Enderunlu Fazil

Posted on October 27, 2010


The Turkish poet Ederunlu Fazil (Fazyl bin Tahil Enderuni) lived from 1759-1810. As was common for the Ottoman Empire from the 16th to the 19th centuries where the love of men for boys and youths was a popular subject for poetry, much of Fazil’s writing is explicitly homoerotic. His most famous work is The Book of the Handsome Ones, which details the qualities of boys in a variety of different cities and cultures – from Aleppo to Zanzibar, Jews to Gypsies. In his Book of Male Dancers, he details the qualities of various dancers in Istanbul, such as this detail:

The proportional body and stature of Misirli, the shah of Çengis, are unique. He is of Jewish origin. When he starts to dance with his whole body, he drives the public crazy… He has a myriad of lovers. Both his face and his walk are pleasant; he looks more pleasant when he unfastens his shalvar [trousers]…

It wasn’t until the middle of the 19th century that the influence of Europeans turned the Turks against their famous köçek dancing boys and iç oglans boy pages and such open displays of love between men (albeit with certain strictures and like many pre-20th century cultures that accepted or even promoted homosexuality, relationships were unequal and frequently involved youths and even boys and where passive anal sex was looked down upon).

For more information about Turkish gay history, look at the glbtq.com pages on Turkey, here. You can read more about köçek dancers, here.