Astarjian: ‘Esheg Oghlu Esheg’

It might be offensive to some, but for others it a source of psychological satisfaction. Esheg oghlu esheg (donkey son of a donkey): These words are meant to be used as such to insult, belittle, degrade an opponent or the opposition.

Esheg oghlu esheg has an equivalent in Armenian: Shoun shan vorti. (Its English translation, unlike the Armenian version, specifies the gender as male, and translates it into “son of a bitch.”)

Esheg oghlu esheg! When uttered with anger and emphasis, it is cathartic, a release that produces some comfort and tranquility. Esheg oghlu esheg! It resonates!

The Turkish curse has no rival. It is in a class by itself. It deservedly has won the gold medal in this field. It has currency in the Turkish society, is full of profanity and sexual connotations, and is used with great ease. Esheg oghlu esheg!

The curse, when used properly, has to fit the occasion, and this is what the “debutants” of the Buyuk Millet Meclisi (the Great National Assembly or GNA) employed last week to insult each other at an official session of the Turkish Parliament designated to discussing the Armenian and Kurdish issues.

Esheg Oghlu Esheg!

They shouted down the interior minister who was presenting a project that addressed the Armenian and Kurdish “problems.” They held anti-Armenian signs and slogans, and used their esheg oghlu’s while hurling chairs and objects at each other and engaging in a brawl. However, they exercised restraint by not using their guns, which they are allowed to carry to the parliament’s sessions.

Such democratic fights are not alien to the Buyuk Millet Meclisi. It has happened before and I am sure it will happen again. Old habits die hard, and a leopard never changes spots.

The Buyuk Millet Meclisi was established by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk on April 23, 1920. Since then they have passed important legislations, most of which were traversed by military coups, except for Shapqa Qanounu (The Law of the Hat), which forbad wearing turbans, the Islamic head dress, and the traditional Ottoman shalvars. Turks had to look modern, the law said, wearing European-style trousers and jackets with a tie that reached their belly button, dividing the body into two sections, left and right. This was designed to Europeanize Turkish society. People, though illiterate, had to have tutorials to comply with this dress code. The law was still in full force until the present Islamic-oriented government took power. People reverted to their old habits with some modifications. Those who pretended to be modern had longer ties and jackets with single or double vents in the back, ala Saville Row. Women wore the fouta [Islamic-style headdress].

Recently, a Turkish woman who had won a seat in the Turkish Parliament on Nejmettin Erbakan (Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamic Party, now AK) was refused to be seated because she was garbed in fouta. After almost a century, Shapqa Qanouni is still in force.

This same GNA that is adamant about joining the European Union, stripped six Kurdish elected deputies of the Kurdish DEP Party of their parliamentary immunity for their Kurdish-nationalistic inclinations and their demands for much-needed reform in their Kurdish area. They were accused of collaborating with the PKK, the militant Kurdish Labor Party.

Leyla Zana, Ahmet Turk, Hatib Dicle, Mahmut Alinak, Orhan Doghan, and Sirri Sakik were all tried and sentenced to long-term imprisonments—Leyla Zana for 12 years. While in prison, she was recognized internationally as a symbol of struggle for freedom and justice.

One of the most interesting events of the Turkish Parliament occurred when the deputies from Urfa organized a dinner party—a “chigkufta evening.”

They claimed that chigkufta (kheyma, kibbe nayi, or steak tartar) was created in Urfa by the prophet Abraham, and that the original was made with deer meet and bulgur, not lamb or beef. They painstakingly described the intricacies of kneading the meet with bulgur, onions, and parsley.

The party, which was supposed to be held somewhere in Ankara’s suburbs, was moved into the halls of the parliament building because the session was to be extended into the wee hours of the morning, and the parliamentarians could not leave an ongoing session.

The proud skilled ustas (masters) began kneading the kufta. According to Leyla Tavshanoghlu, an eminent reporter from the Cumhuriyet daily, the ustas threw lumps of the kufta to the ceiling for testing; if it stuck then the kufta was considered kneaded just right. The reporter, as well as the public, considered this indiscretion an insult to the honor and sanctity of the parliament. The organizing deputies were heavily criticized.

