The culture of the Gjirokastra district is characterised by a wealth of folk costumes, musical traditions and regional customs.  It is famous for wood and stone work, as well as for its dairy products and raki (an alcoholic drink) production.

Lunxhëria traditional costume

 Albanian women are known for their skills in textile crafts.  Local costume is traditionally decorated with intricate embroidery.  Colourful floor rugs are woven on hand looms while sweaters, socks and gloves are knitted from local wool.  Gjirokastra lace is famous throughout the country and, like many of these crafts, skills are passed down from generation to generation.  Men work with metals such as copper and brass to craft decorative plates, wall-hangings, and utensils.
Women’s folk costumes are heavily decorated; the most remarkable folk costumes come from the areas of Lunxhëri and Dropulli.  Traditional clothing for men comprises white woollen breeches with a loose waist and narrow legs ending at the calf accompanied by gaiters, or a white pleated kilt (fustanella) accompanied by a waistcoat and shoes with tassels. Headwear includes either a tall black cap made of lamb fleece, or a pointed brimless cap made of white felt. (See Photo Gallery. In characteristic dances, dancers form a line and sing, accompanied by folk instruments.

Iso-Polyphonic Music

An iso-polyphonic group of Gjirokastra

Traditional Albanian iso-polyphonic music can be divided into two major stylistic groups as performed by the Ghegs of northern Albania and the Tosks and Labs living in the southern part of the country. The term iso is related to the ison of Byzantine church music and refers to the drone accompanying polyphonic singing. The drone is performed in two ways: either it is continuous and sung on the syllable ’e’, using staggered breathing; or the drone is sometimes sung as a rhythmic tone, performed to the text of the song. Rendered mainly by male singers, the music traditionally accompanies a wide range of social events, such as weddings, funerals, harvest feasts, religious celebrations and festivals such as the Albanian folk festival in Gjirokastra.
Albanian polyphonic music has been UNESCO-recognized since 2005 as an “intangible cultural heritage.”
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