on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Congress of Manastir, November 20th, 2008

The receipt is one of many original objects that are exposed on the 100th anniversary of the Congress of Manastir, by the Albanian Nationwide Collectors Center. It dates back to 1909 and is evidence of the attempted for the first editions with unified alphabet.

It is a decorated sheet, with a gray color and in 1909 cost 20 francs. It is written receipt with large letters. It is a trail, coming up nowadays, of the effort of “Bashkimi i Kombit” society, to set up the first printing press, that will publish with the Congress of Monastery alphabet. It belongs to the collector Niko Kotherja and is part of the exhibition that Albanian Nationwide Collectors Center has opened on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Congress of Manastir at “Rizvani” center. Original material, over 100 photos, that represents the activity of the patriotic clubs in aid of Albanian schools, publications before the Congress with different alphabets, publications directly after the Congress of Manastir, about 30 periodicals, newspapers and magazines of that time in Albanian, that reflect this activity, are exposed with the collectors initiative. This receipt of contributions is evidence of the “Literally Publication Society” activity like the first books published in Latin alphabet. President of the society was Feim Zavalani, at the same time one of the delegates to the Congress of Manastir, Vice President, was another Zavalani family member, Izeti, the cashier was Gjergji Qiriazi . On the back of it, is a clarifying that explain the purpose of collecting money, and the criteria that should fulfill its buyer. These had the same format and everyone could buy one or more pieces.

“It was the printing press that published the first texts with the alphabet decided at the Congress of Manastir. The first editions that came out of this printing are very important for the history of the Albanian writing with this alphabet. It was set up in 1909 and published many books in Albanian language, or the press headlines as “Bashkimi” textbook, primer book of  Parashqevi Qiriazi, the magazine” Lahuta e Malesise” of Kristo Qiriazi and many other materials which distributed throughout Albania”, said Kotherja.

Some of these publications after the Congress of Manastir are preserved by different collectors or in archives. Shpëtim Sala, the president of the Albanian Nationwide Collectors Center, reconstructs the history, how the society “Union of the Nation” works. He said that “Bashkimi” Club of Monastery, established in early September 1908 was the central and had relations with over 60 clubs across the country. Through it was distributed the press, coming from Bucharest or Sofia. The Monastery was the last train station. Then, people traveled by cart or caravans. But the activity of the printing press, which published materials in foreign languages too, will not continue for a long time. Sala explain that, in 1909, it was closed by the Turkish authorities of Monastery. After this pressure, they were forced to remove Feim Zavalani from his lead and elected another Albanian patriot. Likewise, it was changed the name of the printing press that will operate until 1911, the time that will be close its activity. This period will also bring some orders in the publications.

Before the Congress of Monastery were made attempts to write books, newspapers or even to learn Albanian, using different alphabets, such as the Ottoman, Greek, Slavic or Latin. With so many alphabets was published the primer, or other books too. “Until the Congress of Monastery, was a battle of alphabets and primers. In this Congress, also was consolidated the alphabet, “said Sala. Even at the exhibition that they have opened, there is a journey through the photos and documents in the history before and after the Congress of Monastery, the most important event of the Albanian language, that has marked its 100th anniversary.


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