Kırkpınar House (tr. Kırkpınar Evi) in Edirne is a remarkable museum. It documents and popularises a very peculiar sports discipline: Turkish oil wrestling (tr. yağlı güreş).
Oil wrestling is the Turkish national sport. It is so called because the wrestlers lubricate themselves with olive oil before the game to make it harder for the opponent to get hold of them. These athletes are called pehlivans, from the Persian word meaning a hero" or a champion. They are dressed only in leather trousers (tr. kisbet). Victory is achieved when one wrestler either pins the other to the ground or lifts his opponent above his shoulders. Turkish oil wrestling is similar to other disciplines known in Central Asia. Traditionally, Edirne Kırkpınar festival has been held annually since 1362, thus being the oldest regular sporting event in the world.
Kırkpınar House is the place where you can see many items related to oil wrestling. There are photographs, leather trousers, pouches, and oil jugs. The golden belts (tr. altın kemer), traditionally awarded to the winners of the wrestling festival are the main attraction of the exhibition.
The life-sized mannequins display traditional outfits of musicians playing during the wrestling competition. The instruments most frequently plays are: a davul - a huge bass drum and a zurna - a wind instrument made from the slow growing and hard wood of fruit trees.
There's also a mannequin demonstrating a person called cazgır. Traditionally, he announces the wrestlers and recites a prayer before a wrestling match. However, if you are tempted to try using this word in a conversation, be extremally careful. Few Turks know that particular use of cazgır in the wrestling context and they usually apply it in a negative context to describe a manipulator. Turkish mothers use this word to their small children when they throw tantrums to get what they want.
Another mannequin shows yağlanma - a person responsible for providing the oil to lubricate the wrestlers. However, the life-size silhouettes of the wrestlers - with their photos printed on cardboard - look a bit cheesy.
The garden of the Kırkpınar House is surrounded by the busts of başpehlivans - the winners of the annual tournament. The bust of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk takes the central position.
Kırkpınar House is set in a historic building in the centre of Edirne. It is surrounded by a garden where you can spend your time enjoying a glass of tea in a restaurant called Kırkpınar Evi Aile Çay Bahçesi Ve Kahvaltı. Admission to the museum is free.
Kırkpınar House stands on Maarif Street, opposite a little park known as Polis Parkı. The distance to Selimiye Mosque is 1 km.