Music and Instruments
Music is in integral aspect of life in Şanlıurfa, and is performed at all important social occasions including weddingsbridal henna parties and funerals. Musicians perform works appropriate for the occasion, including songs, folk songs, ‘hoyrat’ and ghazals. At funeral services and sufi ceremonies, hymns, ‘çifte’, ‘hoyrat’ and ghazals are performed. Popular instruments in the region include cura, bağlama, çöğüş, divan sazı, ud, cümbüş, Urfa tanburu, kanun, kaval, zurna, davul and darbuka, as well as tambourines and violins.
‘Sıra Gece’ are important occasions in Şanlıurfa’s musical and social life. Generally held at night, these meetings provide an opportunity for men to get together and discuss issues and solve problems in the community. Arguments are resolved, young men learn about community life, and ideas are shared and discussed. Attended only by men, the events provide a platform for social solidarity and cooperation. Local traditions are nurtured and developed. Musical performances play an important role in the meetings. Many of Turkey’s famous performers are grounded in the ‘sıra gece’ tradition.
A folk dance known as ‘kımıl’ is widely performed in the villages of Şanlıurfa. ‘Kımıl’, also known as ‘süne’ (aelia rostrata), is a kind of pest that attacks crops and is the bane of Şanlıurfa farmers’ lives. The ‘kımıl’ folk dance depicts the farmers’ battle against the pest. The dance is performed by men and women together, either in a semicircle or a circle.
Like all Şanlıurfa handcrafts, copper making has a long history in the region. Şanlıurfa copper is worked using a technique known as ‘dövme çekiç’. Today, the craft is kept alive by ten master coppersmiths and thirty businesses in the city.
Felt is made from the wool of 3-4 month old lambs. The wool is first laid out on cotton cloths. The wool is periodically sprinkled with water, and then hung on a wooden pole. The felt maker pounds the felt with his chest for some five hours to bind it together. The warped edges are straightened and the felt takes its final shape.
Kazazlık is a type of silk embroidery. The ancient craft is in danger of disappearing, as only a handful of ‘kazaz’ craftsmen remain.
‘Aba’ is a traditional fabric woven on looms in Şanlıurfa. The fabric is made from camelhair and used to make heavy overcoats that are worn both by men and women.
Traditionally, the women of Şanlıurfa wear an outfit known as a ‘şale’ while men wear an ‘aba’. Both men and women wear a thin, lavender silk headscarf known locally as a ‘Yamşah’. A ‘Puşu’ is a scarf worn only by men, either on their heads or wrapped around their waists.
Gold and silver accessories are known as ‘hışır’ in Şanlıurfa, and include chokers, necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, pins and belts. The style of women’s jewelry varies depending on the region where it is made; ‘hışır’ made in Şanlıurfa is very different from those made in
Siverek-Suruç-Bozova- Hilvan or Harran. A ‘hızma’ is a kind of traditional nose ring made from silver or gold and mainly worn in rural areas.
Tattooing is an ancient tradition in Şanlıurfa that dates back thousands of years, and is particularly common in Harran and Suruç. Thought to bring good luck, tattooing is commonly done at a young age, usually on the hands, feet and face. Natural dyes are inserted under the skin using sharp pins. The practice is slowly being abandoned due to concerns about health and hygiene.
Urfa Furs are unique to this part of the country. Only a small proportion of the furs is sold locally. The vast majority is exported to desert climes including Arabia, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Qatar and Kuwait.
The main ingredient used in Şanlıurfa cooking is cracked bulgur wheat. The cuisine is largely meat based, and features a variety of meatballs, vegetable and meat dishes, kebaps served with greens and ‘ayran’, as well as a range of rice dishes. ‘İsot’ (a red pepper preserve) and ‘nar ekşisi’ (pomegranate concentrate) are two characteristic flavorings used in Şanlıurfa fare.
A wide variety of hot dishes are prepared in Şanlıurfa. These include Bamya aşı, isot dolması, isot çömleği, söğürme, karnıyarık, marul dolması, kabak oturtması, sarımsak aşı, soğan aşı, frenk tavası, çağla aşı, bakla aşı, hıttı pastırması, soğan tavası, bütün patlıcan, kaburga, erik tavası, kenger aşı, boranı, meyhane pilavı, duvaklı pilav, firikli pilav, ciğerli bulgur pilavı and mığrıbi pilavı.
Eggplant kebap is one of Şanlıurfa’s most famous kebap varieties. Finely chopped meat is mixed with tomato paste, crushed red pepper and salt, and gently kneaded. Specially selected eggplants are cut into three or four chunks. The meatballs are placed on skewers, and pressed flat. The meatballs are interspersed with chunks of eggplant and pepper. The skewers are then placed over the glowing embers of a charcoal fire to cook slowly. Other local kebap varieties include tomato kebap, haşhaş kebap, onion kebap, kemeli kebap, tike kebap and liver kebap.
Desserts play an important role in Şanlıurfa cuisine. Regional desserts are served at ‘sıra gece’ and other social occasions. Şanlıurfa is deservedly famous for its meatballs, kebaps, hot dishes and desserts - particularly ‘şıllık’. Other popular regional desserts include katmer, kadayıf, baklava, küncülü akıt and şire.
This concentrate made from pomegranates is used as a dressing on salads served with regional kebaps and meatballs.
İsot is a crucial ingredient in making ‘çiğ köfte’. Made from red pepper, isot is widely used in the region. Red pepper is used in many forms in Şanlıurfa, either fresh, as a paste, or dried. The locals clean, dry and crush the red pepper themselves.
Şanlıurfa is renowned for its ‘çiğ köfte’. Like so many things in the city, the story of how ‘çiğ köfte’ was first made is associated with the legend of Abraham. The story goes like this: a hunter shoots a gazelle and brings it home to his wife to prepare it. However, all the wood in the city has been used to build the pyre on which King Nimrod has sentenced Abraham to burn, and the people have been forbidden to light fires. Unable to cook the meat, the hunter’s wife trims the meat and presses it flat between two slabs of stone. Next, she mixes the pressed meat with bulgur wheat, peppers and some greens, making the first ever ‘çiğ köfte’, which means ‘raw meatballs’. The flavor and appearance of ‘çiğ köfte’ changes according to the quality of meat and type of bulgur used. The main ingredients are bulgur, pounded lean meat, dry ‘isot’, onions, parsley and a variety of spices. Other meatballs made in Şanlıurfa include mercimekli köfte, dolmalı köfte, tiritli köfte, yuvarlak köfte and yağlı köfte.
The word ‘mırra’ is derived from the Arabic ‘murr’, meaning bitter. To make bitter ‘mırra’ coffee, the coffee is first roasted and then coarsely ground. The ground coffee is boiled and strained into a clean coffeepot and allowed to settle. This coffee is then strained again. A plant known as ‘hel’ is added to the mırra, which is boiled again. The mırra is now ready to be served. Mırra is served hot in cups without handles. A serving consists of one or two sips.