Isniq and Istog, Kosova

Manchester United is a global brand and, in addition, the least liked team in the English Premier League, the side that everyone enjoys seeing beaten or embarrassed.  

Adnan Januzaj was purchased by Man Utd from the Belgian champions RSC Anderlecht in 2011, aged 16. Although born in Brussels, it is immediately clear from his name that his family is not of traditional Belgian heritage. The surname is Albanian. The forename Adnan, which means “settler” in Arabic, is common in Muslim parts of the Balkans, in Turkey and across the Middle-East. Januzaj’s father Abedin migrated to Belgium from Istog, Kosova in 1992, apparently to avoid the draft into the Yugoslav People’s Army as the state fell apart.  

Istog (or Istok in the Serbian language) is a twin village, in a peculiarly Kosovar Albanian sense. Its twin is Isniq (Istinić in Serbian). In fact, it would be more true to say that, rather than siblings, Isniq is the parent settlement which gave birth to Istog.   

The founding myth is as follows. At a date probably during the latter half of the C17th, three Catholic Albanian brothers from the Shala clan in Albania left their native highlands in Malësi e Madhe, where land was in short supply. They settled in the Rrafshi i Dukagjinit plains (known as Metohija in Serbian) near a modest settlement then known as Istinići, populated by a handful of households of the Orthodox confession (probably ethnic Albanian rather than Serb) of the Bojkaj clan. In due course, both the Orthodox Bojkaj, and the descendants of the incoming Catholic brothers, converted to Islam, and the settlement, being populated by Albanian speakers, generally became known as Isniq.  

During the mid-C19th, Isniq had expanded to the extent that all land was accounted for, and the village’s overflow population settled at Istog, where they were effectively serfs (çifçi) rather than independent peasant agriculturalists or pastoralists. Henceforth, many families had two homes, one in Isniq and one in Istog, under the same head of household (at least until post-WW1 reforms in Yugoslavia).  

To explain this, one must understand the traditional clan structure in this part of Kosova. The word for a clan is fis. Each fis is subdivided into lineages, or lines of descent (patrilineal, as only male lines are considered). There are two local words for these in Albanian, both of which have a geographical meaning coinciding with the genealogical meaning – mëhallë (derived from the Turkish mahalle) and lagje. These translate to lineage but also to neighbourhood or quarter – this is because residence followed kinship lines, and the entire lineage would live in the same part of the village. In turn, each mëhallë or lagje was subdivided into barks, which were the main kinship group for most practical and social purposes. Each bark was also subdivided, into shpies. A shpie was a household (equivalent to a Slavic zadruga) – a usually walled compound in which typically might live an old man, his sons and the sons’ children, or alternatively (following the death of the elder, if the shpie does not divide, the sons as brothers and their children). Finally, within each shpie are the hises. A hise is the equivalent of a nuclear family – i.e. a man, his wife and their children.  

In the case of Isniq and Istog, then, it is the shpie which might have two physical households, one in each village, under the headship of the same head of household.   

As for the Januzaj family or bark, in Isniq this comprised three shpies in 1900, six in 1932 and 13 in 1975. They were relatively well-off and, indeed, it seems that the leader of the Januzaj was a spahi, a hereditary landowner favoured under the Ottomans, responsible for collecting the tithe on behalf of the local bey. In Istog, there is a mëhallë or quarter named Januzaj in which the family lives. It is in this place that the footballer Adnan Januzaj’s father was born.  

The Google Map shows the two Kosovar towns.

This article first appeared on the bluebirdresearch website. Since the original article was written, Adnan has been sold by Man U to the Spanish La Liga club Real Sociedad.

Catholic communities in Kosova

The Google Map shows the known Roman Catholic churches in Kosova. Note that in some cases, where the exact location of the church building could not be established on the map, the pin marking the church is simply placed in the centre of the village or town.

Some of the churches are of recent construction (such as the cathedral dedicated to Mother Teresa in the capital, Prishtina) and it is likely that the number of places of worship will continue to increase with religious freedom in Kosova and ongoing Catholic pastoral outreach.

It will be seen that the three main clusters of Catholic settlement are around Gjakova, between Peja and Klina, and in the SE around Stublla.

According to the 2011 census, 38,438 individuals identified themselves as Catholic, approximately 2% of the total population.

 

Armenian communities in Lebanon

The Google Map shows the Armenian communities and places of worship in Lebanon. All churches marked are Armenian Apostolic unless stated otherwise.

The Lebanese Armenian community is heavily concentrated in Beirut, and particularly in and around its eastern suburb of Bourj Hammoud. Many of the local Armenians are descendants of 1915 Genocide survivors and refugees. The total Armenian population in Lebanon was estimated to be 156,000 in 2014.

