Zaza Siteler

Zaza Siteler

Zaza people

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Total population
1 - 2 million
Regions with significant populations
Primarily in Turkey, and some in Georgia, Germany, Kazakhstan, The Netherlands

Zazaki (Dimli)


Islam (Alevi and Sunni)

Related ethnic groups

other Iranian people, particularly Gilakis, Kurds, Mazandaranis, and Persians

The region where Zazas live in Turkey

The Zazas or Dimilis are an Iranic (Aryan) ethnic group and an ethnic minority in Turkey. They primarily live in the eastern Anatolian provinces, such as Adıyaman, Aksaray, Batman, Bingöl, Diyarbakır (Diyarbekır), Elazığ (Xarpêt), Erzurum, Erzincan (Erzıngan), Gumushane, Kars, Malatya, Mus, Sanli Urfa (Rıha), Sivas (Sêvaz), and Tunceli (Dêrsim) provinces. Zaza culture and language show some similarities to other Iranic (Aryan) ethnic groups, such as Gorani, Semnani, Kurds, Pashtuns, Gilakis, Mazandaranis, Persians, and others.[1]



[edit] Demographics

The exact number of Zaza people is unknown, due to an absence of recent and extensive census analysis. The fact that some Zazas have mixed into other regional ethnic groups has also contributed to the uncertainty. Many Zazas live outside their homeland. Apart from widespread suppression and wholesale evacuation of villages, the economically miserable situation of the Zaza areas forces the local population to emigrate to Turkish or European cities. There are many Zazas living in major Turkish cities such as Istanbul, Ankara, and İzmir. Moreover, the Zaza diaspora is spread across Europe (mainly in Germany) and beyond (U.S., Canada, etc.) According to estimated figures, the Zaza population should be somewhere between 1 to 2 million. [2]

According to a March 2007 survey published by a Turkish newspaper, whose objectivity is subject to debate, Kurds and Zazas together comprise an estimated 13.4% of the adult population, and 15.68% of the whole population in Turkey.[3] The ethnic composition of Turkey is highly controversial and often difficult to understand due to Turkification, historic interpretation of the sociological definition of ethnicity (e.g. the Alevi definition as ethnicity) and the Turkish government's suppression of other ethnicities in the region.

[edit] Historic roots of the Zaza people

The first mention of the word Zaza appears on the Behistun Inscription. The text of the inscription is a statement by Darius I of Persia. In the inscription Darius says, “there (is) a town Zazana by name along the Euphrates…” [4] However, the connection between the Zazas and the town Zazana referred to by Darius is questionable. Linguistic studies shows that the Zazas may have immigrated to their modern-day homeland from the southern shores of the Caspian Sea. Some Zazas use the word Dimli (Daylami) to describe their ethnic identity. The word Dimli (Daylami) also describes a region of Gilan Province in today’s Iran. Some linguists connect the word Dimli with the Daylamites in the Alborz Mountains near the shores of Caspian Sea in Iran and believe that the Zaza have migrated from Daylam towards the west. Today, Iranian languages are still spoken in southern regions of Caspian Sea (also called the Caspian languages), including Sangsarī, Māzandarānī, Tātī (Herzendī), Semnānī, Tāleshī, and they are grammatically and lexically very close to Zazaki; this supports the argument that Zazas immigrated to eastern Anatolia from southern regions of Caspian Sea.[5] Zazas also live in a region close to the Kurds, who are also another Iranic ethnic group. But, historic sources such as the Zoroastrian holy book, Bundahishn, places the Dilaman (Dimila/Zaza) homeland in the headwaters of the Tigris, as it is today. This points to that the Dimila/Zaza migrated to the Caspian sea and not the other way around.

[edit] Religion

Approximately half of the Zazas are Alevis, while the remainder are Sunni Muslims. The Alevi-Zazas live in the northern part of the Zaza region, whereas the Sunni Zazas inhabit the southern Zaza region. The ancient religion of Zazas is believed to have been Zoroastrianism.

[edit] Language

The first written statements in the Zaza language were compiled by the linguist Peter Lerch in 1850. Two other important documents are the religious writings (Mewlıd) of Ehmedê Xasi of 1899, and of Usman Efendiyo Babıc (published in Damascus in 1933); both of these works were written in the Arabic alphabet.

The use of the Latin alphabet for writing the Zazaki language only became popular in the diaspora after meager efforts in Sweden, France and Germany at the beginning of the 1980s. This was followed by the publication of magazines and books in Turkey, particularly in Istanbul. The efforts of Zaza intellectuals to promote their native language by the written word is beginning to bear fruit: the number of publications in Zaza is increasing. The rediscovery of the native culture by Zaza intellectuals not only caused a renaissance of Zaza language and culture, it also triggered feelings among younger generations of Zazas (who rarely speak Zaza as a mother tongue anymore) in favor of the Zaza language, and thus their interest in their heritage. In the diaspora, a limited amount of Zaza-language programmes are broadcast. Moreover, with the gradual easing of restrictions on local languages in Turkey in preparation for European Union membership, the state owned TRT television launched a Zazaki TV program and a radio program, which is broadcast on Fridays.

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Ludwig Paul, The position of Zazaki among West Iranian languages
  2. ^ Duus (EDT) Extra, D. (Durk) Gorter, Guus Extra, The Other Languages of Europe: Demographic, Sociolinguistic and Educational Perspectives, Multilingual Matters (2001). ISBN 1-85359-509-8. p. 415. Cites two estimates of Zaza-speakers in Turkey, 1,000,000 and 2,000,000, respectively. Accessed online at Google book search.
  3. ^ Article on Konda survey in Turkish
  4. ^ Behistun Inscription in English
  5. ^ Ludwig Paul, The position of Zazaki among West Iranian languages, 15 November 2006.

[edit] References

  • Raymond Gordon, Jr., Editor. Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Fifteenth Edition. (Classification of Zazaki Language.)
  • Bozdağ, Cem and Üngör, Uğur. Zazas and Zazaki. (Religion and the recent situation of Zaza People.)
  • Paul, Ladwig. (1998) The Position of Zazaki Among West Iranian languages. (Classification of Zazaki Language.)
  • Blau, Gurani et Zaza in R. Schmitt, ed., Compendium Linguarum Iranicarum, Wiesbaden, 1989, ISBN 3-88226-413-6, pp. 336-40 (About Daylamite origin of Zaza-Guranis)
  • Extra, Guus. and Gorter Durk. The Other Languages of Europe. (About Demography of Zazas.)

[edit] External links

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