Heidi Trautmann

580 - BOOKS OF CYPRUS - The Hunt for The HASSAMBOULIA by Bill Macfarlane

By Heidi Trautmann


One day Bill Macfarlane came visiting us with one of his artistic daughters and we talked all afternoon about art, literature and life in Cyprus. He loved one of my paintings and he gave me three of his books, one of them ‘The Hunt for The Hassamboulia’.  I read it and I made some research. There are many stories and books written on this legendary figure, but Bill, living in the South of Cyprus for more than 20 years created his own interpretation.

Bill Macfarlane has lived in Cyprus for more than 20 years. His interests are the outdoors, art, travel, good food and wine, he says of himself.


Many expats living in Cyprus may have heard of the gruesome legend which is the background for many folk songs, folk dances and the many books that were written. Two epics in Turkish and Greek, plus various publications and works of art based on the event were written (see e.g. Kareklas 1938; Machlouzarides 1973; Gelen 1973; Ismailoglu; Islamoglu 1994; Serdar 1986; Yorgancioglu 1980; Sayil 1988;  Fedai 1993; Gökçeoglu 1993; Gürkan NA; Lyssarides 1995; Bozkurt 1996; 1998; Cahit 1997; Sadikoglu 1999; 2000). In these works the events were treated differently. Hasan Bulliler, by this name these books are published. In Greek Boulli, Pouli = the bird, because he and his brothers were as fast as a bird. From the article THE CASE OF HASANBULLIS by Ismail Bozkurt  I have taken some information which you can find as complete text on web.


In May 1887, at a small village in the impoverished region of Paphos, where the Turks and Greeks live in mixed communities, a Turkish youngster Hasan Ahmet Bulli is unjustly accused of theft. False witnesses play a role in the accusation. Once Hasan Ahmet Bulli is convicted, he arms himself and takes to the mountains. He wanders about in the mountains for 18 months, committing murders and fighting with the police. He is caught when he is sheltering at a house during a spell of malaria. He is sentenced to death but his punishment is then converted to life imprisonment. Six years later, in 1894, Ahmet Hasan Bullis brothers Kaymakam and Hüseyin Ahmet Bulli take to the mountains when accused of committing a murder after one Greek Cypriot is killed in a Turkish- Greek fight over a woman. With others joining them, they form a powerful gang and continue their activities at the mountains until 1896. In the meantime, the elder brother Hasan escapes from prison to join his brothers, but he is shot dead. In 1896, one of the brothers, Hüseyin is killed at a confrontation with the police; Mehmet and other members of the gang are captured and executed by hanging. The Hasanbullis case considerably preoccupied the British administration in Cyprus and it eventually became a matter of prestige. It is obvious that both the Turkish and the Greek in Cyprus saw Hasanbullis as people who rose against the British administration: despite the fact that the British Colonial Regime offered rewards for their capture and enacted special legislation for it, and despite the security troops pursuing them and the use of hired informers, the Hasanbullis managed to live at the mountains for a long time. Unquestionably this was possible only thanks to people who protected, hid, supported, fed, and informed them of any danger.

Source: Ethnic perspective in epics: The case of Hasan Bulliler., Ismail Bozkurt. 


Bill Macfarlane says in his introduction:

No, this is not Ma Baker and her boys, nor the James brothers. For this is the wild west of Cyprus, the valleys and villages of the Paphos District in the early days of British rule.

Bill Macfarlane has taken facts, legends, and research carried out some forty years later, and mixing them with speculation to create an intriguing story. Using his extensive knowledge of Cyprus, its topography, history and people, Bill brings the story to life. It is all very believable, and makes compulsive reading right through to its inevitable ending.

Join the Hunt!

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A wild story, believe me. Bill Macfarlane has written other books you will find on his website http://bill-macfarlane.co.uk/ for example ‘Cyprus Walks’; ‘Resonating Stones’; ‘Land of Miracles’; ‘The Gypsy Model’ and many articles and short stories.

The  Hasan Bulliler Brothers
The Hasan Bulliler Brothers

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