Pigeons Breed Seljuk Fantail
"Selçuklu", "Selçuk or as its known by the people of Konya, "enseli" (necked), belongs to the city of Konya, one time capital of the Seljuk Dynasty. The word ense (neck), is used to describe the tail of the bird. This breed is known as "Seljuk Fantail", "Seldjucken" type of names around the world. It is a documented fact that the well known leaders of the Sufisizm and the Whirling Dervishes, a great poet and philosopher "Mevlana Celalettin Rumi", who lived in early 1200s was also a fancier of this breed. After him the followers of his teachings the Sufi çelebi"s (title of the leader of the Derviş order) continued to keep this breed and contributed greatly to its existence today. It is known that this breed was kept and protected within the walls of Seljuk palaces during the Anatolian Seljuk Empire times. After the Seljuks, they were kept by a few wealthy families, who did not sell or gifted any to anyone else, hence it took a long time for their arrival to the Ottoman palaces. Evliya Çelebi did not mention this breed in 1635, when listing the pigeon breeds of İstanbul. We see their arrival in the palace in 1875 during the time of Sultan Abdülhamit II. This breed"s bare existence outside of Konya is explained by its entrance to Anatolia by the way of Seljuk Turks. Their frequent appearances in Seljuk miniatures also supports this theory. Besides, the old fanciers of Konya talking about the Ottoman times also verify this.
SELÇUKLU PIGEONS ARE DISAPPEARING RAPIDLY
Since Selçuks are not kept throughout the country, the breed and its characteristics are not well known. In fact, it makes you think and worry that the website prepared by the Konya municipality contains a large article on pigeon keeping tradition of the city but fails to mention this breed. Number of old breeders that keep Selçuks in Konya also has been declining and this makes it more alarming. Today the future of this breed is in real danger and it needs to be put under protection.
Last few years some birds have been taken out of the country and bred abroad. However, it is also not a common breed outside the country and unfortunately these birds" characteristics have not been protected and degenerated. According to a German source a pair was in 1982 Nurnberg show and another in 1991 Stuttgard show.
I think, some of the main reasons for the breeds" limited existence outside of Konya is due to the extensive efforts that was put into its protection during the Seljuk times. It was even illegal to take one out of the city borders. During the Ottoman times also there was intensive work on its protection. Close to the end of the Ottoman times, it is interesting to note the collective efforts of many top pigeoneers" to better the breed. At that time, as part of the tradition of Konya, banquets that were called "fenfene" took place, where everyone that was invited brought an ingredient to participate. At the end of the feast, the birds were brought out to the middle of the room and released on cloth floor cover. At this time, which bird was going to be paired which bird was decided by unilateral decision by all fanciers in the room. In perspective of breed"s improvement and protection this event had great importance. Another piece of interesting information is son of one of the well known wealthy families of the city, father known as Deli (crazy) Hacı Ali, giving up a water buffalo in order to get a white tailed black Selçuk he had lost at one time to protect his bloodline. These are some of the examples of the value these birds had in the old days. It is sad to see these birds becoming almost extinct today because of ignorance and lack of interest. Famous fanciers that keep this breed in Konya were all trained by Çelebis. These people kept their Selçuks in their mansions during the year and summer times in their summer homes. Some of the important figures that belong to this group of people are Rafet zade Hüseyin Efendi, Hacı Kamil Çelebi, Büyük Selahattin and Küçük Selahattin Çelebiler, Hüsamettin Çelebi, Mehmet Bahhatin Çelebi, Tarikatçı Cemal Çelebi and his son Eyyüp Çelebi, and Arif Çelebi. Besides these prominent people we can also name İbrahim Babadağ, Hacı İsmail Dayı and the famous musician Latif Çavuş. In addition as a family Nakıp zade family, Mecidiye zadeler and other aristocrat families of the city kept pigeons and employed pigeon keepers. There were also citizens with Greek and Armenian backgrounds that contributed to this breed like the sons of Yusuf Şar, family known as Soğuklu, Sarafyan, Solakyan, Kazaros, Sofoklis, Especially a Greek gentleman known as Katip is remembered as having some of the finest birds.
