Slobber Chops!

J and I have an inbuilt, genetic fascination with camel wrestling events here in Turkey. I know some of you out there will shudder and/or point an accusatory digit and even start sticking pins in voodoo dolls because you hate any and all forms of animal exploitation (but hope the pins will cause bits of my person to experience great pain or even fall off!). I understand your objections but remain unrepentant.

a magnificent beast decked out in all his finery

These events have their roots in the nomadic culture of Asia that goes back, quite possibly, for thousands of years. During the rutting season, which lasts just a few months, nomads would gather at long-established traditional sites for the prime purpose of breeding their she-camels with the strongest bulls. These bulls would go through a natural selection process amongst themselves by ‘wrestling’ for the right to pass on their genes.


there is much pushing and shoving and frothing at the mouth
much lifting of one’s opponent off the ground

In many respects it’s a bit like watching Mick McManus and Giant Haystacks without the gouging or forearm smashes. The animals can’t bite as they would naturally do because of a special binding on their jaws. I’ve never once seen a drop of blood or an injured camel apart from the occasional bruised ego!

until eventually one or other gets pinned for a count of three
once the referee makes his call teams rush in and haul the protagonists apart
and the victor gets to put on his most arrogant face and strut his stuff

J and I prefer to frequent the venues where the spectators are usually all local Turks – small towns and even villages away from the areas with expat communities. This is not a snobby thing but a seeking after the authentic experience because there is more than just watching these magnificent animals do their thing.

Towns like Buldan and Çal in Denizli Province are magnets to us and so worth the extra miles of driving to get to them. Often the only barrier between a couple of tons of tunnel-visioned contesting-for-the-damsel’s-favours camels and the picnicking spectators with their barbies, bottles of rakı and mixed grill is a chicken wire fence. When hormonal gladiators run amuk or even amok there is no funnier site than a bunch of shouting, gesticulating, well lubricated men trying to save their very hot barbie, rakı glass in one hand and waving plastic chairs at two single-minded, blind-to-all-else furry gladiators with rumpy-pumpy on the brain!

stalls selling everything from camel sausages
to scarves, to tea, to Sunday lunch

Finally, a couple of examples of why it is not a good idea to wear your Sunday-best or a hoody come to that . .



Let me finish off back where I started about animal exploitation: I accept that these days camel wrestling has become more of a spectacle for townies than a folk gathering of nomadic herders. I oppose commercial whaling in all its forms but support the rights of Inuit peoples to hunt at sea for food whether they use traditional tools or a powerful rifle. In the same way that Morris Dancers no longer believe the fertility angle in their entertainment I support the rights of Turks to enjoy a link to their nomadic ancestry – camel wrestling is not a blood sport, long may it continue!

Alan back up the cabin.

2 thoughts on “Slobber Chops!

  1. Alan, we’ve been following all the wonderful past blogs you’ve been recovering and re-posting. I well remember “The Sex Life of the Camel” so I assume this is a new one covering a more recent event. We see you haven’t lost your enthusiasm. Take care and keep on wrestling.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. it is indeed! This was at Çal a small town on the route we go to get our wine. This was a first here and here and Buldan have got to be our favourites


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