The Delivery and the Child


1- When a pregnant woman has pain, they put a kind of herb called "Virgin Mary" in water and make her drink it. As this plant swells in the water, the child settles down. If she is in a lot of pain and it is past the time of delivery, they immediately have her husband's hand washed in a bowl and make her drink the dirty water. As soon as the child is born, those present in the room give a tip to the midwife while she cuts the umbilical cord as the first ceremony, then the child is put in the cradle wrapped in her prepared swaddle. If the child born is a boy, someone who hears this immediately goes to his father and holds his ear, then the father understands that he has a son and gives a tip to the person holding his ear.  (Naime H.)

2- When a woman is going to give birth, the midwife makes it hot by putting earth on a sheet, that is, they burn wood under a trivet in the hearth and put the sheet on top of it. As the wood burns, the soil on the sheet heats up, they pour this hot soil on the rug specially spread on the bed and lay the woman who will give birth on it. As soon as the child is born, it is laid on this soil. First, they feed the puerperant honey and eggs, and then, for three days, she is fed a gruel made of starch, which is called "hapse". They call it "Nişe Hapsesi". As a tip, the midwife is given one lira, soap, şeş, i.e. the yemeni to be tied on the head, and one hundred drachmas of henna. Those who come to the postpartum will definitely bring gifts. The puerperant lies in bed for seven days. They call it "sweat mattress, seven-mattress." During these seven days, the midwife does not leave the puerperant's side, unless there is another important patient, and sits by the bedside (Hadiç H. - 32 years old).

3- After the child is born and the midwife cuts the umbilical cord, they put the rumen of the animal, called “forty-fold”, on the navel of the child as it is in its dirty form, it stays on the child's navel until the water is warm and everything is ready, then they wash, clean and wrap the child.  (Elif Bacı. 41 years old)

4- They do not leave a water pan open in the room until the puerperant's first forty days pass, if the water pan is left open, a blackbird will come and throw a bead into the water, if the puerperant drinks this water, the child will suffocate. They call this disease “Whooping Cough” and “Child Suffocated”. The child who is affected by it turns bruised, and drools from his mouth and nose. (Elif Bacı, 41 years old)            

5- They take the puerperant to the bath of the forty on the fortieth day. After the bath, while water is flowing into a bowl from the tap, they dip a piece of gold forty times and pour this water over the puerperant's head. The same treatment is repeated for the child. In the bath of forty, they draw blood from the back of the child with a razor in three places, from the back of the neck to the coccyx, so that he can grow up strong. They lay the child on the hot stone. At this time, the child screams and cries badly. In this way, the dirty blood of the children whose backs are scratched go away and their health increases.


 6- One of the diseases that afflict puerperant women is the attack of "Alkarısı". This is a female spirit. He would cut off the livers of the puerperants. Then, the puerperant would die. They narrate the following legend about this: One night, a woman like a witch was walking out with a liver in her hand. A man saw her. “Whose liver is this? Tell my quickly, or I will kill you, he said. The woman said, "I am Alkarısı, I have taken the liver of a puerperant, do not touch me, I will not touch you or the puerperant women around you". And the man threatened Alkarısı by saying, "Quickly, get the liver back, or I'll kill you now." Alkarısı took the liver back to the patient out of fear, and the patient regained her well-being. (Naime H.)

7- They read the Qur'an at the bedside of the puerperant as a precaution against Alkarısı. They also put the scissors they use to cut the child's umbilical cord under the pillow; they do not cut anything with these scissors before the child's umbilical cord falls.   They cover the puerperant's head with a red rag, then twist one end of the mattress, spit it out and cover it again. (Hadiç H., 34 years old)

8- They keep eter near the puerperant so that she doesn't get Al Basty. The “eter” is the handkerchief, underwear or similar object of the man who saw and caught the Alkarısı. If a puerperant keeps eter near her, the Alkarısı will not approach her. They never leave the puerperant alone, and they keep a man in the puerperant’s room at night. They put a broom next to the patient. This custom is also observed in Kilis.

