Sunday, April 4, 2010

Camel Wrestling

We headed off into the hills around the downtown area to peruse the Archaeology and Ethnography museums, conveniently located next to each other. There you could see some beautiful jewelry and sculptures throughout the history of Turkey, included when they were ruled by both the Greeks and the Romans. The Ethnography museum had a lot of artifacts that included local arts and crafts and shared more of the customs of the Turkish people, though, admittedly, they were influenced by the various groups of people who ruled the area over time. One thing has lived on and is practiced even today - camel wrestling.
I have to admit, when I saw that, along with the picture of the two camels going at it, I pictured something akin to a bloody bullfight or cockfight - and I really wasn't too interested in it. However, I did look it up and discovered it wasn't at all what it looked like. goes. 
It starts out with men walking through various villages with their huge male camels, complete with elaborate saddles, more or less bragging that their camel can beat up your camel any day. Well, of course, there's always some other camel owner who disagrees, so a match is planned, along with lots of publicity so that people who want to can come see big huge camels grunt and groan while they wrestle each other to the ground. (I won't mention that there's also lots of betting on these wrestling matches.)
Now...the camels have to be enticed to fight each other. Turns out that in nature, it's common for camels to head butt each other and push one another around to be head honcho of the pack and to, of course, have exclusive mating rights. Knowing that, the camel owners parade a cute young cow in front of the two males to get them all excited. You can tell when they're excited because white foam and saliva starts coming out of their nostrils and mouth (hmmm...saw lots of that when they were running too....naah). They then proceed to push and shove each other around. Sometimes they'll even get a leg around their opponents leg and then use their weight to topple them over. They keep this up until one of them finally turns and runs away. This is where the excitement starts...usually the bull turns and runs...right toward the crowd. The crowd, realizing that this one ton camel is heading right towards them, with a second one in pursuit, begins to scatter. The antics of the crowd trying to get out of their way is described as the most exciting part of the whole thing. 

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