Detail of the Sultanahmet Mosque, or Blue Mosque, in Istanbul.
Che Guevara is a popular figure among certain groups in Turkey, especially political leftists and Kurdish nationalists (there’s a lot of overlap between the two). College students pattern their hair styles after his and his words are quoted in young adult literature. So it’s natural to run across his picture on a visit to the southeast, as here where he guards the door of a souvenir shop in Gaziantep’s downtown market area. Che is joined here, in a thought-provoking tableau, by Ali the nephew of the prophet of Islam, and Ataturk the founder of the Turkish Republic.
School children prepare to perform a dance under a banner depicting Ataturk in Ankara, Turkey.
All state holidays in Turkey are marked by elementary school programs featuring various groups of children singing, reading poems, or performing dances (both modern and traditional). This first-grade class (including my son, who is not technically Turkish) delivered a spirited rendition of several folk songs and anthems in praise of Ataturk.
A street scene with handmade items in Ankara, Turkey.
Still life featuring a collection of traditional Anatolian and Central Asian weaving.
This door in the village of Yörük, near Safranbolu, Turkey, seems to hark back to a simpler time, when wood shutters gave character to Ottoman houses and the street was apparently three feet lower than it is now. That entrance today seems a little more interesting than functional. Although I suppose it probably helps deter burglars.
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.
Muslim visitors contemplate a picture of Mecca in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet Mosque.
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.