9- One of the measures taken against the disease of Al Basty is as follow: They put an onion on a skewer, bread in the middle and garlic on the other end (they will all be whole) and hang it by the bedside. Al Basty was an old and terrifying woman with messy hair. They call it “Alkarısı”.

10- In order to understand whether a puerperant exposed to Al Basty can be saved or not, they immediately go out of the house and fire three gunshots, and if the puerperant hears the gunshots and is afraid, Al Basty will be killed, if she does not hear it, she will die.

11- A puerperant in Tarsus was exposed to Al Basty. One of the headmen of the neighborhood knew about such matters. They summoned this headman, and the headman went out of the room without saying anything, and he fired his gun three times. Although everyone was afraid, the puerperant heard nothing. After the headman understood this, he said "then she will die", and the puerperant died. Now in Tarsus, it is customary to fire a gun next to the room of the puerperants with Al Basty. (Naime H. from Tarsus )

12- The Al Basty is usually caused by the evil eye and the puerperant's fear of being alone. That’s why they do not leave the puerperants alone. Against this, they wrap onions, garlic, an egg and the Qur'an in a red cloth and hang them on the bedside of the puerperant. The puerperant with Al Basty cannot be saved, she surely dies. (A woman from Değirmendere)


13- They make incense as a precaution against the evil eye. The incense is made as follows: They sprinkle harmal mixed with black cumin on the fire, and when the smoke comes out, they say, 'Esen estik, besen beştik, yalısı dilden, yaman sözden dakkılgan dakkılgan nazara bozara nazar edenin gözleri bozara… üzerliksin havasın, her bir derde devasın, çıtır pıtır edersin, nazarları savarsın’.   (Granny Ayşe, 60 years old.)

14- They sit by the mangal, take a bowl of water with them, they start counting the Arab alphabet starting from “alif” and pick up a coal with tongs and throw it into the water, then do this until the letter “yaa”. When the fire fades in the water, the evil eye perishes. They make the patient drink this water and pour the coals into a place away from the feet.

15- This ceremony is also performed as follows: According the eye colors of all the acquintance, they say, “ak göze, kara göze, çakır göze, yeşil göze azara bozara, göz edenin gözleri bozara” and take a burning coal from the mangal with tongs and throw it into the water. While they say “Ak göze azara bozara…” they extinguish a fire, and they extinguish another while they say “kara göze azara bozara”. In this way, after putting out many fires, they take a little of this water and make the child and mother drink it and apply it to their temples. (Elif Bacı)

16- They put the lead collected from three people named Mehmet in a ladle and melt it in the fire, on the other hand, they sit the child who will be poured lead and cover his head with a blanket, then they put a piece of bread, the Qur'an and a mirror upside down in the sieve, and a bowl of water is placed next to them. They pour the molten lead into this water, throw the bread to the dog and pour the lead spilled water into the crossroads. This lead pouring operation is repeated three times.  (Nadire H.)

17- If the child's tooth comes out of the lower jaw, it is good, if it comes out of the upper jaw, they consider it bad, they think that the child will get one of the elders of the family into trouble. To get rid of this evil, the following ceremony is performed: Holding four people from the four corners of a rug, they sit outside under the window and throw the child on the rug with his head down from the window.  (Of course, this throwing happens very closely, in a way that will not harm the child.) While throwing, they say “Get yourself into trouble!” If it is done like this, nothing will happen to the elders, whatever disaster happens, the child will face it himself. (Teacher Şaziye H.)



