The lively Turkish folkmusic, which
originated on the steppes of Asia, is in complete contrast to the refined
Turkish classical music of the Ottoman court. Until recently, folkmusic
was not written down, and the traditions have been kept alive by the "asiklar"
(troubadours). Distinct from folkmusic is Ottoman military music, now performed
by the "mehter takimi" (Janissary Band or Ottoman Army Band) in Istanbul,
which originated in Central Asia, and is played with kettle drums, clarinets,
cymbals, and bells. The mystical music of the Whirling Dervishes ("Mevleviler")
is dominated by the haunting sound of the reed pipe or "ney", and can be
heard in Konya during the Mevlana Festival in December.
Each region in Turkey has its own
special folkdance and costume, and the best known of these are listed below:
a) "Horon" -
This Black Sea dance is performed by men only, dressed in black with silver
trimmings. The dancers link arms and quiver to the vibrations of the "kemence"
(a primitive kind of violin).
b) "Kasik Oyunu"
- The Spoon Dance is performed from Konya to Silifke and consists of gaily
dressed male and female dancers '”clicking” out the dance rhythm with a
pair of wooden spoons in each hand.
c) "Kilic Kalkan"
- The Sword and Shield Dance of Bursa represents the Ottoman conquest of
the city. It is performed by men only, dressed in early Ottoman battle
dress who dance to the sound of clashing swords and shields, without music.
- In this Aegean dance, colorfully dressed male dancers, called "efe,"
symbolize courage and heroism.
Hoca - A 13th-century humorist and sage from Aksehir. His witticisms are
known throughout Turkey and are often used to make a point.
- Another jester, said to have lived in Bursa in the 14th century and now
immortalized as a shadow puppet. Karagoz is a rough man of the people,
who uses his ribald wit to get the better of his pompous friend, Hacivat.
The puppets are made from gaily painted, translucent animal skin and safe
projected onto a white screen.
c) Yunus Emre
- The 13th-century philosopher-poet is one of Turkey's national treasures.
His basic themes were universal love, friendship, brotherhood and divine
justice. His simple and pure writing brings out a deep meaning for his
readers and although he lived over 700 years ago, his work is still timely
and thought provoking.
- A 15th-century folk poet, K6roglu was a role model for his contemporaries
and a hero of his time. His adventures have been recounted for centuries
with prestige and vigor and perhaps now with more interest than ever. Koroglu
was one of the first people to pioneer the ideal of unconditional help
for the poor and down-trodden. He was also a great champion against the
confines of government control and harassment.
a) Yagli Güres.-
"Grease Wrestling" is the Turkish national sport and every year, in July,
wrestling championships are held in Kirkpinar, outside Edime. The contest
is made more difficult by the fact that the wrestlers smear themselves
b) Cilrit Oyunu
- The "javelin game" of daredevil horsemanship is a sport where wooden
javelins are thrown at horsemen of opposing teams to gain points. The game
is played mainly in Eastern Turkey. Also, in Selcuk, in the Aegean Region
you can watch camel fights (in January), but if for some reason, weather
does not permit, don't despair, camel fights are held in many small towns
throughout the springtime. At Artvin Kafkasor, a different type of bullfight
is held (in June).
Hospitality: Hospitality is
one of the cornerstones of the Turkish way of life. Following Koranic tenets
and naturally friendly instincts, the Turk is a most gracious and generous
host. Even the poorest peasant feels bound to honor his guest ("misafir")
in the best possible manner. Hospitality is taken to such lengths that
a foreigner often feels he is suffering from an overdose of it after being
plied with food and drinks for hours and being unable to refuse anything,
lest he hurt his host's feelings. In addition to ensuring a guest's material
well-being, the Turk makes every effort to converse, no matter what linguistic
barriers might exist. While most middle-class urban-dwelling Turks speak
at least one European language, even the uneducated bravely struggle to
make themselves understood, with remarkable success.
Turkish coffee houses: Even
the smallest Turkish village has its coffee-house or "kahvehane", where
men can talk, sip coffee, and play the national game of backgammon ("tavla").
In Istanbul especially, men can still be seen smoking their hubble bubble
pipes ("nargile") in these coffee houses. Turkish baths: Owing to the emphasis
placed on cleanliness in Turkish society, there have been public bath-houses
('hamam") in Turkey since medieval times. There are separate baths for
men and women, or, when there is only one bath house in the town, different
days or times of day are allocated for men and women. After entering the
"hamam" and leaving one's clothes in a cubicle, one proceeds, wrapped in
a towel ("pestemal") to the "gobek tasi", a large heated stone where one
perspires and is rubbed down by a bath attendant. If the heat proves too
much, one can retire to a cooler room for a while. This method of bathing
is most refreshing and many of the old marble baths are very interesting,