Rhododendron – Traditional Turkish Legends

Rhododendron – Traditional Turkish Legends

Are you interested in traditional Turkish legends? Have you read the legend of Rhododendron (The Legend of a Gypsy in the Aegean) before?

On the Aegean coast there lived a great cheri, the head of the world’s gypsies. In the tribe of this clan there was a girl whose name was legendary. Although she had an ordinary beauty like all gypsy girls, she danced so beautifully with her beautiful voice that her fame spread all over the world.

The old chief of the cheribasi was so enamored of her coquettishness and dancing that every evening he would organize summer parties on the Aegean coast. At these parties, wooden barrels and cartloads of wine would arrive, and the best violinists, zurna players and darbuk players, selected from among the world’s çerieri, would gather on the beach. Huge circles would be formed, and a large fire of pine logs would be lit in the center. Lambs would be roasted, earthenware jugs of wine would be taken from the barrels and distributed to everyone.

Everyone waited with great curiosity for the gypsy girl to appear and perform her famous magical dances. Finally, the beautiful gypsy girl would appear, wearing a wild rose in her hair, cymbals on her fingers, a long skirt, and a sultry demeanor. Suddenly all the noise would stop, the instrumentalists would start playing the most playful pieces and the gypsy girl would dance with her lithe body. As she spun faster and faster, her skirts opened like a rose and her beautiful legs shone like statues of Venus in the moonlight.

Her big brown eyes, her agonizing figure, her joyful, cheerful voice, the jingling of her cymbals echoed all over the beach, while the earthenware wine jugs filled and emptied. No one knew where the gypsy girl came from, who she was, or even her name. But the wild rose she wore in her silk hair was always there. No one had ever seen her lying down, dancing or at any other time without it. For this reason, everyone called the gypsy girl Wild Rose, so her name became Wild Rose. As if that was not enough, the name of the gang became famous as the Wild Rose Gang.

In the interior of Anatolia, on the opposite shores of the Aegean, and even on the Arab coasts, there was no one left who had not heard the praises of Yaban Gülüm. Many came to follow her from distant climes.


The old sergeant finally decided to marry this lithe gypsy girl he had fallen in love with, without a care in the world, in a wedding that would last forty days and forty nights. Every night of the wedding a feast was organized on the Aegean coast.

It was the last night of the wedding. Wine flowed like water at the feast. Those in the tribe who were in love with Yaban Gülüm were jealous of the chief. At a moment when everyone was drunk, a gypsy youth, covered in dirt, grime and patches, attacked the chief, stabbed him and killed him. Unable to bear the blood flowing, the gypsy girl started to walk towards the sea, in front of everyone’s eyes…

The gypsy girl was not sinking, she was walking on the surface of the water. She walked, walked, walked away, remained like a dot in the blue and disappeared.

According to the legend, the gypsy girl turned ugly that night because of the sorrow of the chief who loved her so much…

Only on every full moon, she appears on the Aegean coast with her old beauty, her old figure, her old fire, dances gypsy dances to the accompaniment of invisible reeds, and then walks back to the sea from whence she came, disappearing into the blue.

This is why wild roses bloom on the Aegean coast at every full moon, and the sounds of gypsy music come from the forests. And every sunset in the Aegean waters, the image of an ugly gypsy girl would appear, and this image would hit the clouds…

The image used in the content is taken from Ata Kurumsal Danışmanlık website.


Gül Demirci

Hi, I'm Gul. I am a writer for Expat Guide Turkey and I strive to create the best content for you. To contact me, you can send an e-mail to Happy reading!

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