A cortege featuring locals decked in colorful but frightening costumes has marched at ceremonies held for the 99th anniversary of the liberation of the Aegean province of Balıkesir, recalling one of the most trippy psychological warfare methods used in a war.
Participants took part in the long cortege disguised as former leather workers, known as Tülütabaks, who had tried to scare the Greek soldiers with their bloodcurdling looks and demeanor for almost a century ago.
They painted their faces with chimney and stove soot and made a frightening appearance with sheepskins, bells, and wands they wore just like their ancestors who fought with occupying forces.
Resembling an average festival or Fasching in Europe, the colorful cortege was included in the ceremonies to explain the importance of Tülütabaklar in Turkey’s War of Independence, passing their stories on to new generations.
The events were performed in two parts. The first part, which took part at the Atatürk Monument, started with the wreath-laying ceremony, and ended up with a moment of silence for fallen soldiers and the singing of the anthem.
At the second part of the ceremony held in the Kuvayımilliye Square, the Ottoman-style military band, known as Mehter, performed with its uplifting and heroic repertoire, while poems indicating the meaning and importance of the day were also read.
The part of the program that was expected with great enthusiasm and attracted a lot of attention, however, was the march of Tülütabaks.
Having attracted the great attention of both children and adults, Tülütabaks provided entertaining and colorful moments during the ceremonies, leading to almost a stampede of residents who wanted to take a photo while squeezing themselves up in the crowd.
Following the enjoyable moments, spectators applauded and congratulated the team.
Speaking to state-run Anadolu Agency, Turan Caner Öztopal, 37, from the Tülütabak team said that they continued the tradition of their ancestors who wanted to scare the Greek soldiers during the War of Independence.
Explaining that the tradition has continued since the liberation of Balıkesir, Öztopal said that he will continue to get involved in these ceremonies as long as he lives.
The War of Independence was led by Turkish forces against the allied occupiers between 1919 and 1923 after the Ottoman Empire lost the World War I.
One of the turning points of the war was when Greek forces were defeated heavily during the Great Offensive in 1922, leading to the Turkish troops to reach the Aegean Sea on Sept. 9 with the recapture of the western province of İzmir.
The offensive ended with the liberation of the towns of Erdek and Biga in Balıkesir.
Hurriyet Daily News