“While deforming the body, I adapted the principles of Jo-ha-kyu,”
explained the murderess to describe the specific style with which she
deformed the corpse. She was referring to the Japanese concept of arts,
which advocated a slow start, peak in the middle and a rapid finish, to
achieve beauty. “The body seemed like a map to me or one of the
embroidery templates that already have the drawings that the needle
should follow. Veins, appearing green due to the warm skin tone, led my
knife through the flesh as if the silver tip was a drunken gentleman on
his tiptoes. I started by cutting through the hairline, outlining the
On July 27, 2018, a woman named Pemra Alieva, murdered a young woman
called Sarah, followed by a deformation ritual which she described as a
theatrical act. According to her own words, the process was divided into
three parts, namely Jo, Ha and Kyu.
For the so-called Jo, as she explained, Pemra had outlined the body
lines, then had followed the vein map which assured enough blood spill
for the Ha, the peak. The body showed significant signs of attempts to
break bones, yet due to her frail built, Pemra barely managed to cause
any structural harm. Thus, she started to cut through the flesh
violently. She caused the body to appear like a poorly eaten chicken
thigh with random pieces of flesh hanging through the bones, the
abdominal region being an exception.
The murderess kept the abdominal area for her Kyu, the rapid finish. One
sharp, straight cut through the stomach—the “final curtain”.
In her utterance, Pemra mentioned the fact that she was torn between
cutting through the eyeballs for “An Andalusian Dog” reference or
slashing the stomach, but her decision was influenced by her desire not
to mix Eastern and Western aesthetics. She shook Sarah violently,
regretting the barbaric thought of bringing something from Dali into
this perfectly crafted Asian ideal of art.
The woman seemed to completely lose her bonds with reality, as her
mannerisms matched those of a theatrical performance and her speech
patterns were ridiculously sophisticated for her situation.
Her relationship with Sarah was nothing more than studying at the same
university and a shallow friendship.
The killer herself explained all of this in detail, even-tempered, and
composed, as if telling a historical event, not her own memories. She
was satisfied with her situation and calm and cautious enough to put on
a lovely dress, curl her hair, and even put on her tiny-heeled shoes
before reporting herself to the police. She even said that the more
people heard about what she has done, the happier she would be.
Yet Pemra also informed the police that she was physically shaken and
would never attempt to kill anyone ever again in her life. During the
interrogation, she proposed a reason for the murder: Her friend was
diligently trying to explain the scientific side of the Bloody Moon
eclipse that was going to take place a few hours later. Pemra’s
explanations were quite long and full of unrelated details, but no one
attempted to cut her off during the interrogation.
She started her story from the very beginning, the dream she had last
We passed through miraculous lands with a man whose image I forgot, and
finally reached a shimmering lake filled with countless blinking
sparkles. The view was both welcoming and terrifying, full of trees and
shrubs that were soft and fluffy, but their leaves had turned almost
black. It was a scenery like a Falero painting—all the lines and
borders were softened, wet and radiantly melting into each other, but
not disappearing; the colours were creamy and bleak.
The man pointed to the lake and we leaned over. Millions of stars and
planets were shining under the water.
“They say that the sky reflects on seas and lakes, thus they appear to
be blue. But the truth is, the galaxy is hidden at the bottom of this
lake and is reflected onto the sky. The galaxy is the reflection of a
lake, not the other way around,” he said to me.
I thought of all those exciting discoveries of humankind, rockets
wagging their flaming tails, and those nights when we could observe
astronomical events, lunar eclipses, and Mars. As it turns out, those
astronauts who felt closer to the limitlessness of the universe than any
other, who smiled with pride and took photographs in front of their
flags, had just been discovering an illusion. The events that excited us
and the mysteries we thought we had unveiled, consisted of nothing but a
wan, cadaverous reflection.
The galaxy became transparent before my eyes and trembled like a view
from underwater. It was the first time I felt a sort of love for space.
I’ve always loved the sky, but space, the galaxy, has been one of my
avoided subjects. The sky is beautiful, but when science lifts the
curtains of humility and decomposes the stars, and they cease to be tiny
romantic sparkles but instead become actors for knowledge and
comprehension, it becomes extremely unbearable to think about the
galaxy. Beauty is beautiful with ignorance. It is intriguing with its
veils and mysteries, like a lover. Knowing takes the magic away.
