Camel Wrestling: A Fethiye Fashion Show

Continuing from our previous post about eating camel sausage at the 2nd Karaçulha Camel Wrestling event, today’s post will carry on the theme of camel appreciation – but we’ll be concentrating on the aesthetics rather than the flavours.

In the UK, we used to live near a major race course that hosted many horse racing meets throughout the winter months. My birthday falls around the time of one of the scheduled meets so we would go along as part of my birthday celebrations.

We loved going to the paddock to watch the horses parading and would try to guess which groomer would be awarded the prize for ‘best turned out horse’. Of course, we were also trying to decide which horse looked capable of winning the next race so we weren’t returning home with empty pockets!

Because we had a Turkish friend with us at yesterday’s camel wrestling event, it meant we also had a translator – and so we found ourselves witnessing the parade of what we were told were the four winners of the ‘best turned out camel’ awards. In no particular order, here are the four winners:

Number 1: Suslu

Camel Wrestling, Turkey

Suslu was in 3rd place for us

Suslu was standing proud and sporting a costume based around the primary colours of red and yellow. He was certainly a beauty – all the male camels in these events are fascinating creatures – but he wasn’t our favourite.

Number 2: Name Unknown

Turkish Camel Wrestling

This camel didn’t have a good fashion designeri For us, he was 4th

Decorated this immense young man may be, but we were all agreed that his outfit wasn’t quite cutting it for us. A handsome young man such as this doesn’t need to be parading around in a red, silky headscarf.

He is however displaying many nods to the Turkish flag. Maybe this helped in his ascent to the winners’ podium.

Number 3: Okulu

Traditional Camel Wrestling, Turkey

Okulu was our second-placed camel

Again, sporting the primary colours of red and yellow, Okulu cut a fine figure of a bull camel as he paraded the ring. Okulu was perhaps our second favourite of the four winners. The flowing silk scarves and the beaded saddle covers did it for us.

Number 4: Osman Ağa

Camel Wrestling In Fethiye

Osman Ağa was our champion

What a beautiful bull camel you were Osman Ağa as you strutted your stuff around the parading ground. Barry and I were both agreed – immediately – that the handsome Osman Ağa was the hands down winner of the ‘best turned out camel’ award for us. He stood out straight away for us in his vibrant blue silks and beaded saddle.

The Karaçulha region is populated by a high percentage of former yörük (nomads) and, in the past, winters would be spent in the warmer climate of sea-level Fethiye and Karaçulha whilst the hot summer months would see an exodus of yörük and their livestock to the yayla (higher, cooler, more lush and fertile countryside).

Our friend explained to us that the move up to the yayla wasn’t done without ceremony and the camels would be dressed up with colourful scarves and other regalia as they all set off towards the hills.

This was only a generation ago and sadly, this isn’t seen anymore, so events like this are a reminder of Turkey’s yörük tradition. Having said that, these camels, as in the horse racing world, are generally owned by wealthy business men – and the costumes they were wearing yesterday cost thousands of lira; not quite ‘padding-up-to-the-yayla’ outfits…but a fine spectacle all the same.

All four of these camels were yesterday’s winners but we had our favourite in Osman Ağa. Which is your favourite? 

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  1. my favorite is osman aga too. he really rocked that costume!

  2. This is good to see this tradition being carried on- it is sad when traditions go by the way side and then time rolls on and people don’t even remember them happening- at least this keeps them alive.

    I did like the fourth camel and the scarves and decorations the best- plus this particular camel seems to stand straight up and tall- as if he knows he is magnificent.

  3. What handsome creatures!! What a neat experience.

  4. @ Jaz: Glad you agree. 🙂

    @ Anjuli: There seems to be a bit of ‘fighting back’ at the moment in these areas. People are taking pride in what was nearly gone. Hope it continues.

    @ Belinda: Very handsome creatures and a great experience. 🙂

  5. what a great idea for a post ‘Camel Haute Couture’ – loved this – wonderful photos too!

  6. Very interesting article, as always 🙂 I like your blog.

  7. Wow! You weren’t kidding about the fashion show. LOved it !

  8. Can’t choose, I love camels and these look so sweet 😀

  9. @ Alan: Thanks. we loved the ‘beauty contest’ bit but we were a bit disappointed to find out these 4 sinners were already decided. We were ready for the big vote-off! 🙂

    @ Muza-chan: Thanks very much. We love your photos!

    @ Ryukyu Mike: Some pretty hot stuff going on there isn’t there?! 😉

    @ Angela: We love camels too. Very sweet looking. Hope you didn’t see our previous post… 😉

  10. Very elaborate costumes they are wearing here!

  11. @ Nomadic Samuel: Amazing aren’t they? And worth a fortune, some of them.

  12. Never thought I would hear “camel” and “fashion show” in the same sentence, wow. I like the last one the best too, it looked like he was really owning his look!

  13. @ Laurel: I know, all very odd isn’t it? Figured it was worth a blog post just for that. Loved the blue colours on the last guy. 😉

  14. Osman Ağa for sure. Must be all that blue, I think. Camels look better in blue 😉

  15. @ Sophie: Yeah, we are very much in agreement there. 😉 These are big bull camels. Blue all the way!

  16. Yes, Osman Ağa seemed to be very well turned out, but I think Okulu is my favorite. You’re so lucky to experience so many unusual and wonderful events in Turkey.

  17. @ Cathy Sweeney: Yes, Okulu was a close second for us. We get lots of interesting events here and the main thing is that we make sure we make the most of them. 🙂

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