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.
Here are the door and window of a vacant house in a village near Malatya, Turkey. The house is unused because the previous inhabitant has passed away and his children and grandchildren now live in places like Istanbul or various European cities. The population of the village triples during the summer months when Turkish expats in Europe come home to relax and picnic in the mountains and fields of their childhood.
At a wedding in eastern Turkey. As part of the henna celebration, balls of green henna are formed around candle wicks, then set burning to celebrate the marriage.
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.
Window shopping in Ulus. The hatter is probably frequented by older Turks for whom the hat is part of the standard winter uniform while taking their daily constitutional from home to the tea house; The shoes and lamps are nostalgic reminders of medieval times, bought by tourists and more modern Turks to decorate their homes.
Looking over the outskirts of Antakya (Antioch), Turkey, near the Syrian border, as the sun sets in May.
“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.
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.
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.