The social and cultural composition of Turkey's provincial society is still poorly understood, not only in the West, but in Turkey itself. Because of this situation, contemporary accounts of Turkish society have a tendency to underestimate the variety of provincial life and to discount the importance of this variety for the nation as a whole. Some events in recent decades, it is true, have certainly eroded the diversity of provincial society. The population exchanges after World War I virtually removed the entire Christian population from Asia Minor. As well, the development of a national polity and the accompanying acceleration of westernization established a new national culture and society which has affected even the most remote areas of the country. Despite this trend toward a greater uniformity, local traditions and local loyalties still retain a vitality that is seldom fully appreciated.
page 320 note 1 W., Rickmer Rickmers, ‘Lazistan and Ajaristan’, The Geographical Journal, vol. 84 (1934), p. 469.
page 320 note 2 Sirri, Erinç, ‘Trabzon Vilayeti: Cografi §artlar ve İmkānlar’, Maliye Enstitüsü Haftalars: Birinci Hafta–Trabzon, T. C. Maliye Enstitüsü Yayinlari, no. 24 (Istanbul, Fakülteler Matbaasi, 1966), p. 84.
page 320 note 3 See Minorsky, V., s.v. ‘Laz’ in Encyclopedia of Islam (1st ed.; Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1913–1936);Anthony, Bryer, ‘Some Notes on the Laz and Tzan (I)’, Bedi Kartlisa, vols. 21–22 (1966), pp. 174–95; and idem., ‘Some Notes on the Laz and Tzan (II)’ Bedi-Kartlisa, vols. XXIII-XXIV (1967), pp.161–8.
page 321 note 1 B., Geiger et al. , Peoples and Languages of the Caucasus (The Hague, Mouton and Co., 1959), pp. 14–15.
page 321 note 2 Mübeccel, B. Kiray, Ereğli, Te§kilâti, T. C. Ba§bakanlik Devlet Pl…nlama (Ankara, Deviet Karayollari Matbaasi, 1964), pp. 44, 55.
page 322 note 1 Ibid.
page 322 note 2 The usage of the terms ‘Laz’ and ‘Kurd’ in. Turkey is not so unusual as it may The term ‘Yankee’ as used in the United States is a similar case. People who are called Yankees by one group deny that they themselves are Yankees, but apply the term to some other group, generally to the north.
page 322 note 3 In the late 1930S a Trebizond newspaper published an article which criticized Ankara Radio for referring to the songs of the eastern Black Sea people as Laz songs (Yeni Yol (Trebizond), 1 04 1939).Bilâl, A.Yamkoğlu, Trabzonve Havalisinde Toplanmt§, Folklar Malzemesi (Istanbul, Kenan Matbaasi, 1943), pp. 26–7, objects to the people of the Black Sea being called Laz because it incorrectly implies that they are not Turkish.
page 322 note 4 The Alevis constitute a rural sect whose doctrines are similar to those of the urban Bektashis. There are Turkish-speakers, Kurdish-speakers, and Arabic-speakers among the Alevi.
page 323 note 1 Metin, And, A History of Theatre and Popular Entertainment in Turkey (Ankara, Forum Yayinlari, 1963–1964), pp. 46–7.
page 324 note 1 The accents of the Black Sea Turks are by no means uniform even in one given locale, but most accents east of Samsun feature a distortion of the vowel harmony typical of Anatolian Turkish. As one proceeds eastward along the coast the accents tend to become more unlike the Anatolian accents, until in the province of Rize even some Anatolian consonants are distorted or changed. For example, geldim becomes jeldum and baik becomes paluk. These consonantal changes are more localized than the distortion of vowel harmony, therefore the latter remains the best test for detecting eastern Black Sea origins.
page 324 note 2 Eastern Black Sea men are very prominent among the minaret builders of Turkey.
page 324 note 3 In Turkish these two expressions are, respectively, ‘Laz akli, kaz akli’ and ‘Kaz uçar da, Laz uçmaz m1’.
page 324 note 4 Anatolian stories of the Laz are reminiscent of the English stories of the Irish, who are represented as having no English common sense and acting in unexpected and contrary ways.
