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"Kâtibim" ("my clerk" or "my secretary"), or "Üsküdar'a Gider İken" ("while going to Üsküdar"; Greek: Ήχασα μαντήλι, Από ξένο τόπο,Ανάμεσα Τσιρίγο)) is a Turkish folk song about a woman and her clerk (kâtip) traveling to Üsküdar. The tune is a famous Istanbul türkü.[1]

Lyrics and score[edit]

Turkish English translation
Üsküdar'a gider iken aldı da bir yağmur.
Kâtibimin setresi uzun, eteği çamur.
Kâtip uykudan uyanmış, gözleri mahmur.
Kâtip benim, ben kâtibin, el ne karışır?
Kâtibime kolalı da gömlek ne güzel yaraşır!
Üsküdar'a gider iken bir mendil buldum.
Mendilimin içine (de) lokum doldurdum.
Kâtibimi arar iken yanımda buldum.
Kâtip benim, ben kâtibin, el ne karışır?
Kâtibime kolalı da gömlek ne güzel yaraşır!
On the way to Üsküdar, rain poured down.
My clerk's frock coat is long, with its skirt muddied.
It seems the clerk just woke up, his eyes are languid.
The clerk belongs to me, I belong to the clerk, what is it to others?
How handsome my clerk looks with starched shirts!
On the way to Üsküdar, I found a handkerchief.
I filled the handkerchief with Turkish delight.
As I was looking for my clerk, I found him next to me.
The clerk belongs to me, I belong to the clerk, what is it to others?
How handsome my clerk looks with starched shirts!


A notable recording is that by Safiye Ayla from 1949. Classical composer Saygun included 'Variations on the Old Istanbul Folk Song Katibim (Varyasyonlar)' as the last part of his choral Op.22 Bir Tutam Kekik of 1943.[2][3] Other modern composers such as Ali Darmar have also arranged the tune.

Movie adaptation[edit]

In 1968 a movie titled Kâtip (tr) was produced, whose scenario was based on the song. The prominent Turkish singer Zeki Müren starred in it, and also covered the song.

Other versions[edit]

Many versions of the song can be found in countries neighboring Turkey, usually with entirely different lyrics. A documentary film entitled Whose is this song?[4] and an international youth project called Everybody's Song[5] documented many of these versions.

Serbian adaptation is called "Ruse kose curo imaš" ("Blonde-haired girl"), traditionally sung in southeastern Serbian dialect.

The Bosnian adaptation of the song is a traditional Sevdalinka known as "Anadolka".

The melody was first recorded in the USA as "Der Terk in America" in 1924 by klezmer clarinetist Naftule Brandwein.[6] With lyrics, and incorporating an English adaptation by Stella Lee, the song was recorded in the USA as "Uska Dara" in 1953 by Eydie Gormé[7] and Eartha Kitt.[8] Boney M's "Rasputin" features a melody similar to the tune,[9] which is also found in Serbian ("Ај, русе косе цуро имаш"). The tune appears in the film Ali Baba Bujang Lapok as "Alangkah Indah di Waktu Pagi (A Beautiful Morning)." Loreena McKennitt's studio album An Ancient Muse (2006) has a track named "Sacred Shabbat", which has the same tune as "Katibim".[10]

An Albanian version is titled "Mu në bashtën tënde".

A Turkish-Urdu mash-up version titled "Ishq Kinara - Üsküdar'a Gider Iken" was performed on the Pakistani television program Coke Studio by Sumru Ağıryürüyen and Zoe Vicajji in 2013.[11]

A Bengali adaptation of this tune known as "tri-bhuboner priyo Muhammad"[12][13] and "Shukno patar nupur paye"[14][15][16] in 1950s was composed by the Bengali poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, who is also considered as the national poet of Bangladesh. It is thought that he learned the melody while he was fighting in the Middle East during World War I.

Jamaican artist Ken Boothe recorded the song as "Artibella".

A traditional folk song in the Arab world with the same melody is known as "Ya Banat Iskandaria" (Arabic: "يا بنات اسكندريّة") meaning "Oh Girls of Alexandria".[17] Another Arabic version of the Levantine folklore, mostly sung as part of the Aleppine genre, is "Ghazali Ghazali" (Arabic:"غزالي غزالي") meaning "My Gazelle".[18]

There is also a Romanian version of the song called "De ai ști, suflețelul meu" translated as "If you knew, my soul".

