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Snake-bodied Woman

The Legend of Shahmaran

By Ozgur Karadeniz Published 2 months ago 3 min read
Snake-bodied Woman
Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash

The story of Şahmaran has become a subject of curiosity after the series released on Netflix. Let's take a closer look at this story, which has great importance in Turkish mythology.

Although known as a snake-bodied woman, Shahmaran is not just an extraordinary body. Shahmaran, which is found in Turkish, Iranian, Iraqi, Kurdish, Persian, and Anatolian mythology, is much more than an ordinary legend for many civilizations.

The word Shahmaran is of Persian origin and consists of the words "shah" and "maran". "Maran" means snake in Persian. Although the Shahmaran legend is told differently in many records, a woman with a snake body is included in its essence. Although associated with evil when it comes to snakes, Shahmaran is identified with goodness and wisdom. Although Shahmaran is known as an extraordinary being that never ages and is believed to pass its soul to its daughter when it dies, it is claimed to have been seen by many people in Anatolia.

Shahmaran Legend in Different Civilizations

The Shahmaran Legend, whose origins date back to the Greek mythology of Medusa, is known by different names in many civilizations. Shahmaran is known as Illuyanka in the Hittite period, Zilant in Tatar, and Shahmaran in Kurdish.

Shahmaran and Healing

All of the legends told about Shahmaran include healing properties attributed to Shahmaran. According to the legends, Shahmaran's meat is believed to heal all diseases. Shahmaran can be a healer as well as lethal. The person who boils and drinks the water of Shahmaran is punished with death. According to some legends, Cemshab, who encounters Shahmaran, is actually Lokman Hekim.

Shahmaran Bath

According to one legend, Shahmaran is killed by Cemshab in a bath located in the Kizilmurat district of Tarsus. Because of this legend, the name of the bath where Shahmaran was killed is called Shahmaran Bath.

Shahmaran After Her Death

When Shahmaran is killed, her body is divided into three parts. One part poisons and kills the person, the other part eliminates all of the person's illnesses when consumed, and the final part gives wisdom in the field of medicine to the person who drinks its water.

Shahmaran Legend

The most well-known Shahmaran Legend is the legend between Cemshab and Shahmaran. The legend, which takes place in the city of Tarsus in Mersin, tells the story of the snakes living in peace seven layers below the ground. Shahmaran, known as the mother and queen of the snakes, is described as a young and beautiful woman. Cemshab, another hero of the legend, is the son of a poor family who makes a living from logging.

One day, Cemshab and his friends discover a cave full of honey. His friends choose Cemshab to extract the honey, leaving him in the cave to get more honey for themselves. Cemshab, who stays in the cave, sees a hole that emits light a little further. Using his knife in his pocket, Cemshab enlarges the hole and sees a garden he has never seen before in his life. Cemshab encounters Shahmaran and gains her trust, living in this cave for many years. Until he longs for his family and leaves the cave.


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