Serb clans

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Map of the Serb clans (In Serbian Cyrillic).
The following is an overview of Serb clans in Montenegro, a general term referring to what are known as plemena and bratstva in Serbian. The terms are traditional terroritorial and political units still used in Dinaric regions such as Herzegovina and Montenegro.

Organisational principles similar to bratstvo and pleme are also characteristic for Serbs and Montenegrins in Herzegovina, Boka Kotorska, the Brda (Highlands) and Gheg Albanians who live in Montenegro, Northern Albania, Kosovo. This article is only about the Serb tribes and excludes the Albanian ones, despite many (particularly in the Malesija in Montenegro) claiming origin to some Montenegrin clans.

Terminology

English translations of terms 'Pleme' and 'Bratstvo' is very inconsistent, varying from source to source, therefore references to clans and tribes should be treated as only approximate.

Tribe (pleme)

Tribe (Serbian: плeмe pleme, plural: плeмeна plemena) is a traditional territorial and political unit in Montenegro. Plemena enjoyed especially large autonomy in the period from the second part of 15th century till the middle of 19th century. The first mention of a tribe was in the 13th century in Herzegovina. In fact most of the tribes in were formed in the period between the 13th and 15th centuries. Following the Ottoman occupation and dissolution of the Serbian Empire, the formation of tribes filled the gap with tribes forming local self-governing units.

In 1853 Danilo II Petrović Njegoš was elected the first secular ruler of modern Montenegro and the Highlands, becoming Knjaz (Prince) Danilo I. Subsequently, the role of the central state was gradually increased and plemena lost their political independence as well as influence. The territorial subdivision of Montenegro was based on territorial clan regions. During the 1960's, the Communist Yugoslav state reorganized the whole Yugoslavia territorially and Montenegro's opštine crossed former tribal borders. However, some old tribal borders still persist, for example, Plužine still reflects the tribal borders of Piva minus the village of Mala Crna Gora (Žabljak opština).

Clan (bratstvo)

Clan (Serbian: bratstvo, plural: bratstva) is a patrilineal kin group in Montenegro and Eastern Herzegovina. Bratstvo counts its descendance from a particular male (but sometimes also female) ancestor. Names of bratstva are derived either from the first name or nickname or profession of the ancestor. Some authors speculate that ancestry of the oldest bratstva goes down to old pre-Slavic Illyrians [1]. During time a bratstvo can split in smaller subdivisions and acquire a separate name. Surnames of contemporary Montenegrins most usually reflect these subdivisions of a larger bratstvo. Bratstvo is supposed to share the same blood and therefore marriage inside one bratstvo is in most cases prohibited regardless of the biological distance between the would-be spouses. Montenegrin families tend to guard their family/bratstvo history and many are able to recite the line of ancestors to the originator of the bratstvo.

Relationship between the two terms

Although it is sometimes suggested that plemena consist of bratstva, relationship between pleme and bratstvo is loose. At times of autonomy of plemena, bratstva usually lived concentrated in the same place for long time and therefore formed a part of the pleme. Different bratstva living on the territory of one pleme were usually not related to each other. A new bratstvo could be established (and often was) if a stranger sought a refuge (usually because of conflict with Ottoman authorities or because of a blood feud) on the territory of a pleme. Local military force of a pleme consisted of units composed on the basis of local bratstva. Bratstvo is a kin group, but pleme - territorial one.

Today representatives of different bratstva are dispersed not only throughout Montenegro but also globally. While bratstvo membership has remained comparatively important, membership to a pleme is becoming less and less important.

History

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The Montenegrin clans were an important institution in Montenegro throughout its modern history and state creation. Every tribe had its Chief, and they collectively composed a "Gathering" (Serbian: Zbor). The elders remained influential political figures up to the incorporation of Montenegro into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Later - Kingdom of Yugoslavia) in 1918. Before the collective unification of Montenegro under the House of Petrović-Njegoš, the Gathering of the Elders was the sole governing body in Montenegro.

In 1904 Prince Nikola Petrović reordered Montenegro into "captainies", each organized on a tribal level. Every nahija (compare with Nahiya) had its own Elder (from the corresponding tribe). The tribal assemblies were attended regularly by all grown men from the corresponding clan. The "General Montenegrin Assembly" was the highest political body and a mediator between the Montenegrin people and the Ottoman authorities. It was composed of chiefs of all tribes in Montenegro.

