The 11th karaçulha traditional plateau oil pehlivan wrestling contests
The Eleventh Karaçulha Traditional Plateau oil Pehlivan Wrestling Contests were held in 10th and 11th September 2011. The wrestling ceremony was opened with the participation of Mr. Yusuf Çaylı, Mayor of the District of Karaçulha, and the Chairman of the Committe of Oil Wrestling Organization, and the authorities and councilmen / councilwomen of the municipalities of Fethiye Sub-province and other townships and districts of Muğla Province, and the officials of several public agencies, organizations and institutions such as Fethiye Sub-provincial directorates of national education, tourism and culture and many mukhtars (village and quarter administrators), businessmen / businesswomen living in the district as well. Total 225 pelhivans paticipated in the oil wrestling contests, and Ali Gökçen (from Manisa) came the first, namely the chief wrestler, and Hasan Tuna (from Anyalya) the second, and Ali Altın (from Antalya) and Hasan Cengiz (from Korkuteli) the third together.
Fethiye’s municipal authories said that the monies collected through this event and charitable donations and contributions of everybody, local and foreign nationals, living in Karaçulha will be spent for Karaçulha Fundamental Elementary School of 22 classrooms which will be constructed on an area of 2600 sq.m and will cost 250 thousand TRL approximately. Likewise, the monies collected through the Karaçulha Camel Wrestling Contests held in last February have been also used for the same purpose. For this purpose, everybody is invited to give thir mites for such a good cause to the bank A/C number TR 36000 1000 20353 46907 25002 of the School Union of Families of Karaçulha Fundamental Elementary School.
What is Oil Wrestling?
Oil wrestling (yağlı güreş in Turkish), also called grease wrestling, is one of the Turkish national sports. It is so called because the wrestlers douse themselves with olive oil. It is related to Uzbek kurash, Tuvan khuresh and Tatar köräş. The wrestlers, known as pehlivan (from Persian pehlevān, meaning “hero” or “champion”) wear a type of hand-stitched lederhosen called a kisbet (sometimes kispet), which are traditionally made of water buffalo hide, and most recently have been made of calfskin.
Unlike Olympic wrestling, oil wrestling matches may be won by achieving an effective hold of the kisbet. Thus, the pehlivan aims to control his opponent by putting his arm through the latter’s kisbet. To win by this move is called paça kazık. Originally, matches had no set duration and could go on for one or two days, until one man was able to establish superiority, but in 1975 the duration was capped at 40 minutes for the baspehlivan and 30 minutes for the pehlivan category. If no winner is determined, another 15 minutes—10 minutes for the pehlivan category—of wrestling ensues, wherein scores are kept to determine the victor.
Turkish wrestlers had started covering themselves according to the Islamic law (between the navel and the knees) after the 10th century. After the Oghuz branch of Turks migrated to Western Asia and Anatolia, they brought their Central Asian Kurash wrestling style with them. After conquest of Anatolia by Seljuk Turks, they introduced the traditional freestyle wrestling called “karakucak” (literally means “black hug”) and the special leather clothing and initiated usage of olive oil, to make it harder to grap the opponent, from the ancient Western Asian wrestling; and created what is today known as the Yağlı Güreş or Turkish Oil Wrestling.
In the Ottoman Empire, wrestlers learned the art in special schools called tekke, which were not merely athletic centres, but also spiritual centres wrestlers oil one another prior to matches as a demonstration of balance and mutual respect. Equally, if a younger man should defeat an older man, he kisses the latter’s hand (A sign of respect for elders in Turkey).
There are some organized oil wrestling competitions outside Turkey, prominent among which is the Royal Dutch Power Sport Federation (KNKF Koninklijke Nederlandse Krachtsport en Fitnessfederatie) in the Netherlands.
About the District of Karaçulha
Karaçulha is the biggest district of Fethiye Township of Muğla Province. It is 140 sq.m and 5 sq.m far from Muğla and Fethiye respectively. It population is some 16.000. It is known that the first inhabitants settled in Karaçulha as early as 1400 AD. Karaçulha is one of the oldest settlement units together with the districts of Gökben and Esenköy. The early inhabitants settled in the mountain skirts of the district. It is told as based on a rumour that the early inhabitants were the families of Kayı (or Kai) tribe of Oghuz Turkic people who were sent to all over Anatolia for collaborating and merging with other Anatolian emirates during the foundation years of the Ottoman State. A big family (called Megri then) came to this district in mid 13th century. This family’s members most of whom were shepherds parted later. While some of them migrated to Gökben and esenköy, and the others came to Karaçulha. These families settled in vicinity of the Ahmetpasha Wall firstly, and around the area of Avdan, later in 18th century, where Osman Efendi Mosque is located.
And according to another rumour, since Megri that belonged to the Menteshe Emirate was from the Capital, five administrative districts that were managed by qadis were granted there. When the menteshe Emirate joined the Ottoman State, small settlement units started to set up in the district. A young man of the Yörük (Yuruk or Juruk) nomad of the Karakeçili clan which was managed by the chief qadi suffered wrong and was killed by the qadi. His widowed wife who took her children and animals with her left Megri, and began to look for a farther quiet place. And at last, she came to the place 8 kms away at the north of Megri where is today called The Kösebükü Hill. The woman who dealt with animal husbandry here started to weave black quarter sheet (haircloth) from goat hair. In the course of time, people who lived in the neighbouring areas also started to came to this place in order to buy black quarter sheets. Those who came to and go from this place always said “we are going to the black quarter sheet maker (karaçulcu)” and “we are coming from karaçulcu”. This place was, therefore, begun to have been called “Karaçulha”.
Note: We warmly thank Mr Ali Hancı, Editor-in-Chief of Karaçulha Municipality, and his kind Assistant Ms. Gülsüm Keskin for their helps and contributions in preparing this news and articles.