Kouloughlis, also spelled Koulouglis,[1] Cologhlis and Qulaughlis (from Turkish Kuloğlu "Children of The Empire Servants" from Kul "soldier"[2][3] or "servant" + Oğlu "son of"), but the translation of the word "kul" as slave is misleading since in the Ottoman context, it referred to one's special status as being in the special service of the sultan.[4] It was a term used during the period of Ottoman influence in North Africa that usually designated the mixed offspring of Ottoman[a] officials[5] and janissaries, and local North African women.[6][7][8][9]


The world Kouloughli or Kuloglu referred to children of Janissaries and local women.[6][10][11][12] While other sources refer to Kouloughlis as children of any Ottoman man and a North African woman,[13] it was only those from acemi ocagi or devshirme that could become Kul or Kouloughli, in fact it had been a rule to not make anyone other than those who were coming from devshirme or acemi ocagi to be the “kul” of the sultan.[4]

The title of Kouloughli went from father to child. For example Ahmed Bey of Constantine was the son of a Kouloughli, and thus he himself was a Kouloughli.[14] Because of this, many Kouloughli families independent of Native North African and Turkish ones formed.[15]

Migration to North Africa

According to the Turco-Libyan historian Orhan Koloğlu, throughout the 400 years of Ottoman rule in the Maghreb and more generally North Africa, the Ottoman administration ensured that Ottoman soldiers from the Odjak of Tripoli, formed at least 5% of the regions population in Ottoman Tripolitania.[16] In other territories such as the Regency of Algiers the number of Janissaries progressively got lower.[8][17] During the 17th century for example more than 12,000 janissaries were stationed in Algiers,[18] but by 1800 only 4,000 Janissaries were Turks, with the majority of the Janissaries being composed Kouloughlis, renegades, and some Algerians.[19][9] In the Regency of Tunis, especially during the later era of the Beylik of Tunis janissaries were less used, and were replaced by more modern infantry units and Mamluks.[20] Turkish-speaking Anatolians were considered to be the ideal migrants to ensure the Turkification of the region. Furthermore, the authorities initially placed a ban on Turkish speakers from using the Arabic language;[21] this allowed the Turkish language to remain the prestigious language of the region till the nineteenth century.[16] Koloğlu has estimated that approximately 1 million Ottoman soldiers from Anatolia, and the Balkans[8] migrated to the Regency of Algiers, the Regency of Tunis, and Ottoman Tripolitania, usually departing from the port of Izmir.[16] The majority of these troops arrived during the 16th, and 17th century, and by the 18th and 19th century their numbers were lower.[19]

Ottoman women in North Africa

Although the term "köleoğlu" implied the term "son of", the Turkish population in North Africa was not solely made up of men. Indeed, Ottoman women also migrated to the region, although in much lower numbers than men. There also existed Kouloughlis born of North African men, and Turkish women, such as Ibn Hamza al-Maghribi, an Algerian mathematician.[22] Moreover, the offspring of Turkish men and North African women would have included females too. Up until the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, many upper-class women in Libya were of Turkish origins. This Turkish elite held a deep kinship for the Ottoman state, which increased further during the Italo-Turkish War in favour of the Ottoman state.[23]



The majority of Turkish-speaking Ottoman Muslims adhered to the Hanafi school of Islam, in contrast to the majority of the North African subjects, who followed the Maliki school.[24] Today the Hanafi school is still followed by the descendants of Turkish families who remain in the region.[25] Traditionally, their mosques are in the Ottoman architectural style and are particularly identifiable from their Turkish-style octagonal minarets.[25]


Words and expressions from the Turkish language, to varying degrees, are still used in most varieties of the Maghrebi derjas and spoken Arabic in North Africa and the Middle East. For example, in Algeria an estimated 634 Turkish words are still used today in Algerian Arabic.[26] Approximately 800 to 1,500 Turkish loanwords are still used in Egypt, in Egyptian Arabic, and between 200 and 500 in Libya and Tunisia, respectively in Libyan and Tunisian Arabic.[27] Turkish loanwords have also been influential in countries which were never conquered by the Ottomans, such as in Morocco, in Moroccan Arabic. Furthermore, the Turks also introduced words from the Persian language to the region, which were originally borrowed for the Ottoman Turkish language.[28]

The majority of Turkish loanwords in Arabic are used for private life (such as food and tools), law and government, and the military.


