Giaour or Gawur (/ˈaʊər/; Turkish: gâvur, Turkish pronunciation: [ɟaˈvuɾ]; from Persian: گور gâvor, an obsolete variant of modern گبر gaur, originally derived from Imperial Aramaic: 𐡂𐡁𐡓𐡀, romanized: gaḇrā, lit.'man; person'; Romanian: ghiaur; Albanian: kaur; Greek: γκιαούρης, romanizedgkiaoúris; Macedonian: каур/ѓаур; Bulgarian: гяур), meaning "infidel", was a slur historically used in the Ottoman Empire for non-Muslims or, more particularly, Christians in the Balkans.[1][2]

Théodore Géricault: The Giaour (1820, lithograph; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)
Eugène Delacroix: The Combat of the Giaour and Hassan (1826, oil on canvas; Art Institute of Chicago), inspired by Lord Byron's The Giaour

Terminology edit

The terms "kafir", "gawur", and "rûm" (the last meaning "Roman" — actually referring to the Greek population, since they were descended from the inhabitants of the Eastern Roman Empire) were commonly used in defters (tax registries) for Orthodox Christians, usually without ethnic distinction. Christian ethnic groups in the Balkan lands of the Ottoman Empire included Greeks (rûm), Bulgarians (bulgar), Serbs (sırp), Christian Albanian (arnavut) and Vlachs (eflak), among others.[2]

The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica described the term as follows:

Giaour (a Turkish adaptation of the Persian gâwr or gōr, an infidel), a word used by the Turks to describe all who are not Mohammedans, with especial reference to Christians. The word, first employed as a term of contempt and reproach, has become so general that in most cases no insult is intended in its use; for example in parts of China, the term foreign devil has become void of offence. A strict analogy to giaour is found in the Arabic kafir, or unbeliever, which is so commonly in use as to have become the proper name of peoples and countries.

During the Tanzimat era (1839-1876), a Hatt-i humayun prohibited the use of the term by Muslims with reference to non-Muslims[3] in order to prevent problems occurring in social relationships.[4][need quotation to verify]

European cultural references edit

Giaours smoking the tchibouque with the pacha of the Dardanelles, book illustration from 1839.

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ Speros Vryonis (1993). The Turkish State and History: Clio Meets the Grey Wolf. Institute for Balkan Studies. ISBN 978-0-89241-532-8. The Turkish term "giaour" a term of contempt, was applied to these Balkan Christians,
  2. ^ a b Entangled Histories of the Balkans: Volume One: National Ideologies and Language Policies. BRILL. 13 June 2013. p. 44. ISBN 978-90-04-25076-5. In the Ottoman defters, Orthodox Christians are as a rule recorded as kâfir or gâvur (infidels) or (u)rum.
  3. ^ "The Eastern Question". London Quarterly Review. London: E.C. Barton: 407. 1868. Retrieved 20 November 2023. The application of the word giaour, dog, is forbidden by the Hatt-i-Humayoou [...].
  4. ^ Gawrych, George (2006). The Crescent and the Eagle: Ottoman Rule, Islam and the Albanians, 1874-1913. I.B.Tauris. p. 15. ISBN 978-1-84511-287-5.
  5. ^ Beckford, William (2013). Vathek. OUP Oxford. ISBN 978-0-19-164578-5.
  6. ^ Pesquisas en la obra tardía de Juan Goytisolo, page 66, Volumen 33 de Foro hispánico, ISSN 0925-8620, Brigitte Adriaensen, Marco Kunz, Rodopi, 2009, ISBN 9042025476, ISBN 9789042025479. Quotes Estambul otomano, page 62, Juan Goytisolo, 1989, Barcelona, Planeta.

References edit