The Zazas (also known as Kird, Kirmanc or Dimili) are a people in eastern Turkey who traditionally speak the Zaza language. Their heartland consists of Tunceli and Bingöl provinces and parts of Elazığ, Erzincan and Diyarbakır provinces. Zazas generally consider themselves Kurds, and are often described as Zaza Kurds by scholars.
|2 to 3 million|
|Regions with significant populations|
Diaspora: Approx. 300,000
Australia, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States
|Zaza, Kurmanji Kurdish, and Turkish|
|Predominantly Shafiʽi school of Sunni Islam and minority Alevism and Hanafism|
Etymology and naming
Origins and early history
Linguistic evidence put the urheimat of the Zaza language to Northern Iran, especially around the southern Caspian region due to the similarities between Zaza, Talysh, Gilaki and Mazanderani languages. The etymology of the endonym Dimlī and the historical records of migration from Daylam to Central Anatolia in Armenian sources are also cited as an evidence of Daylamite origins of the Zaza people. Academics propose that this migration event happened in 10th to 12th centuries AD. However, a study from 2005 does not support the Northern Iranian theory and rather proposes a closer link between Kurdish and Zaza-speakers compared to Northern Iranian populations.
Kurmanji-speaking Kurds and Zazas have for centuries lived in the same areas in Anatolia. Arakelova states that Zazas had not claimed a separate ethnic identity from Kurds and were considered a part of the Kurds by outsiders through history, despite “having a distinct national identity and ethnic consciousness”.
The earliest surviving literary works in the Zaza language are two poems with identical titles, Mawlūd, dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Zazas played a key role in the rise of Kurdish nationalism with their rebellions against the Ottoman Empire and later the Republic of Turkey. Zazas participated in the Koçgiri rebellion in 1920, and during the Sheikh Said rebellion in 1925, the Zaza Sheikh Said and his supporters rebelled against the newly established Republic because of its Turkish nationalist and secular ideology. Many Zazas subsequently joined the Kurmanji-speaking Kurdish nationalist Xoybûn, the Society for the Rise of Kurdistan, and other movements, where they often rose to prominence.
In 1937 during the Dersim rebellion, Zazas once again rebelled against the Turks. This time the rebellion was led by Seyid Riza and ended with a massacre of thousands of Kurmanji-speaking Kurds and Zaza civilians, while many were internally displaced due to the conflict.