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Monday, November 5, 2012

Soganli and carpet weavers

Monday, 22 October 2012
Afternoon of the 4th day of our tour trip
As always, click on any image for larger view.
Must move out of the old and into the new.  Free.
After touring the underground city we drove maybe 20 miles to another community in the Cappadocia region.  This one looked different.  It was a long narrow valley between high mountains.

Along the main road to Soganli we passed many fairy chimneys and evidence of hundreds of rock homes.  These homes were carved into the mountain and cliff faces.  Interspersed among the rock homes were small communities of relatively newly built brick homes.  The homes were not grand but they were also not small.  They looked quite nice.  


More moving out of the old and into new FREE homes
 Tas explained that the Turkish government is building these homes FREE for the people who live in the rock homes.  The government wants people to stop living in the rock homes, claiming safety concerns.  These new homes are constructed completely free of charge to the new occupants.  Of course, now the occupants will have to pay for electricity and water.  But their housing is FREE from the government.  The people have no choice in this matter.  The government has declared that they must accept the free homes and must vacate the rock homes.  (Maybe the safety concerns are because this part of the world continues to experience relatively frequent earthquakes.)

Karabas Kilise, The Big Church


Soon we turned off the main road and into the valley where the village of Soganli is located.  The tiny village is still inhabited, the new structures blending into the old.  There were a few houses where one could tell it was originally a house carved out of the rock, then added on with stones placed atop one another and mortared into place, then added onto yet again with more modern concrete block or brick construction.  All combined into one building.  Not how I would chose to live but I think it is good that the local people continue to live as they have for centuries, with only the barest of intervention by the modern world.  The villagers seemed quite happy with their lives.


video



Inside the Big Church



The small bus wound up the hillside on the right side of the valley, about one-third up the mountain.  We exited and climbed up stone steps to a small church -- the Karabas Kilise or The Big Church.  It really wasn't all that big,  But then I didn't have to carve it out of the stone.  I imagine it felt pretty darn big to those people who did this work around 500 A.D.




Tas describing the Big Church


The church was re-built (expanded?) in the 11th century and again in the 13th century.  One thing that obviously was done during these renovations was covering the original frescoes.  This was evident on several places on the walls.
The stone steps leading up to the church entry were very worn.  It would be easy to take a tumble there.




Infant Jesus


The 'doorway' (no door, of course; this is a rock church and they did not have doors) leads into the first and main part of the church.  There are rooms on either side of the main chapel area.

The walls and ceilings were originally painted in simple patterns and stripes, using earth colors.  After the discovery of oil paints, the earth colors were painted over in the new oils.  And they must have really liked very dark oil paints as it seems very black inside this church.

Baptism of Jesus



The images are of Jesus as an infant, his baptism as an adult, his religious struggle, and the persecution of the Byzantines by the Seljuks.  There were many more images than these 4 described, but these 4 dominate.







Old earth colored paintings beneath the dark oil paintings.
Notice the Greek graffiti everywhere.



What was upsetting (especially to our Turkish guide) is that every surface of the church has been defaced.  In Greek!  These paintings were done by Greeks and have been defaced by Greeks.  Why would they do that to historic paintings of their own heritage!







Yet more religious paintings inside the Big Church

We boarded the bus again and motored down the road to another church.  I think this one was called the Snake Church.  Bill and I opted not to climb up to this one.  Tas told us the best one was the church we had just seen; and, quite frankly, we were getting tired of seeing the interiors of rock churches.  We stayed on the lower level and enjoyed the scenery of the valley and mountains on either side.

Little did we know what was next in store for our little group.  Another hike!  

Fertilizer collection rooms cut into rock




Only this one was a bit more uphill than the others had been.  We trudged off up the hillside on to the left side of the valley.  Tas said it would be about half-hour to 45 minutes for us to walk back to the village.  I think we took a little longer than that because we stopped so often to enjoy the scenery and to check out more rock houses and churches and formations.




White around 'windows' to attract birds

One of the many things that Tas pointed out to us were the white spaces painted around the tiny window openings cut into many of the rock faces.  The white is put there to attract the birds (doves this time; the places yesterday were attracting pigeons).  Then their guano is collected to be used as fertilizer.  Use whatever is naturally available in the area since shipping fertilizer in (even today) would be cost prohibitive.  They have been doing this guano collection for fertilizer here for over 1500 years.  Guess it works just fine.

Slowly up we go
Looking back down valley



As we continued up the hillside the scenes became more striking. 





First turret church


Another turret church













On this side of the valley were several more rock churches as well as many rock dwellings.  The structures on this side were more deteriorated than the other side of the valley.  Maybe they were older.  Or maybe the wind is stronger on this side.  Whatever the reason, the difference was obvious even to our unschooled eyes.

A turret standing alone
A couple of the most deteriorated churches had what looked like turret tops carved from the stone.  Wonder how people got up on top of those tall pinnacles and managed to do these carvings.


Inside solitary turret
And the turret tops were also carved out inside to create interior rooms.  A lot of work went into making these churches from solid rock.  This is not sandstone or limestone.  It is solid rock.


One I did not climb into
Looking out for the holes
in the ground!
At a couple of places there were holes broken through the earth that revealed more rock rooms below the surface.  Care was needed to walk on this path near the top because these holes were right in the center of the path.  Falling down inside one of those rooms would be a real eye opener!  And painful to get back down to the road level.


A different looking one
As we began the descent the sky darkened so we quickened the pace and the group began to split up.   By happenstance we were among the first 4 people to reach the village level.  A dog with the most unusual coloring around his head and ears came to say hello.  I tried to get a photo of his white face with the dark gray markings with his dark gray ears framing his face.  But every time I clicked the camera he would turn to greet new arriving members of our group.  A sweet friendly thing he was.


