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The Source:

NTV TARIH Magazine - issue 9 - 2009

It was my friend Fatih Danaci, living in Istanbul, who kindly sent me an interesting article that has been published in the NTV TARIH magazine - a popular history magazine. As my knowledge of the Turkish language is extremely limited - I am glad and reliefed to report that Fatih was kind enough to translate things for me.

The Case:

Apparently the story was reported in an official letter, sent by the district head of Doyran to his superiors. In two villages, Kösklü and Savcili, graves had been opened by the local people and the corpses cremated. It would appear that 40 days after the death of Ali Onbasi and Hanim Ali, a so-called "cadi" was giving the villagers a hard time. A girl, Fatma, had noticed that something invisible put sand in the milk and played other tricks. This continued for quite a few days. The two dead men were suspected of being behind all this. So their graves were opened and their corpses burnt.

The district head adds that such actions are quite unacceptable, against the law, and that they should be punished.

The Date:

According to the article the letter reporting these facts was written on June 16, 1904. Which is something that we may want to keep in the back of our minds.

The Places:

So let us have a look at the locations. It was not hard to find places called Doyran. There is one which is situated somewhere alongside the shore of the Black Sea. I did also find a place called Kösklü that is situated East of Trabzon and close to Rize. I did find a place called Savcili, somewhere between Izmir and Denizli. They are all very far apart and it seems rather unlikely that they can be the right locations. Apart from that there is the fact that we are much more likely to find vampire traditions on our side of the Bosporus.

There is another place called Doyran which is situated in the European part of Turkey, very close to the Greek border. It was easy to find but I could not find the two villages. Then I thought of the date: 1904. Now it so happens that in 1913 the Greek army invaded this area and burnt down and completely destroyed no less than 11 villages. And that - my friends - was in the Doyran district only. Many many, way too many places in other regions were completely destroyed in a similar manner. The people who lived in this area were mainly Bulgarians. According to eye-witnesses (some of them Greek soldiers) all the men were systematically killed. And not a single house was left standing. This may well explain why it is hard to find back villages like Kösklü and Savcili on a modern map.

The fact that the locals (and their superstitions) were Bulgarians seems to fit in well with the alleged misbehavour of the so-called "vampires". The 40 day period also fits in with their superstitions and traditions. If I want to be sure, I guess I will have to find myself a more detailed map of the area from around 1900.

Personal Comments:

I have often read statements that there is no such thing as a vampire within Turkish folklore, and that you can only find such superstitions in the Balkan territories that were once occupied by Turkey. And once again we find that this may well be true. The Turkish district head possibly used the word "cadi" (witch) because his superiors might have been unaware of the vampire superstitions in his district.

Possible Follow-Up:

Obviously you must try to get hold of a copy of the relevant issue of NTV TARIH Magazine. Thanks to Fatih we know that it is issue no. 9. As always, the magazine does contain further information, if you manage to find it. Hey, it should not be too hard. It seems to be the current edition and - good news for you - NTV TARIH has its own site on the internet ! The original letter of the district head of Doyran would of course be even more interesting. And although I am personally quite happpy to accept the Doyran at the Greek border as our location, we will still have to make sure that this is indeed the right place.

2009 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed 19 November 2009
Cover Picture NTV TARIH 2009

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