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Wrestlers Tekke In Edirne

It is the second  Tekke (Islamic Monastry) established by Ottomans. Sultan Murat I. Veteran (1359-1389) opened this tekke in Kaleiçi so that the wrestlers could be grown and they could work out while setting mosques, religious schools, hospices, caravanseris, kiosk here after the goverment center is in Edirne (1363). The first sheik of the islamic monastry is Sheik Cemaleddin. Before the death of Sheik Cemaleddin, he donated all the goods to this tekke. He was buried in the garden of this tekke as in other religious sects after his death.

On the way from Sofia to Istanbul in July 1653, Evliya Celebi explains full details of this tekke :

Tekke (The Islamic Monastry) of Wrestler: This big Islamic Monastry’s name is Sultan Seyyid Cemaleddin Islamic Monastry. After the conquest of Edirne, Veterans Hüdavendigar raised this building because of exaltation of Islam. It has realy given color and beauty to valiants of Islam.

 Brave Rumeli youth begin to wrestle in this field by being  oiled and  shaking hands with each other like their ancestor, Zaloğlu Rüstem after kissing the hand of Sheik and praying for Hz. Muhammed. The audience is out of breath and stumped while watching them. Their sage (Pir), Mahmut Pir Yar Veli feels a glow of satisfaction and they make envious the valiants of Islam.

The wrestling place of this Islamic monastry is a kind of area unprecented and oiled. The person who are not accustomed to and resourceful can fall down suddenly. The bold and brave men of this field can wrestle during  two or three hours although they are bare food. They take revenge by defeating their opponents with the wrestling games such as Künde Atma, Şirazi, Asmanişin, Sarma, Kesme, Kavak Dikme, Taşlama, Cezayir Sarması and Kapan-atma. Being strong is bravery for wrestlers but being playful is more important. Our ancestors says that if manliness is ten, nine of that is trick and game. To know wrestling and swordsmanship is necessary for people to go to the war. Wrestling is one of the things our prophet, Hz. Muhammed liked.

Hundred pair of wrestler dervishes work out for Pir Yar Veli in Edirne Islamic Monastry of Wrestler.

This Islamic monastry is not made of stone but it is well-groomed. It has plenty of rooms, a place to cook and a garden on the edge of the river Meriç (Evros). There are the springs made of iron, different kinds of arrows, 50-60 pound oiled clothings (Kispet) made form buffalo leather and lots of training tools such as zerbeste and matrak. This Islamic monastry of wrestler is located next to Ali Paşa Bazaar and inside of the door of Balık (Fish) Bazaar.

Evliya Celebi gives this information when telling the entombed Saints in Edirne :

“.. There is the tomb of Hz. Sheikh Seyyid Cemaleddin, devoted to God, Hz. Pir Yar Veli and Ali in Islamic Monastry of Wrestlers. There is also the tomb of one of the most important wrestler, Er Sultan who defeated seventy-famous wrestler of Uzun Hasan, Azerbaijan Sultan in the presence of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror. Er Sultan is the master of Wrestler DEMİR who fighted with four yezidi lion and broke into pieces in the presence of Yavuz Sultan Selim.”

The following results come out in the light of this information Evliya Celebi gave :

1-Edirne Islamıc Monastry of Wrestler is commemorated as Sheikh Cemalleddin Islamic Monastry.

2-Sheikh Cemaleddin is the supporter of Hz. Ali and Bektashi.

3-Wrestling Competitions are held on Friday.

4- Before the competition, every wrestler kisses the sheikh's hand and prays by putting their head together.

5-The sage (Pir) of the wrestlers is Mahmud Pir Yar Veli. His name is remembered in prayers.

6- 360 kind of game are implemented in oil wrestling.

7-200 wrestler stay in this Islamic Monastry in winter and summer and they get stronger by working out with training tools.

8-The clothings (Kispet) of dead and famous wrestlers of this Islamic Monastry, the tools that they used while working out and their arrows have  been exhibited as an example to young wrestlers.

 9- This Islamic monastry of wrestler is located next to Ali Paşa Bazaar and inside of the door of Balık (Fish) Bazaar.

