Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies

Articles

Yazijioghlu 'Alī on the Christian Turks of the Dobruja

Paul Wittek

The steppe which stretches between the Lower Danube and the Black Sea, from the Delta southward as far as the foothills of the Emine Dagh, and which since the middle of the 14th century has been called, after the Bulgarian prince Dobrotitsa, the Dobruja, is the homeland of a small Turkish-speaking people, the Gagauz. It is because of their religion that they appear as a distinct group among the Turks: they are Christians belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church. In the past the Gagauz may have constituted, among the various ethnic elements of the region, a group of considerable importance, especially in the southern and middle Dobruja, from Varna and Kaliakra towards Silistria on the Danube. Besides, small isolated groups of them are to be found also in the Balkans (where they are more commonly known by the name of Sorguch): in Eastern Thrace, round Hafsa, to the south-east of Adrianople, and in Macedonia, to the east and west of Salonica, round Zikhna (near Serres) and round Karaferia (Verria). In modern times the Gagauz of the Dobruja have shrunk to a feeble minority chiefly as a result of a prolonged and massive emigration into Bessarabia. To-day even this remnant is rapidly dwindling.