A different colonial yoke

Photo essay: Bulgaria's intriguing religious paradox

by Keyvan Tabari
abstract: The narrative of victimhood as a legacy of “colonialism” might feel proprietary to non-Europeans. Bulgarians offer a contrast. The “yoke” Bulgaria complains about is the one imposed by four centuries of Ottoman “oppression,” that separated it from the rest of “Christian Europe.” In this story the Church is the agent of liberation, as a result, ironically, of the distinct religious autonomy allowed to four groups of non-Muslims in the millet (community) system of the Ottoman Theocratic-Imperial rule. Still more paradoxes color the Bulgarian complaint. The Ottomans were Turkish tribes just like the Bulgars, both relative newcomers here from Central Asia and beyond. Furthermore, they were successors to the Byzantine Empire which had long fought and invaded Bulgaria, as was common for geographically adjacent states. Bulgaria’s seemingly insistent omission from its history of the developments of four centuries of Ottoman domination is belied by the extensive Turkish influence that permeates its culture: music, dance, crafts, textile, clothes, architecture and language. This was all intriguing for me as a first-time visitor >>> more

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Homan Mohabadi Ebrahimi

To Dr Keyvan Tabari: Thanks & a Request!

by Homan Mohabadi Ebrahimi on

Your photo essay on Bulgaria's intriguing religious paradox is splendid; thank you for sharing. I read somewhere that about 60 years ago you also wrote the delightful and excellent novel of She (in Farsi: Ou), which appeared in a Persian Magazine named Our Gift (in Farsi: Armaghaan-e Maa). You and other scholars such as J. Neek Nafs, M. Saadat Noury, K. Paazooki, etc., were among the members of the Editorial Board of that magazine. Is that right? If so, would you please post the great Farsi novel of She in this site? I am sure that novel will interest many readers as well.

maziar 58


by maziar 58 on

khoosh be halat the philo of the ehsan tabari.         

every thing look the same as 1981.           Maziar



by yolanda on

Thank you for adding the captions to each photo, the captions are beautifully written. The historical churches, cathedrals, and monastery are gorgeous. My favorite one is the church with golden onion domes, #13.

thanks for sharing!


Nice pictures but the paradox religion article is complicated!

by Anonymouse on

Everything is sacred.