1. They feed the child with soil. When they change the child's diaper, they put the heated soil in a shovel into the diaper and wrap the child, if the child defecates, this soil will absorb the stool. The more the child urinates, the better, because as the soil gets wet, the child gains strength. In this way, it is not only necessary to wash the diapers constantly, but also cleaning is ensured (The diaper mentioned here is the old style cloth which you would wash and reuse). They bathe the child once every four days, every other day in hot times, and once a week if the weather is cold. (Naime H. from Tarsus)

2. Burç: When the child is in its seven days mattress, the disease called Burç emerges. The child is in pain and crying all the time, they say that his mother's pain is gone. For this, they boil anise and make the child drink its water. (Hadiç H.)

3. Urfiye: From seven days to forty days old babies have scaly scars on their faces.  The reason for this is that a junub or menstruating woman looks at the child's face before the puerperant passes the first seven days after the delivery.  The remedy for this disease is the bran bath.   (Berrah H. from Değirmendere)

4. Pain: Often children are in pain and cry.  For this, they buy silk in seven colors and have the hodjas pray on it, and they tie these seven colors of silk to the neck of the child by making seven knots. (Emine H.)

5. Uşak dolan, usturalık: The child has constipation, his body is on fire, his eyes are squinting. As a medicine, they make someone from “ocak” (the family whose members pour lead) write prayer on a razor and put it under the child's pillow. They lay the child on the donkey's saddle, and cover the child's head with the mother's underwear upside down. (Naime H. from Tarsus)

6. The intestinal disease: This disease infects very little children. Diarrhea begins in the child, and the color of the stool is dark yellow greenish.    This is a deadly disease for which there is no cure.   The children infected with this disease rarely survive. Just in case, they make it like flour by rubbing coconut under a jug as a medicine. They boil anise and cumin, add coconut, mix it with milk and give it to the child. And again they crush the coconut under a green bowl, put it in linseed oil and make the child swallow it in small pieces with the texture of soft Turkish delight. (Berrah H. from Değirmendere)

7. The mumps: The children have throat disease, fever; their throats swell and become red. One of the main remedies for this is to cook the bitter orange in hot ash and crush it and wrap it around the child's neck by placing it between two cheesecloths. Or lead oil is applied to the neck of the child. This lead oil is bought from the pharmacy. They also call it lead ointment. (Naime H. from Tarsus)

8. The whooping cough: It's a kind of cough. The remedy for this is to make the butcher pretend to cut the child’s throat. The method is as follows:   The father of the butcher must also be a butcher. The child is taken to the butcher, the butcher lays the child down and touches the back of the knife to the child’s throat a few times, just like he is slaughtering an animal; then they buy a Fitme bone from the butcher and hang it around the child's neck. This must be done on Wednesday.

9. Dağlavıık: The child's heels and playful parts turn red and its body heats up. As a remedy, they heat a large quilt needle in the fire, then put a piece of thick grocery paper on the child's heels and cauterize it by contacting the hot needle with this paper. This needs to be done someone from “ocak”. Most children cannot get rid of this disease. (Teacher Refia H.)

10. Thrush: It is a kind of whiteness that appears on the tongue of the child when it is still in its first seven days. They say, "Hot bread entered in, the child is cottoned". It is supposed to be because of the smell of fresh and hot bread coming out of the bakery. For this, they hold the tail of a black cat and rub it into the child's mouth. (Naime H.)

In the first seven days, the child has thrush in his mouth. The remedy for this is to mix the laundry blue with milk and apply it to the child's tongue.  (Rahime H.)

If the mother breaks wind while giving breast to the child, the child will have thrush in his mouth. To get through this, a woman who marries with her brother-in-law has to take the tip of her hair in her hand, dip it in fine granulated sugar and wipe the child's tongue.  (Elif Bacı.)

