Old accounts of Kızderbent

By: | Post date: 2010-05-24 | Comments: No Comments
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After Ververidis’ account of Kızderbent, I turn to Shishmanov’s, from his 2001 book Необикновената история на малоазийските българи (The Extraordinary History of the Anatolian Bulgarians). This is mediated through Google Translate, and I’m happy to take corrections on my lack of Bulgarian. Shishmanov turns out to mostly talk about the early accounts of Kızderbent; I do my own Googling, and compare results.

(Warning: lots of Google Books embeds)

Kızderbent was the first documented Bulgarian-speaking village of Anatolia, and Shishmanov cites the following sources:

  1. D. Salvatore, 1807, letter (reprinted by Josef Dobrovský, “Bulgaren in Kleinasien”, Slovanka 1 (1814), Prague, p. 86.): “One day to go before Nicaea, spent the night in a village called Kyz-Dervent, populated only by Bulgarians.” Reports that seven families had fled there two centuries ago, and that they produced flax, silk, and fruit.
  2. J.M. Tancoigne, 1817, diplomat in Persia; his account was translated into English in 1820 (A Narrative of a Journey into Persia. London: William Wright. p. 10): “We… arrived rather early at Kiz Dervend … We were no less [surprised] in seeing the costume worn on the banks of the Danube, and on hearing the Sclavonian language spoke in a country to which we should have supposed it quite a stranger. … The inhabitants acquainted us they were of Bulgarian origin, and that the village was founded, about a century ago, by an emigration of their ancestors.” Hemp and corn. “The inhabitants of this village are Christians of the Greek church.”
  3. George Keppel, 1829: Narrative of a Journey across the Balcan, 1831, London: Henry Colburn & Richard Bentley. Vol II, p. 160. “It contains about one hundred houses, and the inhabitants are all Bulgarians”. Story of the village being sold by an Armenian banker. Portrays the villagers as overburdened by taxation.

I’m going to take the opportunity here to look up other instances of the village in Google Books:

  1. W. M. Leake. 1824. Journal of a Tour in Asia Minor. London: John Murray. p. 6. (Google Books also has a French translation from 1823, in Nouvelles annales des voyages, de la géographie et de l’histoire Vol. 23.) Not surprising Shishmanov doesn’t cite this source: “Kizderwént (the pass of the girls) having the misfortune to lie upon the great road from Constantinople to Brusa, Kutáya, and Kónia, is exposed to a thousand vexations from passengers, notwithstanding the privileges and exemptions which have been granted to it by the Porte. It is inhabited solely by Greeks.” Remarks on poverty of inhabitants.

    Leake was an antiquarian who is renowned for his accounts of Greece, so he recognised Greek when he heard it; but at the time “Greek” could be used to mean Greek Orthodox (Rum), so this is not necessarily a disproof of the previous three accounts. Google Books does not find “Bulgar” or “Bulgarian” in the book, so I can’t confirm Leake was distinguishing the two in this text.
  2. H.E.H. Jerningham. 1873. To and from Constantinople. Can’t tell much from Snippet View.
  3. J. Conder. 1824. The Modern Traveller. Vol. 1. London: James Duncan. p. 332. “Kizderwent (the Pass of the Girls), a village five hours (twenty miles) from Isnik, is inhabited solely by Greeks.” Silk, vineyards, “tolerable wine”. The accounts looks like it’s taken from Leake.
  4. C.L. Irby & J. Mangles. 1823. Travels in Egypt and Nubia, Syria, and Asia Minor; during the years 1817 & 1818. London: T. White. p. 490. “In six hours we arrived at a village called Kisdervent… The natives of this village are entirely Greeks; they appeared an industrious people.” Again, no mention of “Bulgarian” in the book. On p. 223, Syrian Chrstians are spoken of as “of the Greek church, speaking the arabic language”. On p. 97, there is a reference to a building by “Greek Christians” in “Offidena” in Egypt.
  5. J. von Hammer. 1834. Geschichte des Osmanischen Reiches. Vol 1. Pest: C.A. Hartleben. Wondering whether Kisderbend, which Leake calls Kizderwent, is to be identified with the pass of Kasiklü.
  6. Several hits of Kiz-Derbent seem to be about Momima Klisura in Bulgaria—presumanbly the same as Momim Prohod, given a Turkish name to match its Bulgarian name.
  7. W. Theyls. 1722. Memoires pour servir a l’histoire de Charles XIII roi de Suêde. Leiden: Jean du Vivier. A “Kisderwent” is mentioned on p. 307: the Sultan appoints his bostanjis (imperial guards) to guard the passes of Capuli and Kisderwent, also called Trajan’s Gate, from “militias”, in vain. Trajan’s Gate is in Bulgaria, so this may also be Momim Prohod rather than the Bithynian village.
  8. Revue internationale de la Croix-rouge. Vol. 3. 1921. p. 725: “Most Greek refugees—2800—came from the burned village of Kiz-Dervent, south of Karamusal; most Armenians came from Chinghelir, Yeni-Keui, …”

So we have early sources calling the village all-Bulgarian, and almost as early sources calling it all-Greek. Noone mentions Armenians in the village. Noone mentions Turks—at least, not Turkish-speaking Muslims; given the millet system, Turkish-speaking Christians were as likely to be called Greek.