 

 

This map was previously published by bluebirdresearch.com

The Jews of Yemen

From mid-June to mid-July 1918, the British Army was actively recruiting in Jerusalem for “short service” (duration of war). Men were invited to enlist in the 40th Bn of the Royal Fusiliers. The new recruits were given army service numbers between J/4883 and J/5274 (and possibly a little either side of this regimental number range), suggesting that about 400 men enlisted in total. The great majority of these, and those recruited elsewhere by the 38th – 40th Battalions of the RF, were of course Jewish, giving rise to the jocular Army nickname of the Royal Jusiliers.

Among the newly enlisted men were numbers who stated that they had been born in “Teman” – in other words Yemenite Jews. British rule in Palestine had encouraged a first wave of Yemeni Jews to emigrate from Yemen in the 1890s and 1900s; mostly they settled in Jerusalem and Jaffa. The RF recruits of 1918 had an average age of 27 years and were working men – a labourer, builders, a mason, a butcher, two janitors at the Tachkemoni School, a cigarette maker, a couple of manuscript writers, and many silversmiths and filigree workers. The silversmiths were from the Bukharim quarter, from Sukkat Shalom, from Mishkanoth, from Nahalat Tzedek and especially from Nahalat Zvi. For example, on 24 June 1918, the silversmiths Abraham Levy, Abraham Gershi and Elijah Rachabi enlisted; on 27 June, silversmiths Joseph Arussi and Chaiyim Levy attested. All five came from the Nachlath Zwi neighbourhood (as it is usually spelt in army service records).

We have started a rudimentary Google Map of Jewish communities in Yemen. The German ethnographer Carl Rathjens, who visited Yemen between 1927 and 1938, had it on good authority – viz: the hakham bashi, or chief rabbi, in Yemen, who was responsible for community tax returns in the Kingdom of Yemen – that in the early 1930s there were no fewer than 371 Jewish communities (which makes the number identified and marked on our map seem paltry).  There are very few Jews left in Yemen – some in the capital Sanaa, and some in the northern town of Raydah and its satellite village of Bayt Harash (shown on the map). The rest have left, and their descendants populate and enrich the diversity of Israel and a few places in the diaspora.

 

Armenian communities in Syria

This Google Map shows the Armenian communities and places of worship in Syria prior to the Syrian conflict.

Armenians were especially concentrated in Aleppo (Haleb). Each of the city’s nine Armenian Apostolic and Armenian Catholic churches is shown on the map. There were also significant communities in Damascus, in a cluster of villages in the Kesab (Kasab) area adjacent to the Turkish border, and in a number of desert towns in the NE at which Armenians arrived during and after the 1915 Armenian Genocide.

There was a post-Genocide Armenian refugee camp on the northern outskirts of Aleppo, which operated from 1922, had its own churches (Surp Khach, or Holy Cross, and Surp Krikor Lusavorich) and gradually developed into a normal residential suburb.

Aleppo was also the location of an Armenian Orphanage. The United Nations Office at Geneva in Switzerland has a vast archive and library, including holdings generated and collected by its predecessor the League of Nations. Among these are 15 registers under references C1601/497, C1602/498 and C1603/499 which pertain to the children admitted to the Armenian Orphanage in Aleppo during the period 1922 to 1930. Each volume contains short biographies and black and white photographs of up to 100 orphans and others admitted to the Orphanage. The registers do not form a complete unbroken series covering all inmates – four original volumes, known to have existed because of the sequential numbering of individuals admitted to the orphanage, have been lost or destroyed at some date. However, this still leaves illustrated biographical sketches of approximately 1,500 Armenians, victims but survivors of the Armenian Genocide.

Each orphan had been deported from the Armenian-inhabited regions of the Ottoman Empire, and presumably most if not all had lost both parents and all other close family members. Many had escaped or been released from captivity in the homes of Turks, Kurds or Arabs, many had been forced to convert, and many of the girls had been treated as domestic servants or unwilling concubines.

Today the descendants of the original refugees in Aleppo are likely to have been displaced by the fighting in Syria and to have fled from a city in ruins to, ironically, the relative safety of neighbouring Turkey.

 

Versions of this blog and map were originally published by bluebirdresearch.com in 2012.

Turkish names of Armenian villages in Kars province

The place name concordance below shows the Armenian settlements of Kars oblast (province) of the period 1900s/1910s, taken from late Imperial Russian gazetteers. It is designed to help Armenian family historians to locate their ancestral villages, and should be read in conjunction with the Google Map showing the same Armenian settlements under their current Turkish names.

The table gives a) the names as transliterated from the Russian Cyrillic in Imperial Russian official publications, b) their Armenian names in standard transliteration and c) their modern Turkish names.

All errors are the blogger’s own. Additions and corrections are welcomed.