10-There are the tombs of the first Sheikh Seyyid Cemaleddin-the founder of Islamıc monastry and forgiving the foundation-, Merd-i Şiran-one of the famous wrestlers and Er Sultan-the master of Wrestler Demir whose name was given to the Islamic Monastry of Wrestlers in İstanbul.

Rakım Ertür from Edirne (B.1883-D.30.12.1962) gives information about this Islamic monastry in his article entitled “Old Kırkpınar” :

“There is a detailed information on the names of archers and javelin throwers working on this Islamic Monastry, how they are grown and in what conditions they work in the history of Edirne. Today, there are only the land and little cemetery of the Islamic Monastry in Edirne. The Sheikh of Islamic Monasrty of Wrestlers, Seyyid Cemaleddin is buried in this cemetery.”

Grave stone inscription is as follows[2] :

     Huvel – bâkî

    Kutbü’z-zeman güreşçiler duâcısı dimekle marûf

   Pehlivan Cemâleddin ruhiçün

   Fâtiha (H:1200-M:1786)

It is understood from the date of the Hijra that this Islamic Monasty was active 180 years ago. Islamic monastries are also important among the formations and establisments that are useful for humanity, civilization and science in Ottoman history. For example, the Tekke (Islamic Monastry) of Miskinler in ancient history is a hospital established for the treatment of leproy. There are a doctor, sheikh, trustee and janitor in this hospital. In addition to this, there is an Islamic Monastry at Okmeydanı in İstanbul. Some of them are like Charities in these times. Sheikhs are the heads of these institutions. Islamic Monastry of Wrestlers in Edirne is one of them. According to current conceptions, Beadsman, Sheikh Cemaleddin is the head and manager of this establishment.[3]

In 1982, Mr. M. Atıf Kahraman has been written in his book which consists of two volumes and named “Turkish Wrestling until Republic”: “ I have made a research in the cemetery, located at number 5 Tower Gate Street of Yahsi Fakih Quarter. I couldn’t see the tombs of Sheikh Seyyid Cemaleddin- the first founder of Islamic Monastry (tekke), wrestler Merd-i Şiran and Er Sultan as reported by Evliya Celebi.

The tombs that still located on this cemetery:

1-      Mr. Ali, dead at (H.1060-M.1650)

2-      Right behind the tomb of Mr. Ali and at the corner of the road, Wrestler Cemaleddin, dead at (H1200-M.1786)

3-      In third, the tomb of Adalı Halil Wrestler, transplanted here because of flooding while formerly buried in Kasım Pasha Mosque cemetery on the edge of Meric River.

4-      There is the tomb of Mehmet Aga and Dervish Süleyman Aga, one of the janissary Agas, behind them and in a place near the roadside.

5-      The Islamic Monastry in Kaleiçi is not mentioned while giving information about Islamic monastries in Edirne Yearbook for 1306 (1888).

6-      Wrestler Cemaleddin Dervish Lodge from Naqshbandi Tariqa in Bayırbası.

              Ahmet Badi Efendi says in his book named “Riyaz-ı Belde-i Edirne” with the title of “Küştigiran Islamic Monastry” that wrestler Cemaleddin Naqshbandi Lodge is wooden. This logde is “wrestler Cemaleddin Islamic monastry”.     

              Bayırbası and Fishbazaar Gate of Kaleiçi are different places. Islamic Monastry of Wrestlers in in Kaleiçi. Naqshbandi Lodge is in Bayırbası. Therefore, we really suspect whether the cemetery visited before Kırkpınar Wrestling is the place of Islamic Monastry of Wrestlers or not.”


[1]Kahraman Atıf (1989) Cumhuriyete kadar Türk güreşi(Turkish Wrestling Until Republic) volume:2, Ankara:The Ministry of Culture and Tourism Publications, p.9-14

[2]Kahraman Atıf (1989) Cumhuriyete kadar Türk güreşi(Turkish Wrestling Until Republic) volume:2, Ankara:The Ministry of Culture and Tourism Publications, p.13

[3] Hafız Rakım Ertür, Edirne- Edirne’nin 600. Fethi Yıldönümü Armağan Kitabı(The gift Book for 600. Anniversary of Conquest of Edirne)-Ankara:1993, Turkish Historical Society, p.297-302

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