By Esra Bilgin and Halil Sahin
A mayor in Aegean province of Izmir on Wednesday said they were preparing to apply to UNESCO for listing the traditional camel wrestling in Intangible Cultural Heritage.
“We are organizing the International Selcuk-Ephesus Symposium on Culture of Camel Dealing and Camel Wrestling between Jan. 17-19, for the third time this year,” said a statement by the Selcuk Municipality, quoting Mayor Dahi Zeynel Bakici.
Bakici added that the symposium aimed to place the culture of camel dealing and camel wrestling on a scientific basis and to enable the sports to enter the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
He noted that the camel wrestling held in Selcuk had a different place than other wrestling sports in terms of the field structure, audience, historical and cultural features of the district.
“Culture of camel dealing has always had an important place in the Turkish-Islamic history,” Bakici added.
Stating that it was a source of prestige for the camel owners to make their camel race in Selcuk, he added that tournament was being held in compliance with the regulation of the Camel Wrestling Federation.
“We are supporting the camel wrestling, which will be held for 37th time and found place in TIME Magazine cover, in scientific field through the symposium,” he said, adding that they wanted to research the culture in scientific manner and carry it to the future with scientific data.
The event will be attended by 124 camels from different cities and districts such as Bodrum, Ortaklar, Soke, Denizli, Canakkale, as well as the hosting district, it added.
“Although the origin of camel wrestling cannot be placed exactly, it is believed that it started during nomadic times.
"People interested in camel wrestling or camel owners say that the nomads used to have their camels wrestle as part of the competition between caravan owners,” according to the official webpage of Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry.