Safranbolu is a city in the northern part of Turkey’s Anatolian region, getting up close to the mountain ranges near the Black Sea. Safranbolu is named after the saffron flowers that grow there, but today it is mostly known for its early 19th-century Ottoman houses that led to the town’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Still life featuring a collection of traditional Anatolian and Central Asian weaving.
An Orthodox Jew walks through the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem.
In front of a shop on the street in Ankara. From top to bottom: a hand-woven kilim, probably Armenian or Moldavian; a hand-embroidered souzani, possibly from Uzbekistan; and an old hand-carved wooden trousseau chest made in Turkey, whether Ankara, Istanbul or one of the towns closer to the Black Sea.
In the guidebooks and on the maps of Turkey, Safranbolu falls in the central Anatolian region. But when it comes to the culture and traditions of the town, there’s a lot of the Black Sea region to be seen here. As in Black Sea towns like Amasra or Bartin, one of the leading trades in Safranbolu’s streets is woodworking, and even on a chill, drizzly January morning this man was at work in front of his shop.
Thought it was about time for another door. This one appeared almost directly across the street as I set out for a morning walk on a cold foggy day in Safranbolu. The town, in northern Turkey, is perhaps the most comprehensive preserved example of traditional Ottoman architecture, with nearly all structures in the old part of town dating back 100-600 years, and many of the houses well restored.
The multiplication of antique dealers seems like a relatively new development in Ankara. Until recently, I think most people around here would probably have identified with the sentiments of Orhan Pamuk’s narrator in The Museum of Innocence:
“The Ashamed collect purely for the sake of collecting. Like the Proud, they begin … in pursuit of an answer, a consolation, even a palliative for a pain, a resolution of difficulty, or simply out of a dark compulsion. But living in societies where collecting is not a reputable act that contributes to learning or knowledge, the Ashamed regard their compulsion as an embarrassment that must be hidden. Because in the lands of the Ashamed, collections point not to a bit of useful information but rather to a wound the ashamed collector bears.”
This is not to say that most people in Turkey are ashamed or wounded, more than those in other parts of the world. I think people in different cultures carry their wounds in different places. But tolerance towards the idea of collecting for collecting’s sake speaks of tolerance for a luxury mindset: the idea that it’s okay to have many things you don’t need. In Ankara, it’s not hard to walk into little hidden shops that blur the lines between thrift store, junk shop and overflowing attic storage space. But as Turkey’s economic situation continues to improve, we see more and more sidewalk scenes like this one downtown: upscale antique stores with upscale prices, collecting pieces of handwork and history from an old Eastern culture and marketing them to well-heeled clientele on what seems a new, and Western, model.
This is just a fun treatment of a portrait of an abandoned house near the eastern shore of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. It might be a little different from the way I’ve handled pictures like this in the past, but I think I like the feel of it.