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The Women Saints in Anatolia

The Women Saints in Anatolia

This beautiful region, Anatolia, that is named after its mothers, has its own stylemarks. The author Gülenay Pınarbaşı’s book,The Women Saints in Anatolia,deals with “motherly mithology” with a heterodox sense that is unique to our region. It is also a map of the idea of “holy” in the transition process of the cult of mother goddess turning into the monotheistic religions. Even the map that is penned by Pınarbaşı at the end of the book, in which the women saints, women sahatmas, and women holy persons are located is thrilling all by itself. By bearing in mind the people who think about the history of women place emphasis on maps and mapping, i thank the author additionally. Certainly, the expected ongoing researches of Pınarbaşı will add new visiting places and new folktales about women on this map in the years ahead. If Nezihe Araz, Safiye Erol, Samiha Ayverdi who passed away, could see this book, i am sure they would have been more excited than all of us. For instance; when i was reading the book, I felt like, Araz was a grandmother that Pınarbaşı “discussed about” as an author. I guess the people who will be “discussed about” in this book will shape the same map greatly in the future. And the thing that the author of The Women Saints of Anatolia continued to her academical career in Turkish/Islamic Literature supports our expectations. It is also remarkable that she presented the academic indifference against folk literature that went on for many years with a contemporary insight to the literary public…In this sense, to mention the long and patient efforts of Prof. Şeyma Güngör with respect is a binding duty…It is, of course, very meaningful that she traces local witnesses, along with Gülenay Pınarbaşı’s researcher identity after all those times that the “wisdom” of women fell between the cracks and despised and went through political cencorship along the way of transmission from oral to written text. It makes this book luckier compared to the dim saloon’s of academical researches that it was brought up again and with the literary agenda.
The author brings us together with stories that were awaken from their sleep by tracking rather than serving them out on a desk. And with heroines…Their remedial breathes are in sarcophaguses, mauseloums, in cupolas that bushes surround, Gülenay Pınarbaşı brings the quiet yet remedial breaths of the “women saints” that are only followed by the women who look for a confidant.
You can find stories of 69 women in this book. Folk Saints like Kadıncık Ana, Bacım Sultan, Akkız, Karyağdı Hatun, Çalı Ana, Çifte Sultanlar, Destina Hatun… Some of them are a part of combatant tradition…Some are a part of bektashi culture…Some are narrations that are inherited from Christian traditions… These heroines are Anatolia’s women reservoir with their epiphany that comes from even Summerians and Hittites…
These are all “mothers”, although appeared in different locations and versions in time and while you are reading, you can even discover the traces of Cybele the Fertility Goddess, Saint Mary, Saint Fatima the mother of Ahl al-Bayt in almost all of them. Even the maiden ones are mothers and nurturing... For example, the amazing Karyağdı Hatun. This woman's story made me shed tears while reading and it is historical holy and also bares the traces of an amazing fantastic. Craving for food. A particular ordeal that men will never understand. A bride that craves for snow... Furthermore in the middle of the summer... One night, she goes down to the garden with her cracked, dried up lips that leak blood. She prays out to her God, cries. Just at that moment, her God hears her and makes it snow. The bride dips the snow with her palms dyed with henna and sips it thirstily till the morning... When the Engürü people wake up in the morning, they get so suprise; it snows in august! But Karyağdı Hatun vanishes into thin air immediately as her secret is discovered. Later, brides that crave for food like herself and women who can not have a baby visited the garden that she was in and turned it into a garden of eden, hopes that showed up much later... The previous incomplete desire is completed with the others' mournings and prayers... The map that Pınarbaşı unveiled is also a map of our subconscious. The book indicates a sort of remedial transmition between life and death, the angle that complements the incomplete desires and the power of prayer... The cover is great! It shows a deer that flies on a miniature crescent, and a bride passing over villages and mountains and her veil flutters about. On the front and back there are clouds, above that the sun... It pictures the Anatolia, the beautiful place that got its name from its mothers, and its motherly spirit that covers the whole area like a night dream and a day prayer... The mutual suffering is turning into something that women pass on to the women. One's tied tounge loosens the other's tongue. Sharing and a spiritual unity that based upon a secret evolves into a women's wisdom pass down from one generation to the other. This is not only the wisdom of women, it is also the wisdom of life for sure....

Sibel Eraslan-Writer
Star Gazete