Tales of Famagusta

During World War II, the countries that were under control of the UK were experiencing famine, including the Walled City of Famagusta.<br> Famagusta residents, trapped within the City Walls, started eating crows to survive. From that day on, Famagusta residents came to be known as `Garga` (means `crow` in the Turkish Cypriot pronunciation). They take pride in their nickname.<br> Old people say that Ahmet the Cook, who lived in Famagusta, used to cook `garga` and serve them to his customers in his cafe.
In the Walledcity, flywheels with sharp knives are installed to prevent Ottoman army from entering into the castle. With the Ottomans unable to enter the castle, Canbulat Pasha attempts to stop the flywheel on his horse, to pave the way for the Ottoman army. On his white horse, he enters through the flywheel and fights tooth and nail. As legend has it, Canbulat Pasha’s head is cut off by the flywheel, but he doesn’t give up, taking his own head under his arm and riding his horse headless, forgint he way with his sword. The sight of Canbulat encourages the Ottoman soldiers to continue fighting and eventually capture the castle.<br />
Source:Canbulat Museum's Brochure
In 1954 I started working for the Antiquities Department during the British Period. Our first Director was an English man, Mr. Meadow. Then, I worked with two Greek Cypriots, Mr. Digio and Mr. Karayorgi. Mr. Mogabgab, a Lebanese-origin Maronite, who was the archaeologist responsible for the Famagusta district. I was transferred to Famagusta upon completing 10 courses, expanding my knowledge and working in Bellapais, Kyrenia Castle and St. Hilarion Castle.<br /> <br /> Once I was transferred to Famagusta, I first worked at Famagusta Castle, then in, Salamis Antique City, King’s Tombs, St. Barnabas Monastery (Engomi region) and finally the Museum in Marash. <br /> <br /> I participated in the excavations that took place in King’s Tombs in Engomi as well as the Twin Churches in the Walled City of Famagusta. I have expanded my knowledge regarding Famagusta Mosque (also known as Nicholas Cathedral ) as well as other churches in the Walled City. Then I worked until my retirement (in 1989) at our office in Othello Castle. <br /> <br /> One day, an elderly Italian couple came to Cyprus and visited the Othello castle in 1965-66. They caught my attention as they were strolling through the information center getting some information about the Castle. They said that they were the descendants of Bragadino lineage. We saw that they had detailed information about Famagusta and Othello. <br /> The Italian couple told us that during the war the Venetian soldiers who died were buried in the area that starts from today’s Othello Gazino until Turk Gucu. They said that Bragadino and his higher rank officials commanded their army from the Venetian Palace that once stood up across the Namik Kemal Square. They then moved to Othello Castle, as it was a safer place to be once the war escalated and the Ottomans intensified their attacks on the city.<br /> <br /> Lusignan Kings and Venetian Lords used to live in wealth and luxury before the island was conquered by the Ottomans. Cyprus was the richest island of the Eastern Mediterranean at that time.<br /> <br /> Prostitution, wine, timber and copper turned the island into a very attractive spot. At that time, Famagusta was the most famous, liveliest and richest coastal city of Cyprus. Famagusta`s population was 6,000 where as that of Nicosia and Paphos were slightly over 1,000 each and that of Kyrenia and Limassol were less than 1,000 each. Famagusta was known for its slave market, animal and grain markets, dyer's shop, tannery, taverns.<br /> <br /> Here are some more figures that demonstrate the wealth of Famagusta. In 1572, 323.250 silver coins was collected for the Ottoman Sultan and 60.000 silver coins was collected for the Flag Officer as tax. (Source: “Ottomans in Cyprus”, by Prof.Dr.M.Akif Erdogdu.)<br /> <br /> According to the Italian gentleman, when Bragadino and his commanders realized that they were going to lose the Castle (when they understood that no help would come from Venice or Austria) they hid the Venetian treasure, the war plans which was written on animal leather and his own sword somewhere in Othello Castle.