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x0x The dance of Taskale

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  • Turkish Radio Hour
    x0x The dance of Taskale By Muge Iplikci A local dance that used to be performed in Taskale is described by Cenk Gencdis in his book about the town. Two people
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 9, 2004
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      x0x The dance of Taskale

      By Muge Iplikci

      A local dance that used to be performed in Taskale is described by
      Cenk Gencdis in his book about the town. Two people dressed up as a
      camel in a costume made of sacking. A wise man wearing a white robe
      would appear first, and behind him the camel, and then the caml'sr
      owner, an old man. Once they had come out it was the turn of a young
      'girl' (played by a man) in regional dress, who joined the circle.

      Then came two young gallants and a third man in a strange costume. The
      sound of the darbuka drum became more urgent, and the strains of the
      ud could be heard as far away as the granaries. The rhythm of the
      dance speeded up and the sense of exhilaration affected the audience.

      The young gallants shouted aloud and the camel went into a trance.

      While everyone was preoccupied with the dance the third man kidnapped
      the young girl. The young men took off in pursuit, caught the man and
      hauled him off into the presence of the sage. The sage had him
      punished, and killed the camel which was to blame for everything.

      Then the owner of the camel began to cry so much that blood mingled
      with his tears. The camel was so affected by the tears that showed the
      devotion of its owner that it came to life again. It was disconnected
      from its shadow, however, and the shadow of the camel stretched longer
      and longer under the late afternoon sun that it struck Taskale Gorge -
      the gorge you reach when you set out from Karaman and follow the
      yellow signposts to the Manazan Caves and Taskale, east of Yesildere.

      Glancing off the Yesildere river flowing peacefully at the side of the
      road, the caml's shadow flopped down on its knees on the rock walls of
      the 27 kilometre gorge that stretches eastwards towards the Bolkar
      Mountains. Then the shadow of the camel appeared on the Manazan Caves
      on the left-hand side of the road. A five-storey high rock which rises
      like the Great Wall of China just outside Taskale. The Manazan Caves
      were hollowed out of the rock on the north slope of the Yesildere
      river in Byzantine times, and their walls decorated with painting.

      The shadow of the camel glided first into the lower caves, then up to
      the levels known as the Sand Castle, the Hippodrome and the Place of
      the Dead respectively. Then this serene shadow advanced along the
      mountain slope and suddenly found itself at the entrance to Taskale
      (Stone Castle), with its 251 ancient granaries dating back five
      centuries. With its limbs and even with its hump it tried to grip the
      cavities hollowed out of the rock at a height of 35 to 40 metres above
      the ground, but nearly lost its footing! Then it realised that the
      best solution was to climb up to them using handholds carved in the
      rock. Only a shadow perhaps, but we must remember that it was the
      shadow of a camel, and so difficult to manage, especially in the plays
      of light. The camel climbed and climbed.

      When it discovered that the tuff from which the granaries were
      hollowed kept them at a fixed temperature winter and summer it was
      astonished. And its imaginary heart stopped a beat when it found that
      each granary, generally consisting of two sections, could hold 60 tons
      of grain, and that this grain would keep here without spoiling for

      Then the shadow found its way underground into Incesu Cave, whose 1356
      metre long gallery is the third longest in Turkey, and which is
      adorned with stalactites, stalagmites and travertine pools. Breathing
      deeply, it plunged into the 750 metre long Asarini Cave that is good
      for asthma and bronchitis, but was scared of that dark world where
      bats abound.

      The shadow emerged into the light again and the distinction between
      being and non-being became ill-defined. Unheeding it flowed towards
      Gulluk Spring, where cold water from an underground source forms small
      cascades in a setting of luxuriant greenery, roses and trees. It even
      passed by the trout farm. It seemed to be saying to local people
      dreaming of moving to the great cities, 'Don't go, it is so beautiful
      here.' Perhaps that was why it landed on the carpets that are one of
      the main sources of income here, tracing the traditional motifs and
      searching for the fascinating yarns woven into them. It lay down upon
      one true tale embellished with a sun motif telling of how soldiers
      dressed in shee'sd pelts took the castle, and hoped that one day it
      would be the hero of a carpet.

      Then dusk fell, and in this land that was once an inland sea - to
      judge by the fossil of a shell on the ceiling of Tas Mosque - everyone
      began to applaud the dancers.

      * Muge Iplikci is a short story writer.
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