To put an end to this Turkish national debate, Tavshanoghlu interviewed an apparently famous Turkish gourmet on the subject. The consultant (whose name escapes me at the moment) was from Istanbul and he said, “Chigkufta esheglerin yemegidir” (Chigkufta is the food of the donkeys).

“How about if it is had with red wine?” she asked.

“Then it will be inexcusable, a crime deserving public hanging. It will ruin the Bordeaux!”

This gourmet was true to the Ottoman tradition of state-ordered hanging of innocent Armenians, or lynching them by Turks and Kurds for trivial reasons.

Hanging for drinking Bordeaux with chigkufta?

This is the Buyuk Millet Meclisi—a conglomeration of Armenian- and Kurd-hating, Europeanized, pseudo-intellectuals and a bunch of chauvinists representing the rest of the country, who still think like their predecessors, the Ottomans.

These are the people who are charged with ratifying the Armenian-Turkish protocols, which will not happen until and unless Davutoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, certifies that there has been progress on the Karabagh issue. May God extend their patience 1,000 folds, because they need it!

Meanwhile, my fellow Armenians, if you haven’t eaten chigkufta with wine, you don’t know what you are missing. Bon Appetit!

Dr. Henry Astarjian

Dr. Henry Astarjian

Dr. Henry Astarjian was born in Kirkuk, Iraq. In 1958, he graduated from the Royal College of Medicine and went on to serve as an army medical officer in Iraqi Kurdistan. He continued his medical education in Scotland and England. In 1966, he emigrated to the U.S. In 1992, he served as a New Hampshire delegate to the Republication National Convention in Houston, Texas. For three years Astarjian addressed the Kurdish Parliament in Exile in Brussels, defending Armenian rights to Western Armenia. For three consecutive years, he addressed the American Kurds in California and Maryland. He is the author of The Struggle for Kirkuk, published by Preager and Preager International Securities.
Dr. Henry Astarjian

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  1. You just can’t do without Turkey, can you? Can’t do with it, can’t do without it ! Some sort of mental disorder.

  2. Turks obviously monitor Armenian sites. 
    Shouldn’t Armenians monitor Turkish sites to have a clue for what they might be thinking/saying?

  3. Such a disgraceful article, I can’t believe it.  Cig kufte is not as Turkish as an Arabic food.  What Bordeaux?  It doesn’t even apply.  You are shaming me with your unnecessary comments.

  4. I like using ******** to vent my frustrations, particularly when driving throughout Yerevan. No need to translate that here.
    And I prefer a fine Rioja with my chigkufta. Either that or Cotes du Rhone, depending on my mood.

  5. Seriously, I will side with my Turkish friends here. Come on guys, we could do better than belittle things in such ignorant ways. As an Armenian, I am ashamed seeing an article that equals to nothing and is void of substance.
    This was the strangest article that I’ve encountered here. Strange very strange.
    Sarkis Hagopian

  6. To: Armenian Weekly

    The Only irrelevant and childish articles in the Armenian Weekly are always written by Henry Astarjian. I thought that Armenian Weekly should have been a place where “engaging minds of higher caliber” discuss important matters.
    Next thing I know, Mr. Astarjian will write an article about Hoxa Nassreddine.
    Come on guys, be serious and don’t let Armenian Weekly become the laughing stock of all.

  7. Thank you, Armenian Weekly, for publishing this.   Astarjian is someone who doesn’t feign from telling it like it is, and it is indeed the “esheg oghlu esheg” culture that still dominates our “good neighbor.”   You have done well to publish someone who doesn’t suffer from the “political correctness disease”, which is by far a worse intellectual degenerative agent that Syphilis ever was.

  8. The point of this article is very clear.  Why are people confused or embarrased?  Astarjian is saying things have not changed much in Turkey since Ottoman times.  That’s all.  The last paragraphs explain that.

