November 11, 2013

0859 TURKEY (Aegean Region) - A zeibek from the Aegean Region

I found this little marvel in one of the souvenir shops located near the temple of Apollo in Didim, one of those stalls studded with thousands of articles, where the kitsch coexist peacefully with authentic handicraft. When he saw me skimming discontented through the postcards displayed on the wire rack at the entrance, the seller (who was probably also the owner) invited me inside. "I have others too. Maybe you will find among them something to your liking", he said, leaving me in front of other racks, filled with hundreds of common postcards, not a few of them discolored, bent, and stained by flies. I ransacked among them more than half an hour, but I haven't regretted, because I found this postcard and another one, with a belly dancer. "Oh, is from our area, an outlaw or something like that," said the man staring at the image. "I didn't even know that I have it."

It wasn't easy, but I eventually found out who is this character: a zeibek. Zeibeks were guerrilla fighters living in the Aegean Region of the Ottoman Empire, mainly near the city of Smyrna (now Izmir), from late 17th to early 20th centuries, generally of Turkic Yörük origins. They protected the village people against landlords, bandits and tax collectors. There was generally a tribe democracy in these groups, but once a decision was taken, the leader (Efe) had an uncontroversial authority. They fought against the Greek invasion of Western Anatolia during the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922. After the formation of a Turkish national army, most of them joined and continued their resistance.

Zeibeks were distinctive in their attire, weapons and general appearance, which were created for survival and to best suit their life. They wore shorter trousers than were common at the time, and a yatagan with only one side with a sharpened point which was useful in mêlée combat, but most of them carried firearms as well. They followed definite rituals for all actions; for example, the promotion of a kızan (newly recruited) to zeybek was very similar to Ahi rituals. Zeybeks had also a special dance in which performers simulated hawks. All zeybek dances have a common characteristic form, but the positioning of the arms and body differ according to the different regions. It seems that the Greek popular dance Zeibekiko (see Zorba the Greek) was originated from zeybek dance.

Zeibeks - Wikipedia
Efe (zeibek) - Wikipedia
Zeybek Region -

Sender: Dănuţ Ivănescu
Sent from Didim (Aegean Region / Turkey), on 10.09.2013

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