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Legends of old Bari: the mystery of the "Turk's Head"

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The legend of the Turkish emir who challenged the spirit of a popular tradition in Bari on the night of the Epiphany

 

History legend head of the Turk Bari oldLike all places with a thousand-year history, old Bari hides a legend that will make your skin crawl.

Evidence of this is depicted by the sculpture of the face of a Saracen, with his turban, located in a street in old Bari; according to this ancient legend, in fact, it is said that between 847 and 871 the old village of Bari was the protagonist of a story linked to the presence of the Saracens in Puglia and to a monstrous figure of the popular Bari tradition of that time. We are talking about Strada Quercia N. 10, a street in old Bari which, according to legend, seems to have been the scene of a clash between the Bari emir Muffarag (a Saracen warrior who took control of the city) and an evil befana (a skeleton with black tunic and scythe in hand) who appeared every night between the 5th and 6th of January in the alleys of the ancient village to mark with a cross the houses of those who would die within the year, as well as to decapitate with a blow of a glaive all those who met his gaze, exactly at the same moment in which another befana , the good one that we all know, was distributing sweets to the children.

The head of the Turkish legend Bari oldThe story goes that the Turkish warrior and commander, eager to show his strength to the people of Bari to gain their trust and also convert them to Islam, decided to verify the veracity of the popular tradition of Bari by wandering in the night through the streets of old Bari to challenge the very wicked Befana who, shortly thereafter, would sow terror; an encounter that led the warrior first to disbelief and immediately afterwards to death, with his head decapitated and stuck in the architrave of a house, that of Strada Quercia N. 10 . Hence the birth of the saying "the Turk who, in order not to lose face, lost his head" and who, involuntarily, also decreed the liberation of the city from the Saracen commander, hated by the people of Bari.

After several years from the event, legend has it that the evil spirit of the emir continued to wander in the area and made his presence felt at the street address that was the scene of his beheading, so much so that the people of Bari were forced to demolish the house where it happened. the tragic clash with the hope of expelling the Turk's spirit forever.

Head of the Turkish befana Bari old townNow the "Head of the Turk" has found a place in a strange sculpture whose sudden materialization remains shrouded in mystery (it seems that one day a woman recognized the warrior about to reclaim the space on the architrave); a high relief that still today recalls the history of this legend and the curious popular tradition of Bari .

Where is the "Turk's Head" located?

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