The melody is shared by طالما أشكو غراني talama ashku gharani, a poem for Prophet Muhammad and is similar to the Hebrew piyut Yigdal.

Sami Yousuf's 'Araftul Hawa is also based on a similar tune.


  1. ^ Nilüfer Göle, The forbidden modern: civilization and veiling, p.60, 1996 "It was even the case that, during the Crimean War, Sultan Abdulmecid asked all his clerks to wear frock coats, which was mentioned later in the well-known "Katibim" song."
  2. ^ American record guide - Volume 55, p.250, 1992 "He wrote a series of choral works published as his Op. 22, the last of which is the Variations on the Old Istanbul Folk Song Katibim. His use of choral technique is staggering; the piece immediately wins new adherents. Its 6 l/2 minutes seems ...
  3. ^ Selim Giray, A biography of the Turkish composer Ahmed Adhan Saygun, p.74, 2003 "Katibim Türküsu Uzerine Varyasyonlar [The Variations on the Katibim Song], 1943."
  4. ^ Directed by Adela Peeva, Bulgaria, 2003. http://adelamedia.net/movies/whose-is-this-song.php
  5. ^ Everybody's Song web site, 2008
  6. ^ Liner notes for Naftule Brandwein, King of the Klezmer Clarinet, Rounder Records CD 1127, 1997.
  7. ^ Thomas S. Hischak, The Tin Pan Alley Song Encyclopedia (2002), page 382: "'Uska Dara (A Turkish Tale)' (1953) is a spirited novelty number by Stella Lee that is adapted from a Turkish song sometimes titled 'Uskadara.' Although Eydie Gorme introduced the song with a successful record, the piece is most associated with Eartha Kitt, who sang it both in English and Turkish, had a bestselling disc, and kept it in her nightclub act for years. Kitt reprised the number in the movie New Faces (1954)."
  8. ^ Rough Guide to Turkey, p.1043, Rosie Ayliffe, Marc Dubin, John Gawthrop - 2003 " Safiye Ayla's rendition of the famous Istanbul türkü "Katibim" (covered bizarrely by Eartha Kitt)"
  9. ^ Mediterranean Mosaic: Popular Music and Global Sounds - Page 217 Goffredo Plastino - 2003 ""Rasputine" by Boney M was hotly debated in the 1970s due to its similarity to the "Katibim," a traditional Istanbul tune,
  10. ^ The initial printing of the liner notes in 2006 erroneously attributed the song (instead of the arrangement) to Loreena McKennitt, but this was corrected subsequently: see Quinlan Road discussion forum.
  11. ^ Hyatt, Rohail. "Ishq Kinara - Üsküdar'a Gider Iken. Sumru Ağıryürüyen, Zoe Vicajji ", Published on 21 December 2013. Retrieved on 20 August 2015.
  12. ^ Khan, Mamunur Rahman. "ত্রিভুবনের প্রিয় মোহাম্মদ এলো রে দুনিয়ায়". nazrulgeeti.org. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  13. ^ banglaislamigaan (2011-02-27), Tri-vuboner prio Muhammad. naat-e-rasul nat islami gajal nazrul songit bangla islami gaan, retrieved 2016-09-22
  14. ^ Khan, Mamunur Rahman. "শুকনো পাতার নূপুর পায়ে". nazrulgeeti.org. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  15. ^ মাসুদ. "শুক্‌নো পাতার নুপুর পায়ে - বাংলায় গানের কথা | Bangla Song Lyrics" [Nupur leaf nupur feet - song lyrics in Bengali | Bangla Song Lyrics]. banglasonglyrics.com. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  16. ^ swe1281 (2008-11-14). "Nazrul Song - Shukno Patar Nupur". Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  17. ^ Tesha Teshanovic (2010-05-17), Mohammed El-Bakkar - Banat Iskandaria, retrieved 2018-03-09
  18. ^ Assaaleek Band (2017-08-18), Assaaleek - Ghazali Ghazali

External links[edit]

External video
(Greek) Areti Ketime - Από ξένο τόπο - Üsküdara Giderken
(Greek) Έχασα μαντήλι
Δόμνα Σαμίου - Ανάμεσα Τσιρίγο - Domna Samiou
Üsküdar'a gider iken (Katibim)