page 326 note 1 The feeling of amusement at each other's contrasting but similar institutions is mutually shared. During a visit to a tea factory on the coast I was expressly taken and introduced to a particular man. Everyone was smiling and one man could not suppress his laughter. This man, it was explained, was from Bayburt, a town on the plateau; in other words, he was an Anatolian. The eastern Black Sea Turks consider Anatolian villagers to be naive and unsophisticated, almost a little barbaric. They see themselves as more intelligent, diligent, and courageous than the Anatolian, but they say that the Anatolian is stronger and hardier, due to his better mountain air, water, and more strenuous way of life.
page 326 note 2 Karl, Koch, Reise durch Russland nach dern Kaukasischen Isthmus in den Jahren 1836, 1837, und 1838, 2 vols. (Stuttgart, J. Cotta, 1842); vol. I, pp. 378–9; vol. 2, pp. 105, 199. The Karbardian Circassians lived in clustered villages, but the settlements of other Circassians consisted of scattered hamlets. Also see Allen, W. E. D., A History of the Georgian People (London, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co., 1932), pp. 54–5.
page 327 note 1 Allen, W. E. D., ‘The March-Lands of Georgia,’ The Geographical Journal, vol. 74 (1929), p. 144. For an earlier description of these scattered hamlets see Ruy, Gonzales le Clavijo, Embassy to Tamerlane: 1403–1406, trans. Guy Le Strange (London, G. Routledge and Sons, 1928), p. 336. Also see the comments of Anthony, Bryer, Bedi Kartlissa, vols. 21–22 (1966), pp. 185; and vols. 23–24 (1967), p. 168.
page 327 note 2 Louis, J. Luzbetak, Marriage and the Family in Caucasia (Vienna, St Gabriel's Mission Press, 1951), p. 204 n. 75. Luzbetak summarizes the Gebirgsbauerkultur concept of D. J. Wölfel. The Gerbirgsbauerkultur is supposedly found in the Caucasus, parts of North Africa, among the Basques, in the Alps, in Scandinavia, the British Isles, and the Carpathian Mountains.
page 327 note 3 For a description of transhumance in the Giresun-Ordu area, see Xavier de Planhol, ‘A travers les chaînes pontiques’, Bulletinde l'Association de Géographes Français, nos. 311−12 (1963), pp. 2–12.
page 327 note 4 Johannes, Humlum, Zur Geographie des Maisbaus (Copenhagen, E. Harcks Forlagt 1942), p. 90, notes that maize, spreading rapidly after its discovery, was an importan, crop in Turkey by the early seventeenth century. Describing Mingrelia in the middle of the seventeenth century, Evliya Chelebi (Narrative of Travels to Europe, Asia, and Africa in the Seventeenth Century, trans. J. von Hammer, a vols. (London, Allen and Co., 1846), vol. II, p. 197) wrote that ‘Corn and wheat are scarce as hardly anything but millet and Lazud [?] is sown’. The question mark was inserted by the translator. Lazud is today the word for maize in the rural areas of Turkey's eastern Black Sea coast.
page 328 note 1 Two of the best accounts of Caucasian customs and institutions are Luzbetak and Koch.
page 328 note 2 For example, see Luzbetak, , pp. 68, 70, 148, 151, 160–1. Almost any commentary of length touches on these particular qualities of the Caucasus. See, for example,Allen, W. E. D. and Paul, Muratoff, Caucasian Battlefields (Cambridge University Press, 1953);John, F. Baddeley, The Russian Conquest of the Caucasus (London, Longmans, Green and Co., 1908); and James, S. Bell, Journal of a Residence in Circassia, 2 vols. (London, Edward Moxon, 1840).
page 328 note 3 Koch, , Reise durch Russland, vol. 1, p. 387, my translation.
page 328 note 4 James, Brant, ‘Journey through a Part of Armenia and Asia Minor in the Year 1835’, Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, vol. 6 (1836), p. 192.
page 329 note 1 Allen, and Muratoff, , Caucasian Battlefields, pp. 28, 41–4, 61, 62, 123, 248, 275 n. I, 293–5. It is probable that Allen and Muratoff use the word ‘Laz’ in its Turkish sense to mean eastern Black Sea Muslims. For example, their account of a specific conflict between the Russians and the Laz tribesmen in the campaign of 1828–9 may well have involved the non-Lazi people of Of, who have a mountain pasture in the immediate vicinity (ibid. p. 41.).