Ottoman rule left a profound influence on the cuisine of North Africa, the Middle East, and the Balkans. Hence, even today, many dishes produced in different countries throughout these regions are derived from the same name, usually a variation of a Turkish word (such as baklava and dolma).[29]

Turkish origin word Maghrebi or Egyptian Arabic Countries using the word (in North Africa)
baklava baqlawa, baqlewa Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya[30]
boza büza, buza Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia[30]
börek brik (Tunisian variant) Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia[30]
bulgur burgul, borghol Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia[30]
çevirme (döner) sawurma/sawirma/shawarma Egypt, Libya, Tunisia[30]
dondurma dandurma, dundurma Egypt[30]
kavurma qawurma, qawirma Algeria, Egypt[30]
köfte kufta/kofta Egypt, Tunisia[30]
pastırma bastirma Algeria, Egypt, Libya[30]
sucuk sujuq, sugu' Egypt[31]
turşu torshi Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia[31]


Turkish origin word Maghrebi or Egyptian Arabic Countries using the word English translation
balta balta Egypt, Libya[31] axe
cezve cezve Tunisia[31] pot
çengel sankal/shengal Egypt, Tunisia, Libya[31] hook
kazan qazan Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia[31] cauldron
kılavuz qalawuz Egypt[31] guide, leader
tava tawwaya Egypt, Tunisia, Libya[31] pan
tel tayyala Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya[31] wire, fiber, string
tokmak duqmaq Egypt[31] mallet, door-knocker, wooden pestle
yay yay Egypt[31] straight or curved spring


Turkish origin word Maghrebi or Egyptian Arabic Countries using the word English translation
miralay mīralāy Libya colonel[32]
vapur bābūr Libya, Algeria, Tunisia boat[32]

Other words

Turkish origin word Maghrebi or Egyptian Arabic Countries using the word (in North Africa) English translation
cüzdan dizdān Libya wallet[32]
çanta šǝnṭa Libya, Egypt bag[32]
çekiç šākūš Libya, Algeria hammer[32]
çeşme šīšma Libya, Tunisia tap, fountain[32]
kâǧıt kāġǝṭ Libya, Algeria, Tunisia paper[32]
kaşık kāšīk Libya spoon[32]
kundura kindara Libya shoe[32]
şişe šīša Libya bottle[32]
kaftan quftan Algeria,Libya,Tunisia Caftan[32]

Arts and literature

The capital of the Ottoman Empire, Constantinople (Istanbul), was the central location where specialists in art, literature, and the scientists from all over the provinces would gather to present their work. Hence, many people were influenced here and would borrow from the masterpieces they came into contact with. Consequently, the Arabic language adopted several technical terms of Turkish origin as well as artistic influences.[33]


The cultural interaction between the Arabs and Turks influenced the music of the Arab provinces significantly. New maqamat in Arabic music emerged (i.e. Makam, a Turkish system of melody types), such as al-Hijazkar, Shahnaz and Naw’athar, as well as technical music terminologies.[33]


The Turks introduced the Karagöz puppet show, which concerns the adventures of two stock characters: Karagöz (meaning "black-eyed" in Turkish) and Hacivat (meaning "İvaz the Pilgrim"). Evening performances of the show are particularly popular during Ramadan in North Africa.[34]

See also


  1. ^ Including people of Turkish, Kurdish, Levantine, Greek, Serbian, Albanian, Georgian, and other origins[citation needed]


