- Shah = queen & Meran = snake
- The Shahmeran is a beautiful woman who is a snake from the waist down. Forever young, she is the queen of the snakes, wise and benevolent with healing powers. She passes her powers down to her daughter when she dies.
The Meran are a peaceful lot, and wish to live in their watery caves without interference from the outside world. But one day a young man named Cansab falls into a well (or a cave, depending on which story you follow). He can't get back out, so the Meran take mercy on him and allow him to stay with them.
The Shah of the people (or whatever else you want to call the guy in charge) falls ill, and someone mentions that the Shameran is the cure. All the citizens are draggged to the bath, one by one, to find out who knows the Meran secrets. (Apparently, the turning-into-a-snake-when-you-touch-water thing wasn't one of the secrets.) Cansab avoids being captured for a long time, but eventually he's found out and "persuaded" to reveal the location of Shahmeran's cave.
The Shahmeran is killed in a battle at the roman bath (which his why her blood stains the walls there still) and then she's cut into three pieces. The first piece is given to the vizier who hatched the evil plan. He is poisoned by it and dies, but the second piece is given to the Shah and he is healed. As a reward, Cansab is given the third piece and he becomes incredibly wise. The Shah makes Cansab the new vizier.
And no snake alive doesn't know this story, so that's why they bite people.
- There's another Seven Sleepers cave near Ephesus, and it's more likely to be from the correct time period for that story.
- There are trees outside the cave in Tarsus covered in prayers. You know, little strips of cotton tied to the branches. (This one in Cappadocia is plastered with wishes.) Lots of girls tie one on for protection.
- The cave is supposed to heal whatever ails you, which is what the Shahmeran was known for.
- There a story about someone who fell down into the cave and couldn't get out. Might that be Cansab?
- It feels kind of damp in the cave, like there's water somewhere down at the bottom. Just right for a Meran hideout. There are lots of underground springs feeding the rivers in the area.
Well, it's a long story, but it starts with Mersin (near Tarsus, btw). That's where my DH is from and I lived there for a while. The town has a Deniz Kizi (mermaid) story that I researched a bit, without success. But then I started to write the tale of KizKalesi and stumbled on Melusine of Lusignan, France, because my MC's mother was a Lusignan. (I tracked some geneology. Crusaders came from Western Europe, you see.)
Melusine was human most of the time. She was wise and beautiful, and her noble husband adored her. But one day a week, she bathed and reverted to nixie form. (Kind of like Cansab did when he was forced to take a bath, see?) She forbade her husband to see her on that day, but he peeked and she freaked. (In some tales she turns into a dragon.) Then she hopped back into her river and was never seen again. (She must have known what happened to Shahmeran!)
Melusine had a double tail, but her namesake may have been Byzantine. In fact, her namesake may have been from Armenian Cilicia, specifically from the capital city of Tarsus. (Bingo!) Like my favorite post on goddess culture, the stories intertwine. And you know that story spinning stuff that starts rolling in your head....but I'm not going there. I'm working on the djinn. (But I do have one character named Melisende. Couldn't resist!)
Starbucks with a shot of Byzantine
Some famous Nixies:
|you know where this came from!|
|In churches across Europe|
@St-Pierre de Bessuéjouls
|Sirene of Warsaw|