MESA Banner
The Ottoman Province of Kilis and the Origins of the "Kurd Dagh", 18th-19th Century
The Ottoman province (sancak; liva) of Kilis in what is now south-central Turkey was formed in 1536 from the towns of Kilis and A‘zaz, the rural district of Cûm and thirty-five overwhelmingly Kurdish tribal groups. Attached to the regional governorship of Aleppo and systematically identified as the “Liva of the Kurds” in Ottoman tax registers, the province was incorporated into the fiscal reserve of the Ottoman queen mother (Valide Sultan) in the late seventeenth century and played a key role in the taxing and policing of some of the major Kurdish confederations of the region including the Qilîçlos, Şexlos and Oqçî-Izzedînlos. This paper draws on Ottoman complaints (şikayet) registers and registers of “important affairs” (mühimme) to show how the state then increasingly came to rely on local intermediaries to govern the province in the eighteenth century, co-opting leading local Kurdish families as tribal chieftains and tax agents and recognizing the Kurdish character of the district as such. It traces the usage of the term “Kürd Dağı” (Mountain of the Kurds) in Ottoman documentation beginning around 1784, arguing that it was especially the Fırka-ı İslahiye campaign, sent under the supervision of reformist statesmen Ahmed Cevdet Paşa to pacify the area in 1865, that consecrated this as the semi-official new designation for the province. Drawing further on Ahmed Cevdet’s memoirs, the paper ends with the incorporation of the kaza (judicial district) of İzziye toward the end of the nineteenth century, by which the Ottoman state formally acknowledged the historical significance of the Oqçî-Izzedînlo tribe in the province and of the Kurdish population overall.
Geographic Area
Sub Area