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Female naming tradition from the end of 18th Century  till mid of the 19 th Century in Kfarsghab
by Youssef


In the following analysis, I tried to expose my findings in the naming tradition of women born in Kfarsghab between 1786 and 1868. I based my research on the records of women who lived in Kfarsghab between 1854 and 1936. The names are extracted from the list of the deceased members of the Brotherhood of the Immaculate Conception founded in 1854. The list was compiled in 1936 by the late Father Choukrallah Boulos I who was then in charge of the Brotherhood.


The sample is composed of 256 women of whom 240 were married (94%). The dates of birth are estimated by considering the average age of 67.7 years for a woman during the concerned period in the Jebbet Bcharri region (1)

In the list, we find 87 different names (see table at the end of the page). the major findings are :

Diversity
10 names are shared by 129 women, representing 50% of the sample. When we compare with the firstnames of women born in Bcharri during the period 1838-1902 (2), we find general similarities in the names used. However, in Bcharri, 5 names are borne by 69% of the women while in Kfarsghab, naming is more diverse - 21 names for 69% of the sample - . In Bcharri, 8 women shared the same firstname for only 3 in Kfarsghab. For Bcharri, we find 71 different names when in Kfarsghab people used 87 names. The following comparison table reveals other interesting differences :

First Name Kfarsghab % Bcharri %
Mariam + Marroune 27 11% 150 26%
Martha 21 8% 11 2%
Barbara 12 5% 17 3%
Soossane 12 5% 20 3%
7awwa 11 4% 0 0%
7annah 10 4% 162 28%
7asnah 9 4% 3 1%
Marina 9 4% 3 1%
Teresia 8 3% 43 7%
Wardeh 8 3% 25 4%
Badwiyeh 7 3% 0 0%
Ghaliah 6 2% 1 0%
Doorah + Tadoorah 8 3% 0 0%
Mantoorah 5 2% 0 0%
Sa3da 5 2% 0 0%
7ababah 4 2% 0 0%
Agatha 3 1% 0 0%
Assa 3 1% 0 0%
Catherina 3 1% 22 4%
Dina 3 1% 0 0%
% of total   68%   79%
In Bcharri, more than half of the women are called either Mariam or Hannah. Perhaps, it did not matter what was the first name of a woman, reference to the father or husband could have been enough differentiation (3). We see less concentration in Kfarsghab. Probably, it could be explained by socio-economic factors like a clearer "clan" society in Bcharri than in Kfarsghab. Mixity and cooperation between "clans" were less needed in Bcharri than in Kfarsghab for survival. 

What we can also observe is a lesser frequency of Arabic and Biblical names in Bcharri. Was it the presence of missionary schools inside Bcharri behind it (see the higher frequency for Teresia and Catherina in Bcharri and Soosane and Hasna in Kfarsghab) ?

If globally the naming traditions have some similarities between Bcharri and Kfarsghab, the socio-economic context could have induced the observed differences. Among other factors, there could be mixity between clans, social cooperation, genders relationships ( place of the woman in society ), ...

On another level (with no direct relation to our subject), what is striking in Kfarsghab is the relative independence of women in the last quarter of the 19th Century, where we see Kfarsghabi women migrating on their own to USA and Australia. "Middle-Class bourgeois" inhibitions that appeared in the 1920's in the Lebanese society will stop the movement of those pioneer women (4).



Origin
- Christian names : Definitely, they represent the majority of the names, with one third of the women bearing names of Christian origin. It seems that this tradition is very old as those names appear in the first names of the register.
- Quality, Arabic and Animal names : those names are of Arabic origin. If Sa3da, 7ababa and 7asnah appear probably at the end of the 18 Century, the other Arabic names came later in the period 1810-1820. 

Some examples : Sa3da was the firstname of the elder daughter of the Emir Bachir II (1789-1840) (nicknamed for the occasion Abi Sa3da or father of Sa3da). 7asnah was the firstname of the wife of Sheikh Antonios Elias and Zeinah that of the wife of Sheikh Youssef Elias, both men being successively Sheiks of Kfarsghab between the end of the 18 Century and the beginning of the 19 Century.

The Shihabis princes, of Arab tradition, ruled Lebanon from the end of the 17 Century. Their rule could be behind this increase in using Arabic names. It could have started in the higher classes (Sheikhs and Clergy) naming their children after their Shihabi allies from 1760. The tradition radiated afterwards to the lower classes from the beginning of the 19 Century.
Origin of names times %
Christian 86 34%
Quality 53 21%
Flowers 28 11%
Biblical 28 11%
Place 10 4%
Arabic 6 2%
Animal 1 0%
Western 33 13%
Others 11 4%
Total 256  


- Flowers names : Although of arabic origin, this tradition seems to be older than the preceding one (before 1810).

- Biblical names : with exception of 7awwa (Eva), all other biblical names seem of a later adoption (after 1820).

- Western names : Teresia and Brigita appeared early at the end of the 18 Century. All other names of Western Origin appeared probably after 1830.