<br /> <br /> During the Italian couple’s visit to the Othello Castle, they claimed that the treasure was most probably buried under the floor of the room from which the army was commanded during the war. This room was the first as soon as you turn left once you enter the main door with a lion relief on the top and it was 2 meter-high where the access to it was ensured with steps. In addition, the Italian gentleman claimed that the architect whose name was Mantinengo left his initials, MX, on a carved stone showing the place of the Venetian treasure. This is the only place that is higher than the ground floor.<br /> <br /> Again this Italian gentleman claimed that none of the Museums in Turkey or in Europe have any traces or records of Mark Antonio Bragadino’s treasure and sword decorated with precious stones.<br /> <br /> Later, the Italian gentleman told me “I will come back” and left. However, he never returned. Maybe because of his age… who knows.<br /> However the Italian couple’s story about the Walled City of Famagusta and Othello Castle remained as a secret to this day. <br />
Source:Ali Eşrefoğlu (Ali Antroner)- January 2010
The story of the murder of Arap Ali takes place in Famagusta. It is the sad story of brave a man who was the victim of British bayonets, according to certain sources. Others say he was killed and then dragged behind a car, and still others say he was left where he was murdered.<br /> <br /> Arap Ali was the father of Önder Konuluoğlu. He was from Limassol but the incident took place in Famagusta.<br /> <br /> (There are two different accounts regarding the Lament for Arap Ali. One of them is called “The Famagusta Port”, and the other is “Meyhane’den çıkdım yan basa basa../I came out of the meyhane wobbling...” .<br /> <br /> The tale talks about the night Arap Ali was killed, in 1943. They say he was a man who loved eating and drinking, and frequently found himself in trouble as he was a fair person. One day Arap Ali traveled to Famagusta to unload goods, and then went to a meyhane (Turkish style tavern). He got into a fight with British soldiers due to an incident. He beat a couple of them up, but then, the soldiers ambushed and killed him. Some accounts say he was bayoneted and then dragged behind a car all the way to the airport; others say he was left where he was killed. <br /> <br /> We do not know which account is true, yet bayonet wounds are real.<br /> <br />
Source: Eralp Adanır (Cited from his interview with Çağla Konuloğlu)
Ağıtın bir varyantıda Kerkük Türkleri arasında mevcuttur. Kerkük varyantı Suphi Saatçi tarafından derlenmiş, yöresi Irak-Kerkük olarak belirtilen “Meyhanaya Girdim”ağıt başlığıyla belgelenen bir ağıt. Konusu şöyle dile getiriliyordu: <br /> <br /> Cinayete kurban giden bir gencin feryatlarıdır bu türkü. Aslen Kıbrıs kökenli olduğu düşünülen türkünün yayılarak Kerkük’e kadar ulaşması dikkat çekicidir. Kıbrıs’ta İngiliz askerlerince bıçaklanarak öldürülen delikanlının, Kerkük’te uzun hava olarak yakılan ağıtı bugüne ulaşmıştır. <br /> <br /> İçki içtiği için kendisine saldıranlarla başedemeyen delikanlı, hiç değilse oradan uzaklaşıp kurtulmak istemiş. Ama onca bıçak darbesine can mı dayanır? Hem yerinden hem canından olmuştur. Bu “ağıt”ın sözleri şöyle:<br /> <br /> <b> Meyhanaya girdim üç konyağ iştim <br /> Düşmanlarım görüb kendimden geşdim <br /> Yeddi bıçak yedim sekkiz de düşdüm <br /> Oyan Alım oyan oyanmaz oldum <br /> Yeddi bıçak yarasına dayanmaz oldum <br /> <br /> Meyhanadan çıkdım yol basa basa <br /> Kül oldu ciğerim kan kusa kusa <br /> Meni yardan edeni zalım Mağusa <br /> Oyan Alım oyan oyanmaz oldum <br /> Çok işdim serhoş olub kaçamaz oldum <br /> <br /></b> Ata Terzibaşı’nın özel arşivi olan, 1959 tarihli ve Pakistan baskısı 78 devirli taş plakta, türküyü, A.Küzecioğlu seslendirmekteydi. Bazı dizelerin yerleri değişse de, bazıları birebir denk düşmekteydi. <br /> <br /> Örneğin; Kıbrıs’ta bu ağıt’ta; “Meyhaneden çıkdım yan basa basa” denilirken, Kerkük Hoyratları bunu “Meyhanadan çıkdım yol basa basa” şeklinde seslendiriyorlar. <br /> <br /> Bir örnek daha vermek gerekirse; Kıbrıs’taki versiyonunda “ Yeni gamalara dayanamaz oldun” denilirken, Kerkük Hoyratları bunu “Yeddi piçak yarasına dayanmaz oldum” şeklinde yorumluyorlardı<br /> <br /> Kerkük’te okunmakta olan Arap Ali Ağıtı, Kıbrıs’takine çok fazla benzemektedir. Farklı olarak, Kerkük’tekinde oraya özgü ağız özellikleri belirgindir.