 

Russian name Armenian name Modern Turkish name
Kars Kars Kars
Zaim Zayim Harmanlı
Matsra Mazra Mezra
Dahskovo Dashkov Yalinkaya
Norashen    
Bulanikh Bulangh Bulanık
Kani-Key Ghani Gelirli
Karakala Karakala Merkezkarakale (Karakale)
Chermali Chermali Çerme
Berna Berna Koyunyurdu
Khas-Chiftlik Khas-Chiftlik Hasçiftlik
Gyarmali Gyarmali Kaynarlı
Giudali Gyodali Güdeli
Karakhach Garaghach Başkaya
Sogiutli-Abad Abat-Sogyutli Atayurdu
Chigirgyan Chghrdan Çığırgan
Khapanli Ghapanli Hapanlı
Bozgala Bozgala Bozkale
Begli-Akhmed Beghli-Ahmed Benliahmet
Orta-Kilisa Ortakilisa Ortalar
Kizil-Chakhchakh Kzil-Chaghchagh Akyaka (Garmirçağatsk)
Uzunkilisa Uzunkilisa Esenyayla
Aguzum Aghuzum Küçükaküzüm
Pirvali Pirvali Büyükpirveli (Eski Pirveli)
Odzhakh-Kuli Ojakh-Ghuli n/a (in Armenia)
Kiuruk-Dara Ghyurakdara, Gyurakdara Kürekdere
Paldirvan Paldrvan Duraklı
Parget (Bolshoy) Metz Parkit Büyükçatma
Bash-Shuragel Bash-Shoragyal Şetindurak
Tikhnis-Stariy Hin Tegniz Kalkankale
Tikhnis-Noviy Nor Tegniz Kalkankale
Ashaga-Kadiklyar Nerkin Gyadiklar Ayakgedikler
Bayrakhtar Bayraktar Bayraktar
Gamzakyarak Ghamzakyarak Hamzagerek
Gerkhana Gorghana Eşmeyazı
Araz-Ogli Arazi Arazoğlu
Dzhala Jala Esenkent
Adzham-Mavrak Acham Mavrak, Ajam-Mavrag Bekler
Karmirk-Vank Karmir Vank Yağıkesen
Koshevank Khoshavank n/a (in Armenia)
Kuyudzhuk Ghuyujugh Kuyucuk
Tazakent Tazakend Tazekent
Bash-Kadiklyar Bash Gyadiklar Başgedikler
Oguzli   Oğuzlu
Orta-Kadiklyar Orta Gyadiklar Ortagedikler
Agdzhakala Aghjaghala Akçakale
Kyadik-Satilmish Gyadik-Satlmish Gediksatilmiş
Parget (Maliy) Pokr Parkit Küçükçatma
Dolbant Dolbandlu Dölbentli
Baykara Bayghara Baykara
Bayburt Bayburt, Paypert Bayburt
Ortakala Ortaghala Ortakale
Sogiutli-Prut Brut-Sogyutlu Söğötlü
Yeski-Kazi, Eski-Kazi Aksi-Ghazi Eskigazi
Karamamed Gharamahmed n/a (in Armenia)
Bezirgyan Beyirgan Eskigeçit
Ardagan Ardahan Ardahan
Okam   Çayirbaşi
Urut Urut Bellitepe
Kagizman Kaghzvan Kağızman
Karabakh Gharabagh Karabağ
Kers Gers Günindi
Khar Khar Çallı
Yenidzha, Enidzha   Yenice
Karavank Gharavank Taşburun
Changli Chankli Çengilli
poselok Todan   Esenkır
Zirchi Zrchi Yağlıca
Pivik-Armyanskiy Bvik Karaboncuk
Laloy-Mavrak Laloy-Mavra Dolaylı
Pakran Bagaran Kilittaşi
Akryak Agarak Derinöz
Dzhalal Jalal Celal (Celalköy)
Zibni Tzpni Varlı
Digor Tikor Digor
Yelisavetinskoe,

Elisavetinskoe

Elisaveta  
Nakhichevan Nakhichevan Kocaköy
Kosha-Kilisa Ghoshakilisa Şehithalit
Khoperan Goberan Gecikmez
Shadevan Shatevan Belencik
Bashkey with poselok

Cholakhli and Kara-Pungar

Cholaghli and

Gharapunghar

Başköy, Çolaklı, Karapınar
Giulyantapa Gyulantara Beşyol
Sitagan Stahan Eşmeçayır
Akh-Kilisa Aghkilisa  
Armutli Armutlu Armutlu
Churuk Churuk Çardakçatı
Olti Olti Oltu
Dzhudzhurus Jurjuris Subatuk
Zardanes Zardanes Sarisaz
Tamrut Temrut Şendurak
Kubad-Yeriuk Yoruk Derebaşi
Akryak Agarak Sindiran
Pertus Bardus Zömrüt
Olor   Olur

 

 

This blog, concordance and map were first published on the bluebirdresearch website in 2011/12.

