The Legend of Şahmeran (pronounced Shah Meran, a Persian name meaning the “Shah of snakes”) dates back to Mesopotamian Civilisations, and is believed to have originated in Mardin (or Tarsus – both cities having claims on Shahmeran) in south/southeastern Turkey today. It is the love story between a handsome boy, Tahmasp, and Shahmeran who was half snake and half a very beautiful woman.
When Tahmasp is stuck in a cave, and is trying to find a way out, he comes across a passage which leads to a mystical and beautiful garden with thousands of coloured snakes and their queen Shahmeran living together harmoniously. Shahmeran and Tahmasp fall in love and live in the cave for a period of time while Shahmeran tells him all the secrets of the universe and also teaches him about medicines and medicinal herbs.
When Tahmasp misses the world outside, Shahmeran lets him go with the promise that he will neither share the secret of her living there nor the formulae of her medicines.
Many years later, when the King of Mardin (or Tarsus) falls gravely ill, his Vizir discovers that the only cure for his King would be eating a piece of the flesh of Shahmeran. A nationwide search is started to find her. Tahmasp is somehow apprehended and tortured until he confesses the whereabouts of Shahmeran.
She is then caught in her cave, brought to the city and cut to pieces inside a hamam (bath house). Before dying she utters a curse on whoever would eat her head to die, but pledges long life for anyone who would eat part of her body. Tahmasp, present during her execution and in great anguish, decides to kill himself and jumps to eat her head. Others rush to eat parts of her body.
In fact Shahmeran has fooled them all, and exactly the opposite happens. While everybody else dies, Tahmasp acquires eternal life and becomes the most famous healer of all times.
In the region mentioned above, Shahmeran’s image is still depicted on soaps, embroidery, fabrics and jewelry. Her portraits are traditionally hung on walls inside houses especially on girls’ bedroom walls. It is believed that hanging her pictures brings good fortune for them.
Do not miss the fantasy-action Netflix series The Gift. The Gift is about young painter in Istanbul, who embarks on a personal journey as she unearths universal secrets about an Anatolian archaeological site and its link to her past. The Shahmeran symbol is one of the mythological details encountered in the series.
There also are hamams known as “Shahmeran Hamams” where embroidered towel sets and soaps are used. Why don't you discover various spa sets in our Shahmeran Wellbeing Collection.