The Meeting Tent of a Courtyard


The leaders of Mirdita in the funeral of Bib Doda
© Pietro Marubbi, wet collodion in silver salt, glass 21X27cm, 1868

The leaders of Mirdta were in Shkodër for the funeral of their captain Bib Doda (1820-1868). He was the first catholic “Pasha”, participant in the Krimea War and also first commander in the Albanian anti-ottoman insurgency (1862)


Cikaldi, French man
© Pietro Marubbi, wet collodion, glass 13X18 cm

Cikaldi was a representative of France in Border Commission which gathered after the Berlin Congress (1878). This commission ceded unfairly Albanian territories to other countries.


Marash Uci and Cali’s sons (three leaders from Hoti)
© Pietro Marubbi, wet collodion, glass 21X27cm

Left to right: Lukë Marku, Marash Uci, Marash Marku

Marash Uci (1810-1914) was the messenger for Hoti leaders on the decisions taken at the Berlin Congress, to cede Albanian territories to Montenegro. The national poet Father Gjergj Fishta eternized these moments in his masterpiece “The Highland Lute”.


Selim Begu the son with leaders of Malësia
© Kel Marubi, wet collodion, glass 12X16 cm, 1878

From left to right, from top to bottom:
First row: Leaders of Malësia, Çun Mula. Second row: Xhemal Qoku, Iljaz Dibra’s son, Isuf Sukniqi, representative of Podgorica, Isuf Sokoli, Selim Bushati.

A delegation of political personalities of that period poses for the photographer. They all played an important role by contradicting the decisions of the High Port for the sacrifice of Albanian territories in favor of Montenegro following the London protocol (1877).


Group of hunters
© Pietro Marubbi, wet collodion, glass 21X27 cm

This time the courtyard has turned into the meeting tent of hunters posing with their prey. One of them is member of the Border’s Commission (1878–1879).


Vasel Marku from Hoti
© Kel Marubi, wet collodion, glass 12X16 cm

The outfit and arms show us the social status of this man from Malësia e Madhe who poses at the Marubi courtyard.


Nik Leka of Kelmend
© Kel Marubi, wet collodion, glass 12X16 cm, 1875? 1868

After the decision taken at the Berlin Congress (1878) where part of the Albanian territories were ceded to Montenegro, Nikë Lekë Pepaj of Kelmend from the riverbank of Cem, led the militar operations of the mounteneers against Montenegro to defend the territories of Plavë and Guci (1877-1878).


Old costume of women from the countryside
© Kel Marubi, wet collodion, glass 13X18 cm

This woman in a catholic traditional costume from the area of Ljarja and Shestan in Krajë, is photographed in the courtyard as she leans against an object of the studio.


Old women’s outfit
© Kel Marubi, wet collodion, glass 12X16 cm, 1880–1903

Woman wearing a short xhubleta from the area of Dukagjin


Katrina, Paulina and Kel Kodheli
© Pietro Marubbi, wet collodion, glass 13X18 cm

The sons of Rrok Kodheli (gardener of Pietro Maruubi) posing in the courtyard turned into an open-air photo studio


Mati Kodheli 1862–1880
© Pietro Marubbi, wet collodion, glass 13X18 cm

The son of the gardener, Mati, poses in the courtyard turned into an open-air photo studio. He is wearing typical Shkodra artisan clothes and this photographs is one of the rare images we have of him.


A poor man
© Kel Marubi, wet collodion, glass 13X18cm

All important personalities have posed a courtyard, in front of this fence where we find now this poor man.


Old costume of countryside woman
© Kel Marubi, wet collodion, glass 12X16 cm

Winter outfit of countryside women from villages of Ljarja and Shestan in Krajë

The location and the activity of the first photographic studio set up by Pietro Marubbi in Shkoder is still unknown, but we consider the 1856 as the year when the studio was founded in Shkoder.

On published texts we find that the first studio, equipped with the necessary appliances of the time, was built during 1885-1890. It is thought that the yard adjacent to Pietro’s house was used as a studio from the day the activity first opened to the time the studio was founded.

Men and women, dressed in traditional city clothing, village or mountain clothing, groups of patriots, governors, representatives of the Border Commission, delegates and politicians, they all pose inside this Shkoder courtyard. The leaders of Mirdita, visiting Shkodra to attend the funeral of Bib Doda, pose in the same courtyard with cobblestones and walls built with the stones of Kir River. Marash Uci and Prek Cali’s sons pose in another corner. In these two photos we find the same scene, but photographed from a different angle.

The characters pose alone and together in front of the photographer who, with his stand fixed in one place, moves only the camera angle around the courtyard. On the photographs we are able to identify the seasons basing on the clothes people wear, the presence of the absence of tree leaves and we understand that the photographer used this courtyard for a long time.

Among the images, the photograph of Mati Kodheli is very impressive. It is one of the very few photographs of him found in the archive. This image remains special because it is possible to notice the intervention of the photographer who took care of every small detail. From what it is possible to understand, the picture was taken on a cold day because the trees have lost their leaves. It seems as if the photographer has previously looked to the garden where the person will pose and has built a scenario with woods and tree roots taken from elsewhere. The most interesting fact is the combination of light. On the left we can see a mechanism of gears which controls a tent above which softens the strong light and the sharp contrasts, turning this courtyard from an outdoor to an indoor environment.
The selected images introduce us with a reliable version of the context where Marubbi took his first photographs. They perhaps suggest us that all this history started from a characteristic courtyard in Shkoder which was the scene where different people came to pose.

It was a typical Shkoder courtyard surrounded by walls, trees and shrubs, from where one could see the house door and windows, the staircase and handrail made of twigs and branches. It was a courtyard both in the sense of a seat where the king, prince or the governor could come and stay and in the sense of a shelter for the villager and the beggar. It was a courtyard which provided the advantage of taking photographs using natural light. Because the intensity of light had to be adjusted, the courtyard was covered with a cloth that softened the light, turning it into a tent where one could stay for a short time.

For this reason it looked like “the tent of a meeting”, a meeting point for all, locals and foreigners who came there to meet themselves through the Marubi lens.

Curated by Luçjan Bedeni