WWW.SHROUDEATER.COM - The Vampires of Tirnova - BULGARIA
Murat Bardakci :
"Hortlayan yeniceri soylentisi Istanbul'u birbirine katmisti"
My friend Fatih Danaci, who lives in Istanbul, most kindly sent me copy of this article that was published in a Turkish newspaper and - as my knowledge of the Turkish language is extremely limited - I am glad and reliefed to report that Fatih was also kind enough to translate things for me.
Murat Bardakci, the journalist who wrote the article, tells us that in Turkish folklore there exists no proper vampire. However, there are the Karakoncolos, the Gulyabani and the Carsambakarisi, who appear to be nocturnal creatures behaving like vampires. This may be interesting to keep in the back of our mind. However, the case (if it is a case) appears to have taken place in Bulgaria. And although Bulgaria was Turkish territory at the time, people in Bulgaria had their own superstitions.
This then, more or less is the story:
The corpses (who are refered to as witches) were rising from their graves after sunset. Just like some of the vampires that we know from Romania, they would spoil the food, mess up people's belongings and - remaining invisible - throw dirt and stones at people. They knocked people down and sat on them. Some of the people were so scared that they decided to leave the town.
An exorcist called Nikola was called to the rescue and was offered the price of 800 Kurus to do his job. Apparently he used a stick with a picture (possibly a Saint ?) on it to locate the troublesome graves. He found two of them. Both graves contained the bodies of soldiers that had been Yeniceri (better known in our part of the world as Yanitsaries or Janitsaries). The graves were opened and the corpses looked inflated, with hair and nails that had grown. Nikola decided that a stake should be driven through the stomach, the heart should be cut out and boiled. And then - for good measure and just to make sure - the bodies would have to be cremated.
According to the article the letter, written by Ahmet Sukru Effendi, was sent in 1833 from Tirnova to Istanbul, where it was published in the 68th issue of the Takvim-i Veka, an official Government newspaper.
Tirnova (also known as Veliko Turnova , Tarnova) is an interesting town in Bulgaria, that I must have visited a couple of times.
The Yanitsaries or Janitsaries used to be some kind of military force. Its members were recruited on an involuntary basis among the people that lived in the territories occupied by Turkey. It seems that by the time of this story they had become something of an unstable factor within the Turkish empire. Which is why the Sultan decided to put an end to these special forces.
Murat Bardakci claims that this story was published for political purposes. Sultan Mahmud II had ended the existence of the Yeniceri Ocagi. According to Murat Bardakci the Sultan must have read the article and used it to further discredit the Yeniceri Ocagi. He ordered that their gravestones had to be removed.
Obviously this needs further looking into. Who indeed was Mahmud II, and what kind of problem did he have with the Yeniceri Ocagi ?
And of course I want to say thanks very much to Fatih for bringing this remarkable case to our attention and for all his further help.
You could start by finding yourself a copy of the newspaper article by Murat Bardakci. Of course Ahmet Sukru Effendi's letter as published in the Government Newspaper would be of even greater interest. Not to mention the letter itself. Fancy a trip to Turkey anyone ?
© 2009 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed December 2014 - Photo "Rob B. in Tirnova" © 1990 by Rob Brautigam