Photographer's Note


“Pehlivan” is a Persian word normally meaning brave, but it also has a number of secondary meanings: officer, governor, a physically large man or a person who tells the truth. Throughout history the word has been used with a variety of meanings. The Seljuks used to employ the word to refer to heroic warriors, accomplished shooters and wrestlers. In the 16th century, it was used exclusively for athletes, and this practice continued to the end of the reign of Sultan Mahmut II.

The entire Turkish nation, including women and children, loves wrestling, and they respect wrestlers for their roots in the culture of warriors and heroism. People love pehlivans because they are physically stronger than everyone else, as well as muscular, healthy-looking, and brave, and because they have strong characters and you can trust their word.

In Ottoman times, wrestling contests were held as a part of festivals and weddings or as a way to raise funds for groups promoting social welfare.

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