Xhubleta, skills, craftsmanship and forms of usage
Inscribed in 2022 (17.COM) on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding
Xhubleta is a handcrafted garment worn by highland women and girls in Northern Albania, characterised by its undulating bell form. Predominantly black with colourful embroidered motifs, the crafting process entails preparing the shajak (woven felt), cutting, sewing and embroidering symbolic figures. Xhubleta was once used in everyday life from the age of puberty, indicating the wearer’s social and economic status. However, its use and production has been decreasing over the past decades due to socio-political and economic reasons. The new policies set by the socialist system in the 1960s altered traditional cultural patterns, bringing changes to the daily lives of the mountain communities and the use and production of Xhubleta. As women had to work in the agricultural socialist cooperatives, Xhubleta was no longer practical for everyday life. Furthermore, state collectivization led to a lack of raw materials for its production. Today, few women possess the knowledge of the entire process, and traditional family-based transmission is rare. Nevertheless, the garment has maintained its social and spiritual significance and is still considered an integral part of highland identity.