Cobblers (shoemakers) in Istanbul, Turkey c 1922. Image courtesy

Golden horn Ladino Music Trio Sefardi
The Golden Horn, Istanbul, Turkey, courtesy WTS Golden Horn Tours.

Dialogue songs are common in Sephardic repertoire, and this one, between a demanding man and a defiant woman, is an excellent example. In 7/8 time, a distinctly Balkan and Turkish rhythm, “Bre Sarika” is unquestionably from Istanbul, as it names two districts, Uzkapan and Chiboli, which were known for fine artisans who made shoes of soft leather.

Susan, lead vocals, guitar; Gina Sobel, harmony vocals; Tina, Renaissance violin; Brian, dumbek.

Bre, Sarika, bre,
Up, Sarika, up,
Tryme un poko d’agua; Bring me a little water;
Sto deskalsa, I am barefoot,
Ay razyo en basho There is dew on the grass;
Me se yela el pie. My feet will get chilly.
Bre, Sarika, bre, Up, Sarika, up,
Chika i ermozika; Little and beautiful;
Bre, Sarika, bre, Up, Sarika, up,
Linda i savrozika; Pretty and delectable;
Yo te vo merkar I will buy for you
Sapatos d’Unkapan Shoes from Unkapan
Chizmez de Chibali. And boots from Chibali.
No mi premi a mi It is not necessary
Ke me merkes tu; For you to buy for me;
Tengo un padre, I have a father,
Merkador muy grande, A big merchant,
I el me va merkar And he will buy for me
Sapatos d’Unkapan, Shoes from Unkapan,
Chizmez de Chibali. Boots from Chibali.