Posts Tagged: Middle East

Mecca, From A Distance

Jerusalem: From The Western Wall

 

Orthodox Jews praying and studying at the Western Wall, or Wailing Wall, in Jerusalem.

Carpet Repairman In Göreme Poses As Sun God

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.

Jewish Ossuaries In Jerusalem

A visitor looks through a sunlit window into a cave full of centuries-old Jewish ossuaries, or bone boxes, on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. Ossuaries have been used for the internment of skeletal remains by many different cultures throughout history, but they were especially popular among Jews of the Second Temple Period (40 B.C. – 135 A.D.). These date to that time.

Sunset Over Antioch

Jerusalem Scenes

Here’s a selection of shots from a recent trip to Jerusalem, featuring Christian, Muslim and Jewish sites, mostly focused around or viewed from the Mount of Olives. In future posts I’ll try to put up some shots from the Wailing Wall (or Western Wall) of the Temple Mount, as well as some of my best attempts at street photography from one afternoon in the city. Enjoy!

Children’s Greetings

Turkish and American children in Ankara.

“One city does not greet another, but one man greets another.”

– Sumerian proverb from Ur,  c. 2000 B.C.

This proverb, quoted in Rory Stewart’s excellent book The Prince Of The Marshes, does a pretty good job of explaining how I think relationships are most genuinely formed on the international stage. In our case, we usually leave the greeting to our children. These pictures should give you an idea of the scene a year or so ago when we went on a walk with our kids through the historic Ulus neighborhood in downtown Ankara. Kaya is the little blonde two-year-old in the picture above; at that age he was still loving the attention and hadn’t gotten sick of it yet, whereas his older brother Moses (in the stroller below) was starting to develop some reservations. Perhaps it’s just a personality thing – international diplomacy can’t be every preschooler’s job.

Turkish and American children in Ankara.

Copper And Bronze In Cappadocia

Copper and bronze crosses, church keys, irons, and door knockers – some old, some pretending to be old – on display in front of an antique shop in Goreme. Since Turkey is officially a 99.7% Muslim country by population, the presence of so many crosses may seem surprising. These and the keys were likely collected from the many vacant Armenian churches to be found around central Anatolia and farther to the southeast. The large door knockers may have been used on the large houses of the wealthy throughout the area during Ottoman times.

Open Palace In Gülşehir

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.

Selling Carpets On An Ankara Street

This picture was taken in the Ulus neighborhood, just down the hill from Ankara’s historic castle, which was really the only part of the city to speak of before Ataturk made it the capital of the new Turkish Republic. The castle area has been protected from development for tourism-related reasons and can sometimes seem like a village in the center of the city, which is of course now a modern metropolis with four and a half million people living in it. Meanwhile, the streets around the castle have experienced an increasing proliferation of carpet and antique dealers, including this gentleman offering kilims, cicims, and suzani along with knotted-pile hali carpets, just down the street from a row of copper workers.