September 20, 2013

Mary Edith Durham engravings of Ohrid

Original 1905 black and white wood engraving of "Church of St. Sofia, Ochrida" by Mary Edith Durham.

Original 1905 black and white wood engraving of "A Street in Ochrida" by Mary Edith Durham.

Original 1905 halftone print of "Christian Quarters of Ochrida" by Mary Edith Durham.

At a doctor's insistence, and in an attempt to recuperate from exhaustion due to becoming the primary caregiver to her ailing mother, at the age of 37 Durham traveled to the southern Balkans. This trip became a formative experience in Durham's life; she traveled extensively in the Balkans over the next twenty years, spending a considerable amount of time in Albania, where she became known as "Kralica e Malësorevet," or the "Queen of the Highlanders." Traveling as a "Sworn Virgin," an ancient Albanian custom of women who dress in men's attire and are considered a protected individuals, as well as the Albanian tradition of insuring guests' safety, Durham benefited and was able to travel extensively as a woman. During this time, she wrote seven books on Balkan affairs, customs, and culture; these writings earned her particular fame. She came to identify closely with the Albanian cause, championing the unity and independence of the Albanian people.Upon her death in 1944, Durham's work was donated to academic collections including the Royal Anthropological Institute in London, the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, and the Bankfield Museum in Halifax.

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