Sunday, May 07, 2006

Towards Pammukule, and about carpets and kilims

We left our wonderful hosts at the Hotel Bella ın Selchuk around noon on May 7, Sunday (sometimes its hard to remember!). The morning was spent first with the great breakfast, visiting with Nebi and Bernadette (fellow guests from Switzerland, Nebi being a Turk born and raised in Germany, but speaking Turkish, German and also fluent in English.) Our Swiss friends had to go back home that day, so good-byes and hugs were exchanged.

We picked up our laundry, done by Safiya (Teseker ederim!), and had another great breakfast, observed stork babies visibly grown bigger even in three days. After packing and fussing several of us went to the next door carpet store. Erdahl and Nazmi have been in the carpet business for the 18 years prior to buying the Hotel Bella, and continue it as a business. The invitable occured and several previously carpet-less persons (names are omitted to protect the writer from adverse actions of the buyers while in Turkey) acquired carpets. However after hearing from Nazmi about how the carpets are made it was much more meaningful to consider the hard work and the function within the culture that these handmade carpets play.

Here is a very quick summary of my understanding. In Turkish villages, in central Turkey mostly, girls are the carpet makers. They work on a loom in thier home. These looms are unique in size depending on how big the house is and where the loom can fit. A girl will start learning to make a carpet at around 14 or 15 years old and will learn from her mother. The design and colors are those that her mother teachers her. Colors are based on the vegetable dyes available in the area, so colors will vary depending on where the carpet is from. Each carpet is signed, if the maker remembers before it is completed. The family sells the carpets, which take from several months to more than a year to make, depending on the complexity. The money from the carpet sales goes to the girl's dowery. When a girl gets very good, she will work on the marriage carpet and if it is judged to be good enough it will not be sold. She will make two carpets, one for herself and one for her husband (or maybe it goes to the family of each one, I wasnt clear on this). These fine carpets are not for sale. They do come on the market later on if a family needs to sell one or inherits one. (We also learned that after about age 25 a woman is no longer 'fresh' and that her hopes of marriage are over, so apparently is the carpet weaving =dowery connection, and no longer weaves carpets = don't really know what she does then!)

The silk carpets are way more difficult and apparently only younger girls can make them because their fingers are smaller. (Their fingers get cut from the threads etc. I think Nazmi finally realized that we were starting to think that we should not support this cruel sounding industry and kind of stopped talking about this.) Silk carpets are only bought by the state, and the sellers buy them from the state. The wool carpets are bought by Nazmi when he goes to the villages in the winter.

There is much more, but realizing the individual character and the integral part these carpets play in the culture and economy of the villages makes each piece a lot more interesting.

So anyway, after some plastic was presented bundles were assembled and apparently DHL will be bringing a large package to Juneau in the near future. We can't wait to see what it was we got when it is back home and can be appreciated in its glory, rather than being considered amoung the colors and patterns of several hundred other carpets.

So, eventually we got out of Bella and went down into town and wandered into the charming streets of Selcuk itself. Very nice, fountains, tables set up on the sidewalk, restaurants operating and of course . . . rugs were for sale. Apparently other transactions to enrich the Turkish economy occured, but once again, what happens in Turkey, stays in Turkey, at least as far as this blog goes!

We drove out of Selcuk toward Pammukule. The countryside is really beautiful and fertile with lots of topography reminicent of New Mexico . . . hard to say, but obviously really good land.

It is wonderful. In an entirely different way than Italy. When walking and driving around you see alot of half finished buildings and modern rather worn construction. Zoning is completely absent, as you will see houses right next to factories and car showrooms. In Italy they seemed to have preserved alot of older stone buildings and still used them. Here I suppose that in recent centuries things have not been so prosperous. The Greek ruins are tremendous and then the Romans used them but after about 1400 it seems that huge marble structures were beyond the means of the local population.

The landscapes are very nice, fertile land, mountains and valleys. Really unpopulated by US and Italian standards. If Turkey enters the EU I would expect foreign investment and foreign resettlement to make things boom here. There is a haze even on good days which we can't figure out. It may be pollution or just humidity, locals can't seem to explain it to us either.

We took a big sidetrip to see Aphrodisias, a really wonderful spot. Waaay out in the fields, we passed many tracktors, donkeys and people walking. Several people working in the fields. Once at Aphrodisias we had the place to ourselves. There was the usual absoulutely incredible theatre and colums and lots of fallen colums. The unique feature here was the massive and intact stadium with a seating capacity of 30,000 people! Enough for the whole town of Juneau! The inner part of the stadium was a field of cut grass. Just amazing. The smell of trees and grass and the quiet was very calming and wonderful.

Back into the cars and another hour and a half to Pammukule via Denizli, a huge town with tons of fancy car showrooms.

We arrived at the Hotel Venus, found very nice rooms with showers and all the amenities. Lots of light in the rooms, and each with its own balcony. (with view of adjacent hotel or swimming pool nestled right next to this building.) We had a great dinner here, inside as it was too chilly outside. Then all collapsed in our nice beds. This morning several energetic members of the group went out for a power walk and I found this nice computer to get my blog work done on.

Today we go up the Pammukule area and to Heieopolis, another ruin to explore and paint. Till then!

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