The Legend of Shahmaran


Yesterday I was out with my friend Turkish Nese, who is soon opening her new gift shop.

I wanted her to see a shop I love called Mona Titti, just for a few ideas. It is run by an artist who paints fabric and furniture as well as paintings for your wall.

She loves painting Shahmaran, a figure in Eastern Turkish folklore and I thought you might like to hear her story.

Shahmaran is usually depicted as a very wise woman who has the features of a woman above her waist and those of a snake below her waist. She is known as the Queen of Snakes and when she dies, her spirit passes to her daughter. Shahmaran is believed to have lived in the Mediterranean Turkish town of Tarsus, and if you visit there, she is certainly in evidence in the art of the village.

The legend tells that she was in love with a normal man called Tasmasp and he was in love with her. He stayed with her for a long time, listening to all her wonderful stories, but eventually he wanted to go back to visit his family. Shahmaran accepted his choice and sent him off with her blessings.

When he got back to his land, his King was very sick and one of the King’s aides told him he would get better only if he ate Shahmaran. Tasmasp was dismayed when he heard this proclamation, but had to agree to his King’s demands that he, as well as every other man, had to go into the Haman to see if snake scales floated to the surface. When it was his turn, he was forced to disclose where his beloved Shahmaran was hiding.

When she was discovered by the King’s men, Shahmaran told them that whoever took a bite from her snake scales would gain all the secrets of the world. But whoever took a bite of her head would die immediately!

The King’s helper took a bite of her scales and Tasmasp was told to bite her head. But it was the King’s aide who dropped down dead and Tasmasp was fine. Shahmaran had helped her lover to kill his enemy.

I just love the paintings of Shahmaran and I will definitely go back to Mona Titti sometime to treat myself to one, but yesterday I just came away with a coaster for my new desk, as well as a great fridge magnet, so that I can look at her every day.  Shahmaran is definitely an intriguing looking character and I love her story.

 Jo Tempest.




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