Бележки по повод на разказа на турския пътешественик Евлия Челеби от 1652 г. За вещицата от с. Чалъкавак (дн. с. Риш, Шуменско) или за един непознат обичай от днешните български земи
Notes on the Story of the Turkish Explorer Evliya Chelebi Written in 1652 about the Witch from the Village of Chalakavak (Present-day Village of Rish, Shumen Region) or about an Unknown Tradition from the Present-day Bulgarian Territories
The paper is aimed at analyzing the story written by the Turkish explorer Evliya Chelebi about his “adventure” in the village of Chalakavak in 1652. It describes a Bulgarian witch who turned herself into a hen and the local children into chickens. The previously accepted explanation was that Evliya Chelebi had dreamed the event or had been deceived by the Bulgarians who wanted him to leave their village as soon as possible. This paper suggests that he had witnessed a long forgotten winter masquerade festival/parade. It was probably similar to the performance of koledari/survakari, during which people perform a ritual play or a traditional festival wearing disguise. It is similar to the Brezaya ritual still performed in some regions of present-day Northeastern Bulgaria. In the Brezaya ritual, a woman is disguised as a large beaked bird. The study presents the development of the “hen with chickens” symbol and its historical and religious aspects. It is suggested that the ritual performance witnessed by Evliya Chelebi should be interpreted as an evidence for magical and protective activities of the people living in the village of Rish, performed most probably at Christmas time.