  9. This opinion peice about the barbarians that run so called turkey is within bounds of  qaulity of the Armenian weekly. Only rabid lapdogs of the enemies of the Armenian people would be upset. Nothing out of bounds of decency was said. We must always be aware of what the enemy does and says. They also come to this website and pretend to be Armenians. It’s been documented as to the lengths the barbarians go raise false flag tactics on Armenian opinion sites. I personally know Armenians who actually side with the turks about Armenian national issues. These so called Armenians are self loathing and seek mental solace from trying to be friends with the enemy and pursue political correctness. It’s too bad the ones that spread their propaganda dont put their real names to their turkish inspired sophistry. It’s funny how those who dont agree with nationalist oppinions utilize irrrelevant, childish and back handed insults to obfuscate so as to prevent real debate.

  10. Hi Dino:
    Why are you hate Turks? RA and Armenian people are not our enemies. We have lived 700 years together. We have a lot of in common. Of course we have differences.  If you are disagree with us, please tell your opinion without using vulgar language. You have no right to insult Turks. If you insult the Turks, they will ignore you and this discussion forum will be from Armenian to Armenian. I would appreciate, if you discuss your opinion like civilized person. Thank you.

  11. Well, supposedly Turks are still just like they were in Ottoman times (nevermind that Republic of Turkey is an antethesis of Ottoman dynasty in every aspect imaginable).  It seems to be an improvment though to where Armenians are if we attempt to judge them (I dont!) by the quality and tone of this wonderful piece and the responses it has evoked!

  12. Murat, Ali, Selcuk.
    I for one, do not hate Turks. Have absolutely nothing against the Turkish people. Never had, never will.
    I don’t want any monetary compensation.
    I don’t care much about lost land.
    All I want is a simple sincere apology for the 1915 Genocide, and thats from the Turkish government.
    Hypothetically  speaking..if P.M. Erdogan calls me and tells me that the Turkish government accepts the responsibility for the 1915 Genocide, then my issues with the Turkish government is done with. That way, I can finally say a prayer and let the souls of  my 177 Bairakdarian slain relatives to rest, alongside the rest of the slain 1.5 million of my people.
    I don’t want one Kurus or one  Lira from the Turkish government nor the people.
    And once again, nothing against you three nor the 60 million Turks in Turkey.
    I wish you all well.
    Vrej Bairakdarian

  13. Vrej Arkadas,

    All you say is fine, but who will apologize for my grandfathers whole family killed off, not marched off in Bitlis or my grandmothers whole family and town ethnically cleansed from Crete?  Not that I have or had any such demands, but if I were to, who would be apologizing?  Who will pay for the crimes your  revolutionaries committed against a whole nation, just like the CUP leaders who were hunted down like animals?  I just wanted to know. 

  14. As far as Jews are concerned, the Genocide did indeed happen. All the years that we armed and trained Turkey, amounted to nothing…no matter how we help them, they come around and stab us on the back.  Because we support Turkey, does not in any way diminish the reality and the importance of the Genocide.  Sooner or later, these marauding Islamic Turks will come around and betray us. Remember how Ergogan tried to betrayed our president? We don’t forget, but we are a very patient people, we wait and act with prudance and justice.
    To Turks: You continue your pan-Islamic policy, and we will turn our backs on you. Either Islamic fundamentalism or Israel. The choice is yours.
    To Armenians: We know the Truth, Turks committed the Genocide, plain and simple.
    Kahan Eli

  15. Mr. Erdogan is an Islamist, he is taking the country 100 years back by feeding hate for Armenians and Kurds. European Turkey needs European understanding not Islamist regime that isolates Armenia, US, Israel and downgrades its own people the Kurds (not PKK).

