Friday, March 09, 2007
Kuzman Shapkarev (1834-1909)
was the greatest collector and publisher of ethnographic material in Vardar Macedonia. Born in the city of Ohrid, he spent some 30 years (1855-84) as a teacher in this part of Macedonia. He published hundreds of articles and monographs on the dialects and folklore in the "Periodic Journal of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences" (Bqlgarskoto Knijovno Drujestvo). His major work is "Sbornik ot bqlgarski narodni umotvoreniya" in three volumes, Sofia, 1891-94.
From the "Autobiography" (1864) of Kouzman Shapkarev"The State of Education in Macedonia"
"Genealogy and life of Kouzman, the son of Tasev (Atanasov), the son of Paskal, the son of Mihail Shapkarev from Ochrida. Mihail Shapkarev, a Bulgarian, born in the village of Leskovets, which is at one hour's walk east of Ochrida, in the Western part of Petrino Mountain, was the father of two sons called Hadji Peter and Paskal. According to the usual custom of that time, Mihail went to work in Constantinople and since he stayed a very long time there, without visiting his family, his wife took her little children and went on horseback to her husband in Constantinople. After staying for a while there she returned home again. That is why she was called later "Stamboulka".
When the end of my stay in Bitolya drew near, that is, when I finished my studies there, I had to look for a job as a teacher. My teacher Atanasy took the trouble to find me a job. He tried to place me in Turnovo (a small village in the district of Bitolya) but failed. Then he tried through Georgy Tsolev, the best friend and secret adviser of Atanasy, ie mine as well, then through Atanasy and Yanakiev, to get an appointment for me as teacher in the village of Neveska or some other village. Meanwhile some people from Koukoush, of whom Stameno Petsov was one, put up at our inn once and invited me for a teacher in Koukoush (where the spark of love for our mother Bulgarian tongue had not been kindled yet). I am very much obliged especially to two of my teachers - one of them Mile Skopachev, who being a good psalm singer, taught me to sing and understand a little of hymn-singing; while the other - Kostadin Hr. Ouzounov, was the first to inspire me with the desire to study my native language. He gave me a Serbian primar (because there were no Bulgarian primars in our part of the country, and no one even thought of studying Bulgarian, while now, thank God, the situation is quite changed), taught me to understand the letters and kindled the first sparks of love for our language in me. God bless his soul in heaven! That year I studied geography, mathematics, ecclesiastical history, together with Ancon Mitanov and Vasil Dyamandiev.
During the three years of my being a teacher in Strouga two important things in my life took place there. The first was that I introduced in school for the first time the teaching of our native language, the Bulgarian language, which about a century (70 years) ago was in danger of disappearing completely. The reason for this introduction was closely connected with the late Dimiter Miladinov, of whom we shall speak more later on in this book. This worthy man, being a teacher in Greek for many years, was naturally for a while a supporter of the Greeks and persecutor of the Bulgarians. But during the last years of his life (just like St. Paul) he was aware of his delusion, in which not only all Bulgarians in Macedonia but even he himself had fallen, and renouncing his former errors he zealously worked even to the day of his death for the spiritual revival of the people, and the introduction of the Bulgarian language in the Bulgarian churches and schools, in which the Greek language was used at that time. The endeavours of this worthy man inspired me also to introduce the Bulgarian language which I learnt to read a little as early as 1856 in Ochrida from Kostadin Hr. Ouzounov - in my school. But I lacked the necessary books. I received help, however, from the same person. Because after he returned to his place in Prilep he sent me 15 Serbian primars with church letters. Then after he went to Koukoush he sent me a sufficient number of Bulgarian primars and histories, published by the Archimandrite Parteny Zografsky, the present bishop of Polyanin (Koukoush). This is the first event. And the second one is that at the end of my second year there (Oct. 30th, 1858) I was engaged to Elisaveta D. Miladinova, and married her five years later [Sept. 25th, 1863].