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Dionysiac and Pyrrhic Roots and Survivals in the Zeybek Dance, Music, Costume and Rituals in the Aegean Turkey

Recep Meriç

Abstract


Historical and topographical research has clearly shown that both Dionysiac-Pyrrhic and Zeybek dances and music developed in the same region, namely Aegean Turkey. This is not a coincidence, but it reflects the survival of an age-old Anatolian Dionysiac/Pyrrhic tradition throughout the centuries to the present day, and remains alive in the form of Zeybek and Bengi folklore. A process of amalgamation-syncretisation united had been able to unite the ancient local Dionysiac traditions with the customs and beliefs of a Turkish Heterodox Islamic Qalandaria Order in order to give birth to a new Anatolian synthesis which has Islamic, ethnic and patriotic features.

In the Zeybek tradition the costumes, accessories, head dresses, hairstyle, everything related to design, reflects a strongly hierarchic order. The life of Zeybeks was much related to mountains, rebellion, heroism, initiation rituals, music and dance. Apparently, the reason for its persistence was not only the mere maintenance of traditional or habitual behaviour or national pride. Simply put, the cult of Dionysos and the Pyrrhic war dance traditions of Western Anatolia provided the basis for a new synthesis of different cultures, for example by adding into it the legends of St. George, the Qalandaria and Khizr. Zeybeks won an accepted place in society after their great role in the Liberation War of 1922 and are recognized as a heroic folkloric group with a special dance, music and costumes.

 


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