- Others : if Barabane and Assa are of older usage, the others appeared later in the 19 Century (after 1830). Their origins are mostly Persian and Turkish (maybe some Aramean / Phoenician).

These were some quick comments for any interested reader. By studying the naming tradition in Kfarsghab, we could be able to understand part of our today's traditions. You will find in the next table a complete list of the firstnames. Please, do not hesitate to correct or to add any information to this article by [contacting me]. I would be grateful.

(1) in Dr Fadi Tawwa - Historical Demography of Bcharri from mid 19 Century till beginning of 20th Century - Published in the Accounts of the Second Congress on Jebbet Bcharri History - National Committee of Gibran - 2003 - p. 273
(2) ibid - p. 281-282
(3) in Dr Laba Al Semaani - Hasroun in the first half of the 19th Century - Published in the Accounts of the Second Congress on Jebbet Bcharri History - National Committee of Gibran - 2003 - p. 219
(4) for the relation between genders and the formation of the middle class in Lebanon see "Inventing Home" of Dr Akram Fouad Khater - Univesity of California Press - 2001

Complete List of First names of women who died in Kfarsghab between 1854 and 1936
From the list of deceased members of the Brotherhood of Immaculate conception composed by Father Choukrallah Boulos I in 1936.

First Name # of women order of appearnce Origin Comment %
Mariam 22 3 Christian   9%
Martha 21 2 Christian   8%
Barbara 12 11 Christian   5%
Soossane 12 25 Flower   5%
7awwa 11 4 Biblical   4%
7annah 10 1 Christian   4%
7asnah 9 14 Quality Pretty 4%
Marina 9 10 Christian   4%
Teresia 8 13 Western   3%
Wardeh 8 20 Flower   3%
Badwiyeh 7 7 Place Bedouin 3%
Ghaliah 6 22 Quality Dear 2%
Doorah 5 45 Biblical   2%
Mantoorah 5 9 Flower   2%
Sa3da 5 6 Quality Lucky 2%
7ababah 4 5 Quality Lovely 2%
Agatha 3 15 Western   1%
Assa 3 17 Others   1%
Catherina 3 18 Christian   1%
Dina 3 55 Biblical   1%
Foutina 3 50 Western   1%
Franjieh 3 42 Place French 1%
Marroune 3 51 Christian   1%
Na3amah 3 56 Quality Soft 1%
Pholomina 3 59 Western   1%
Tadoorah 3 21 Biblical   1%
3adba 2 54 Quality Pure 1%
3adla 2 74 Arabic   1%
Clara 2 33 Western   1%
Domnina 2 32 Western   1%
Halloone 2 68 Others   1%
Hilaneh 2 60 Christian Helen 1%
Qooti 2 23 Others   1%
Ra7eel 2 34 Biblical Rachel 1%
Sarah 2 19 Biblical   1%
Saydah 2 65 Quality Lady 1%
Sha3shoo3ah 2 31 Quality Brilliant 1%
Yasmine 2 8 Flower   1%
Yoolina 2 28 Western   1%
Youssefiah 2 37 Christian Josepha 1%
Zaynah 2 27 Quality Good 1%
3atared 1 72 Quality   0%
7inta 1 67 Others   0%
Alsaghirah 1 75 Quality Small 0%
Alsitia 1 35 Western   0%
Aminah 1 77 Quality Loyal 0%
Anastasia 1 76 Western   0%
Angelina 1 52 Western   0%
Badi3ah 1 40 Quality Wonderful 0%
Badrah 1 71 Quality   0%
Barabane 1 16 Others   0%
Brigita 1 12 Western   0%
Deebah 1 49 Animal She-wolf 0%
Elisabeth 1 57 Christian   0%
Esther 1 26 Biblical   0%
Faridah 1 80 Quality Unique 0%
Frosina 1 39 Western   0%
Kalita 1 63 Western   0%
Kamilah 1 36 Quality Perfect 0%
Kattoor 1 81 Biblical   0%
Khatoon 1 62 Others   0%
Khawlah 1 58 Arabic   0%
Khouriyeh 1 53 Quality   0%
Layla 1 61 Arabic   0%
Looliah 1 82 Quality Pearl 0%
Lucia 1 38 Western   0%
Ma7rousah 1 70 Quality   0%
Madlena 1 69 Western   0%
Malkah 1 78 Quality   0%
Mataleen 1 83 Western   0%
Na3isah 1 47 Quality Sleepy 0%
Naddah 1 43 Quality Soft 0%
Nakhleh 1 24 Flower   0%
Nassimah 1 46 Quality Swift 0%
Qnou3 1 48 Quality   0%
Rahjah 1 29 Quality Joy 0%
Regina 1 64 Western   0%
Shmooni 1 41 Christian   0%
Sultanah 1 66 Quality   0%
Tajar 1 44 Others   0%
Watfa 1 73 Arabic   0%
Zarifah 1 30 Quality Funny 0%
Zumurrud 1 79 Arabic   0%
Total 256        


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