 

The Bunjevci of Bačka

The Bunjevci do not feature much in Western commentaries on the complexities and controversies of the former Yugoslavia, which is complicated enough in ethnic and religious terms for most observers without going into granular detail.

Sometimes the Bunjevci are described as “Roman Catholic Serbs”, on the grounds that those living within the borders of Serbia are Catholic (rather than Orthodox). However, most of the Bunjevci do not consider themselves to be ethnically Serbian. Because of their affiliation to Catholicism, over time a considerable number have come or been encouraged to think of themselves as Croats. However, a significant proportion of the people regard themselves simply as Bunjevci, a Slavic tribe with roots in Dalmatia and Hercegovina which, some time in the 16th or 17th centuries, relocated to the Bačka region of Serbia (the land between the Dunav – or “Danube” – and Tisa rivers in the northern province of Vojvodina) and adjoining Hungary.

Today they form a minority population in the Serbian municipality of Subotica, especially around the village of Ljutovo and nearby Tavankut and Mala Bosna (“little Bosnia”). The villages sit in a wide open flat agricultural landscape under a massive sky with distant horizons. These villages are typical of those of Vojvodina – linear, built around a wide central road, which the traditionally low, well-spaced houses face narrow end on, with maybe an ancient stork’s nest on its telegraph pole. In the yards there is likely to be an ambar, an open drying shed for maize cobs, or a hay rick, or maybe a small old tractor or an ancient bicycle. At either end of the village, a yellow “city limits” road sign will give the village name in Serbian, in both the Cyrillic and Latin scripts, and in Hungarian (for example, Ljutovo is known as Mérges in Hungarian).

The Google Map shows the location of the main settlements with an unassimilated Bunjevci population today.

 

Dukhobors in Georgia

The Google Map shows the distribution and location of Dukhobor settlement in Georgia from the early 1840s (when the first settlers arrived) to the present day.

By the 1890s, after 50 years in Georgia, through hard work the Dukhobors had become wealthy by local standards and were among the major private landowners in their areas of occupation. However, they were dispossessed during the Soviet era (although their collective farms were successful, as the Dukhobor mindset was consonant with cooperative working – even if Soviet atheism was anathema to them).

The Dukhobors struggled after the collapse of the Soviet system and contentious issues around land ownership and rights. Their problems were exacerbated by political tensions between newly independent Georgia and Russia, with the Georgians identifying the Dukhobor with the Russian Federation and displaced Georgians being settled in Dukhobor areas.

By 2006, the Dukhobor population in Georgia had fallen beneath 1,000 (probably as low as 700-800), following emigration, mostly to Russia, and a declining birth rate in the elderly population. From 2007, more family groups were applying to relocate to Russia and only the largest village, Gorelovka, seemed to be thriving; it features in several beautifully photographed travelogues and ethnographic studies online.

Armenian communities in Iraq

This Google Map shows the location of modern (twentieth century) Armenian communities in Iraq.

Many of the smaller communities in the northern region of Kurdistan were formed by refugees after the 1915 Genocide (many from the Van district), or have been augmented in recent years by the arrival of internally displaced persons from Baghdad, Basra and Mosul.

This map was created in 2011, since when the situation in Iraq – even in Kurdistan – has deteriorated for Armenians and other minority ethnic and faith groups. There has been an inevitable reduction in numbers, primarily by emigration of refugees to Armenia, Lebanon and the West. Although the Armenian Embassy in Baghdad estimate is 13,000, the current Armenian population of Iraq may now be as low as, or lower than, 10,000.

 

 

Yezidi villages in Kurdistan, Iraq

This Google Map shows the traditional areas of Yezidi population in Kurdistan.

Blue pins show villages in the districts of Badinan or Sheikhan and Dohuk. Red pins show villages in the Sinjar district.

Note that some of the settlements shown are the collective villages or mujamma’at into which Yezidis were forced under the Baathist regime. The others are the villages that survived the Iraqi state-sponsored destruction of Yezidi communities in 1957, 1969, 1975 and 1987/1988 during the Anfal and its precursors.

Place names are approximate transliterations; known variant spellings can be seen by clicking on a pin. This will sometimes also show a brief note on the community. For instance, if one clicks on the pin for Behzani, it will be seen that its name can also be transliterated as Bahzan, Behzan and Behzane, and that this Arabic-speaking village is, with its neighbouring village of Bashiqe, the traditional source of the Yezidi religious singers or qewels.

This map was first published by bluebirdresearch in 2010/11. Since then the genocidal actions of the Islamic supremacists of ISIS have led to the destruction of Yezidis and their villages especially in Sinjar, with associated displacement to refugee camps in the Kurdistan Region and further afield.