The Cold War is over. Evaporated. The future is unwritten. The communist regime is in power and Nebije works for the State producing rugs for the export market in a big factory in her village. Working on the loom, there isn’t much room for experimentation, for adding colours or patterns. Everything is pre-determined. Nebije learnt to weave at a very young age. In the Muslim community she grew up in it’s a tradition that is passed down from woman to woman.

During the 1992 elections the communist party is wiped out. The same communists who destroyed mosques and churches, persecuted imams and priests and banned private religious observance. But with them, also the factory where Nebije works is closed down. She is desolated and doesn’t want to move for work. Many members of her family have already moved to the city of Shkodra, but the little village on the lake, Zogaj, is all she has ever known and is where she grew up. She wants to stay put. Zogaj has long beaches, Zogaj has crabs. She really likes it here. For a while she stays at home, but she can not sit on her hands.

She is one of the most attractive women in the village, and one of the smartest – she argues – so she doesn’t have to look very far to get married.  She shares her house with her brother-in-law’s family. Nebije and her husband have three children, and to make a living for all of them is not easy. Until she inherits a big old loom from her husband’s grandmother in 1996.

Text: Marta Galli
Photos: Pauline Thurn und Taxis