Robin Hood of Turkey

Just as Amsterdam is not the Netherlands, and Paris is not France, every region, province, town or village in Turkey has its own identity. Travelling on horseback through Doğu Menteşe dağlarɩ and the Batɩ Menteşe Dağlarɩ (mountains) I imagine all of Turkey must have been decades ago.
It is quiet and the villages dwell in relative isolation. So different from the tourist boom at the coast. There is something about the solitude of riding a horse. You can take routes that you can never take by car. On these roads you can find freedom that cannot be found in urban areas. On the back of a horse you are vulnerable to weather conditions and you are in direct contact with the environment and all of its inhabitants. You don’t have to step out of a car to step into the world of the people you meet. You are already in their world when you arrive.

Today’s road brought me into the world of days gone by. The man approaching me is dressed in distinctive trouser, boots and headdress. I recognize his appearance from drawings and  paintings of the Zeybek. Since the 17th century groups of these men lived in the Aegean region of the Ottoman Empire.

They were soldiers who acted as protectors of village peoples. To be more specific they rebelled against pressures and injustices opposed on villagers by landlords, bandits or tax collectors. They lived in the mountains from where they operated. The leader of a Zeybek group was called an Efe. The Efe can be recognized by the shorter trousers and a yataghan knife.

During the Greek-Turkish Wars they fought against the Greek forces and voluntarily joined the newly formed national army in the Turkish War of Independence.They were awarded with the Medallion of Independence after the declaration of the Turkish Republic for their participation. Most of the Efe received military ranks and pensions for their services. After retirement they resettled in the cities of western Turkey.

Today folk music, songs and stories recall their bravery in the past but “once upon a time can still be found in present Turkey as you can see on this picture". 


Unknown said…
Nice post. Would have loved to horse back ride through Turkey. It is such an interesting place with so much history and a cultural overload. Take care, Paula and Gordon
Don Adzigian said…
Love the post! Two of my grandparents were born in Turkey, one in 1893. It's fascinating to see what they may have seen. Thanks Ticia