The presence and traces of the poppy plant in the Anatolian culture Haşhaş Bitkisinin Anadolu Kültüründeki Yeri Ve Izleri

Erol A. F., Yanik E.

Milli Folklor, vol.2019, no.124, pp.202-212, 2019 (Scopus) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 2019 Issue: 124
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Journal Name: Milli Folklor
  • Journal Indexes: Scopus, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.202-212
  • Keywords: Anatolia, Culture, Humanity, Papaver Somniferum, Poppy
  • Ankara Haci Bayram Veli University Affiliated: Yes


The abundant land of Anatolia has witnessed many different civilisations throughout history and has offered a shared living space to many communities from different cultures. Each civilisation that flourished in this geography inherited and benefited from the existing cultural heritage in these lands. They also contributed to that heritage themselves and passed it onto next civilisations as a guiding framework. Anatolian dwellers enjoyed the rich plant ecosystem around them, and they advanced a shared and well-established culture of agriculture. Despite the inadequacy of archeobotanical evidence, it has been a longstanding thought that the poppy plant was grown in Anatolia even in pre-historic times. On the other hand, there are many examples that provide evidence to this plant being used by many civilisations as part of a shared agricultural tradition. The earliest written references to the poppy plant in Anatolia can be found as early as the 2nd millenium B.C., while the plant has been constantly used in the geography throughout history. The poppy plant was frequently used in medical treatments by various ancient civilisations and as a decoration element on needles belonging to the Hittites and the Urartians. Anatolian medics such as Pedanius Dioscorides, Galenos and Aetius also resorted to opium for its medicinal purposes. The poppy plant depicted on the coins of many cities such as Synnada, Ankyra and Elaia. The Saljuks of Anatolia, besides in food and medical treatments, used the figure of the poppy plant decoratively in their architecture. Decorations on carpets and rugs, grave stones and ceramic pieces from palaces all indicate that the Anatolian society cared about the poppy plant greatly. Travellers who visited Anatolia between 16th and 19th century recorded important information about the plant. The Ottomans, in turn, by virtue of inheriting the Mesopotamian and Early Islamic cultural heritage, benefited from the plant in various different ways. Indeed, in the 19th century Ottoman Empire, the poppy plant was the seventh biggest export after tobacco, wheat, barley, raisins, pure silk and figs. Even in the Turkish Republic did the plant continue to contribute to the national economy and culture. Even though its production and consumption has been restricted in due course, the poppy plant still retains its importance to this day. In essence, it's used as a food item, as a source of heating, and as a medical ingredient. It is also depicted on various objects of daily use. The figure of the poppy plant embodies different emotions and meanings. It often combines life and death, two contrary concepts. This study examines the writings of ancient authors, travellers' records, modern sources, archaeological findings, coins and various other types of visual material, and then presents them chronologically. This article examines to what extent the poppy seed plant influenced the economic, social and cultural life in Anatolia. Records from authors of the Antiquity, travelbooks, modern books and studies, as well as archeological findings such as coins and various visual materials have been analysed. The conclusions have been listed in this study in a chronological order.