page 329 note 2 One late afternoon when I presented myself to the cashier of the government administration in Trebizond, the clerk brusquely informed me, before I could say a word, that I was too late to obtain a pistol permit, apparently his main activity. The eastern Black Sea Turks readily assent to the Anatolian conception that they are brave fighters. One group of Black Sea Turks said with some amusement that such qualities, as well as their short tempers, were a result of eating maize and anchovies.
page 330 note 1 Some examples of these institutions are as follows: the seclusion of women to special huts during menstruation and following childbirth, the betrothal of female infants, the practice of the groom's family rearing the betrothed female infant, the wearing of corsets by virgins and their removal by the groom on the wedding night, etc. These institutions, so far as I am aware, have never been adequately analysed for any Caucasian society. They are described by Luzbetak and by Koch.
page 330 note 2 For Caucasian societies, see Luzbetak, , pp. 156–69.
page 331 note 1 Travellers' accounts of Caucasian societies usually stress the extreme indolence of men, and similar comments have been made about the eastern Black Sea Turks. While there is certainly variability in both regions with regard to the activity of men, the generalization that the men are lazy and unproductive is, I believe, superficial. The fact that the eastern Black Sea Turkish men spend all their leisure hours in public gives the illusion of idleness to Westerners, who associate leisure more closely with the privacy of the family. A man may spend several weeks of the year in the coffee-houses of his village, but at other times he is pursuing a grueling routine as a petty trader or construction worker, unable to visit his family for weeks or months at a time.
page 331 note 2 See Anthony, Bryer, ‘The Last Laz Risings and the Downfall of the Pontic Derebeys, 1812–1840’, Bedi Kartlisa, vol. 26 (1969), pp. 191–210, and Michael, E. Meeker, ‘Note on “the Last Laz Risings and the Downfall of the Pontic Derebeys, 1812–1840’'’, Bedi Kartlisa, vol. 25i (1969), pp. 250–2. Political leadership is also highly valued among Caucasians, and I have been told by a recent traveller to the area that men resembling the Black Sea Turkish aghas can be found in the Soviet Caucasus today.
page 331 note 3 I have not been able to determine whether priests and hodjas play a similar role in the western Caucasus, but parts of Daghestan in the eastern Caucasus are known for their many hodjas. Allen and Muratoff, Caucasian Battlefields, p. 502, state that the hodjas constituted no less than 4 per cent of the Daghestan population.
page 332 note 1 Many of the Pontic Greeks settled in the area of Salonika after the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey.
page 333 note 1 I am grateful to Mr Stavros Deligiorgis of the University of Iowa who explained to me the reputation of the Pontic Greeks and the tradition and associations of the word Laz. Also see Anthony, Bryer, Bedi Kartlisa, vols. 23–24 (1967), p. 167, for remarks on the Pontic Greeks.
page 333 note 2 See Koutsogiannoupoulos, D. S., ‘Oi Pontiakoi Horoi’, Archeion Pontou, vol. 28 (1966–1967), pp. 72–123, where pictures of the traditional Pontic Greek dress are shown. Undoubtedly there are many details of dances, songs, and dress which Pontic Greeks and Black Sea Turks would say completely distinguish one from the other, but for outsiders they bear a strong resemblance.
page 333 note 3 Oikonomides, D. E., ‘Peri Amphieseos’, Archeion Pontou, vol. 2 (1929), pp. 3–48. A picture included in this article shows two Greek peasant women carrying fodder in baskets on their backs, while knitting with their hands. This is still a common scene in the villages of Turkey's eastern Black Sea coast. In the district of Of, the large baskets for carrying fodder are called kofin in the vernacular, a word for basket in Greek.
page 334 note 1 Rickmers, , The Geographical Journal, vol. 84 (1934), pp. 465, 471–2;Eduard, Meyer, Geschichte des Königreichs Pontos (reprint of the Leipzig, 1879 ed.; Chicago, Argonaut Inc., 1968), p. 10; and Allen, W. E. D., A History of the Georgian People, pp. 55–6.
