Theo Pavlidis ©2008

Acknowledgements: I could not have created this document without the most valuable help of the following people to whom I am particularly grateful:

  • Tuncay Tekle, a graduate student in Computer Science at Stony Brook University, for helping me a lot with the translation. Fortunately, he had taken a two-semester course in Ottoman Turkish while in college that proved extremely valuable for the task.
  • My cousin Athanasia (Soula) Atesoglou Dimitriadou of Salonica (Thessaloniki) and her husband Vasilis Dimitriadis (retired professor of Turkish studies at the University of Crete), for help with the translation and for providing family history background.
  • Professor Robert Hoberman of the Linguistics Dept. of Stony Brook University for directing me to an online Ottoman-Modern Turkish dictionary, http://www.osmanlimedeniyeti.com/makaleler/sozluk/.
  • Helene Volat of the Stony Brook University Library staff for locating a library where an original copy of the book Les Filles de Bronze can be found and helping me with other library search.


The word Karamanlides refers to the Turkish speaking Orthodox Christian people living in central Turkey in the regions of Cappadocia and Karamania. There is a reasonably accurate Wikipedia article about these people so I will not dwell much on their background. One notable thing about them was that they wrote Turkish with Greek characters (with some special marks to denote sounds that existed in Turkish but not in Greek).

My father's family was part of those people and my paternal grandfather translated a French book into Turkish that was printed in the Karamanian style in 1891. This page is mostly about that book. One fact that Wikipedia seems to have wrong is the claim that the Greek alphabet has been always used by these people. My family used to have a record notebook for marriages, births, deaths, and other family events that started in 1806. Until the mid nineteenth century the notebook entries were written in the arabic script and then they were switched to Greek script.(Sadly while that notebook made it to Greece, it did not make to the United States and has been lost.) Whatever their origin, Karamanlides had strong attachment not only to their religion but also to their land. When the Christians living in Turkey had to be relocate in Greece in 1924 most of them kept their religion and relocated but others preferred their land and converted to Islam in order to stay. (See the main section for more on the so called population exchange.)

My Grandfather's Book

The book is translation of the French novel Les Filles de Bronze by Xavier de Montepin. One reason that I created this site is that at the end of the book there is a list of several people who had subscribed to the book. (It had come out in six small volumes.) I hope descendents of some of the people in the list may read this page and help me identify their ancestors.

The translation was published in 1891 (all six volumes) and my grandfather died the following year from typhoid fever. The original French novel was published in 1880 and there is a copy of it in the the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, the only one that could be located. Here is the library catalogue entry:

Type : texte imprimé, monographie
Auteur(s) :  Montépin, Xavier de (1823-1902)
Titre(s) :  Les Filles de bronze, drame parisien, par Xavier
de Montépin... [Texte imprimé]
Publication :  Paris : Dentu, 1880
Description matérielle :  5 vol. in-12

Comprend :  I-II. La Soeur aînée ; III-IV. La Comtesse
Amélie ; V. Dieu dispose...

A library search uncovered three other translations. One in Portuguese published in Brazil in 1943 and two in Turkish. One published in 1882 was printed with Armenian characters and one in 1891 by the Ottoman journalist Mehmed Tevfik. A copy of the latter exists in the University of Leiden Library. (More information about these translations to be added ...)

In the sequel, the word book will refer to my grandfather's translation.

Reading the book is a challenge because the phonetics of the Greek alphabet as used by the Karamanlides are not the same as the phonetics of modern Greeks. Still one must rely on phonetics to produce a version with the modern Turkish alphabet. Even after this is accomplished one is faced with the fact that the translation is in Ottoman Turkish that is not spoken by the modern Turks.

Pages from the Book

Below is a description of seven set of pages that are online. By clicking on the first link ("Marked") you see an annotated image of the page. By clicking on the second link ("Unmarked") you see the same image without annotations. Entries include transliteration of some of the text using the modern Turkish alphabet, translation, and comments. Currently I use approximations to both the Greek and the Turkish alphabet by omitting certain diactritic marks.

Figure 1: Left: Front cover (A); Middle: List of women subscribers (E); Right: Part of the list of men subscribers (F). The letters in parentheses refer to sections below where each page is discussed and where links to full size versions are provided.
A. Front Cover of First Volume Marked, Unmarked
  1. The title of the book is TUNCDAN KIZLAR, i.e. Girls made out of Bronze. This posed a challenge, because the Karamanli spelling of the first word is ΤΟΥΔΖΔΑΝ so the N before the C (phonetically a j as in jump) is nowhere to be seen! We made the connection only after Tuncay found the title "Les Filles de Bronze" in a list of de Montepin works. Later I also found a note from my cousin where the book title was mentioned as Χαλκινες Κορες.
  2. The important word is τερδζουμε spelled tercüme in modern Turkish. I infer the sentence to mean "translation from the French text of Xavier de Montepin.
  3. The translator's name, Th. K. Pavlidis. The initial K is a patronymic and stands for Kosmas, the name of his father.
  4. With the permission of the high ministry of education. (The book was published during the reign of Abdul Hamit II when censorship was at its height.)
  6. DERI SAADETDE. Place (or Gate) of Happiness (In Ottoman), an appellation of Istanbul. This was the prefered way to refer to Constantinople (Kostantiniye in Ottoman Turkish, Istanbul in modern Turkish)..
  7. Name of the publishing house "ΑΝΑΤΟΛΗ" meaning both EAST and SUNRISE in Greek. The closest rendering of the second word in modern Turkish is MATBAA and it means PRINTING HOUSE. (Note that the word order in Turkish is different from the order in Greek or English.)
B. Introduction by the translator Marked, Unmarked

