Is it to do with religion? I ask. But whether the answer comes from a Muslim or a Catholic, it's the same - a shrug. "Religion isn't important," says one man.

Is it to do with religion? I ask. But whether the answer comes from a Muslim or a Catholic, it’s the same – a shrug. “Religion isn’t important,” says one man.

The weather-beaten forms of cuddly toys hanging from buildings are a common sight in Albania. Who put them there, and why?

Suspended from the eaves of houses, they sway gently in the wind. The bodies are distorted, storm-drenched and smut-stained. Rabbits are hung by their ears, chubbier animals suspended by wire garrottes. A bloated creature is spiked on to the reinforcing rods which protrude from a half-finished building. What is this spate of teddy bear suicides?

Driving through Albania you can’t fail to notice the stuffed toys hanging outside homes and business premises. In Albanian they’re just called “majmune“, meaning “monkeys” – the word used for any soft toy. When I took a random sample of houses in three Albanian suburbs I found a visible monkey suspended from approximately one in eight buildings.

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