Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Folk dance of Turkey: Horon

Not too long ago, I featured the dance of the Whirling Dervishes of Turkey here on Postcard Voyager, a dance reserved for an elite religious sect. Here I'm back again, ready to feature another traditional dance of Turkey, this time a folk dance from the Black Sea region in the northeast of the country. The back of this card provides very little information about the name of this dance, or even what part of the Black Sea coast it comes from, but I've managed to deduce some information based on how the dance looks and videos I've been able to find on Youtube. :)

Turkey has many folk dances, and the one featured here is called the horon. The name comes from the Turkish word "horom," which refers to a line of six or seven corn stalks tied together to form a lattice. From a distance, it appears to be a line of people joining hands with their arms raised. The horon is the most well-known dance of the Black Sea region (and is also performed in other countries located on the Black Sea, such as Bulgaria), and is meant to suggest the actions of fishermen, the swimming fish, and the sea. It features alert and tense shivering movements and sudden squatting. The horon is traditionally performed by a line of either men or women, but generally not both at the same time, except in rare cases called "rahat horon," or "comfortable horon." In these cases, the dance is slower, simpler, and more relaxed. (source: University of Florida website) The people of the Black Sea region live in fertile, isolated valleys, and are known for their merriness and their lack of inhibition. They remind me of Mediterranean peoples of Greece, and probably their culture was influenced by similar forces.

I've found another interesting website describing the people of Turkey's Black Sea region. As you know, it's important not to stereotype groups of people or consider them to be "all the same." However, it can be useful to determine typical traits. This is how a man of the Black Sea (or a "Laz") is described:
"He sports a majestic nose and speaks Turkish with an outrageous accent. His diet consists of hamsi (Black Sea anchovies), cooked to the legendary one hundred recipes that include hamsi bread and hamsi jam, with corn bread and dark cabbage to accompany. He dances a wild horon to the syncopated, manic tunes of his kemençe (bowed instrument that sounds like a fiddle). His oddball sense of humor makes him the butt of an entire genre of jokes. To a certain extent these jokes correspond to those of the Polish, Scottish, Marsilian or Basque variety, but they lack the crude ridicule that characterizes some of the latter. In most stories he either pursues an altogether wacky idea, or responds to situations with an insane non-sequitur. The best ones contain a hint of self-mockery, and it is not really clear who the joke is on. Inevitably the most brilliant Laz jokes are invented and circulated by the Laz themselves." (source: Kara Lahana)

I'd like to share this wonderful video (from what looks like 1971 or so) showing the horon in a very rustic village performed by a little old lady in all black.





Now watch this more modern and complicated version of the horon. It gets better and better starting at the 1:20 mark, so stick with it, it'll be worth it, trust me.




(h/t to Pinar for sharing the beautiful postcard with me!)

3 comments:

Ufuk said...

Dear Katie,
I'm so surprised and also glad to see that you have made such search through the net about Horon. I can assure you that Horon is just one type of Folk Dance of Turkey: there are various other forms. And different types of music for each.
My mum's from Giresun (Middle Black Sea Region)and though I was born and grew up in Istanbul all my life, I visit Giresun at times. And this folk dance thing is just a very small part of the culture the black sea region has!
Best;
Ufuk

oneal629 said...

Nice card, very colorful costumes. The information about the dance was interesting to read.

pinuccia said...

Thank you for putting my card and all the great research you have done for a local dance of ours :)

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