  16. To Eli Kahan,
    Did you know that during WWI the turks decided to “relocate” the Jews of palastine in a similar manner as they did the Armenians? The German general staff in turkey stopped the turks from doing so. The man who ran auschwitz was a german army member of a turkish organization called the “special organization” that is equivalent of the mobile death squads of the SS.  He, without a doubt, witnessed the murders of Armenian men women and children. Hitlers most importnat adviser and confidant before the Munich putsch was a diplomat in eastern turkey and witnessed the Armenian genocide. He of course would discuss what happened to the Armenians with Hitler. The  secret cables he sent back to his embassy and to Berlin show that Armenians were not involved in a revolution with the turkish state and that the intention of the turkish authorities was to murder the Armenian nation and inherit the wealth of the Armenian nation. The word genocide was not invented yet but the phrase he used over and over again as did his german and austrian colleagues in their secret cables to their foreign ministries was ‘race extermination’. 
             Tell me Eli, if an unrepentant genocide denying Germany bordered Israel, occupied 90% of Israel, took the bulk of Jewish wealth and cultural artifacts, bulldozed 6th century Jewish temples as late as 3 years ago, spends multi millions to make sure anything a Jew would want around the world be sqaushed, how would you take that? Oh well, lets have a historical commission to figure out what really happened during world war II? Let’s have a document saying we recognize the de facto german Israeli border when there is a legal document that shows Germany illegally occupies 40,000 square miles of Israel? What kind of a man would want to sit down with neo nazis and “talk” ? If you ask me that man is not much of a man. More like a quisling, a pansy and a traitor.

  17. Hi, I was researching the Urartu People this evening and ended up on your website.  I am a product of grandparents who fled the genocide.  Since I was young I was told about the inhumanity and barbarism of the turks , (small t. )  Of late I find it ncessary to learn as much as I can about our history and ongoing issues with these want to be Europeans .  (viva la French,) Try as they will ,they’re  people with limited horizons .  Ignorance and hate poison the psyche.   It ‘s  like a cancer.  Where i live in the U.S. we have of late had an influx of turks (small t) and I have quietly watched how thoughtlessly they have  antagonized an entire community.     They have set up shops selling fake Native American jewelry and rugs.   The fakes are produced in the old country, falsely signed and sold at discounted prices here.    In doing so they are robbing the Native American Community of a livelyhood they so desperately need, it is their heritage.  (sound familiar)  Town meetings were held and fines were levied against them.   Anyway enough of that maybe you could direct me to some other historical sites.  Please keep me updated, and by the way they are teaching Armenian History at Univ. of Calif. at Irvine .  I was very pleased to hear the staff is trying to make it a permanent part of the curriculum.       Best Regards Patricia Agemian

  18. Dr. Astarjian, once again you have hit the nail on the head! Bravo. Any Westerner who looks closely at the goings on in Turkey will come to your conclusion. The mentality of the Turkish government is profoundly Ottoman and becoming more so by the day. This is not good for Europe or the West. Why would defenders of “modern” Turkey ever think that after 1,000 years of Ottoman influence and rule, that within less than 100 years since Ataturk, the Ottoman mindset can be erased from the Turkish government or the Turkish people? That’s absurd. Let anyone who doubts your claims here just research it for themselves. You have done an outstanding job with this article as with your previous articles. Thank you.

    In later more sophisticated texts Seth is commonly characterized as a red ass or red dog, being associated with the color red from an early period. Red symbolizes in Egyptian thought the red land of the desert, of lower Egypt, as opposed to the black land rendered fertile by the Nile’s annual inundation, which gave its name to the Egyptian term for their own nation, Kemit, ‘the black land’ of the Nile delta.

    Seth and the sha-animals are strongly associated with the desert and pyritic rough mountainous grounds, Asia/Ashia.
    The Ass has a very fundamental symbolic meaning, the animal appears as an attribute of Saturn in his capacity as the ‘second sun’ on earth. It is always on heat, red, thus rejected by Isis.

    Jung defines the Ass as the ‘daemon triunus’ as the chthonian trinity, which in Latin alchemy was depicted as a three headed monster, later defined as the three principals of matter, salt, sulfur and mercury.

