Sworn Virgins by Pepa Hristova

2014. Filming and editing for Goethe Institut, Bozar, De Markten and Summer of photography 2014.

SWORN VIRGINS by Pepa Hristova
BOZAR: 10.07. – 03.08.2014
DE MARKTEN: 04.08. – 24.08.2014

In northern Albania, in the Cursed Mountains, said to have been created by the Devil himself, the tradition of the “sworn virgins”, Europe’s last men-women, lives on. The Kannun, a collection of medieval laws, passed on by word of mouth, permits families to replace the male head of a household by a woman in the event of the patriarch’s death. These “oath-virgins” or Burrnesha not only receive the status but also the rights of men and are highly respected in the family. They adapt to their roles so perfectly that, over time, they are no longer recognised as women outside of their families. Over the years, the woman in them is lost.