page 334 note 2 The Greek empire of Trebizond (1205–1461), a more or less independent state, is a notable exception to this generalization.
page 334 note 3 Tibor, Halasi-Kun, ‘The Caucasus: An Ethno-Historical Survey’, Studia Caucasica, no. 1 (1963), pp; 1–47.
page 334 note 4 ibid.
page 335 note 1 Théodore, Reinach, Mithridate Eupator (Paris, Librairie de Firmin-Didot et Cie., 1890), p. 15, and Meyer, , pp. 10–12, list these tribes and give references to the classical writers who mention them.
page 335 note 2 Xenephon, , Anabasis, 5. v. 34.
page 335 note 3 Watson, J. S., The Anabasis, or Expedition of Cyrus, and the Memorabilia of Socrates (London, Bell and Daldy, 1867), pp. 158–9.Xavier, de Planhol, ‘Geographia Pontica, 1–11,’ Journal Asiatique, vol. 251 (1963), pp. 293–309, has shown that the correct translation for the word translated as chestnut should be hazelnut, one of the important cash crops of the region today.
page 335 note 4 Xenophon, , Anabasis, 5. iv. 1–2, v. 5. 1–3.
page 335 note 5 ibid. V. iv. II, V. iv. 26–31.
page 336 note 1 Bryer, , Bedi Kartlisa, vols. 21–22 (1966), p. 175, and Allen, , A History of the Georgian People, p. 55, have pointed out the close similarity between reports of the Mossynoeci and the Lazi and have suggested a connexion between them. While an identification of the Lazi as the modern Mossynoeci seems tenuous, the case for an ample measure of cultural continuity in the Pontos and a close relationship between Pontic and Caucasian societies is more substantial. One Caucasian feature which the foregoing authors do not mention is the Mossynoecis' construction of towers. These towers bring to mind those of nineteenth-century Caucasian villages which were also used for storage of provisions and for defense.
page 336 note 2 Strabo, , Geographia, 12. iii. 18.
page 336 note 3 Procopius, , Wars, 2. 29, 14–19, 8, 2, 1–3.
page 336 note 4 ibid. II. xxix, 14–19, VIII, ii, 10–19. In these two citations, Procopius apparently contradicts himself. In the first he writes that the land between the Roman Pontics and the Lazi was uninhabited but controlled by the Lazi. In the second he writes that the inhabitants of the area, whom he did not name, were independent of both the Romans and the Lazi.
page 336 note 5 ibid. For a summary of the relationships between the Colchian Lazi and Byzantium, see Bryer, , Bedi Kartlisa, vols. 21–22 (1966), pp. 176–7.
page 336 note 6 Bryer, , Bedi Kartlisa, vols. 21–22 (1966), pp. 174, 187-95, haspointed out the frequent confusion of the Tzan with other groups designated by similar names. He accepts Procopius' account of the homeland of the Tzan and traces elements of the Tzan among the principal figures of Byzantine Trebizond.
page 337 note 1 Bryer, Bedi Kartlisa, vols. 21–22 (1966), pp. 188, 191.
page 337 note 2 Reinard, [J.-T.], trans., Géographie d' Aboulféda, 2 vols. (Paris, l'Imprimerie Nationale, 1848–1883), vol. 2, pt. 2, p. 146.
page 337 note 3 Bryer, , Bedi Kartlisa, vols. 21–22 (1966), pp. 179.
page 337 note 4 Evliya, Chelebi, Narrative, vol. 2, p. 49. Evliya Chelebi refers to the Laz as the Lezgi and states that the former was a corruption of the latter. The Lezgi, however, are still another people, not connected with the Pontos, but located in southeastern Daghestan and in northern Azerbaijan. Eviliya Chelebi distinguishes various groups among the Laz, giving support to the idea that the term ‘Las’ as he used it included many peoples besides the Lazi. He located some Chichu Laz near the district of Of (Kalipravuli) and also mentioned the Chifta Laz.
page 337 note 5 West of Pazar, most of the old village names have Turkish, Greek, and Armenian etymologies. East of Pazar, the names of the Lazi villages are of a clearly different, presumably Lazi, structure. Allen, W. E. D., A History of the Georgian People, p. 55, and idem., The Geographical Journal, vol. 74 (1929), p. 141, attributes a Lazi etymology to the names of the principal towns as far west as Samsun, but the evidence for this seems slender.
