Origin of the name Kabyle

The legend reported by elderly people mentions a giant named “Faraun” who came from his country with his arms full of vegetation, he collapsed on the present site of Kabylia, from his head and his limbs were born the “Quinquegentianis” *, “the people of the Five Nations” 5 Kabyle Nations of antiquity, and from his back was born djurdjura montains … (Boulifa – 1925)

Herodotus had also mentioned “the Cabales” * a Berber nation of Numidia in his description of North Africa.


When the name Cabales Frenchified in Kabyles was it applied to the inhabitants of these mountains dominated by the Djurdjura? Ibn Khaldun did not use this name in the fourteenth century in his History of the Berbers. Neither Luis del Marmol or Leo Africanus in the sixteenth century did not mention the Kabyle to describe Berbers of a particular region of North Africa. Taking Ibn Khaldun tradition Marmol calls “Azouagues” (Zouaoua) inhabitants of the coast, which has become Algeria after the French colonialisation. It was only in the eighteenth century that “cabyle” appeared as a proper name in the historical and geographical literature of North Africa.

The English traveler Thomas Shaw, in his Travels, called by that name all the Berbers of northern Algeria: “Judging by the situation and the proper and peculiar idiom Kabyle, which differs materially from Arabic Esperanto , we led to believe that this is the one people of Barbary which has some resemblance to the ancient inhabitants of Africa. “And about Zouaoua, we read in the writings of the same author:” The zouôouh [sic], which are the largest and richest province of Kabyle [Constantine], inhabit the inaccessible mountains to the east, the Sebôe [Sebaou].

“In the nineteenth century the French occupation definitively consecrated the name, first to designate the Berbers of northern Algeria, then only those Djurdjuran and its extensions. The name Zouaoua was used occationally, but first of all they used the name Kabyle. It was under this name that they made their entrance in modern history. Of course, France, that own the office of legalisation of the arabic lies, gave the arabs the ownership of this name, Kabyle.
* The Quinquegentianis of Quinque gentes, in Latin “people of the 5 Nations”.
* CLXXI. The Auschises are to the west of Asbystes, which they confined: they live above Barca and extend to the sea, near the Évespérides. the Cabales lived around the middle of the country the Auschises their nation is small; it extends to the shores of the sea to Tauchires city territory of Barca. Their uses are the same as those of the people who live on top of Cyrene ….


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