Renegotiating ritual performance: the role of Greek musicians in dervish ceremonials during the Ottoman era
Apstrakt: This article explores the interaction between Greek musicians and Turkish whirling dervishes during the late-Ottoman Empire (18th-19th centuries). The Mevlevi order, in particular, used to employ ethnic musicians to accompany sema performances, where the whirling dervishes reached a state of trance. These events were held on Fridays and other Muslim holidays, and were accessible to the public, including women and children. This order, founded in the 13th century by Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, was more tolerant towards other religions as well as towards the use of music and dance in religious ceremonies. Mevlevi dervishes seem to have encouraged a close cooperation with Greek musicians, on the basis of the latter’s mastery of musical notation, since Ottoman music was passed down by rote. One of the 18th-century Greeks, in particular, Petros of Peloponnese (southern Greece), is registered in dervish documents and monuments as “master of music” and hirciz (thief), a symbolic name, denoting the (wo)man who deprives evil from its power. According to contemporary sources, Petros managed to rescue the reputation of Turkish musicians in Istanbul, threatened by their Persian colleagues, by cooperating with dervishes. At his funeral, a group of dervishes followed the procession, and danced for him upon his grave, where they finally placed their sacred instrument (the ney flute). His name was eventually registered in their libre d’or, and engraved in a grave of a dervish lodge, a privilege granted to a selected few. This article will attempt to approach this case study from the perspective of performance theory, according to recent theoretical models.
Ključne reči: performance theory, greek musicians, turkish whirling dervishes