page 337 note 6 Bryer, , Bedi Kartlisa, vols. 21–22 (1966), p. 180, suggests an economic distinction rather than an ethnic distinction between Laz and Greek, in which the former were more transhumant and the latter were more permanently settled. He notes that even on these grounds there was an overlap between the two groups.
page 338 note 1 Claude, Cahen, Pre-Ottoman Turkey, trans. Jones-Williams, J. (London, Sedgwick and Jackson, 1968), pp. 70, 73.
page 338 note 2 Faruk, Sümer. s.v. ‘Cepni’, Encyclopedia of Islam (2nd ed., Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1954–). Also see Faruk, Sümer, Oĝuzlar (Ankara, Universitesi Basimevi, 1967), pp. 318–20, 322–3. The following account of the Turkicization of the Pontos is drawn, except where noted, from these two sources.
page 338 note 3 Gökbilgin, M. Tayyib, ‘XVI. yüzyil başlarinda Trabzon livasi ve doĝu Karadeniz bölgesi’, Belleten, vol. 26 (1962), pp. 293–337.
page 338 note 4 See the analysis of population movements in the district of Of for a further examination of this inference.
page 338 note 5 See Table 2.
page 339 note 1 Sümer, s.v. ‘Cepni’, Encycl. of Islam (2nd ed.).
page 339 note 2 Michael, Defner, ‘Pente Hebdomades para tois arnêsithrêskois en Ophei’, Hestia, year 2, vol. 4, no. 87 (08 1877), pp. 547–50.
page 339 note 3 Bryer, , ‘Rural Society in the Empire of Trebizond’, Archeion Pontou, vol. 28 (1966–1967), pp. 159–60. The surname which Bryer mentions is surely connected with the present-day Esiroğlu sub-district of Machka. Esiroğlu in Turkish means ‘son of the captive’.
page 340 note 1 For an account of Asia Minor before the Turkish invasion see Cahen, , Pre-Ottoman Turkey, pp. 64–6.
page 340 note 2 This still holds true today. Some lowland villagers of Of have a pasture in the high Pontic mountains that is 30 miles distant from the coast. Anatolians who live on the southern slopes of the Pontic mountains also claim the pasture, but they have been unable to gain possession of it even though their villages are only a short distance away. The men of Of insist that their superior fighting abilities were decisive in enabling them to resist the Anatolians' claims. Conflicts still occur between the two groups.
page 340 note 3 For a brief account of the Greek Santalis who, isolated in such a refuge, preserved their independence from both Turks and the Ottoman government down to modern times, see Bryer, , ‘Nineteenth-century Monuments in the City and Vilayet of Trebizond’, Archeion Pontou, vol. 29 (1968), pp. 108–14.
page 340 note 4 Xavier, de Planhol, Bulletin de l'Association de Géographes Français, nos. 311–12 (1963), pp. 10–11. My own argument is an extension of a similar one developed by de Planhol, who traces the high population density of the Pontos to the absence of a devastating Turkish occupation like that which occurred in parts of Anatolia. According to de Planhol, the main factor was the Pontic mountain barrier and the thick vegetation which made it impossible for large nomadic tribes to move freely and quickly into the region.
page 340 note 5 Vital, Cuinet, La Turquie d'Asie, 4 vols. (Paris, E. Leroux, 1890–1895), vol. I, p. 10. Cuinet estimates that the population of the late nineteenth-century sancaks of Trebizond and Lazistan was 607,700. Of the total, 473,795 were listed as Muslim, 107,000 were listed as Greek Orthodox, and 26,535 were listed as Armenians belonging to various Christian sects. These two sancaks included more or less the territory which comprises the modern provinces of Ordu, Giresun, Trebizond, Rize, and the coastal section of Artvin. The judgement that most of the Muslims were Turkish-speaking is my own conclusion derived from my work in the area.
page 341 note 1 Bryer, , Bedi Kartlisa, vols. 21–22 (1966), pp. 181, 194.
