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Thread: Vajunites - connection to Slovenia?

  1. #1
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    Vajunites - connection to Slovenia?

    Hello,
    I am researching my maternal family's regional origins and history and would like to share some of my findings and hear your opinions.
    Our place of origin is a village near Ioannina, Greece, called Ekklisohori. It was renamed in 1928 and its original name had been Tserkovista (or Tsarkovista). Slavic for church village, more or less (see cerkov+ista). It was a Slavic settlement of the Middle Ages. It can be placed the earliest around the 9th century after the Slavs were christianized (see cerkov). The Slavic settlers have allegedly married mostly to local women and through the centuries they were assimilated both culturally and genetically, however leaving a distinct signature in place names, surnames and everyday vocabulary (even in our local accent I would think). The village was later on occupied also by Bulgarians, Serbs, and of course by the Turks. In the village and the broader area, the Greeks (and Slavs) have long coexisted with Vlachs and Arvanites as well. The cluster of villages where Tserkovista belonged to was called Kourenta, which is also characterized as a word of Slavic origin.
    In many sources, I read that those specific Slavic settlers must have been Vajunites. Trying to find out more about this tribe (?) I could just read that Vajunites were Southern Slavs without any further specifications. However, recently I read in an essay written in Bosnian (using Google translate) that the Vajunites, the Slavs that settled in Epirus and Albania (also Western Macedonia etc.), can be linked to modern-day Slovenians.
    Out of curiosity, I searched for words similar to the word Kourenta/ Kurenta in all languages (Google translate) and quite immediately got the result of Kurent, the mythical figure in the Slovenian culture. Also cerkov is the actual Slovenian word for church. The plot started to thicken.
    Does anyone know something more about a possible link between the Vajunites and Slovenians? Or any other related information that could be helpful to add to the picture?
    Thank you in advance
    Last edited by Alexandra_K; 06-19-2018 at 06:02 AM.

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     JonikW (06-19-2018)

  3. #2
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    You're right that tserkov, cerkov, means church in Slavic languages. The Greek name you gave looks to me to have the same meaning because it resembles ecclesia? I see there's a Slovenian festival called Kyrentovanye (I just searched using Cyrillic characters because I speak Russian). It looks similar to some Greek festivals to me. Here's a link in Russian, which you should be able to auto translate.
    https://ru.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Курентованье
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    Hello JonikW and thank you for your reply. Yes, the hellenized name of the village is an actual translation of the original name. Ekklisio- from ekklisia= church and -hori from horio= village. Although I cannot access the translation right now, I assume it is a festival dedicated to Kurent. Yes, it does remind of Greek festivals connected to carnival.

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     JonikW (06-19-2018)

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    I looked in two Old Slavonic vocabularies that I have at home and there were no similar words. I haven't got a full dictionary though. The Slovenian link to the village does look likely in this particular case. More widely, Slavic languages are all very similar. I often hear bits of conversation on the train where I can understand what they're saying but have no idea what language it is.
    Last edited by JonikW; 06-19-2018 at 10:27 PM.
    Living DNA Cautious mode:
    South Wales Border-related ancestry: 86.8%
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    Y line: Peak District, England. Big Y match: Scania, Sweden; TMRCA 1,280 ybp (YFull);
    mtDNA: traces to Glamorgan, Wales, 18th century. Mother's Y line (Wales): R-L21 L371

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    Thank you, JonikW! Yes, I have a feeling too that this link might be true in this case.
    In the meanwhile I read a Serbian/ Croatian source too that mentions the Vajunites as a Slovenian tribe as well.
    Interesting that you can understand what they are saying, as a Greek you don't experience this much with your own language.

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     JonikW (06-20-2018)

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    Among the other villages of the Kourenta group you find many other Slavic names: Sioutista (pronounced Shutsta), Dragomi, Gribovo, Gribiani, Rajko, Granitsa, Riahovo, Rahovitsa, Zitsa, Veltsista (Belciste?), Gourianista (Gorjaniste?), Doliana (Doljane), Zagoriani (Zagorjane), Zelista, Karitsa, Kosoliani, Kourenta, Mosiari, Brianista, Pogdoriani...
    In any case, it provokes one's curiosity...

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     JonikW (06-20-2018)

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    Just looking at those names quickly, Granitsa must mean a place on a border of some kind. Zagoriani should mean a place beyond the mountains. Doliana is very likely related to the word for a valley. Rajko may have been a fertile or abundant place because Raj means Paradise. The Grib- names sound like they could be derived from the word for mushroom, strangely enough! Perhaps they were wooded. I can't see any others that have an obvious meaning to me.
    EDIT: Looking again and see Dragomi. I was in Sofia last October and there was a place called Dragoman there. I don't know whether that or your Dragomi could be related to whatever common Slavic root that has or otherwise perhaps the official job or post of that name. Drag- could also suggest something costly, judging by the common Russian word anyway. I believe the other Slavic languages have it too.
    Last edited by JonikW; 06-20-2018 at 07:10 AM.
    Living DNA Cautious mode:
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    Y line: Peak District, England. Big Y match: Scania, Sweden; TMRCA 1,280 ybp (YFull);
    mtDNA: traces to Glamorgan, Wales, 18th century. Mother's Y line (Wales): R-L21 L371

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    Interesting, thank you! Later on I will post some of the etymological information I have found on the above names so that you can tell me what you think.

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     JonikW (06-20-2018)

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    Great! There are a lot of very knowledgeable Slavs on this site. Hopefully one of them will join in on this thread too. They should know a lot more than me!
    Living DNA Cautious mode:
    South Wales Border-related ancestry: 86.8%
    Cornwall: 8%
    Cumbria-related ancestry: 5.2%
    Y line: Peak District, England. Big Y match: Scania, Sweden; TMRCA 1,280 ybp (YFull);
    mtDNA: traces to Glamorgan, Wales, 18th century. Mother's Y line (Wales): R-L21 L371

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    Just to add: I can't find any mention of the Vajunites in my two English-language books on the early Slavs (one is by Barford). I've got three Russian-language books on the subject Only one has an index and there's no mention there either unfortunately.
    Living DNA Cautious mode:
    South Wales Border-related ancestry: 86.8%
    Cornwall: 8%
    Cumbria-related ancestry: 5.2%
    Y line: Peak District, England. Big Y match: Scania, Sweden; TMRCA 1,280 ybp (YFull);
    mtDNA: traces to Glamorgan, Wales, 18th century. Mother's Y line (Wales): R-L21 L371

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