Selçuk is a form (shape, structure) breed. Its looks and colors are always carry the primary importance. Because of this they are not flown but kept in aviaries or gardens. When flown they don"t go far and fly only a few rounds around the loft. During flight they will tumble strait, going forward, in single tumble format. Even though, the ones tumble are considered to be better of them the ones that do not tumble are not disqualified as decent birds. Birds of this breed has a unique body shape. Before anything, they are rather small birds. Fanciers also look for this quality in their birds. In pigeon terminology, "1 esnek" (one elastic), meaning the holding the thumb and the index finger of one"s hand in U shape, about 8cm. (approximately 3.14 inches) apart from each other, is the standard measurement between the starting point of the chest and the anus. In relation to this measurement the back of the birds has to be shorter also. Body shape has to be round like a ball. Chest has to be rather bulging and round. Head has to be carried back. This style of head structure is called "Kısrak Kafa" (Mare Head), named after the Arabian horse. They have a medium size beak, length and with. Shape of the beak is stretched (wide). Eyes are, in the "wide eye" style, large and round with a wide eye ring around. Eye rings are either white color or quince yellow color. Color of the eyes can be white, black, blue or light scarlet. Some times, there can be thin lines of red coloring called "nergiz" (narcissus) seen in the eyes but this is not a desired quality in this breed. Legs are covered with short muffs. They are never clean legged. They can be plain headed or with a head crest. Ones with the head crest, the crest has to extend from one ear to the other.
Their most noticible quality is the tail: Tail, called "ense" (neck), has to be wide. All Selçuks come with ense. Tail is in the style called "deste" (bouquet) or "top" (ball) has to be raised up and in a triangle shape. Some times it is possible to see some with what is called "köprülü ense" (bridged neck) tails, which the tail takes the shape of an half moon. Shape of the tail is just like the fan tails, somewhat upwards and a fan like shape. Raised tail is the preference for the breed. Number of tail feathers are much more than an average pigeon breed. This number has to be minimum 24-26 and maximum 36. Birds are named differently based on the tail shape. Tail can be, as far as the looks go, full in the inside or empty. Based on this quality Selçuks are divided into two groups. Ones with the full in the inside of the tail, have their feathers lined up one under the other. This is called "kılıncına dolma" (sword full) and it is a desired quality. If the section under the tail is not full, I mead the feathers are not lined up under each other but lined up in an angle next to each other, this is called "açık ense" (open neck). Open necks have an empty tail inside. Besides these there area also "sokma kuyruk" (stuck tail) and dalma (diving) as descriptions of tail shape.
Single tumbles while flying. Head crests from one ear to the other. Large and round heads. Short, thick and wide beaks. Ones with long necks that extend backwards. Stand called "kısrak kafa" where the head and the beak are curved towards the body. Ones with short backs. "1 esnek" length. Large eye rings. Ones with white of the that is very white and without hair-veins. Ones with the most tail feathers. Tail stand is almost touching the back of the head are all desired qualities for fanciers of this breed.
Based on the general knowledge and understanding, we believe the Selçuk Turks only brought white-selfs, black-selfs and blues from Central Asia with them. It is a known fact that the colors that can be seen today are the breeding programs that took place in Anatolia. Common colors of today are Ak, Kara, Gök, Çopur, Akkuyrukkara, In addition to these, there are also Pal and Ala colors.
CONDITION OF SELÇUKS TODAY
During my research on Selçuks in Konya, I have noticed the number of fanciers that keep this breed has greatly reduced over the years. Ones that keep it tend to be the older fanciers of the city. Today there are about 10 to 15 people in Konya keep this breed. In my estimate there are about 200 to 250 birds exist in the city. Outside of Konya there are no other Turkish cities these birds exist. Some of the fanciers mentioned a transfer of some birds to Eskişehir at one time. However, I have no knowledge of their existence there. Konya"s own pigeon bazaar called "Muhacir pazarı" that gets set up every Sunday gets large number of Taklas. I noticed 3 Selçuks and they were far from the standard form.
One of the biggest things I have noticed in this breed is the erosion of colors. Today in Konya only gök and akkuyrukkara is left. The other colors can"t be found or I should say they have become extinct. These extinct colors are ak, kara, pal, çopur and ala. I learned that the owner of "Deksan" firm is very interested in this breed in Konya. They have stated that he had purchased 4 of them for some outrageous amount of cash. Apparently he has one other color. However, since I had no way of meeting with this person I could not gather anymore information. I met with Mr. Salim Bekler in Konya, gathered some information from him, analyzed his birds and photographed them.