The title in Greek letters is ΜΟΥΚΑΔΔΙΜΕ and in modern Turkish MUKADDEME meaning PREFACE or INTRODUCTION. Notice that the modern Turkish "E" is given in the first instance by the Greek "I" and in the second by the Greek "E", an example of the challenges facing the transliteration of the Karamanian writing into modern Turkish. The following text is based on a translation from Turkish into Greek by professor Vasilis Dimitriadis (see acknowledgements). The original Ottoman Turkish was written in a very formal style that is impossible to recreate in modern English and I provide only a free (and somewhat abbreviated) translation.

  Readers of novels seem to like everything written by the famous French author Xavier de Montepain.
  The reason for the attraction of the totality of the work of Xavier de Montepain lies in his writing style, the suspense and the strong characters that struggle with their duties.
  While all of his work is highly regarded, some of his stories have received additional praise. One of them is the novel GIRLS MADE OUT OF BRONZE, whose translation I have undertaken.
  Without a doubt, the noble readers will recognize the value and importance of the content as well as the attractive style of the narration.

C. Dedication Page Marked, Unmarked

The book is dedicated to Vasilaki efendi Dimitriadis. According to my cousin Soula, he was the translator's brother-in-law, husband of the translator's wife's elder sister Sophia. He was also known as Vasilakis Pehlivanoglou. By an interesting coincidence Soula's husband is also named Vasilis Dimitriadis. The style of the dedication is quite formal and reflects the social conventions of the Ottoman times.

  1. This humble work is humbly dedicated
  2. Tavloosoon (Tavlasun in modern Turkish) is the name of the village where both men came from. ΧΑΝΕΔΑΝΗΝΔΑΝ means someone from a great house, in free translation should be "from a noble family from Tavlasun".
  3. The connective ΒΕ means AND. ΤΟΥΤΖΤΖΑΡΑΝΙ ΜΟΥΟΥΤΕΠΕΡΑΝΔΑΝ means "respected merchant". In modern Turkish it would be "tüccaran-i muteberandan". The first word means "merchand" and it is still used in modern Turkish. The second word means"respected" and it is of Arabic origin, no longer in use in modern Turkish, although most Turks would understand it.
  4. Generous.
  5. The name of the person honored, VASILAKI EFENDI DIMITRIADIS. In modern English, it should be Mr. Vasilakis Dimitriadis.
  6. ΔΖΕΝΑΠΛΕΡΙ is spelled CENAPLARI in modern Turkish and it means "His Execellency".
  7. In Ottoman Turkish (written with modern Turkish letters) this would be "nam-i namilerine". It is a Persian construct and it means "renowned name", the best English rendering would be "illustrious name."
  8. Written

The whole page could be translated as “This trifling, humble work (of mine) is (inscribed)/(dedicated) to the illustrious name of the generous Vasilaki Efendi Dimitriadis of one of the established families of Tavlasun and a respected merchant.” I am grateful to Ates Dagli for this translation and, in particular, the detailed explanations of items 3 and 7 above.

D. Back Cover of First Volume Marked, Unmarked

The back cover includes instructions on how to order the book and it would have been unremarkable, except that it contains two addresses for that purpose. The block marked "1" is reproduced below.

The text underlined in blue reads in modern Turkish transliteration: "Der-i Saadet Çarşı kepir Astarcı hanında No. 29 ve 31 odalara" which in free English translation becomes "Rooms 29 and 31, Astarci Han, Grand Bazaar, Istanbul" (see A.6 above). The second address is that of the publisher in Galata, hence the first address must be the translator's work place. Our trip to the location.

E. First Page of the List of Customers (Ladies) Marked, Unmarked

(Transliteration note: The Greek B corresponds to the English V and I use H for the Greek X.)

There is a heading in the page (not reproduced in the scanned image) saying ΜΟΥΣΤΕΡΙΛΕΡΙΝ ΕΣΑΜΕΣΙ in large capitals. In the modern Turkish alphabet would be MÜSTERILERIN ESAMESI meaning CUSTOMER ROSTER. The lists are divided geographically (hence the heading Δερι Σααδετδε meaning Istanbul) and by gender. In those days men and women were kept apart, even in print. The title Ηφφετλου would be spelled Iffetlü in modern Turkish (with a dotted I) and could be translated as Honorable. It was used only for women and it implies modesty and chastity.

