Oil Wrestling Festival

2012-05-29

Kırkpınar oil wrestling in Turkey, accepted as The Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and added to the international list by UNESCO in 2010, took place in Rumelia in 1357 and it is the oldest wrestling festival in the world, which has been stretching from past to present. According to legend, in 1346 during expeditions organized by Orhan Ghazi to conquer Rumelia, his brother Suleiman Pasha walks with 40 soldiers over to Domuzhisar owned by Byzantines.

They conquered there with raid. After conquering the other castles, a pioneer with 40 people returned and gave a break in Samona now located in Greece. 40 soldiers wrestled there. In hour- long wrestling, two brothers whose names are related as Ali and Selim couldn’t defeat each other.

According to rumor, then in Hıdrellez day (one of the seasonal holidays celebrated in Turkish world), the same pair wrestled again in Ahıköy meadow near Edirne. Brother wrestlers who couldn’t even defeat each other despite wrestling a whole day, continued to wrestle during the night in the light of candles and lanterns. But they died out of breath. Their friends buried them under a fig tree in the same place and left there. Years later, when they went to the same place, they saw a spring on the land where the two wrestler’s graves are located. After that, in memory of them, people gave in that region the name of Kırkpınar. The Historical Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling Festival and Entertainment last 7 days usually in the end of June and at the beginning of July. In the first 4 days, the opening ceremony, local and foreign folk dance performances, the Karagöz shows, variety shows, circumcision ceremonies, social and cultural activities such as beauty-dining-archery, skeet competitions, in the last 3 days, oil wrestling competitions and shows are pleasantly and colorfully celebrated.

In order to make hard to grasp, wrestlers are oiled around the boilers filled with oil and water in a suitable place. Wrestlers pour oil firstly left shoulder, chest, arms and wrestler’s tights with right hand and then do the same process with the left hand. Wrestlers can get oil and water from the man who holds the pitcher and gets around the meadow, whenever they wish after the start of wrestling. Historical Kırkpınar Gold Belt is the biggest reward given to the wrestling champion.

The wrestling champion in Kırkpınar becomes the owner of the gold belt for a period of 1 year. However, the wrestler who is the wrestling champion for three consecutive years becomes the owner of the gold belt.

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