Puka is situated on a hilly and mountainous territory, in the North-center of Albania. The town of Puka, the administrative center of the district, is built on the plain of Puka, in the height of 800-838 km, 150 km from Tirana. The district has an approximate population of 46000 inhabitants.
Since ancient times Puka was inhabited from the Ilirians, and being for centuries a link road for important centers of Kosovo such as Prizren, Gjakove etc, whith those of Shkodra, Lezha, Durresi etc, is known as a region that kept and inherited important cultural, historie and artistic values. The ancient road that stretched from the Adruatic Sea up to Dardania (Kosovo) gave Puka the name (Via Publica/Public Way/Puke).
The ensemble "Puka" started its activity in the year 1948, based on a selection of the best elements of various folkloric groups of the district and was given the name of the town, In honor of the people of Puke, the first debutants of the ensemble "Puka" such as the dancers: Avdullah Lavi, Demush Pema, Mehmet Rrapushi, Ram Selimi, Mark Maluta, the virtuous and skillful instrumentalist Ndue Shyti (Popular Artist and Honorable Citizen of Puka), Frrok Haxhi (Honored Artist) the rhapsodist Fran Pali Tom Nikolla (awarded the Goldebb Medal in the Moscow Festivak in the year 1957) and others will be long remembered as the first artist who gave the ensemble lif, name and traditional values. The artist of Puka lived in and was inspired by eonderful natural surroundings, in the middle of secular fascinating woods , highands with snow and meadows full of flowers and in a typical Northern region, with attaractive women and handsome, noble, patriotic, generous and failings, thus, developing his culture through the songs, dances, verious costumes, embroideries etc. The talented producuer Frn Vukaj, the ecperieced choreograoher Riza Hoxha, music and folklore researchers Prof.Yllka Selimi and Sabrije Nushi, worked on and made an art of the cultural values of Puka through the artist of this ensemble.
The most popular orchestra with musical instruments of the region of the "Popular Artist" Ndue Shyti, whose members were the Gjovalin Ndreca etc, became popular in our country and aborad performing with great talent verious melodis and accompanying traditional dances and songs.
The new dancer generation such as Besim Ramadani ,Rudina Elezi, Shpresa Terbuni, Alma Haxhia, Ferit Demushi, Sabah Mustafa etc, ara performing the traditional dances of Puka with great artistic skills.
The ensemble is made up of well-known singers such as Vitore Rusha, Fran Gjoka,Zoje Pali, Nikolle Cara,Faik Pema,Gezim Ahmeti, Lush Binaku, Dava Gjergji,Armir Cena, Vitore Matoshi,Gjovalin Nikolli,Merjeme Xaja etc.
The ensemble "Puka" was given the First Class Medal "Naim Frasheri". The ensemble participated in all regional national folkloric festivals winning the Honorable Prize and over 26 other prizes and medals. It represented Albania in international activities such as the International Festival of Ismilia in Egypt in september of the year 1998. The devoted work done by the director of the Cultural center Riza Tafilaku, the continuing suppot of mr.Halit Forriku (head of th Munivipality during the years 1996-2000) made in Ensemble "Puka" become known and highly respected aborad by interpreting in many cities of Switzerland, Egypt,Monte Nergro, Kosovo etc.
A great event and appreciation for the artists was the European Prize of Popular art gieven to the ensemble by the German Foundation Alfred Toepfer F.V.S. in Hamburg. On this occasion, at the beginning of June 2001, the municipality of Puka and the Cultural Center will be engaged in organizing the activity "Puka Cultural Day" that wil be a cultural celebration on the popular art of region.
The artist of the ensemble "Puka" and the inhabitants of the town appareciate and express their gratitude for the support and evalution that was given to the ensemble by the "Austria Albania Frendship Association" whose president is Ms. Mariana Graf, Honorable Citizen of Puka and the coordinator Mr. Skender Thaci.
By: Forumi Pukjan