MARKO KOSTOV CEPENKOV was born in Prilep in 1829. He belongs
to the first generation of collectors of Macedonian folklore including
the Miladinov brothers, Kuzman Sapkarev, Partenja Zografski, Jordan Hadi
Konstantinov - Dinot, Gorgi Pulevski and Stefan Verkovik.
His family was large and quiet poor. His childhood years,
particularly his schooldays, are described in some detail in his "Autobiography"
which was published in full according to his own manuscript in the journal
"Makedonski Jazik" (The Macedonian Language) in 1958. It was edited
by Prof. K. Penusliski. From this autobiography we learn that the young
Marko was a pupil of Hadi Pop Konstantin Dinkov, a well-known culture worker
if the last century, for a year. After this he had to break off his schooling
and learn a craft because his family was so poor.
Cepenkov was apprenticed to a Prilep tailor. However,
in May 1846, he had the opportunity of continuing his schooling when his
father went to work in Struga and took the boy with him. In Struga he became
a pupil at the school under Naum Hadov.
His father, a most communicative person, sent him to
live with his brother Ilco who was a grocer in Krusevo. Marko remained
there, working as a journeyman, until his father came to Krusevo to take
him to Bitola where he had found work. Marko gives 1852 as the year of
his arrival in Bitola. Once again he did not stay long. Later he went to
work for the well known Prilep tailor Timion, and a good friend of Dimitrija
Miladinov. After an apprenticeship lasting some years Marko became an independent
Cepenkov began collecting folklore during the period
1856-57 when Dimitrij Miladinov was a teacher in Prilep and a direct influence
on him. He also received encouragement to enter this field from Kuzman
Sapkarev who, right at the beginning, handed over to him a certain part
of his own collection of folk-stories. When Marko saw Sapkarev's published
collection of his desire to publish his own folklore collection increased
The ageing Marko was to suffer great misfortune: his
sight failed. A traffic accident left him crippled in one leg. Injured
and more or less blind Cepenkov was no longer in a position to earn his
bread himself so he made a vigorous effort to get a pension from the National
Parliament. We have records of this in the form of letters which he sent
to Dr. Ivan Sismanov. Living extremely poorly Cepenkov still continued
to write: from 1896-1911 he published ten of his original poems and four
acts of his play, "Black Duke", thus confirming the literary and creative
abilities already quite noticeable in the folklore material he wrote down
thereby raising the artistic form to a new level.
Alone and in extreme poverty Marko Cepenkov died as a
emigrant in Sophia on 29th December, 1920, in his ninetieth year.
| Back |