Photo courtesy of Eowyn Amberdrake
Azure crescenty argent, a zulfikar inverted Or and a gore sinister argent
Gürcü IskenderRRE Better known to most as "Sasha"
Areas of interest include Osmanli (Ottoman) history, arts (especially music and poetry) and culture.
Gürcü Iskender ('Iskender from Georgia') - often called ’Sasha’ by his close friends and compatriots, was born in Tiflis (now called Tblisi), Georgia in 1500 to a Christian family. At the age of 7, he was taken as part of the devşirme, or boy tribute - to become a yeniceri, or janissary, one of the slave-soldiers of the Ottoman empire. He went to the barracks-schools in Istanbul, where he learned to read and write, learned Osmalica (the Turkish language), math, science, history, and the arts of the soldier. The boys of the cadet school were also indoctrinated into Islam, under the tutelage of dervishes from the Bektashi Order.
During his service, he serves as a member of the Ninth Orta (Battalion), a heavy infantry battalion which served in both major campaigns of the time - against the Safavid Persian empire, and supporting the Hungarian Vassel-King, Zapolya Janos, in his war against the Hapsburg Sultan, Ferdinand I in Macaristan (Hungary). He was present during the siege of Estergom in 1543, where he was injured by a Hapsburg musket ball. He currently holds the military rank of Boluk-bashi (equivalent to a modern Captain).
He plays the music of the area on a variety of instruments (winds, lutes and percussion), and is particularly interested in folk music, as well as art (court) music, and the devotional music of the dervishes. He dabbles in writing Sufi poetry - being influenced by Rumi, al-Hallaj, and Yunus Emre, and experiments in ebru (paper marbling) and calligraphy. He looks forward to retiring from active service, while continuing to serve the Sultan as a member of the civilian bureaucracy or diplomatic corps - like many other yeniceri veterans. He also intends to go on hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca) as soon as is possible - a duty required of all Muslims.
Offices & Positions
- Musician to the Royal Courts of Edric and Faizah
- Middle Eastern Studies, Collegium Caidis Regent, Fall 2007 – Present
- Yurts, Kabitkas & Boz Uy - An Introduction To The Lattice-frame Tent LAB, Collegium Caidis Fall 2008