The Origins of Zeybek Culture | Recep Meriç (Yaşar University, Department of Tourism Management, İzmir)

Noted for its elegant clothing, music and dances, true origin of the Zeybek culture that has flourished in Western Anatolia is yet to be discovered. History of the Zeybeks, coincide with the popular Western Anatolian cult of Dionysus, centered on the Dionysus Temple in the Seferihisar province. Zeybeks have settled in the mountains and symbolized the independent and insubordinate character of the region. Their valuable aid during the Turkish War of Independence has given them a highly respected reputation in the society. Pyrrhic war dance has been performed armed/unarmed since the time of Plato, with the purpose of training and exercising young men and soldiers. Anatolian dancers are especially skilled at this dance, which has been frequently performed as part of Dionysiac ceremonies. This ancient origin of the Zeybek culture has continued all the way into the late Ottoman Era in the rural mountains, blended over time with Kalenderi, Bektaşi and etc. elements. Sarhoş Zeybeği (The Drunken Zeybek) that is still very popular in the region and Bengi Zeybeği that is related to the ancient Dionysus tradition and both are the continuation of the Pyrrhic war dance.

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