Oktay Mutlu, ZEYBEK
The Anatolia, which is modern Turkey today, has a diversity of culture. The elements such as folk dances, music, cuisine, geography, history and different backgrounds and point of views toward life constitute this great diversity. The folk dances can be regarded as one of the most dominant causes of the diversity and basically each dance has a different significance and history. The “Zeybek” is the most well known folk dance peculiar to Western Anatolia. It has lots of kinds like Harmandali, Kordon, Yoruk Ali. All the same, all of them have a common characteristic form though the positioning of the arms and body may differ according to the regions, cities of Western Anatolia, which is called Aegean Region. The dance is named after ‘Zeybeks’. To understand the characteristics of the dance and dancers, it would be a right step to provide information on the key terms ‘Zeybek’, ‘Efe’, ‘Kizan’ and their history. After supplying the necessary background information, I will try to focus on the types of the dances in a more detailed way and show how the dance and the performers are the parts of Turkish culture and history in a respectable way.
When you say ‘Aegean’, the first thing which comes to one’s mind is Zeybek, which means somebody who is brave, adventuresome, ally of the wronged and enemy of injustice and wrongdoings. In Divani Lugati Turk, one of the oldest and best Turkish language dictionary, it is stated that “bek” comes from “bekneg” meaning durable, healthy, reliable and “zey” means almost the same. Accordingly, “Zeybek” has such a strong and positive, respectable meaning. Actually it is the name given to the citizens, mostly rural citizens of Izmir, Aydin, Mugla, Manisa. As for Efe, although some authorities assert that the word comes from the Greek word Efendi, they are totally different word. Efendi means ‘Sir’ and Efe means brave and chivalrous young carrying armors and it derives from ‘Efeb’. In the past Zeybeks and Efes, who are the performers of Zeybek Dance, were independent security officers on the highlands of Western Anotolia and also they used to perform their typical dance in public. That is to say, Zeybeks and Efes used to protect the public and provide them with cultural events by performing their shows. Efe used to be the head of the Zeybeks and be chosen among the wisest an most brave Zeybeks. And Kizan can be defined as the junior Zeybek disciplined and educated by the Zeybeks, namely Kizans are the Zeybeks of future. Among the most famous Efes and Zeybeks, people still remember Cakici Mehmet Efe, Yoruk Ali Efe, Gokcen Efe, Sari Zeybek, Kamali Zeybek, Pepe Efe, Killioglu Huseyin Efe, Demirci Mehmet Efe.
Having been closer to the key terms, it is time to give some brief historical data about them. The roots of Zeybeks dates back to the end of 16th century and 17th century, Celali Uprisings. Due to the weakness of the state control and their poor government of society, we see some people whom we know as Zeybeks revolted against the central authority during those times. Later on we come across the reconciliation between two sides and even Zeybeks fought alongside of the established army against Russia during the 1877-1878 Ottoman – Russian War. Lastly we see them in the Turkish Independence War defending the country and doing everything that they could do regardless of losing their life for sovereignty.
After the concepts Zeybek, Efe, Kizan and their backgrounds, it is the folk dance Zeybek’s turn. It is a dance performed by Efes and Zeybeks in Aegean Region of Turkey. It can be performed either by men or women. The dance for women is called “Kadin Zeybek” and the one for men is called “Erkek Zeybek”. The most distinguishing characteristic of Zeybek is that contrary to the all other folk dances in Turkey, it can be performed by a single dancer in a free style as well, however mostly the dance is in a circle with a group of dancers and they have some traditional dancing costumes (see the photos). As for the melodies, they can be divided into two categories: ‘Agir’ (Slow) and ‘Kivrak’ (Fast). Next, the Zeybek of Harmandali, the Zeybek of Abdal, the Zeybek of Saraykoy, the Zeybek of Serenler, the Zeybek of Tavas, the Zeybek of Aydin, the Zeybek of Kordon, the Zeybek of Bergama, the Zeybek of Kerimoglu, the Zeybek of Avsar, the Zeybek of Avsar, the Zeybek of Geyve, the Zeybek of Eyyubum, the Zeybek of Izmir Sgukkuyu, the Zeybek of Daglar, the Zeybek of Odemis, the Zeybek of Serenler, the Zeybek of Sabah Namazi, the Zeybek of Kirkagac, the Zeybek of Silifke, the Zeybek of Arpazli, the Zeybek of Gundogdu, the Zeybek of Goynuk, the Zeybek of Sepetci Oglu, the Zeybek of Cay, the Zeybek of Tekeler, the Zeybek of Bozdogan, the Zeybek of Yoruk Ali, the Zeybek of Ferahi, the Zeybek of Marmaris are the all kinds of Zeybek Dance. And Harmandali is probably the most well known one among them and here is the lyrics of its melody :
Harmandali Efem geliyor, (geliyor)
Bileginden kanlar akiyor, (kanlar akiyor)
Gumus bilezikli mavzerin, (bilezikli mavzerin)
Namlusu simsek cakiyor, ( simsek cakiyor)
Efeme de mor cepkenler yarasir, (yarasir)
Efem ne giyerse yakisir, (yakisir)
Butun kizanlarin onunde, (kizanlarin onunde)
Elinde yatagan savasir
As a conclusion, it is quite easy to say Zeybek Dance is one of the most noted folk dances in Turkey and associated with Western Anatolia. The dance, the different types, the dancers, Efes and Zeybeks are all have crucial role in the history and culture of Turkish nation as I have tried to convey the required information concerning the key terms and their history and eventually the dance itself. Despite the fact that we do not have contemporary Efes and Zeybeks as security officers, the performers are still called with their usual titles and still have a respectable place in society, being seen as the ancestors of the Efes and Zeybeks in the history.