Frequent commenter Tatyana sent me a link to this “Brief Dictionary of Medieval Bulgarian Geographical Names and Expressions”—something of a misnomer, since this long and detailed list can hardly be called “brief.” The question is, what is its status? It’s associated with the “Djagfar Tarihi,” about which this page says:

There is much controversy and resistance to the publication of the “Djagfar Tarihi” annals. The leading allegations are that the compilation was composed by an office of the Russian NKVD/KGB/FSB at an undefined time with a purpose of splitting the Türkic ethnic groups into opposing camps, that it was written by an unknown person claiming to be only a savior of the annals, that it is a false compilation with no historical merit, that Ibragim Mohammed-Karimovich Nigmatullin is an unknown fictional personality.
In support of these allegations there is no known systematic study addressing the authen[ti]city of the compilation, no known systematic review and study of the materials…

The site doesn’t refute any of these “allegations”; it simply goes on to take the validity of the document for granted:

“Djagfar Tarihi” (“History by Djagfar”) is the only known assembly of ancient Bulgarian annals that reached us. As many other Bulgarian sources, “Djagfar Tarihi” has a difficult and tragical history.
The collection [was] compiled in 1680 under the order of the leader of the Bulgarian liberation movement, seid Djagfar, by the secretary of his office in the eastern part of Bulgaria, Bashkorostan, by the name of Iman…, including in the collection the most valuable Bulgarian annals: “Gazi-Bardj Tarihi” (1229-1246) by Gazi-Bardj, “Rightful Way, or Pious acts of Bulgarian Sheikhs” (1483) by Mohammed-Amin, “Kazan Tarihi” (1551) by Mohamedyar Bu-Ürgan, “Sheikh-Gali Kitaby” (1605) by Ish-Mohammed and some others…

Does anybody know if this is true, or even plausible? Claire, you read medieval Turkic stuff—any enlightenment to shed? I don’t want to immerse myself too deeply in the geographical stuff (which I love) if it’s going to turn out to be a hoax.


  1. John Emerson says

    I’ll start the ball rolling by repeating what I wrote to Steve, that the text has lots of interesting stuff in it, and nothing which seems obviously wrong, but that the premises of the piece — that the old Volga Bulgar people survived the Mongol conquest, and that Turkish Bulgars remain in Slavic Bulgaria (as I think the site says) — seem implausible. (The Turks now in Bulgaria are almost certainly not Bulgars.)
    I don’t read Russian or any Turkish language, and my knowledge of steppe history falls off steeply after about 1300.

  2. I can’t really add anything. It looks really interesting though so I’ll certainly be reading the whole thing.
    The modern speakers of Turkic languages in this area speak either Turkish (and are there because of the Ottoman empire) or Gagauz (which is Oghuz, i.e. the same subgroup of Turkic that Turkic belongs to). There’s a set of murky traditions about the speakers of Turkic languages before that, but from memory I think it’s generally thought that bulgar was in the same linguistic subgroup as Tatar.
    It wouldn’t surprise me if this were some sort of KGB/government-manufactured document, although it seems to be much more detailed than the sorts of things I thought they normally went in for. Things like encouraging orthographies with slightly different characters, being very specific about ethnoyms and fostering epics was very much their style. Actual factual stuff with etymology and all would seem to me to be too much effort, particularly when they seem to have wanted to destroy it (cf the intro).
    So short answer is dunno, but I’ve got some friends I can ask.

  3. Afraid I am a Turkic Bulgar from Bulgaria. Turk is not the same as Turkic. The “Turks” in Bulgaria are moslems.

  4. Victor Cooking says

    First, about Bolgars.
    I hope many of those who reading this do know facts, but just for those who do not:
    Bolgars were turks, they split in 7 AD and one part became Bolgaria on the Black Sea (later they form new nation with slavonic peaple, they even change the language to slavonic)
    Other part populate Volga-Kama region, where they remain turks, forming tatar, bashkor and cossac nations

  5. the orig Djagfar Tarihi link is now dead. does anyone have the english version saved?

  6. Rats. I wish I’d thought to save it as a document. The Google cache of the main page is still available, but I can’t get to the actual dictionary.

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