    Its name in Armenian a PIE language is ESH. The phoneme E in Armenian pronounced eh is the seventh letter in the modern alphabet and the third vowel representing the seven and seventh. E is the prefix, in meaning it represents the idea of ETERNAL BEING. Armenian E translates into English as IS, (he, she or it IS. E is the prefix for words like ontology, being, for existence, an entity, to be, to exist, reality and essence. The only other words beginning with E in Armenian are Ech for page of book, Ek for feminine and Esh for Ass, donkey. So when in Turkish one says ESH OGLU ESHEK, they are saying ‘the son of a HeASS and a SheASS.’That is so cool.

    Now that is a compliment if one understands how vital a position the ESH still holds within a democratic society. Without the ASS there is no foundation to any form of culture. The character of, or better still the ASS alone has built and still builds every ‘CIVILIZATION’.

    The ESH is the foremost example of the BEARER OF THE BURDEN OF LIFE.

    The phoneme SHa which is the 23rd letter of the Armenian alphabet represents 500 and 500th. The word/phoneme SHah means the gain or profit of a venture, as in business, give and take, it represents the profit carried forward. The son of the ESH.
    SHAHE is a common name, metaphorically meaning, a resultant of an action that leaves a gain. SHad means ‘a lot.

    Armenian SHabat, or SHa*BT, represents the week, BT the set of the ascending 7, also represents Saturday, the Sabbath, the foundation, the first creation, the base, the last of the full set of seven. The ESH represents a human burden, the burden of existence, that one we carry or carries us along the path of life for six days and the on the seventh day for rest, well earned by the ESH I am sure.

    So it follows that the origin of ESH is PIE, where E represents the ontological concept of ‘being, becoming, and SH phoneme represents the concept of the flow in rhythm. The ESH is the SHining light showing humans the pace of the sure footed individual how to pace ones life, representing life as a burden, best measured and paced by the seven day week.
    ASS is an original essential symbol, for pacing life, the first set measure for work and rest. CREATION and CREATIVE WORK IN TIME was MEASURED as a SHA*BT. Saturn the founder of time in space. When did Saturday get replaced by Sunday?

    The Ass historically has, been associated with humans living at or below subsistence levels. The carriers of the burden, the working classes.

    As beasts of burden and companions, asses or donkeys have worked with humans for millennia. The creator of the measure of time and the father of Golden Age Greeks spoke of.

    After God gave the ESH/ASS the power to speak its mind, from the day the Ass spoke to Balaam, it become the carrier of divine providence. The voice of the worker. Today the symbol of the working party of America.

    The most common mascot symbol for the party has been the donkey, or jackass. Andrew Jackson’s enemies twisted his name to “jackass” as a term of ridicule regarding a stupid and stubborn animal. However, the Democrats liked the common-man implications and picked it up too, therefore the image persisted and evolved. Its most lasting impression came from the cartoons of Thomas Nast from 1870 in Harper’s Weekly.

    In the early 20th century, the traditional symbol of the Democratic Party in Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Ohio was the rooster, that is ready to go at the crack of dawn as opposed to the Republican eagle. This symbol still appears on Oklahoma, Kentucky, Indiana, and West Virginia ballots. The rooster was adopted as the official symbol of the national Democratic Party.

    ESH, is a symbol that reveals strong sexuality, an Ass is sure footed, confident and competent, versatile, intelligent, an eager worker at a steady pace, has determination, yet stubborn when pushed. The implication of ‘walk with small steps’, as well as ‘refuse’, which have the potential to develop into a workers strike, as in ‘stand stable’, ‘stand firm’ and ‘sustain’. Spiritually speaking, we have dedication, undying faith, a willingness to take on board the responsibilities and burdens of others (beast of burden). We should note that the donkey also came to expresses the idea of ‘peace’ and ‘ordinariness’, as well as a symbol of omnipotence as well a the most humbling manifestation. An Ass is an essential symbol of something great transmitted by the most ordinary, most common.

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