The fact that one set of accounts speaks of all-Bulgarians while the other speaks of all-Greeks suggests to me that there was not a mixture of Greek-speaking and Bulgarian-speaking Kızderventiots, but instead that both accounts were right: Kızderbent was all-Bulgarian in language and all-Greek in creed. It feels odd to be second-guessing the descrption of someone as familiar with Greece as Leake; but given the very clear Slavonic component of Trakatroukika, and the ambiguity in the early 1800s of “Greek” (unmatched by a similar ambiguity of “Bulgarian”), I don’t see what other conclusion I can draw.

We turn back to Shishmanov. Jireček’s 1891 account in Das Fürstenthum Bulgarien, Vienna: F. Tempsky (Archive.org), mentions among the demographics of Bulgaria that

One noteworthy feature are the almost 1000 Bulgarians from Asia Minor, who have settled since 1880 in the regions of Svištov (Deli-Süle, Akčar, Alexandrovo) and Varna (Kozludža, Arajlari) and in Tuzluk (Kurudži-ören). They originate from two isolated enclaves, an older in the village of Kyzdervend near Nicaea and a newer one around Muhalič near Brusa. The inhabitants of the first must have arrived around the 17th century [based on Salvatore], and those of the latter at the end of the 18th century, from various parts of Thrace (Didymoteicho, Čirpan, etc.); they already speak half-Turkish. (p. 52)

The last sentence probably applies to both groups of Anatolian Bulgarians, but is ambiguous. The 1899 translation of the book into Bulgarian, Княжество България, Vol. 2: Пѫтувания по България. Plovdiv: Хр.Г. Данов. (Archive.org) has more detail—Jireček presumably augmented it himself, though I don’t think he did his own translation. (Прѣведе отъ чешки Стоянъ Аргировъ: “Translated from the Czech by Stojan Argirov”, right? But the original looked to be German…) A footnote refers to Salvatore’s account; the text adds that “their only intercourse with European Bulgarians was through tailors from Koprivshititsa, who would walk to Anatolia (С европейските българи били в сношение само посредством абаджиите в Копривщица, които ходят чак в Анадола).”

Jireček does not really have much to say about Kızderbent, then, and is just guessing that the villagers were from the namesake of the village in Bulgaria. Kanchov, as we saw, accepted the local tradition that the settlers were displaced from Ohrid to guard the pass.

Luk Iv. Dorosiev (Българските колонии в Мала Азия; Dorosiev had prepared the non-Kanchov list of Anatolian Bulgarian villages) retorts that the seven families of settlers that Salvatore reported could not have been enough to guard the pass on their lonesome, and that Bulgarians guarded passes in Bulgaria, not Anatolia. I’m not compelled by the argument. Dorosiev’s reports from old villagers was that Kızderbent was founded at the end of the 16th or beginning of the 17th centuries, “250 years ago”, because of страшни бозгунлуци (terrible persecutions?)

Shishmanov’s account of Kızderbent ends with a thud:

What happened to the Bulgarians of Kaz-Dervent?
At the end of the 19th century it ceased to be Bulgarian. Intermarriage with Greeks from the surrounding villages and the subjugation of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate facilitated its assimilation. Some Kaz-Derventtsi obviously were deported to Bulgaria [and Jireček already reported people from Kızderbent moving to Bulgaria in the 1880s], but the majority remained in the village until the collapse of the Greek army in Asia Minor in 1922. [Shishmanov does not mention that the village had already been burned down a couple of years beforehand.] In that year, together with the Greeks from other regions of Asia Minor, they sought refuge in Greece. Many settled in Western Thrace as Greek refugees from Asia Minor.
In an article in the journal Завет of September 9, 1943, A. Sp. Razboynikov writes that the Bulgarians of the oldest Bulgarian villages in Asia Minor—the villages of the Nicaean Group, Kaz-Dervent and Pamuk-Dervent—were displaced to Greece as Greek refugees, although they were Bulgarians, and ended up as Greeks with the same religion as the [Turkish-speaking] Karamanlides. (били изселени в Гърция като гръцки бежанци, въпреки че били българи, но претопени сред гърци и караманлии поради еднаквата религия) In the article, titled “Anatolian Bulgarians on the Aegean Sea” (Малоазийските българи в Беломорието), he added:

  • “It is reported that they have ended up in Gyumyurdjinsky [i.e. Gümülcine, i.e. Komotini—the nearby village of Roditis, as seen]. Kaz-derventtsi are also housed in Kalitiya [Kallithea].
  • Other Anatolian Bulgarians can be found in the village of Nea Iraklica, of Pravishta [Nea Iraklitsa, Eleftheron municipality. Pravishta in Greek is nearby Eleftheroupoli, formerly Pravi. I’ve seen no reports of Trakatroukides in Kavala prefecture; ironically, Kavala prefecture is where the current inhabitants of Kızderbent were expelled from].
  • A third group is said to be in Kilkis and the Kilkis area, etc. [Valtotopi, Polypetro, and so on.]

It seems that they are quite scattered.”

The chapter on the language of the Anatolian Bulgarians mentions the assimilatory pressure of Greek and Turkish—with a lot more bitterness about the former: there are some tendentious words about гърцизма (Hellenising), and in the listing of Bulgarian villages several are reported to have Grecoman families. The dialect of the Anatolian Bulgarians is said to be Thracian, mostly Haskovo, except for Stengelköy whose inhabitants had recently migrated from Kastoria, and thus spoke “the Kostur Bulgarian dialect” (which most people would now call Macedonian).

Of the mixed language of Kızderbent, of what its linguistic antecedents are, and of whether it represented the “Ohrid dialect of Bulgarian”—not a word. I strongly suspect either Kanchov or Dorosiev would have written something, but for now I cannot find out about it.

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