All the women belong to one of two families: Pavlidis and Pehlivanoglou (see C above). The names in the red rectangle are those of my grandfather's mother (Eudocia K. ha Pavlidou) and of my grandmother (Haricleia Theod. Ha Pavlidou). Note that the middle initial for married women stands for the name of the husband rather than father. The word "ha" is an abbreviation of the word "hadj". Ottoman Christians imitated the practice of Muslim pilgrims to Mecca but the pilgrimage was instead to Jerusalem.

According to my cousin, Sofia Nik. Melik oglou is a sister of Vasilaki Pehlivanoglou (V.P.) whose husband's name was Nikolaos Melik oglou. Fevronia D. and Maria D. Pehlivanoglou are (unmarried) sisters of V.P. (The D. stands for the name of their father, Dimitrios). Soultana V. Is a daughter of V.P. V.P. also had a daughter Despoina and that fits with the entry Despoina V., except that she was only one year old in 1891. Maybe a copy of the book was bought in her name.

Eleni N. is a sister-in-law of V.P.; Despoina N. and Aikaterini N. are most likely daughters of Eleni.

The connection between the two families has continued till today. My cousin who has helped with this endeavor is a granddaughter of V.P. and another granddaughter of V.P., Vasso Christodoulia (and her husband John) were witnesses to my own wedding that took place in Elizabeth, New Jersey on April 7, 1966. Our common ancestors are Prodromos and Katina Artemiadis of Kermira (Germir). Thy had three daughters: the oldest daughter Sofia married Vasilis Pehlivanoglou and the youngest daughter Harikleia married Theodosios Pavlidis.
F. Second and Third Pages of the List of Customers (Gentlemen) Marked, Unmarked

The title Ριφατλου would be written as Rifatlü in modern Turkish and it is an Ottoman title that could be best translated as "most excellent". Many names are followed by the place of origin of the person and this have been marked by a green box (only the first time a name occurs). The ending -li simply converts the place name to that of a person origin like the -er converts New York to New Yorker.
Nevsehir is a town about 40 miles west of Kayseri.
Nigde is a town about 60 miles south-west of Kayseri.

  1. The last word is dogramaci in modern Turkish and means carpenter. He is the only person in the list whose profession is listed.
  2. Mihalakis Piniatoglou has the title of aga and he is from Zincidere, about two miles south of the city limits of Kayseri. He is the only one in the list with a title.
  3. My great grandfather Kosmas (Hadji) Pavlidis.

There are several Πεχλιβαν ογλου who are either sons or nephews of the person to whom the book is dedicated. The following list has been provided by my cousin Soula Dimitriadou:

  • Αδελφοί Λαζαρίδαι from Tavlousoun. One of them was a school teacher.
  • Νικόλαος Δ. Πεχλιβάν ογλού son of Δημητρ. Πεχλιβάν ογλού
  • Βασίλειος Δ. Πεχλιβάν ογλού son of Δημητρ. Πεχλιβάν ογλού
  • Ιωάννης Δ. Πεχλιβαν ογλού son of Δημητρ. Πεχλιβάν ογλού
  • Γεώργιος Ν. Μελίκ ογλού son of Νικολ. Μελίκογλου
  • Νικόλαος Γεωργίου Μελίκ ογλού husband of Σοφία Δημ. Πεχλιβάν ογλού
  • Δημήτριος Ν. Πεχλιβάν ογλού son of Νικολάου και Ελένης Πεχλιβάνογλου. He was known as Δημητριάδης all his life.
  • Δημήτριος Β. Πεχλιβάν ογλού Soula's mother’s brother, translator of the book "Tarzan of the Apes".

I hope to add more comments, especially if I hear from relatives of the people listed.

G. Fourth and Fifth Pages of the List of Customers (Gentlemen) Marked, Unmarked

The word in the reddish box means "From the Provinces", i.e. outside Istanbul.

H. A sample from the translation First text page

The title of the section reads (in modern Turkish transliteration) Büyük kIz kardeş. Its English translation is Eldest Sister that fits with the catalogue entry La Soeur aînée. The following text is based on a translation from Turkish into Greek by professor Vasilis Dimitriadis (see acknowledgements). Again my translation into English is quite free. (It would be interesting to compare it with the French original some time.)

  On March 6, 1853 a huge storm was raging in the Sea of the Antilles, spreading from the southern end of the Saint Dominique island to the Trinidad island. It had destroyed the beautiful and fertile lands that form the Columbian islands between the two American continents.
  The storm had lasted three days and several ship had been lost with their crews.
  Amongst the ship that had sufferred damage but did not sink was the French frigate Dorad. The mission of this boat was to transfer to Cayene a group of convicts ...

Notice that the Turkish translation renders Saint Dominique in Greek, Αγιος Δομενικος. (It is the old French name of the island of Haiti.) The Karamanian Christians used Greek for anything related to the Church and that include saint names, even when they refer to a geographical location.

Additional Material about Karamanlides

Link to Family History page - Link to Refugees from Asia Minor page

First posting ("under construction"): April 17, 2008. Latest update: August 10, 2009

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