Sounds, noises, voices and other good vibrations from Turkey

Camel wrestling in Aydın

In Entertainment on 14/06/2011 at 15:32

I was in Cine, an Aegean city 35 km south of Aydin last February to attend a local camel wrestling festival. The tradition dates back at least 2,500 years and is still very popular in the Aeagean, Marmara and Mediterranean regions of Turkey. Camels are wrestlers as much as beauty peagants. They carry multicoloured, bright decorations, bells and bobbles. Most owners will tell you they love their camels as much as their children. Some even name their animals after their kids.

The tournament is a sort of festivity where hundreds of villagers meet friends, old and new. They eat, they drink, they sing and dance. Listen to the zeybek music played with the drums and zurna and the sounds of bells dangling from the camels… Also, listen to the “cazgir”, the man who calls out the camels’ names and comments the wrestling as if it were a soccer game.

For those of you interested in the techniques of camel wrestling, here is a good description of how things work.

Want to know one of the camels’ owners? Listen to Kâmil, proud “father” of three camels:

Kâmil: “So! This is Egemen 1… I have another Egemen. It is 16 years old and has been wrestling for eight years. It’s a family tradition. My grandfathers were nomads. They had camels too, so this is a part a me. It’s in my blood, in my veins. Otherwise, what would I be doing with camels? I do it for pleasure, not to earn money… It’s a kind of sickness. I love it. And you can’t do that if you don’t like camels. Just as I couldn’t be a butcher if I didn’t like it… I get so excited when the camel is in the arena! I gave them my son’s name! I have Egemen 1, 2 and 3. You could say my son is Egemen 4!”

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