The Tomb of Ahi Evran

The Tomb of Ahi Evran

Ahi Evran, who is considered a wise leader of 32 different crafts and trades in Turkey, was particularly renowned for his expertise in tanning. He was born near the district of Hoy in Azerbaijan, which is now part of Iran, although the exact date of his birth is unknown. It is estimated that he was born in 1171, based on the fact that he lived to the age of 93 and passed away in 1261.

Ahi Evran received his education in Azerbaijan, Khorasan, and Baghdad before relocating to Kayseri in Anatolia, where he founded the Ahi order. The organization quickly gained popularity in many cities throughout Anatolia, and Ahi Evran ultimately settled in Kırşehir, where he lived until his death.

The Tomb of Ahi Evran

The term "Ahi" comes from the Arabic word for brother, and it refers to an organization that brings together artists and merchants in a collective that supports them in their trades and professions. This organization has many similarities to a fraternity or family.

In order to become a successful Ahi, individuals must begin as assistants before progressing to an apprenticeship. The process can take up to three years, or approximately 1,000 days, to complete before one becomes a master in their craft.

The hierarchical structure of the Ahi profession heavily incorporates Islamic principles, and it has been augmented with Muslim beliefs and traditions for many centuries to keep it relevant to contemporary times. Following its establishment, the Ahi organization quickly spread throughout the Islamic world. However, by the end of the 16th century, the guild faced significant challenges as a result of the invasion of industrial imports into Ottoman markets, which made it difficult to find raw materials and consumers for their products. This situation persisted until 1861 when a regulation banning monopolies was implemented, opening up trade and artisanry.

With the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the guilds were left to die out, and the activities in Ahi hermitages came to an end. However, the Ahilik Guild returns each year for a week-long celebration every September, sponsored by the ministry, to review their history and commemorate their traditions in Kırşehir.

The Tomb of Ahi Evran was built in 1450 by Hasan Bey, an Ahi craftsman. In 1481, Bozkurt of Dulkadir, a bey of Dulkadir Beylik that briefly captured Kırşehir, added a zaviye (Islamic hermitage) and expanded the complex. Both Hasan Bey and Bozkurt of Dulkadir had inscriptions in the complex. The exact location of Ahi Evran's grave was determined by the location of other Ahi graves, and the room was decorated in the 19th century.

The Tomb of Ahi Evran was nominated for the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in the Cultural category on April 15, 2014.