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Chorbaji (sometimes variously transliterated as tchorbadji, chorbadzhi, tschorbadji) (Turkish: çorbacı,) was a military rank of the corps of Janissaries in the Ottoman Empire, used for the commander of an orta (regiment), i.e., approximately corresponding to the rank of colonel. The word is pronounced [tʃoɾbaˈdʒɯ] in Turkish and literally means "soup cook", derived from çorba, "soup".
However, this word could be connected to an old Turkic word korbashi (head of the unit/campfire). This title was widespread in Turkistan (Central Asia) up until the 1940s, where Korbashis lead local rebel groups called Basmachi (raiders) against the Soviet regime. Because the Janissaries were based on the order of the kitchen (e.g. chef, sous chef), korbashi is not connected to the rank. Janissaries wore spoons on their head dress, and every rank in the corps were kitchen related.
In seafaring, the term was in use for the boss of a ship's crew, a role similar to that of boatswain.
In several predominantly Christian areas of the Ottoman Empire, such as the current Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria, as well as many parts of Eastern Anatolia, the term chorbaji (Macedonian: чорбаџија, čorbadžija; Bulgarian: чорбаджия, chorbadzhiya Western Armenian: չորպաճի "ch'orbaji") was also as used as a title for (Christian) members of the rural elite, heads of villages and other rural communities and rich peasants. The Ottomans employed them in various administrative positions, such as that of tax collector and in courts of law. Since the 19th century in independent Bulgaria, the term largely fell out of use as the Ottoman system was abandoned. During Ottoman rule the word τσορμπατζης (pronounced chorbajis) was used with the meaning of "mayor" in the Greek Christian communities in the whole area of Thrace and in Western Asia Minor.
The word is still in use in vernacular Turkish and Bulgarian with the meaning of "boss". It is also a common family name among Syrians (where it is pronounced as Shorbaji), Albanians, Bulgarians, Lebanese, Turks or Ukrainians (e.g. a vice-governor of Odessa is named Ivan Chorbadzhi - Иван Чорбаджи).