Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hocaköy Kurban Bayramı: Photo Essay

Host Family 4 years later...
This week I returned to Hocaköy, to celebrate Kurban Bayramı, the Muslim holiday of sacrifice. I first spent some time in the small village near İnegöl in highschool while doing an exchange program through "EIL," a very positive experience for me that perhaps defined my relationship with Turkey today.  It was fun to return to the village, something that I have done several times since my first trip there.
Hocaköy Playground
The playground I built with my American peers is still standing, and it was exciting to see so many friends including my original host-family from the program.  I was lucky to meet an interesting and like-minded traveler at a couchsurfing meetup in İstanbul. Rahde Franke is traveling the world  on a grant from the Watson Fellowship studying open-fire cooking. His account of the day can be found here. I decided to invite him to come with me to Hocaköy for the holidays as I thought it might be rewarding for him as much of the holiday revolves around meat. . . I really enjoyed my first village bayram, and while it may have a bit tough to bear the sights, smells, and most of all sounds associated with the sacrifice of the two cows that I witnessed, I thought it was an important experience. We so often forget where our food comes from, and it was actually quite nice to see the whole process through personally. Between two hours, I saw a walking cow and then had food in my mouth.  Without further ado, here are some photos of Bayram in Hocaköy, other photos I took in the village that are unrelated to the holiday can be found here.

(There are some rather bloody and graphic photos below, You've been warned.) A very graphic video of the event can be seen here.
3 men begin to wrestle the cow to the ground.

The cow's last minutes as a knife is sharpened

Sisters and mother watch from above.

Preparing for the slaughter.

Alim watches the slaughter

Alim watches the slaughter

Cleaning up

Burak skins as his mother watches proudly

Salting the pelt


Post-sacrificial meat stored in an attic
A truck of disposed cowheads




  1. I've heard of sheep, cows, and camels (in order of prestige) being sacrificed here.

  2. Which one is the most prestigious? Sheep or camel? I guess camel? Hocaköy seems to be between Ankara and Istanbul not too far from the Black Sea, right? I say live slaughter humbles... esp us city-dwellers who are far from their food source. I remember lamb and goat slaughter, but I never could look at the actual act, the throat (I guess I was too little). Then the gutting was really interesting :)
    Thank you for the pictures/story!

  3. Hi Ivanski,

    Camel is at least the most expensive. Hocaköy is in the Bursa provence which is quite a bit south from the black sea region and half way between Istanbul and Izmir (although inland).


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