The Guestroom (Oda) of Berati

The Guestroom (Oda) of Berati

TIRANA, January 26

The guests’ room, Oda, as well known as the best or the biggest room, is one of the most important spots in the traditional Berati dwelling house. This can be noticed in the artistic and architectonical details of the room. The location in the house, numerous windows, the musander-mahfil complex (a wooden closed inside the walls), the low-seated sofas (minder used booth for sitting or sleeping), the elegantly crafted fireplace, two niches on each side, the typical hearth were among the essentials that made a room into oda.

Oda at the National Ethnographic Museum in Berat
Musander-mafil area

The wall closets and the ceiling were made of painted pine wood. The flooring was covered with handmade red kilims, carpets, or rugs. Meanwhile, the silverware dining set was placed in the center of the room. All these elements show the importance of the room even at an artistic level.

Oda at the National Ethnographic Museum in Berat
Silverware dining set at the center of the oda

Hierarchy played an important role when sitting, eating, or speaking. The host would open the discussion and keep it balanced while the eldest guest had the last word.
The guest in the oda was welcomed either for a coffee or for staying a few days or longer. The guest would stay, eat, and sleep in the oda. He would always be in the company of the homeowner or his eldest son in a sign of honor and respect.
Moreover, all the family events, happy or sad, would take place in the oda. The oda was an area of patriarchy in the household. Men would discuss important matters. Whispering or talking in someone’s ear was forbidden. The conversation could be described as laconic. An opinion would be approved with a head nod or the words “Yes, you’re right’ or it would be carefully rejected.
The destiny of young men and women was decided in the oda. Weddings were decided and canceled in the same room. Politics and trade were also discussed in the oda.
Hospitality was so important, that if guests would arrive during a wake ceremony or sad occasion, the guest would be welcomed and treated like nothing had happened.
You can visit the Oda at Berati National Ethnographic Museum or take a virtual tour here.

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Source/Photo credit: National Museums Center

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