11. The red wind: Some parts of the child turn red. As a remedy, they draw blood on the back of the child by scratching with a razor, mix it with theriac, molasses, and mint, and apply it to the scratched area. We often scratch a child's back with a razor when he gets sick, and we draw blood. It is very good to draw blood like this, it prevents the worst diseases. (Refia H. from Tarsus)

12. Erysipelas:  It is a swelling that usually occurs in children and sometimes in adults.    They make the hodjas pray on the patients. Those afflicted with this disease are very hard to get rid of, if they do, it is definitely thanks to praying. Those afflicted with this disease are said, “This needs to be prayed with gunpowder”, and the hodjas pray with gunpowder. (Teacher Refia H. in Maraş)

13. Oğlanlık:  Some children have a disease called “oğlanlık”, the child gets a fever, faints and his eyes are fixed on the ceiling. The remedy for this is that: As soon as she sees that her child is afflicted to this disease, the mother immediately takes off her underwear and covers the child's face and sits backwards on the child's face. If this precaution is applied immediately, the disease will pass.

The cause of this disease is fear and evil eye, and another remedy is that: They put slurry of flour around the child's cradle, and put the pan under the cradle with its reverse side. If the bottom of the room is empty, they will go and dig, and see, there is coal in this place dug at the level of the cradle. The teacher Refia H. told that she saw this exactly.

The child faints and his eyes are fixed at the ceiling. This disease, which is called oğlanlık, comes with fear and evil eye, and it is often seen on the boys. A mother who sees her child in this state immediately donates something, but this donation will always be related to copper.   For example: I will give you a pot, pan or tray, she says.  If the child recovers, she gives what she has donated. In order to save the child from the disease, it is necessary for the mother to take off her underwear and put it on the child’s face.

Oğlanlık is a kind of fainting disease that comes with fear and evil eye. Some call it "Falling Sickness". For his recovery, the patient is immediately prayed on by the hodjas, and the hodjas write amulets. (Forty-five years old Elif Bacı from Kayışlı village of Maraş)

14. Tinderbox - Erythema: It's kind of a boil. They make a random shepherd scorch the boil with his tinderbox. The scorching shepherd’s name should be Mehmet and his origin, that is, his father should also be a shepherd. (Naime H.)

15. Tertekleme: The child has a seizure, its breathing becomes difficult. In case something got into the child's nose, they put olive oil in a reed and blow it through the nostril. They call this reed “tertek”. The child either sneezes and breathes well or dies. (Elif Bacı)

16. Jaundice: If the newborn child becomes jaundiced, they tie a yellow handkerchief on the forehead and boil a plant called "Cehre” (Rhamnus) and bathe the child with its water.   (Emine H.)

For jaundice, they draw blood by scratching the middle of the eyebrows, then tinge eyes with this blood. They also cut a small piece of meat as small as a pinhead from the inner and upper part of the lip. (Teacher Şaziye H.)

17. Kırk Basması: If two women in their first forty days after the delivery are brought face to face, they take each other's children and give a sewing needle to each other, then they kiss and sit down. If they do so, they will not be affected by kırk basması. (Fadime Bacı)

If a child is afflicted by kırk basması, they burn the menstrual cloth of a virgin girl, dissolve the ash in water and bathe the child with this water. Sometimes they mix this ash with honey and apply it to the child's body. (Refia H. from Tarsus)

They take soil from seven cemeteries, they put the soil into the water, and bathe the child afflicted by the kırk basması with it. Two women afflicted by kırk basması exchange sewing needles and they bathe their children with forty different herbs.

They wash the child afflicted by kırk basması with the tannery water they call "El beşti", then they take the child to the cemetery and lay her down, they say, "Take the child, and give my child". If the child lying in the cemetery cries, it is fine, if the child does not make a sound, it is believed that the child will not be well and will surely die. (Naime H. from Tarsus)

Some children afflicted by kırk basması have a kind of greenish diarrhea. As a medicine, they cook the eggplant in fiery ash, crush it well, pour galangal on it and put it on the child's navel. Some afflicted by the kırk basması also have a bloated stomach. In order to relieve this swelling, they put a "teriac" on the "Bastık" (they call it "yazına", it is made of grape pulp) and stick it on the child's belly. (Berrah H. from Değirmendere)

If a child is afflicted by kırk basması, they throw the child in the mother's collar and drop it to the ground. Another women shouts immediately:

- Oh, we have a child. Another woman grabs the child from the ground.

