EOL 4: Kavals and Dzamares (Tammer)

5. The Politico-Economics of Kaval Making

For generations there has been friction between the Ferati family and state-sponsored Slavic musicians who would buy kavals to sell to tourists or foreign folk-music enthusiasts at a considerable mark-up. Islam, whose income depended upon his kavals, used to sell them at the market-place in Skopje, but became so angry at this practice that he stopped some time in the 1960s. Since then, someone wanting to purchase a set of kavals must come to Arachinovo, and it has remained this way since. The family does not advertise in any way. "A good product needs no advertising," Liman told me. Though native players of course knew the Ferati family, there was never an attempt to direct foreign enthusiasts to Arachinovo. Musicians were reluctant to mention the existence of the Ferati family.

Today new replicas of Ferati kavals may be seen in the gift-shops of Skopje which specialize in "old" handicrafts. These are made by a young Slavic musician who bought a Ferati kaval as a model. An inspection reveals significant differences, however: The mouthpiece is not tapered, for example, but is a continuation of the bore diameter. This is preferred by Radio Skopje musicians, since it produces a somewhat louder, less breathy sound. The kavals are complete with the maker's name and telephone number. Upon seeing these kavals for the first time, a friend remarked (with typical Macedonian humor), "Only the 'Visa accepted' sign is missing." There are no Ferati kavals to be seen in these shops.

The obscuration of the Ferati (and thus ethnic Albanian) origin of Macedonian kavals is nothing new: For many decades the folk instrument maker Panche Janev bough Ferati kavals and sold them as his own to naive purchasers. State-supported Slavic Macedonian folklorists have contributed to this obscuration by lumping all end-blown flutes and whistles into the category of kavals, and then proceeding to list Slavs as kaval makers. Thus Hadji-Manov 1960 lists the ethnic Slav Panche Janev as a kaval maker. The adoption of a state music ensemble in which only ethnic Slavs or Christians are seen to be playing the long kaval contributed to this phenomenon.

Next section: 6. Who Plays / Makes the Kaval?

Contents of "Kavals and Dzamares"

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