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6 Preserving Historical Heritage: The Case of Salih Ağa of Paşmaklı, the Pomak Governor of the Ahı Çelebi Kaza of the Ottoman Empire (1798–1838)

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Chapter Summary

This chapter deals with the person and legacy of Salih Ağa of Pașmakli within the context of the hotly disputed Pomak heritage in Bulgaria. Salih is the most famous, but "forgotten" Pomak governor of the small Ottoman province of Ahi Çelebi from the first half of the nineteenth century. Relying largely on orally transmitted ethnographic documentation, the chapter reconstructs the life story of a fascinating ruler who registers in local memory as tough, indeed, often ruthless, but relentlessly evenhanded enforcer of justice. Most notably, he elevated the status of Christians to that of Muslims in Ahi Çelebi despite the religious discrimination inherent in Shari'a, the normative law of the Ottoman Empire. One major problem that prevents the construction of standard narrative histories of Pomak heritage in general, and about Salih Ağa in particular, is the lack of direct historical evidence.

Keywords: Bulgaria; historical heritage; Ottoman Empire; Pomak governor; Salih Ağa of Pașmakli

10.1163/9789004272088_007
/content/books/b9789004272088_007
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