Regions with significant populations
 Turkey,  Syria
Islam (Alevism)

The Abdals (Turkish: Abdallar) are a largely Turkish-speaking ethnic group found in much of Anatolia and parts of the Balkans and Syria,[1] who follow an itinerant lifestyle. This lifestyle is closely connected with the activity of music making at weddings and circumcision parties. Other occupations associated with the Abdal include tinning, basket making and sieve manufacture.[2]


Abdals use the endonym Teber.[3] Abdals were registered in Ottoman records as Turkoman Gypsies (Ottoman Turkish: Turkmān Ḳibṭīleri), which denoted Abdals’ tribal affiliations with Turkomans but different ethnic or social origin.[4][5]


According to Orhan Köprülü, Abdals of Turkey might be descended from the Hepthalites.[6][7][8] Albert von Le Coq mentions the relation between Abdals of Adana and Äynus of East Turkestan, by them having some common words, and by both referring to themselves as Abdals and speaking an exclusive language among themselves.[9]

The three most remarkable characteristics of the group are its close relationship with the Alevi sect, its use of a secret language (Abdoltili/Teberce) or argot and its wide distribution. It seems that the name Abdal was associated with Alevi dervishes of Central Anatolia, whose existence is first recorded in the 16th century. These Abdalan-ı Rum were extreme Alevis practising celibacy and withdrawal from the world. Their unorthodox behavior led to their suppression by the Ottoman authorities.[10] According to the Abdal themselves, their ancestors once came from North India and went to Afghanistan-Iran-Central Asia and then to Ottoman Anatolia and intermarried with tribes of Turkmen. They say they are not like the Romani people in Turkey and distance themselves from them.[11]

The Ottoman state started to collect Gypsy (Kıpti) poll tax (cizye) from Abdal communities they registered as Gypsy in Kastamonu, Çankırı-Tosya, Ankara, Malatya, Harput, Antep, and Aleppo no later than late 17th century. Abdals in Teke (Antalya) were affiliated with another fiscal category, ifraz-ı zulkadriyye, until 1858, when the Ottoman reformers incorporated the fixed tax of relevant groups into the Gypsy poll tax.[12]

In the 15th century, the Abdals were gradually excluded from the process of centralization and transformation of the Ottoman Empire into a bureaucratic empire, and as a result of the establishment of Sunni Islam in Edirne and, from 1453, in Istanbul, they took on an irregular character. With the establishment of the Safavid State in Iran and the spread of the Qizilbash activity in Anatolia, the Abdals became integrated with the Qizilbash movement.[13][14]


Abdals in Turkey mostly speak Turkish, specifically a dialect with additional vocabulary.[3] The Abdal language consists of borrowing from Hindustani language, Persian with some Rumelian Romani words with an essentially Turkish and Turkmen grammar.[15]

Society and culture

Abdals would traditionally have a symbiotic relationship with Turkmen but also Kurdish tribes, playing a particular role as musicians, entertainers, minstrels, jewelers and magicians, whereas they would be accommodated by the people they were living together with. However, Abdals wouldn't intermarry with these people yet they would be allowed to stay within the larger community.[10][16]

See also


  1. ^ Kaytazoğlu, Osman. "Suriye'nin ötekileri: Abdallar". Al Jazeera Turk. Retrieved 16 March 2023.
  2. ^ Egemen Yılgür (2015). "Kuştepe Mahallesi'nde Geç-Peripatetik Gruplar: Katmanlar, Etkileşim ve Bütünleşme" (PDF). Sav Katkı (in Turkish) (1).
  3. ^ a b Akural, Sabri M., ed. (1987). Turkic Culture: Continuity and Change. Orders to General Editor, Turkish Studies, Indiana University. p. 127.
  4. ^ Egemen Yılgür (2021). "Turcoman Gypsies in the Balkans: Just a Preferred Identity or More?"Romani History and Culture. Munich: Lincom Academic Publishers. pp. 93–106. Retrieved 16 March 2023.
  5. ^ Egemen Yılgür (2017). "Peripatetic Groups in Turkey: Generic Terms and Self-Denomination Forms" in Turkish. pp. 9–13. Retrieved 8 April 2023.
  6. ^ Köşker, Nilüfer (2016). "Abdals in Cultural Geography of Anatolia". Current Topics in Social Sciences: 577–588.
  7. ^ Vincenz, André de (June 1992). "Словарь ∂ревнерусского языка (XI – XIV вв.)". Russian Linguistics. 16 (2–3): 281–288. doi:10.1007/bf02527949. ISSN 0304-3487. S2CID 170761831.
  8. ^ Bosworth, C. Edmund (2017-05-15). The Turks in the Early Islamic World. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-351-88087-9.
  9. ^ Frank, Allen J. (1995). Turkmen Reader. Dunwoody Press. pp. 185, 211. ISBN 978-1-881265-41-2.
  10. ^ a b Marginal Groups and Itinerants by Ingvar Savanberg pages 602 to 612 in Ethnic groups in the Republic of Turkey / compiled and edited by Peter Alford Andrews, with the assistance of Rüdiger Benninghaus (Wiesbaden : Dr. Ludwig Reichert, 1989) ISBN 3-88226-418-7
  11. ^ Abdal by Peter Alford Andrews pp. 435 to 438 in Ethnic groups in the Republic of Turkey / compiled and edited by Peter Alford Andrews, with the assistance of Rüdiger Benninghaus (Wiesbaden : Ludwig Reichert, 1989) ISBN 3-88226-418-7
  12. ^ Yılgür, Egemen (2023). "The 1858 tax reform and the 'other nomads' in Ottoman Asia". Middle Eastern Studies: 1–20. doi:10.1080/00263206.2023.2185882. S2CID 257470116. Retrieved April 9, 2023.
  13. ^ The Ottoman Wild West - Page 249.
  14. ^ Karakaya-Stump, Karakaya-Stump Ayfer (2020-01-10). Kizilbash-Alevis in Ottoman Anatolia: Sufism, Politics and Community. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 978-1-4744-3271-9.
  15. ^ Mahmut Sarıkaya; Mahmut Seyfeli (2004). "Kırşehir Abdal/Teber Dili". Türklük Bilimi Araştırmaları (in Turkish) (15).
  16. ^ Tanyol, Cahit (1961). "Peşke Binamlısı Köyü". İstanbul University Journal of Sociology. 2 (16): 17–59. Retrieved 17 March 2023. Gerek türkmen ve gerekse kürt oymaklarında mutlaka birkaç hane aptal bulunur. Oymaklar göçebe iken de toprağa yerleştikleri zamandan da bu abtallar bağlı bulundukları oymaklardan ayrılmazlar. Aptalsız oymak yok gibidir. Aptallar ne sürü ve ne de toprak sahibidirler. Hangi oymağa mensupsa onları o oymak besler. Ekseriya davul zuma çalarlar. Oymak halkını eğlendirirler. Ayak işleri görürler. Çok eski zamanlardanberi oymak ve kabilelere refakat eden bu aptalların göçebe cemaat içinde manevi ve pratik bir rolleri olsa gerek. Aptallara kız verilmez, aptallardan kız alınmaz. Buna karşılık hiç bir cemaat kendi aptallarını kovmaz; ve aptallar da onlardan ayrılmazlar. Bunlar cemaatin bir nevi uşağı ve dilencisidirler.

Abdal (caste)