The Chronicles of Turkish Traveler Evliya Celebi and His Accounts of Witches and Vampires

The Chronicles of Turkish Traveler Evliya Celebi and His Accounts of Witches and Vampires

The Ottoman explorer, traveler, and writer Evliya Celebi was born in 1611 in Constantinople, now Istanbul, Turkey, during the heyday of the Ottoman Empire.

The Chronicles of Turkish Traveler Evliya Celebi and His Accounts of Witches and Vampires

The Origin Of Evliya Celebi And His Encounter With Paranormal Beings

The son of the chief court jeweler, Evliya Celebi had intelligence, wit, extensive knowledge of the Koran, and a natural gift for music and language – he could speak Arabic, Persian, Greek, and Latin, which attracted the attention of Imam Sultan Murad IV and at the age of 12 he became the court reader of the Koran, reading sometimes very long passages by heart.

However, history remembered him as a fearless and inquisitive traveler. One night he had an epiphany that changed his life forever. Then he just turned exactly 20 years old and that night he had a dream in which the prophet Muhammad, as well as his companions and the first four caliphs of Islam. 

In this dream, he was told to abandon his plans for court service and instead dedicate his life to traveling the world so that he could “compose a wonderful work” on their basis. 

“You will travel all over the world and become a miracle among people. About the countries you pass through, about their castles, fortresses, wonderful antiquities, food and drink … the size of their provinces and the length of days there, you will make a description that will a monument worthy of you,” the prophet told him.

Evliya Celebi heeded his instruction and for the next three decades traveled the world, traveling with a group of laden mules, camels, fellow travelers and a dozen slaves. During this time, he wrote a 10-volume work called “Seyahatname” or “Book of Travels”, also sometimes called Tarihi seyya (“Chronicle of the Traveler”), which was later called “the longest and most complete travel account” in Islamic literature, and perhaps in world literature. 

On many hundreds of pages, this masterpiece tells about the customs in various lands, exotic food, animals, and bloody battles, as well as about the sights, ethnography, history, and geography of the countries that he visited in Europe, Asia, and Africa. 

The Chronicles of Turkish Traveler Evliya Celebi and His Accounts of Witches and Vampires

And also there are a lot of notes about very strange creatures like witches, vampires, or the living dead and supernatural phenomena, which he personally witnessed. 

One such incident happened to him on the night of April 26, 1666, in the tiny Caucasian village of Pedsi. He claimed that on that dark, moonless evening, very strong lightning suddenly flashed on the street, which tore him away from the recordings. 

It was followed by another outbreak and another, and when Evliya Celebi asked the nearest villagers what was happening, they told him that once a year there was a night during which “Circassian witches and Abkhazian witches take off into the sky and fight in a great war “. 

Struck by what he heard, Evliya Celebi went out into the street, and when he raised his eyes to the sky, he saw there “witches on large trees, cubes, boats, cartwheels, and many other similar objects, fighting with witches sitting on horses, cattle, dead animals, including on dead camels, with snakes, horse and camel heads in their hands.”

All this was happening against the backdrop of continued intermittent flashes and streaks of light, from which there was a bright light across the sky. Only now Evliya Celebi could see that it was not from lightning but from the magical power of their sorcery. 

At some point, there was a particularly strong and deafening explosion, after which “felt, poles, cubes, doors, and carriage wheels, as well as parts of people and animals such as horses” fell from the sky, after which also seven Abkhazian witches and seven Circassian witches fell to the ground, where they continued to fight.

As a result, the Circassian witches killed the Abkhazian witches by sucking their blood, after which they threw their lifeless bodies into the fire. After that, there was a crowing of roosters and the remaining witches flew away, disappearing into the night. 

Evliya Celebi specifically notes that he would never have believed that this was possible if he had not seen it himself, and we can only guess what happened here. 

Evliya Celebi also wrote about his other encounters with witches. On one occasion, he stopped in the Bulgarian village of Chalykkavak when he came across “an unfortunate old woman with disheveled hair and an ugly face, who had seven children.” This woman and her children entered the non-Muslim house where he was staying and gathered around the hearth.

However, the hostesses of this house collected some ashes and cast some kind of secret spell, after which the old witch and the children turned into chickens right in front of Celebi and other members of his expedition.

“And then the pagan urinated on the chickens and at that moment they all turned into people. Then several other people grabbed the woman and her children by the hands and beat them. We went and saw that the churchmen were where they arrived later. The people handed over the woman priest, and the priest excommunicated her from the church. 

My people swore after this incident that they all saw this incident and witnessed how the chickens turned into people. That night, my nosebleeds from fear did not stop. In the morning the bleeding stopped,” Evliya Celebi wrote.

There are other stories about witches, which are more like vampires. Evliya Celebi claimed that the entire Caucasian region is especially teeming with such creatures. He wrote about blood-sucking witches roaming remote villages, attacking people, and drinking their blood. After that, the victim of the attack fell ill, died, and then resurrected from the dead to turn into a vampire witch herself and attack living people.

People told him that these terrible creatures sleep in the ground during the day, and if you dig them out of the ground during the day, you can find their bodies with reddened skin and bloodshot eyes. To kill such a “witch”, she was pierced with a long stake from a blackberry bush in the stomach, and then the body was burned on fire until only ashes remained from it.

And, allegedly, if this is done, then all those whom this “witch” managed to bite and “turn” into “vampires” will again become normal people. 

In other cases, a blood-drinking witch was captured, chained, and forced to confess her black magic, after which she was staked and sacrificed, but not before some of her blood was taken to rub the victims with it to cure them of illness. 

If some of the details here sound suspiciously familiar to you, it’s because stories like these are considered some of the earliest vampire stories, and are even thought to have influenced Bram Stoker for his book Dracula, which sparked the vampire craze around the world. West.

Historians still do not know how to treat such pages in Evliya Celebi‘s books. He is considered a very devout Muslim and therefore it would be a grave sin for him to describe something false. At the same time, in his books, you can find so many strange things that it is simply impossible to believe in them.

For example, he wrote about meeting a woman from the Black Sea who gave birth to an elephant, about the tribes of Sudan riding rhinos, or about cannibalistic Buddhists from Kalmia. About giant bird-like monsters, people with animal heads, chimeras, dragon-like beasts, giant plants unlike anything known, a strange yellow tree whose leaves miraculously cure syphilis, and many other strange anomalies. 

Historians argue whether these “fabulous stories” are simply satirical taunts against those travel writers who wrote, for example, about tribes of headless people, or a tribute to the Thousand and One Nights tales on which Celebi grew up.

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