page 341 note 2 Kemal, Karadenizli, Trabzon Tarihi (Ankara, Basim ve Ciltevi, 1954), p. 46, gives the date of the conversion as 200 years after the Ottoman conquest of Trebizond, i.e. the late seventeenth century. His source is şakir, şevket, Trabzon Tarihi (Istanbul, Umran Matbaasi, 1294 A.H.).Defner, , Hestia year 2, vol. 4, no. 87 (08 1877), pp. 547–50, was told in 1876 during his stay in Of that the Greek speakers of the western valley of the district had been converted about 180 years earlier. An Ottoman almanac of 1869 (Sal- name-i Vilayet Trabzon, 1286 A.H) concurs with these figures. Also see the discussion of Of in Bryer, , Archeion Pontou, vol. 29 (1968), pp. 109–10.
page 341 note 3 Bryer, , Bedi Kartlisa, vols. 21–22 (1966), pp. 184–5.
page 341 note 4 For comments on the background of the Hemshin and an analysis of their language, see Georges, Dumézil, ‘Notes sur le parler d'un Arménien musulman de Hemşin’, Académie Royale de Belgique, Classe des Lettres et des Sciences morales et politiques, Mémoires, vol. 57, no. 4 (1964). Dumézil gives the date of the conversion of a number of Armenian Christians near Hemshin as the early eighteenth century.
page 341 note 5 Hasan, Umur, Of Tarihi (Istanbul, Güven Basimevi, 1951), pp. 5–62.
page 342 note 1 According to Hasan Umur, the 921 A.H. census is document no. 52 in the Istanbul Başbakanlik Dairesi; the 961 A.H. census is document no. 288 in the same location; and the 991 A.H. census is document no. 5 in the Kuyud-i Kadime Dairesi of Ankara. The 921 A.H. census appears to be the same as that treated by Gökbilgin, , Belleten, vol. 26 (1962). The names of the heads of households are listed in the censuses. The Christian names are in Greek and the Muslim names are in Ottoman. This does not mean that Christians and Muslims were Greek- and Turkish-speaking, respectively, but I am inclined to believe that these two languages were the important ones in the district during the sixteenth century just as they are today.
page 343 note 1 Alternatively, the newcomers might not have been Turks. While there have been newcomers to the district who did not speak Turkish in recent centuries (some Kurdish elements were present in small numbers) it would be difficult to explain why most of the population today is Turkish-speaking if the new settlers had not for the most part been Turks.
page 343 note 2 This is an important exception to the generally accepted view that the Turks entered the Pontos from the west. Stratil-Sauer, G., ‘From Baiburt via Ispir to Lâzistan’, The Geographical Journal, vol. 86 (1935), pp. 405–6, noted that a natural road led from Ispir along the Chapans River (Chepni?) through the Chapans Pass into the Iyidere Valley and thence to Rize. A motor road now runs along this route. The village names in the western part of the province of Rize which lies open to this corridor are the most clearly Turkish in etymology of any village names east of Giresun. See the Başbakanlik, T. C., Ekim 1955 Genel Nüfus Sayimi, †statistik Genel Müdürlüĝü, Yaym no. 412 (Ankara, 1961), for a list of the old village names.
page 344 note 1 Xavier, de Planhol, Bulletin de l'Association de Géographes Français, nos. 311–12 (1963), p. 8, points out that the highest villages on the northern slopes of the western Pontic mountains were Greek. After the exchange of populations, the Greek villages became summer residences for the Turks. Anthony Bryer has more extensive views and materials on this matter, but they have not yet been published.
page 344 note 2 Sϋmer, , Oğuzlar, pp. 318, 323.
page 345 note 1 Claude, Cahen, ‘Le problème ethnique en Anatolie’, Cahiers d'Histoire Mondiale, vol. 2 (1954), p. 356, has analysed the Islamization and Turkicization of Asia Minor as two separate processes, sometimes concurrent and sometimes not.
1 The fieldwork on which this paper is based was made possible by the National Institute of Mental Health. I would also like to express my appreciation to the Center for Advanced Study, University of Illinois, where a portion of the research leading to this paper was performed. I am especially indebted to Anthony Bryer of the University of Birmingham without whose help and advice this article could not have been written.
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.
* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.
Usage data cannot currently be displayed