Sephardic Jews of Monastir, 1839-1943. A web companion
to a new history.
Century offers readers a unique opportunity to enjoy the
largely forgotten traditions of Monastir´s centuries-old
new history's collection of folksongs (kantigas), ballads
(romances), folktales (konsejas), and proverbs (refranes)
is one of the most varied ever published. The folklore
is presented in the Judeo-Spanish and in English translations
specially prepared by leading scholars for Last Century.
on a lost culture
Last Century´s 50-page appendix of Sephardic folklore,
readers will seem to be listening in on conversations
from a vanished world. These songs and stories were collected
by researchers who visited Monastir in 1927 and 1930.
The researchers sought out older people who grew up during
the mid-19th century, before folk traditions weakened.
the first lines of one kantiga, a mother and daughter
argue about the proper way to pursue a husband,:
maldige la mi madri,
not curse, my mother,
maldige sin razón.
not curse without a reason.
cuandu ere mose,
you were young,
amor cun mi siñor.
made love with my father.
lu fizi la mi fije,
I did, my daughter,
lu fizi cun tiempus,
did it over time,
fijiques di agore
querin noviu gidió.
not want a Jewish groom.
salin a la puerte
they go out the door
todus miren pur cuniser.
look to meet everyone.
another song, a new mother is comforted and the birth
of her new son is celebrated:
qui muevi mezis,
what nine months,
discomfort you have had.
nasió un fiju
son was born
care di lune.
face like the moon.
live the child´s mother,
15th century ballads
the kantigas reveal the social customs and rituals of
Sephardic life, the ballads or romances speak to the Sephardim´s
attachment to their ancestral home: Spain.
one romance, a battle is recounted:
verdi, ríu verdi, ríu verdi y amariyu,
River, Green River, green and yellow,
comu a lazeiti y pretu comu a la tinte!
smooth as oil and as black as ink!
las tus tierres ajenes cayó gran cavayeríe;
your distant lands, many knights were killed;
duquis y condis y siñoris dun gran validu.
and counts and lords of great worth.