A list of tribes and clans

Jovan Cvijić (1865 - 1927) has enlisted 21 plemena on the territory of the Old Montenegro, 7 plemena in the Highlands , 16 in Eastern Herzegovina and 2 on the Montenegrin coast. The list below contains also many groups which should be classified as bratstva. Note that the territory of contemporary Montenegro consists of several historic regions (Old Montenegro, Highlands and the Coast) as well as territories that were added to Montenegro comparatively recently (e.g., parts of what used to be Austrian Herzegovina). Old Montenegro in turn used to be divided into four districts (nahija). None of these regions and districts are reflected in official territorial division of contemporary Montenegro.

Tribes of Old Montenegro

  • Riječka nahija
  • Ceklin
  • Ljubotinj
  • Dobrsko Selo
  • Kosjeri
  • Građani
  • Katunska nahija (Katun province)
  • Njeguši
  • Crnojević
  • Ćeklići
  • Čevo (Ozrinići, Kčevo)
  • Velestovo
  • Cuce
  • Komani
  • Bajice
  • Donji Kraj
  • Očinići
  • Ugnje
  • Zagarac
  • Pješivci
  • Lješanska nahija
  • Drazevina
  • Gradac
  • Buronje
  • Crmnička nahija (Crmnica)
  • Podgor
  • Sotonići
  • Dupilo
  • Brčeli
  • Gluhi Do
  • Limljani
  • Boljevići

Highland tribes

(Seven Serbian Brda)
  • Vasojevići
  • Bjelopavlići
  • Piperi
  • Kuči
  • Bratonožići
  • Moračani
  • Rovčani

Tribes and clans of the Coastland

  • Sutorina
  • Kruševice
  • Krtole
  • Luštica
  • Grbalj
  • Paštrovići
  • Maine
  • Pobori
  • Bra(j)ići
  • Mrko(je)vići
  • Krivošije

Tribes and clans of East Herzegovina

  • Grahovo
  • Rudine
  • Bijele Nikšićke Rudine
  • Oputne Rudine
  • Bilećke Rudine
  • Banjani
  • Lukovo
  • Nikšićka Župa
  • Gornje Polje
  • Drobnjaci
  • Uskoci
  • Jezera
  • Korito Drobnjačko
  • Šaranci
  • Piva
  • Planina
  • Župa
  • Gacko
  • Gornje Gacko (Golija i Duga)
  • Donje Gacko
  • Zupci

Dispersed ancestral clans and tribes

As corporate groups below mentioned used to exist in history and some people still trace their descent from them.
  • Maleševci
  • Predojevići
  • Trebješani (Nikšići)
  • Ljubibratici
  • Miloradovići-Hrabreni
  • Ugrenovići
  • Bobani
  • Pilatovci
  • Mrđenovići

References

General references: Specific references and footnotes:
1. ^ Boehm, Cristopher (1984). Blood Revenge. The Enactment and Management of Conflict in Montenegro and Other Tribal Societies. Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press
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Capital Priština (Prishtin)
Official languages Albanian, Serbian, English
Ethnic groups (2007) 92% Albanians
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Malesija (Cyrillic: Малесија) is a geographical region in Montenegro. It stretches in south-eastern direction from Podgorica towards the border with Albania.
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A clan is a group of people united by kinship and descent, which is defined by perceived descent from a common ancestor. Even if actual lineage patterns are unknown, clan members nonetheless recognize a founding member or apical ancestor.
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Patrilineality (a.k.a. agnatic kinship) is a system in which one belongs to one's father's lineage; it generally involves the inheritance of property, names or titles through the male line as well.
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Nahiya or Nahia (Arabic: ناحية, transliteration: Nāḥiyah; pl.
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Ceklin is one of the old clans of Montenegro, belonging to the Riječka Nahija (River Province). The origins of this tribe are from the base of Ceklinštak Mountain.
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Cuce is a Montenegrin Highland clan. Cuce is divided into Upper Cuce and Lower Cuce. Most of the inhabitants of Upper Cuce descend from Herzegovina, while the inhabitants of Lower Cuce generally descend from the Kuči tribe. Cuce is first mentioned in a 15-century document.
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The Piperi tribe (Serbian Cyrillic: Пипери) is a clan from Montenegro, located between the Morača and Zeta rivers, reaching the northern suburbs of Montenegrin capital Podgorica.
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