Tonya (Τόνγια) or Byzantine Thoania (Θοανία), is in the south-west region of Trapezus. It is south of Platana and over the river Kalanema. Prior to the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey (1923) it contained 2000 Greek speaking islamicized families. Another 1000 families who originated from Tonya were spread out in the neighbouring regions of Trapezus and Argyroupoli (Gumushane). According to Greek mythology, Tonya's Greek name Thoania was derived from King Thoantas who escaped from the land of the Taurus (bulls) and fled to Tonya in Pontos.

This islamicized population is the remnant of the 8000 Christian families who during the mass exodus and islamicization in the 17th century, left Trapezus and Platana. The same islamicization process also applies to the region of Ophis. As with Ophis, Tonya kept many of it's Christian Greek village names like Mesohori, Mesoplayi, Katohori, Saint Thomas, Saint Stefanos, and Mesopedin. Even people's names like Ioannis, Themistocles, Aleksandros and other names remained. Tonyali people also have Turkish names but they only use them when they are far away from their hometown vilages. For instance Ali, Mustafa, Ahmet and others.

The only difference between Tonya people (Tonyalis) and Ophi people (Oflus) is that the latter were more conservative and theological. The Tonyalis were 'stricter and renowned as ablebodied thieves. Many were also police and rural law enforcers.

Greek speaking Tonyalis still exist in the following villages: Kesli, Toumasli, Pachartikli, Mpeskeli, Mamali, Tsuluk, Melikse, Antzirkioy.

According to Greek mythology, Tonya's Greek name Thoania was derived from King Thoantas who escaped from the land of the Taurus (bulls) and fled to Tonya in Pontos.

The history of Tonya is like that of Ophis, one of the puzzles of the Pontos. There is no direct classical or medieval reference to it. A few striking features of the Tonyalis is that they are Greek speaking, Muslim and ferocious. The region is wild and isolated and traditional blood feuds were a common occurrence. The Tonyalis also have a reputation for vendettas and assassinations. Despite these traits, the Tonyali are a close-knit, highly distinctive and isolated community. The language is slowly dying out, but Greek speakers are still present today in Kesli, Tumasli, Pahartirli, Beskeli, Mamali, Tsuluk, Melikse, and Agirkoy. The question often arises as to whether these Greek speakers are Turks who adopted the Greek language ( as sometimes seems to have happened), or whether they are Pontic Greek speakers who apostatised. The latter is more probable since there is a church nearby in Fol Maden, and since some Tonya villages reveal Greek names. Melikse, Anabedama, Aspuryanlik, Mesakurfa, Lefkiye and Mankanabo are all villages close to or part of Tonya and which all appear to have names with a Greek influence or origin.

Greek historians maintain that like Ophis and the Greek speaking Muslim Oflus, the Greeks of Tonya apostatised in the late seventeenth century. In the case of Tonya there is no clear explanation as to why this happened. The notion however is plausible enough , for the late 17th century was the lowest point of Greek fortunes in Pontos, and Christians experienced considerable pressure on their faith during that period. As opposed to Ophis, the process of islamicization began very early in Tonya. Secondly, in Tonya it was complete. By the early 20th century there were still 8 Orthodox parishes in Ophis, whereas in Tonya there were none, nor apparently a Christian soul. The Tonyalis however did not figure in Ottoman defter figures therefore a complete study into their history has not been completed.



The Encyclopedia of Pontian Hellenism

The Byzantine Monuments and Topgraphy of the Pontos - Dumbarton Oaks, p155-6 Anthony Bryer, David Winfield

Satellite Map of Tonya


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