The astonishing history of how the Çam traditional dance saved a life
This story will appear as one of those Arab fairytales where the main character saves his own life by just doing what he loves the most: dancing. Even though this may appear as a fairytale is indeed a true story, a true Albanian story coming from the Çam community.
Please sit back and start imagining this scene from around the 1860s:
A young man called Osman Taka is standing in front of the death rope. He is a çam from Konsipoli village and was being held in the prison of Janina. He was sentenced with death and now is standing in front of the death rope at the main square.
In front of him are the vali of Janina -a given role by the Ottoman empire as the ruler of that territory -, his wife, the hangman, a handful of spectators, and an old big maple tree. The young daughter of vali is watching from the window.
Osman is young, energetic and charming. He knows he is been punished for being a patriot, a lover of freedom and of his country. He was born in one of the wealthiest families of Konispol and thus been nurtured with the Albanian Renaissance’s ideas. He joined the anti-Ottoman movement and played an important role at the branch of the Prizreni’s Union in Preveza. Osman new this was the end. Nothing could save him from death now.
As the tradition of that time allowed one could ask for one final wish before death. Osman desired an orchestra to play a çam music. The wish was granted and as soon as the music started to play he started to passionately dance. After all it was his last doing on this Earth so he took it slow and gave it all to this dance.
Osman danced so masterfully and elegantly that all the present ones were mesmerized. His whole body was tuned with the music. His whole being was present and paying attention only to that dance. Nothing else mattered. The daughter of vali almost fell from the window from where she was sneakily. Her mother, the wife of vali, felt so sorry for such a young and beautiful boy to be hanged. She begged her furious husband to let Osman go.
After a lot of begging documents in the archives of Janina tell us that vali let Osman go. Only thanks to his astonishing dancing skills and his passion for the song he got his life back. Even though the accompanying melody and the dance itself dated back many millennials in the Epirus tradition, those few that know the story of this traditional dance know it only by the name of Osman Taka’s dance. Unfortunately today only few çams -and even fewer other Albanians- know this story and we wanted to bring to your attention.
Many years after this story a little 8-9 year old boy gets inspired by the whistled melody of this dance coming from a shepherd’s lips while herding his baby goats. He asks the shepherd to whistle it more and more and he gets obsessed with the melody. This little boy called Taip Madani from a village near Kosnipol grows up to become the only master of the cham dance in the modern times. He was considered the only Albanian able to dance as well as Osman taka.
Taip, an agriculture teacher, nurtured his passion for this amazing dance that sometimes is known as well as Çamiko dance and started to participate in all folkloric festivals and competitions. He became so famous with this dance that he started to tour around Albania, Greece, Montenegro, Macedonia, etc.
We, having çam blood in our veins, found great inspiration in this story and wanted to pass it along. For this reason we made the Çamëria design that you can find in women's and men's t-shirts, sweatshirts, tank tops, mugs, baby bodysuits . We want to keep our Albanian tradition and legacy alive and pass it along. We hope you do the same. Share this story so more people can know it and tell it to their kids.