Hand-painted pottery and handmade dolls sit outside a store in the town of Avanos in Cappadocia. Avanos is a small town of about 100,000 people, well known in central Turkey for pottery handmade there from the rich red clay in the banks of the river that runs through the town.
In the Cappadocian town of Derinkuyu in central Turkey, there’s an entrance to an underground city that dates back to the time of the Hittites. The city features eight stories of underground tunnels and rooms, and that’s only the upper half that’s open to tourists. Tour buses come in and out of the parking lot of the place all day long.
On the other side of the parking lot sits a large, impressive Armenian church built some time in the 1800’s. The church is now empty and locked year round; there are no Armenians here anymore, and apparently no one who wants a church. No one approaches it except local children passing through the yard on their way to school.
This is one of the locked side doors of the abandoned building.
Just kidding! I’m sure he is a devout Muslim and would never think of such a thing. The circular design behind him just looks a lot like a rising sun to me. I imagine a person could get desensitized to the brilliant patterns after hanging around these things all day long for years on end … you know, like teenagers playing violent video games. Of course, in other ways, repairing Turkish carpets is nothing at all like playing violent video games. I admit the analogy is limited.
Whatever else the carpet repairman’s job may or may not be, there is one thing it is for sure (at least, wherever I’ve seen it being done): a man’s work. In the same way that I’ve never seen a Turkish man sitting at a loom weaving a carpet, I’ve never seen a Turkish woman sitting in front of a shop repairing one. While I’m sure there are exceptions, the roles in my experience seem clearly defined. My best guess at the explanation is that in traditional Turkish village society (which bore the weaving tradition to the present day), women more generally are responsible for work done in or around the home, whereas men are more often responsible for work done someplace else, such as at a shop or office. As Turkish society becomes more modernized, of course, in many places these sorts of divisions (and skills?) are beginning to disappear.
The deserted, rock-cut village now called Açıksaray (Open Palace) is a fascinating place to explore, in my opinion one of the more interesting and relaxing in Cappadocia, and made more so by the small number of visitors. When we were there in October, we found probably about eight people besides ourselves in the entire site. The village, just outside the Turkish town of Gülşehir, dates to the 10th or 11th century and covers about a square kilometer, containing chapels, kitchens, mushroom-shaped rock formations, and dwellings, probably for monks. This is the facade of the largest complex.
Street scene in the Cappadocian town of Avanos, central Turkey.
Canon EOS Rebel XTi, ISO-200, f/13.0, 1/30 sec.
Canon EOS Rebel XTi, ISO-200, f/5.6, 1/400 sec.
Just another beautiful arched doorway, intricately carved from the Cappadocian stone that carves so easily. Göreme sees a lot of tourists, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t back streets worth your time if you look hard enough.
Canon EOS Rebel XTi, ISO-200, f/10, 1/200 sec.
It’s hard to find a small town back street in Turkey where kids aren’t kicking a ball around on a summer afternoon. Avanos, a pottery-making town in Cappadocia, is no exception.
Canon EOS Rebel XTi, ISO-200, f/7.1, 1/200 sec.
Eren’s mother Fadimana keeping an eye on Guleser’s two kids: Seyit, standing, and Ayşe on her back. The children demonstrate excellent Turkish posing etiquette by not cracking the slightest smile while having their picture taken, while Fadimana is relaxed enough to let a little of her warm personality shine through.
Canon EOS Rebel XTi, ISO-800, f/5.6, 1/50 sec.