Nabieh's parents, sisters and grandmother will say a tearful
goodbye to her on the night she is married. Though she will not
leave Ribnovo, she must move to the house of her husband's parents
because she is now a member of his family.
More About the Pomak Muslims:
The Pomak economy is based on agriculture. Their major crops
include rye, barley, corn, flax, potatoes, tobacco, and hemp
(a fibrous plant useful for making ropes or cords). Raising animals
such as cows, goats, and sheep is also very important. Pomak
women are renowned for their excellent weaving abilities. Many
Pomaks also earn their income as migrant workers. The Pomak diet
primarily consists of bread, potatoes, and beans. They also enjoy
yogurt, various cheeses, and lamb and goat meat.
The Pomak farmers live in rural villages that are surrounded
by their fields and pastures. Most of the people live in two-story
dwellings. The upper floor is used as living quarters, while
the lower floor serves as a stable for the animals. The houses
were traditionally constructed of stone, wood, and clay, with
sloping slate roofs. Recently, however, some Pomaks have begun
to build homes out of brick or cinder block, with ceramic tile
The Pomaks face discrimination and persecution, and are often
deprived of legal rights. Many have had their land taken without
any form of compensation, and freedom of movement is restricted.
They generally cannot buy land and are unable to get government
jobs or business licenses. Greece denies Muslims passports, and
if a Pomak travels abroad without one, he or she is not allowed
back into the country.
Traditionally, Pomak marriages are arranged between the families
of the prospective bride and groom. The wedding occurs when the
couple reaches their mid- to late teens. Before marriage, the
bride prepares her own dowry, which consists of household items
and clothing. Although Islamic law allows a man to have as many
as four wives, polygamy was never frequent among the Pomaks,
and is currently prohibited by Bulgarian and Greek law.
All photos copyright Kael Alford
American University in Bulgaria
Blagoevgrad 2700, BULGARIA