  1. ^ Britannica (2012), Koulougli, Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online
  2. ^ Răileanu, Viorica. "Éléments de compositions turcs et grecs dans les anthroponymes." Studii şi cercetări de onomastică şi lexicologie (SCOL) 1-2 (2014): 100-105.
  3. ^ Procházka, Stephan. "Les mots turcs dans l’arabe marocain." Dynamiques langagières en Arabophonies: Variations, contacts, migrations et créations artistique. Hommage offert à Dominique Caubet par ses élèves et collègues. Zaragoza-Paris (2012): 201-222. p.216.
  4. ^ a b Mergen Türk, Nazlı Esim. "The notion of hassa soldiery and kul identity in the early Ottoman state–example of the janissary corps a comparative study." PhD diss., Bilkent University, 2022.
  5. ^ Proletarian and Gendered Mass Migrations: A Global Perspective on Continuities and Discontinuities from the 19th to the 21st Centuries. BRILL. 2013-05-02. ISBN 978-90-04-25138-0.
  6. ^ a b Algeria: A Study in Competing Ideologies - Kay Adamson, A&C Black
  7. ^ The Tunisian Ulama 1873-1915: Social Structure and Response to Ideological Currents - Arnold H. Green, Brill Archive
  8. ^ a b c Morell, John Reynell (1854). Algeria: The Topography and History, Political, Social, and Natural, of French Africa. N. Cooke.
  9. ^ a b Boyer, Pierre (1970). "Le problème Kouloughli dans la régence d'Alger". Revue des mondes musulmans et de la Méditerranée. 8 (1): 79–94. doi:10.3406/remmm.1970.1033.
  10. ^ Shuval, Tal. "Cezayir-i Garp: Bringing Algeria Back into Ottoman History." New Perspectives on Turkey 22 (2000): 85-114.
  11. ^ Spyropoulos, Yannis. "Janissaries: A Key Institution for Writing the Economic and Political History of Ottoman Muslims in the Early Modern Period." Исторический вестник 29 (2019): 104-133.
  12. ^ Oualdi, M'hamed. "Mamluks in Ottoman Tunisia: A Category Connecting State and Social Forces." International Journal of Middle East Studies 48, no. 3 (2016): 473-490.
  13. ^ Amselle, Jean-Loup (2003). Affirmative Exclusion: Cultural Pluralism and the Rule of Custom in France. Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-8747-7.
  14. ^ Guyon, Jean-Louis (1852). Voyage d'Alger aux Ziban, l'ancienne Zebe, en 1847: avec atlas où figurent les principales oasis de cette contrée [...] (in French). Imprimerie du Gouvernement.
  15. ^ Ageron, Charles Robert (1991). Modern Algeria: A History from 1830 to the Present. Hurst. ISBN 978-1-85065-027-0.
  16. ^ a b c Orhan, Koloğlu (2016). "Osmanlı'nın Türklüğünün örneği: Kuzey Afrika'daki Ocaklılar". Turk Solu. Archived from the original on 2016-06-10. Retrieved 2016-05-15.
  17. ^ "L'Odjak d'Alger". www.algerie-ancienne.com. Retrieved 2021-03-27.
  18. ^ Plantet, Eugène (1889). 1579-1700 (in French). Éditions Bauslama.
  19. ^ a b Shuval, Tal (2013-09-30), "Chapitre II. La caste dominante", La ville d’Alger vers la fin du XVIIIe siècle : Population et cadre urbain, Connaissance du Monde Arabe, Paris: CNRS Éditions, pp. 57–117, ISBN 978-2-271-07836-0, retrieved 2021-03-27
  20. ^ Oualdi, M'hamed (August 2016). "Mamluks in Ottoman Tunisia: A Category Connecting State and Social Forces". International Journal of Middle East Studies. 48 (3): 473–490. doi:10.1017/S0020743816000441. ISSN 0020-7438. S2CID 163633671.
  21. ^ Boyer, Pierre (1970). "Le problème kouloughli dans la Régence d'Alger".
  22. ^ "ابن حمزة المغربي". archive.wikiwix.com. Retrieved 2021-06-26.
  23. ^ Khalidi 1991, xvii.
  24. ^ Kia 2011, 153.
  25. ^ a b Jacobs & Morris 2002, 460.
  26. ^ Benrabah 2007, 49.
  27. ^ Prochazka 2004, 191.
  28. ^ Abu-Haidar 1996, 119.
  29. ^ Kia 2011, 225.
  30. ^ a b c d e f g h i Prochazka 2004, 194.
  31. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Prochazka 2004, 195.
  32. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Benkato 2014, 90.
  33. ^ a b İhsanoğlu 2003, 111.
  34. ^ Box 2005, 27.


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