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Zincirli Medrese Association (Bakhchisaray)

Door of Zincirli Medrese Crimean Tatar non-profit organizations work not only in traditional spheres, but also in areas relating to the repatriation of the deportees. Among such activities are the restoration and further development of historical and cultural traditions.

The Zincirli Medrese Association has borrowed its name from the historical Zincirli Medrese, one of the oldest educational institutions in eastern Europe. The Medrese in turn takes its name from the large chain that hangs over its door. First established in the 16th century, it became a progressive school in Crimea, especially under the leadership of the famous Crimean Tatar leader and publisher Ismail Gaspirali (1851-1914).

The Zincirli Medrese Association was founded in 1997, with the purpose of restoring the Medrese building and turning it into a functioning educational facility once again. The Association has taken the initial steps toward restoring the historical structure and is currently seeking additional funding for the completion of the restoration project.

Kuresh Champion The Zincirli Medrese is also active in reviving nearly forgotten Crimean Tatar traditions. Since 1998 the Association has been involved in reviving a national sport: Kuresh or wrestling. Two qualified trainers, a wrestler and a professional athlete, now offer classes for more than 50 interested teenagers. It is also worth noting that the training sessions are not limited only to Crimean Tatar youth but include teenagers of other ethnic backgrounds.

In order to collect more information about Kuresh, the trainers have traveled to various regions of Crimea to meet older people familiar with the tactics of wrestling matches or descendants of famous wrestler families. In February 1999, the organization received a grant from the Canadian Embassy in Ukraine for establishing a School of Crimean Tatar National Wrestling in Bakhchisaray. The funds were used to purchase the necessary equipment and uniforms for the sportsmen. The Association is also planning to organize a conference to determine the general rules of Kuresh. According to an agreement reached with the Crimean Republican Association of Sport Affairs, the Federation of Kuresh will soon be registered officially.

In 1999 the Zincirli Medrese Association established an Experimental Theater in Bakhchisaray. Aspiring young actors (ages 16-20) participate in classes, offered by Elmar Ablayev, a talented graduate student from the Kiev State Theater Institute, and other teachers. The theater performances, consisting of short plays, will be in the Crimean Tatar language. The premiere performance is scheduled for October 1999. The financial assistance for the Experimental Theater project has been provided by IDEE-Warsaw Foundation.


Right: Door of the 16th-century Zincirli Medrese.
Left: Server Mustafayev, a 25-year old wrestler who won the first prize, a 97-kg live sheep, in a recent Kuresh Championship. Zekerya Osmanov (right) served as referee.

1, Pushkin Street, Bakhchisaray
334410 Crimea, Ukraine
Tel/Fax: (+38 06554) 47111

Chairman: Riza Seitveliev
Program Coordinator: Gennadi Samusev

Program Coordinator for Kuresh Activities:
Alim Memetov
Fax: (+3806554) 47491


ICC, P.O.Box 15078, Washington, DC 20003