Village ladies selling their wares
Friendly dog

The village ladies had set up tables of crafts and things for sale.  One lady held up a handmade doll that looked cute and called out "1 lira" so I walked up to her table.  Once there, she changed the price for that particular doll to 5 lira.  That is still a cheap price but it annoyed me that she named one price to get me there and then a higher price to actually buy, so I walked away without the doll.  If she had held up that doll and said "5 lira" in the first place, I would have bought it.  But 'bait and switch' is a sales technique that annoys me greatly and I refuse to participate in it.
Still living in this one.  Note the blue doors.

Looking back from the village toward side we hiked.


The village restaurant had set up a long table outside beneath a tree for us, but several members of our group felt cold and wanted to eat inside.  All the other tour groups were eating outside so we had the entire restaurant to ourselves.  This turned out to be a wise move because about half-way through our meal the skies opened and rain poured.  And we all stayed snug and dry inside.



Weaving a camel designed rug


Next on the agenda was a visit to a Carpet Weavers Cooperative.  The Turkish government is doing its best to encourage some of the traditional Turkish skills and crafts, and carpet weaving is high on that list.  There are a few of these carpet weaver cooperatives spread throughout Turkey.   The carpets are always woven by local women.  




I love her headscarf.  She has such a pretty smile.

On each loom there was a small mirror hanging about eye level with the woman doing the weaving.  I asked the factory tour guide what the mirrors were used for.  His answer, "They are ladies.  All ladies like to look at themselves in the mirror.  To be sure they look nice."  Funny thing; I don't think I ever had a mirror hanging beside the computer monitor when I worked.




The ladies weave whatever pattern they like.  Sometimes
they will weave a specific pattern for a special order.


Our guide had told early in the trip that the average age of death in urban areas of Turkey is 70 for men and 72 for women.  But that in the rural areas, the life expectancy is 85 for women and 70 for men.......because the women do ALL of the work (farm and house)  and the men just sit around drinking tea or coffee and playing dominoes or cards all day.  This observation got a laugh because all of us had noticed this same behavior throughout Turkey.  The women are always out working the fields and the men are always sitting in the shade and drinking tea or coffee.  The men don't appear to do much.  All that physical activity throughout their entire lives affords the women with increased longevity.


Boiling silkworm cocoons to get the threads
Back to the carpets.  First we were shown numerous women weaving carpets of different patterns.  On the top section of each loom hung an illustration of the pattern to be woven.  The women free-hand the colors of the threads to make the pattern desired.  This skill takes many years of training.  Young girls used to do this in their spare time to improve their skills.  Today with cell phones and televisions and computers, girls are no longer interested in learning the weaving skills.  Carpet weaving appears to be a dying art.  


Separating threads from each cocoon takes practice
It takes months and sometimes years, depending on the size and pattern of the rug, for a carpet to be completed.  That is why the carpets are so expensive.  And make note that the correct name for these carpets is Turkish carpets, not Persian carpets.  Carpet weaving originated in Turkey; it did not come from Persia.  So all those folks who have Persian carpets have knock-offs.




Each silk thread is 3/4 mile long. 

Next in the factory tour was the room where silk was explained and demonstrated.  We have seen silkworm cocoons boiled and threads pulled loose in now 3 countries, so none of this was new to us.  In Cambodia they boiled the cocoons in dye, so the threads were colored before being separated from the cocoons.  Here the threads are pulled while still white and then later dyed.  Each silkworm produces 1.5 kilometer of silk thread to make its cocoon.  After being boiled and pulled loose, the result is 1.2 kilometer of silk thread per cocoon.  (For Americans, multiply that by .6 to get mileage of thread per cocoon.)  That is a surprising quantity of thread from each silkworm!

Today the best dyes for the silk threads are performed by nano technology.  And this particular carpet weaving cooperative has the machines for this task.  The colors last much, much longer than any of the other forms of dyes.


Shopping members of our group


Next we were shown into a demonstration room with benches lining 3 sides.  We sat and were served tea or wine or Turkish coffee.  And then the carpets started rolling!  The factory tour guide explained the quality and pattern and labor hours required for each carpet as he rolled them out onto the floor in front of us.  Dozens of carpets, ranging in size from very small to maybe 8-ft by 12-ft. 



This one felt the best.  Only $16,707
I am sitting, not standing, so please realize how
small that carpet really is!



People who know us will know that we have positively zero interest in owning a Turkish carpet, either for a floor or as a wall hanging.  Nothing, no matter how attractive, would be tempting us to purchase.  But a couple of other members of our tour group did make purchases.  The Turkish government pays all taxes, custom fees and shipping to anywhere in the world.  That is a big deal when purchasing these carpets.  But, again, nothing was going to tempt us to buy anything.








If the little blue one is too expensive, how about this
one; only $8,000.  It was my favorite pattern.


Just to give you an idea of the cost of these carpets, Bill snapped a photo of me holding a very small carpet made from the finest silk threads.  The price was 29,900 lira, which would be $16,707 USD.  Oh yeah, I'm going to spend 16 grand on a little bathmat sized rug.  Count on it!  But it did feel smooth as a silk negligee.  There were much less expensive cotton carpets but if you are going to have a Turkish carpet, shouldn't it really be the best or not at all!  


After all carpet purchases were finalized we drove through the Pasabagi fairy chimneys.  

The scenery was again dramatic but we were tired and ready to get back to the hotel to freshen up before going to the Turkish Night festivities.








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