Turkey’s Mesir Paste — The Secret Aphrodisiacs from the Ottoman Period

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Mesir paste tradition (Mesir Macunu in Turkish) is a very old tradition in the history of Manisa. The city, by the way, is an Anatolian city in the Aegean region. So, the tradition dates back to almost 500 years. Mesir paste started as a medicine invention during the Ottoman period. However, it became an important part of local festivity in this city afterward.

After Hafsa Sultan ate mesir paste, she immediately recovered. (Image Credit-Milliyet)
After Hafsa Sultan ate mesir paste, she immediately recovered. (Image Credit-Milliyet)

The Origin of Mesir Paste

According to the historians, the story of the mesir paste goes back to Ayse Hafsa Sultan. She was the wife of Yavuz Sultan Selim (an Ottoman emperor) and the mother of Suleyman the Magnificent. After her placement from Crimea to the Ottoman Harem in the 16th century, she became very ill following the death of her husband. However, doctors couldn’t find a cure.

Manisa's Mesir Macunu Festival is now 480 years old. (Image Credit-Seyahat53)
Manisa’s Mesir Macunu Festival is now 480 years old. (Image Credit-Seyahat53)

So, Sultan Suleyman consulted Merkez Muslihiddin Efendi, the head of the theological school belonging to the Yavuz Selim Mosque. Meanwhile, he was already making medicines using herbs and spices for sick people. Moreover, he built a small sort of hospital next to the school. After receiving Suleyman’s letter regarding his ill mother, he mixed 41 different types of plants and spices together to form a medicinal paste. Afterward, he sent the paste to the palace.

How did The Paste Become So Popular?

When Hafsa Sultan did eat this paste, she recovered. Therefore, she wanted to share this miraculous medicine with others. As a result of the increasing requests from people, the Sultan told Merkez Efendi to distribute the paste to the people every year in a form of festivity. Thus, they selected the 21st of March because it symbolized the beginning of Spring. Furthermore, as for the location, they chose the tops of the Sultan Mosque’s domes and minarets.

Many people in Turkey and the world also call the paste as Turkish Viagra.
Many people in Turkey and the world also call the paste as Turkish Viagra.

So, The Mesir Celebration (Manisa Mesir Paste Festival) began this way in around 1527-1528. Since then, every year on or around March 21st, which is also famous as the Spring festival Newroz, thousands of people gather in front of the Sultan Mosque. Therefore, they try to catch the Mesir Paste wrapped in paper thrown from mosques rooftop.

About The Date of The Festival

So many important names from the state and business meet at the festival every year.
So many important names from the state and business meet at the festival every year.

Some years there might be exceptions to the festival date. The local municipality, for instance, can postpone the festival to the mid or end of April due to various reasons. For example, elections or milder weather conditions may cause postponement. So, in 2019, the 479th edition was celebrated between 23-28 April.

Manisa’s Mesir Paste in UNESCO

In 2012, in the meantime, Manisa’s Mesir Paste has entered into the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Mesir paste tradition (Mesir Macunu in Turkish) is a very old tradition in the history of Manisa. (Image Credit-Manisa Ticaret Borsası)
Mesir paste tradition (Mesir Macunu in Turkish) is a very old tradition in the history of Manisa. (Image Credit-Manisa Ticaret Borsası)

The Ingredient of “Turkish Viagra”

So, many people in Turkey and the world also call the paste as Turkish Viagra. The reason why they call it Viagra is because of the high aphrodisiac effect of the paste. Similarly, it is believed that the paste contains effective nutrients. In other words, the paste increases the user’s sexual power.

The Mesir Celebration (Manisa Mesir Paste Festival) began in around 1527-1528. (Image Credit-Hürriyet)
The Mesir Celebration (Manisa Mesir Paste Festival) began in around 1527-1528. (Image Credit-Hürriyet)

Finally, below you can see the list of spices and herbs used in making the Mesir Paste. Moreover, we also added their Turkish and Latin names to make it more understandable and easy to find!

  • Allspice (Yeni bahar) (Pimenta dioica)
  • Alpina officinarum root (Havlican koku) (Alpina officinarium)
  • Anise (Anason) (Anisum Vulgare)
  • Black cumin (Corek otu) (Nigella sativa)
  • Black myrobalan (Kara halile) (Terminalia nigra)
  • Black pepper (Karabiber) (Piper nigrum)
  • Buckthorn (Topalak or Akdiken) (Nerprun alaterne)
  • Cardamon (Kakule) (Elettaria cardamomum)
  • Cassia (Hiyarsenbe) (Cassia)
  • Chebulic myrobalan (Kara halile) (Terminalia chebula)
  • China root (Cop-i Cini) (Smilax china)
  • Cinnamon (Tarcin) (Cinnamomum Verum)
  • Cloves (Karanfil) (Syzygium aromaticum)
  • Coconut (Hindistan cevizi) (Cocos nucifera)
  • Coriander (Kisnis) (Coriandrum sativum)
  • Cubeb (Kebabe) (Cubebae Fructus)
  • Cumin (Kimyon) (Cuminum cyminum)
  • Dried orange blossom (Portakal cicegi)
  • Fennel (Rezene) (Foeniculum vulgare)
  • Galingale (Havlican) (Alpinia officinarum)
  • Ginger (Zencefil) (Zingibar Officinalis)
  • Iksir sugar (Iksir sekeri)
  • India blossom (Hindistan cicegi)
  • Java pepper (Kuyruklu Biber) (Piper cubeba)
  • Licorice extract (Meyan balı) (Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fisch)
  • Licorice root (Meyan koku) (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
  • Mastic (Cam sakizi) (Mastichum)
  • Millet (Hintdarisi) (Pennisetum glaucum)
  • Myrrh (Murrusafi) (Commiphora molmol)
  • Muskroot (Sumbul) (Adoxa moschatellina)
  • Mustard seed (Hardal tohumu) (Brassica nigra)
  • Orange peel (Portakal kabugu)
  • Rhubarb (Ravend) (Rheum Palmatum)
  • Saffron (Safran) (Crocus Orientalis)
  • The citric acid (Limon tuzu)
  • Senna (Sinameki) (Cassia senna)
  • Turmeric (Zerdecal) (Curcuma domestica)
  • Udulkahr (Udulkahir)
  • Vanilla (Vanilya) (Vanilla planifolia)
  • Woad (Civit) (Isatis)
  • Yellow myrobalan (Sari halile) (Fructus myrobalani)

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