Pontic Greeks

Greek: Ελληνες του Ποντοu
Who: An ethnically Greek group who lived in the region of Pontus (modern day northern Turkey).
Region: Pontus in Modern Day Turkey
Population: 3,000,000

Pontic Greek man from Trebizond in traditional clothes.

Pontic Greek man from Trebizond
in traditional clothes.

The Pontian Greeks are an ethnic group of Greek speaking peoplefrom the Pontus region of the Black Sea (what is now modern day Turkey). They have been living in that region since 800 B.C. settling first in the city of Sinop. They would later colonize areas around the Black Sea coastline in what is now Turkey, Bulgaria, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, and Romania. In 1922 the Pontian Greeks were expelled from their homeland in Pontus, which was the year when the population exchange occured between Greece and Turkey under the terms of the Traety of Lausanne. Only the small portion of Muslim Pontians were allowed to stay. During the exchange, and the years leading up to it, the Pontian Greeks suffered ethnic cleansingwith tens of thousands dieing at the hands of the Young Turks and the Kemalist forces. Most Pontians relocated to Macedonia, Attica and the Soviet Union after the exchange.

The culture of the Pontians is one that borrows from the many regions that surrounds it. They have a different dialect of the Greek language which stems from Ionic Greek via Koine and Byzantine Greek and contains some loan words from Turkish. Pontian music contains a mix of musical elements from Greece, Byzantium, and the Caucasus. Their most popular instruments are the kemenche” (lyre), Tulum (Angion), the davul, and the kaval. Pontian dance is also very different from the traditional dancing of Greece. They are either circular, or in a line, have distinct short steps, and do not have a lead dancer. A unique trait of Pontian dancing is the tremoulo, which is a fast shaking of the upper torsoby turning the back on its axis.

Pontian dance performed at the closing ceremonies of the 2004 Olympics in Athens:


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