Turkey Cultural Tour   
Competition-traditional Sports in Turkey
Competition-traditional Sports in Turkey
Competition-traditional Sports in Turkey
Competition-traditional Sports in Turkey
Competition-traditional Sports in Turkey
Competition-traditional Sports in Turkey
Competition-traditional Sports in Turkey
 Kirkpinar, Traditional Oil Wrestling
 
 
The former Ottoman capital of Edirne hosts a wrestling festival early July. The Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Tournament, which has been held annually for over 630 years, begins with a prayer for the wrestlers recited by the cazgir, or tournament announcer, who then shouts out, 'In God's name! If you fall below give up, if you get on top hang on!' To the rhythmic music of drums and zurnas, the contestants are roused to exert themselves to the utmost. The historic atmosphere pervading this event adds to the audiencred enjoyment. Following the prayer, the wrestlers come out onto the field and perform the warming up movements known as pesrev which resemble the way an eagle flaps its wings when about to swoop onto its prey. They then make the traditional gesture of greeting, which involves rapping their right hand on the ground and touching it to their breast and forehead. This conveys the following message to their rival, 'You are such a great wrestler that I am unworthy to be a part of the earth you walk upon.'
 
In Ottoman times this three-day tournament was held every year in the village of Kirkpinar near Edirne. Today this village is part of Greece and called Samona, so the Kirkpinar Wrestling Tournament is held at Sarayiçi in Edirne instead. As in the past, wrestlers from all over Turkey prepare for this tournament throughout the previous year. Restaurants, tea houses and side shows turn the field into a colourful and animated fair ground. The wrestlers wear breeches known as kispet made of cow or goat leather, and oil their bodies with olive oil before each bout. The tournament is opened by the aga (master), who is the person who bids the largest sum for the tournament ram. Over the three days the wrestling field is never empty for a moment. The wrestlers are divided into ten categories depending on their previous experience and track record in competition. These categories are known as tesvik, deste küçük boy, deste orta boy, deste büyük boy, orta küçük boy, küçük orta, büyük boy, büyük orta, bas alti and bas güres. The contests in the highest bas güres category are held on the last day, and the two wrestlers who get through to the final wrestle for the Gold Belt. This final match can sometimes last for several hours. Those wrestlers who win the title at Kirkpinar three years in a row are presented with a belt made from 1,450 gr of gold by Edirne Municipality. For the losers there is one consolation, the chance to try again at next year's tournament.
 
Cirit, A traditional Turkish Equestrian Sport
 
 
When the Turkish people poured westwards from their Central Asian homelands in the 11th century, they came on horseback into Anatolia, the land which the poet Nazym Hikmet described as ‘stretching like a mare’s head into the Mediterranean’. The horse, which played a central role in Turkish life in the Central Asian steppes, was probably first ridden and harnessed to vehicles in the area between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea northeast of Anatolia. The Turks brought not only their horses to Anatolia but many related aspects of their culture, one being the equestrian sport known as cirit or jereed. Cirit is a means of improving equestrian skills, and involves two teams of horsemen, each armed with a dried date, oak or poplar stick. These sticks are 70-100 cm in length and 2-3 cm in diameter, with blunt ends. They were originally heavier and thicker, but to reduce the risk of injury players came to prefer sticks made of poplar wood, which become lighter when dried. The players ride horses specially trained for the sport.
The teams line up facing one another on the field, each player at a distance of about 100 metres from the next. The person who signals the start of the game is known as the çavus, and before the game he introduces each of the players to the spectators with words of praise. Meanwhile drums and reed pipes play military marches and Köroglu folk airs. At the beginning of the game it is traditional for the youngest rider to trot towards the opposing team, and at a distance of 10-15 metres toss his cirit stick at one of the players. Simultaneously he turns his horse back and tries to reach the safety of his own side, pursued by the other player with a stick in his hand. This process of chasing and fleeing, while trying to hit an opponent with a stick, is the essence of the game, which requires skill and sportsmanship. To hit the horse instead of the rider, which is regarded as the sign of an inexperienced player, is against the rules, and the offender is sent off the field. The referees, who are former cirit players with standing in the community, count the number of hits and at the end of the game announce the winning team. Experienced cirit players rarely miss hitting an opponent, and are skilled at avoiding hits themselves by bending low, hanging down from one side of the horse, and other feats of acrobacy. Part of the skill lies in training the horses so that they play a significant role in the outcome of the game. The formation of the two teams has its traditional etiquette. Care is taken not to put players who are on bad terms in opposing teams, and players who display deliberately hostile behaviour during a match are blacklisted.
 
Cirit was particularly widespread in the Ottoman Empire from the 16th century onwards, becoming the foremost martial sport. In peace time it was played to improve the cavalry’s attack and defence skills, and during campaigns to whip up their enthusiasm for battle. Some of the sultans are known to have been cirit players, and early Ottoman sultans like Yildirim Bayezid (1389-1402) and Çelebi Mehmed (1413-1421) attached importance to cirit in the training of their armies. A superior class of cavalrymen known as cündi was formed from those skilled at cirit. However, the game was not without its dangers, and injuries and even death from falls in the attempt to catch the flying cirit sticks prompted Mahmud II (1808-1839) to ban the sport altogether after he dissolved the Janissary Corps. Although playing cirit resumed before long, particularly in the provinces, it never recovered the importance of former times. Today cirit is not as widespread as it once was, but is still played as a spectator sport, primarily in Erzurum, but also in the provinces of Artvin, Kars, Bayburt, Diyarbakir, Siirt and Konya. Folklore societies are also attempting to keep this traditional sport alive by organising tournaments.
 
 
 
Turkey Cultural Tour
Zincirlidere Cd.Sisli-Istanbul/Turkey
• Tel: +90 532 3163653 • Tel: +90 212 2893252 • Fax: +90 212 2893252
• tours@turkeyculturaltour.com, • http://www.turkeyculturaltour.com
Turkey Cultural Tour
Zincirlidere Cd.Sisli-Istanbul/Turkey
• Tel: +90 532 3163653 • Tel: +90 212 2893252 • Fax: +90 212 2893252
• tours@turkeyculturaltour.com, • http://www.turkeyculturaltour.com