Bosnian Tribe in Nubia


ibrimQasr Ibrim (Arabic: قصر ابريم‎) is an archeological site in Lower Nubia. It was originally a major city perched on a cliff above the Nile, but the flooding of Lake Nasser after the construction of the Aswan High Dam transformed it into an island and flooded its outskirts. Qasr Ibrim is the only major archaeological site in Lower Nubia to have survived the Nile floods. Both prior to and after the Nile floods, it has remained a major site for archaeological investigations.

Anyway the Ottomans invaded this island in the 16th century and later left hundreds of Bosnian soldiers to guard the teritory. The descendants of these Bosnians are still living in Derr and Ibrim.

In the 7th century the Arabs who had conquered Egypt penetrated into Lower Nubia, where the two Jawabareh and Al-Gharbiya tribes became powerful, and amalgamated with the Nubas of that district. Their further progress south was barred by the Christian kings of Dongola (q.v.) until the 14th century, when the Arabs became masters of the whole region. Still later another element was added to the population in the introduction by the Turkish masters of Egypt of a number of Bosnians. These Bosnians (Kalaji as they called themselves) settled in the country and intermarried with the Arabs and Nubians, their descendants still holding lands between Assuan and Derr. Hence it is that the Nubians of this district, fairest of all the race, still claim Arab and Osmanli (Bosnian) descent. – From Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911.

Qasr Ibrim


Some more quotes from “Travels in Nubia” by John Lewis Burckhardt

“The people of Ibrim are often at war with the governors of Nubia, and although comparatively few in number, are a match for the latter; being all well provided with fire arms. They are ‘white’, compared with the Nubians, and still retain the features of their ancestors, the Bosnian soldiers who were sent to garrison Ibrim by the great Sultan Selym. They all dress in coarse linen gowns, and most of them wear something like a turban: “We are Turks,” they say, “and not Noubas.” As they are not under absolute subjection to their Aga, and independant of every other power, quarrels are very frequent among them.

The Djowabere having nearly subdued the Gharbye, the latter sent an embassy to Constantinople, in the reign of the great Sultan Selym, to seek aid against their enemies, and they succeeded in procuring from the Sultan a body of several hundred Bosnian soldiers, under a commander named Hassan Coosy. By their means the Djowabere and people of Dóngola were driven out of Nubia, into the latter country.

The descendants of such of the Bosnian soldiers as intermarried with the Gharbye and Djowabere tribes still occupy the territories assigned to their ancestors at Assouan, Ibrim, and Say; and they continue to enjoy immunity from taxes and contributions of every kind. They call themselves Kaladshy, or the people of the castles, but are distinguished by the Nubians by the appellation of Osmanli (Turks). They have long forgotten their native language; but their features still denote a northern origin, and their skin is of a light brown colour, while that of the Nubians is almost black. They are independent of the governors of Nubia, who are extremely jealous of them, and are often at open war with them. They are governed by their own Agas, who still boast of the Firmauns that render them accountable only to the Sultan.

The Bosnian soldiers built the three castles, or rather repaired the existing fabrics, at Assouan, Ibrim, and Say; and those who garrisoned the castles obtained certain privileges for themselves, and for such of their descendants as should continue to occupy the castles, and the territory attached to them; one of these privileges was an exemption from all kind of land tax, which Selym had then for the first time imposed throughout his dominions; and as the country was thought incapable of affording food sufficient for the soldiers, an annual pension was likewise assigned to them out of the Sultan’s treasury at Cairo.”

“Some of the women who followed our friends to the boat, though in complexion as black as the rest, had light blue eyes and frizzy red hair, the effect of which was indescribably frightful. Both here and at Ibrim there are many of these “fair” families, who claim to be descended from Bosnian fathers stationed in Nubia at the time of the conquest of Sultan Selim in A.D. 1517. They are immensely proud of their alien blood, and think themselves quite beautiful” – “Back Through Nubia” by Amelia Ann Blandford Edwards, 1891.

qasr ibrim 2

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