Now, I kindly ask you to imagine … I finally grow to love space with
that blessed dream just one night before the Bloody Moon, and I am
excitedly waiting for the eclipse. Then a shameless woman dares to strip
my magic off. I would like to—I would like to explain to you my
dears—and maybe you will find some sympathy for me.
What I wouldn’t give to experience the eclipse as it was a thousand
years ago. Imagine the aura back then, at the time of the Bloody
Moon—the peasants believing in what the devout say about the pale
fairy with red cheeks; the fear of doom; the interpretations of the
fortune-tellers; the conspiracy of the crone and the hag whispered in
dimly lit corners; the anxiety rooted deep in the hearts of the youth
despite their bravado and mockery; the uneasy eyes glued on the moon;
those gnawing their lips; dice rolling; spells told—how I would love
to see all of it.
In my life, I have heard two explanations about the Bloody Moon, and
both opened doors to new eras. The first threw me into battle with an
invisible god. The second turned me into a murder.
The first came from my father.
When I was not even going to school, when I was very, very young, my
father always sat me on his lap at midnight, talking about the mysteries
of nature. Back then, I liked to know the reason for something. How it
rains and why the sun goes down … I was fascinated by nature, as well
as the human being who is the most knowledgeable part of nature. My
father said we should protect animals and nature. Because we were the
only conscious creatures, and it was our duty to protect the vulnerable.
Protecting all nature … Do you know how this creates a great ego in a
One night, we were sitting still, talking. There was a red moon and I
asked why the moon turned red. My father first made a dull joke like,
“They roasted the moon,” and then sighed, smiling as if revealing the
“Because God wanted it so,” he said.
It was the first time he talked about that idea called “God”. That night
he told me this God of his was an omnipresent power, subjecting
everything to his own will, incomprehensible to man. I can’t tell you
how awful I felt. While I thought I was part of the idea of a perfect
system, standing at the top of the pyramid as a human, I now encountered
an unbeatable opponent. “Why am I not a god?” until I was thirteen, I
have cried saying this. I was taking my revenge on God by drawing ugly
pictures of him.
Long story short, the beauty of the first red moon was ruined for me by
god. Even now, it saddens me so much that such a beauty is related to
and stained with the feeling of such a grudge.
In the interrogation room, Pemra finally paused at this point and stared
at the void, gritting her lips. She tilted her head softly, shifted her
shoulders graciously, and leaned back.
“Years later, at the age of twenty-one, when I was going to love this
magical event again, a woman made ugly comments about the lunar eclipse.
They were scientific explanations of the kind that would eliminate
anxiety, fear and mystery. All the magic broke up before my eyes. I told
her to stop it, I told her that I did not want to hear about the reason
the red moon was happening. She made fun of me.
I had to kill her so she could understand that the eclipse was
supernatural and cursed. When this news comes out in the tomorrow, I’m
sure someone will associate this murder with the red moon. I … Le
Peur. The joy of life disappeared as fear disappeared. I killed that
bad woman—whose name I do not want to mouth—for people. For them to
feel the thrill again. To cheer you up … and of course, a little for
the glory of the Moon. Would anyone sacrifice themselves so calmly to
others? Though my sacrifice was rewarded—as a result of this
sacrifice, a body lay in front of me, motionless. So that I could
experience Jo-ha-kyu. How many women in the West have had this chance,
my dear? To be part of a Japanese aesthetic principle … It was
One of the policemen listening to her confession suddenly asked, “Do you
believe in reincarnation?” A strange aura descended upon the room with
his absurd question.
“Does it matter? If you’re going to say something beautiful, I
believe,” Pemra said.
“And who do you think you were when you watched this Moon a thousand
years ago? Which one of those characters in the story?” the policeman
paused for a very short time and then said his own answer. He had asked
this question so that he could answer it. He was not very interested in
the woman’s answer. “I was a warrior,” he said with dreamy eyes. He
imagined himself in the vision Pemra described, as one of those
historical figures. “I was on the battlefield, fighting for my people,
covered in blood. I raised my head to look at the sky and saw the moon,
and I thought of the beauty of the Bloody Moon as a divine reward for my
bravery.” He said this with childish excitement and seemed terribly
moved by Pemra’s story.
“I—a thousand years ago—was the night itself, and the moon was
bleeding in my chest.”
Seljan Yaghmur is a twenty-year-old English Language and Culture student in the Netherlands.