From Ali to Yar Ali, from Alallahkulu to Shahkulu: Personal Names in the Cities of Erzincan and Kemah in the XVIth Century


  • Cahit Telci İzmir Kâtip Çelebi Üniversitesi SBBF Tarih Bölümü İzmir



Alevi, Erzincan, Kemah, personal name, cadastral record books


In recent years, it seems that onomastics studies based especially on cadastral record books, which are the sources of urban history of the Ottoman period, have gained a new acceleration. Despite available literature, especially numerous papers of Yilmaz Kurt who contributed to the development of onomastics and Mehdi Ilhan’s several studies that showed in which direction onomastics studies should evolve, it is not possible to say that analytic studies have been done. Perhaps, a number of examples should be increased a little bit more, as it is done in this paper, for such studies to be done.

The subject of this paper are two cities that fell under the Ottoman rule relatively late, at the beginning of XVIth century during the battle of Chaldiran. The sources used in the paper are a cadastral record book dated 1518, three years after the conquest, and tax record book dated 1530. Although, at the end of the paper, we gave a short list of the usage of some names that we want to draw attention to, we haven’t preferred the method of giving the percentages of names etc., as done in some similar studies.

The aim of this paper is to emphasize the subject of some eligible names that are among personal names in the two Safavid/Ottoman cities passed from Safavids to Ottomans at the beginning of the XVIth century, and names widely used in many other Ottoman cities in the same period, but not frequent in the two cities in question. Thus, it is possible to develop an argument that this tradition of name giving could be considered probably as a Safavid/Iran/Turkmen tradition due to the fact that a significant part of the population of those two cities belonged to the community which will be called Alevi in the later period of Ottoman society.

As is known, Turkmen tribes and communities has lived in almost every part of the Anatolia in XVIth century. However, when we look at the names used within these groups, we can see that some names, used among the population of the cities in question, are not preferred that much. Therefore, this paper aims to confirm the opinion that personal names together with an ethnic/religious belonging also have a geographical/political meaning.


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How to Cite

Telci, C. 2019. From Ali to Yar Ali, from Alallahkulu to Shahkulu: Personal Names in the Cities of Erzincan and Kemah in the XVIth Century. Journal of Alevism-Bektashism Studies. 20 (Dec. 2019), 1–30. DOI: