Exhibit revives myth of ‘Shahmaran’ in Turkey’s Mardin


The myth of Shahmaran, the 10,000-year intangible verbal cultural treasure of Anatolia, is coming to life in southeastern Mardin province with a new exhibition. The “Shahmaran” exhibition by artist Serra Erdoğan has accentuated the historical atmosphere of the Ulubey Mansion.

The “Shahmaran” exhibition is held at the Ulubey Mansion, Mardin, southeastern Turkey. (Courtesy of the artist)

Shahmaran, which means “shah (king) of the snakes” in Persian, is a creature that is half woman and half snake. There were many legends related to this figure in Anatolia thousands of years ago. In one of them snakes, who are called maran, lived underground in peace, and their queen was called Shahmaran. Shahmaran was a beautiful young woman. Legend has it that Cemshab was the first person to see Shahmaran.

Shahmaran lived with other snakes in the most beautiful garden in the world, away from everyone and all evil. Cemshab lived in this garden for many years and earned Shahmaran’s trust. Years later, he said he missed his family and begged to leave. Shahmaran agreed to release him on the condition that he promise not to tell anyone about her place. Cemshab made the promise to Shahmaran and reunited with his family from him. For years, he kept his promise to tell no one where Shahmaran was. However, I have revealed the secret place of Shahmaran one day.

A work that interprets the Shahmaran creature by Serra Erdoğan.  (Courtesy of the artist)

A work that interprets the Shahmaran creature by Serra Erdoğan.  (Courtesy of the artist)

There are several beliefs that Shahmaran lived in that area. One of them was that she lived in the Tarsus province in south-central Turkey, and the other was southeastern Mardin province. In these cities, people have Shahmaran paintings hanging on the walls of their houses.

With her latest exhibition in Mardin’s Ulubey Mansion, artist Erdoğan also revives the myth of Shahmaran one more time with her beautiful colors and lines on the outskirts of Mesopotamia. The “Shahmaran” exhibition offers 29 reinterpretations of the mythological creature by Erdoğan.

A work that interprets the Shahmaran creature by Serra Erdoğan.  (Courtesy of the artist)

A work that interprets the Shahmaran creature by Serra Erdoğan.  (Courtesy of the artist)

The artist’s book entitled “Dara” will also accompany the exhibition, and an autograph session for the book will be organized as part of the show. “Shahmaran” will run until June 29.

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