They prepare a scale and dried dung, put the child in one pan of the scale and the dung in the other pan by the child’s weight, and they weigh them, then they throw this dried dung into a big water and say that as this dung swells in the water, so will my child get fat. (Şerif H.)

If a child is afflicted by kırk basması, the following ritual is performed by the women from “ocak”: They put some water and a plant called “kökerçile” into the wash-boiler, and leave the child in this warm water, that is, the wash-boiler, in a way that the child will not drown. They burn a few twigs under the wash-boiler. One of them asks:                      

- Abav gele ne pişiriyon? (Oh what is this, what are you cooking? )

- I'm cooking baby meat.

- Is baby meat cooked?

- Is baby is afflicted by kırk basması?

This conversation is repeated three times, then they take the child out of the wash-boiler and throw his shirt into the water of the mill. This ritual is performed on three Wednesdays without a break. (Şerif H.)

They boil the plant called “Tehner” (bay leaf), walnut leaves, forty kinds of herbs and three pieces of marrow, and wash the child with this water while it is still warm. They take the marrows boiled with other ingredients from the water without crushing them, after washing the child, they bring his feet together and lay him on his back, put two of the marrows on the groin of the child and one on the soles of his feet, which are next to each other, and wrap them. During this procedure, which will last for three days, they constantly make the child drink tar water instead of water.

The women telling about the following is from Tarsus... When she was in Tarsus, her child got afflicted by kırk basması, she prepared all kinds of medicine, but none of them worked, the child became a living corpse. One night: She cried, "Will my child die like this my God, what is this situation, why it happened to me?", she performed an ablution and went to sleep. She saw an old derwish with white beard came and said, “Why are you so sad my daughter, your child will survive, but you need to do what I will tell without forgetting” and described how to prepare the medicine: “Gather forty kinds of herbs, find some bay leaves, add in walnut leaves, add three marrows, boil them all in water, wash the child with that water, put the marrows on his groin and soles, instead of water, make him drink tar water, but you will continue boiling it fresh for three days, with God’s permission, your child will be fine" and disappeared. As soon as the woman woke up, she told her husband about her dream, the next morning she made this formula for three days, immediately procuring what was needed. “On the fourth day, the color of the child came, after fifteen days, there was nothing left, I would especially recommend it to everyone,” she said.

18. Madası dönmüş: If a child gets sick, weaned from the breast, and throws up the milk, they say, "Madası dönmüş" (she turned her stomach). They put the herb called speedwell in water and wash the child's hands, face, belly and back with this water with a little soap, and pour the water collected in the basin on the crossroads. This method is also observed in Kilis. (Naime H. from Kilis)

19. Gece yanığı (zona):   There are boils like wounds on the body, and he immediately asks for three things from the man named Mehmet: Olive oil, cotton, flour. These are collected from seven different houses, and all the house owners should have the name Mehmet.   (The name of most of Maraş's men is Mehmet anyway)

After these are collected, a tray is kept on the patient's head at isha, they knead the dough with the flour collected in this tray, the dough is put into a cup form, the collected olive oil is filled into it, and a wick is made from the collected cotton and left in the oil, it is taken to the crossroad with the tray so that it is not deformed, the wick is burned, the cup made from dough is left there, and the person returns without looking back. (Teacher Şaziye H.)

20. Tooth: They call the child's head a fontanel, they stick soap on this soft place, they put dog tooth on the child's cap, whoever sees the child's tooth for the first time donates something to the baby.

20. Dirnan: A child's nail cannot be cut before he is six months old, and if cut, he becomes a thief. For this, at the end of six months, they put the child's hand in his father's pocket, and then they cut his nails. (Teacher Refia H.)

Source: Müşfika Abdulkadir