x0x Reflections of reality
- [See some Turkish mirror photographs at:
x0x Reflections of reality
By Akgun Akova
One of the first things most of us do in the morning is look
at our reflections in the mirror. And if we remember that obsidian
mirrors dating from 6000 BC have been found at the Neolithic site of
Catalhoyuk in Turkey, the desire of human beings to see themselves
evidently dates from the mists of time. Modern mirrors with a
reflective layer of metal beneath glass first appeared in Nuremberg in
the 15th century, and from there spread to Venice, where the golden
age of mirror making began. Immense Venetian pier mirrors were brought
to Istanbul to decorate Aynalikavak Palace built on the shore of the
Golden Horn in 1717 by Sultan Ahmed III.
A story dating from much earlier than this is told about the Turkish
folk hero Nasreddin Hoca, an amusing and shrewd character, whose
humour often reflects sharp insight into human nature and
understanding: One day Nasreddin Hoca goes to draw water from the
well, and sees the moon reflected in the surface. Thinking that the
moon has fallen into the well, he hurries to pull up his bucket, and
in his haste tumbles onto his back.
Looking up into the sky he sees the moon, and assumes that
he has rescued it! Reflections play such tricks on people. Light
borrowed from the sun and moon create spectacular images of the
natural world, which are in turn recreated in water, nature's own
mirror. On the shores of the Mediterranean, when the winter rain
clouds are whisked away by the wind to reveal the fieryhaired sun,
reflections of columns appear in puddles of rain at Phaselis, Perge
In autumn the mountain lakes at Yedigoller in Bolu reflect
the colourful foliage of the trees in all their seasonal splendour.
At Lake Nazli, yellow, red and brown leaves floating on the green
water combine with the reflections of trees to create an exquisite
composition. As you cross Mount Bolu on your return, the lights of
stalls selling bread by the side of the road mingle with the scarlet
sunset sky to fall upon the puddles. The next day white clouds in
strange formations can be seen in the crater of Mount Nemrut in
eastern Turkey, or tiny mountain lakes in the Aladag range.
In fishing harbours the boats moored at the jetties cast
their reversed reflections in the sea, where the waves bend, distort
and finally scatter them. Then nature seems like an avantgarde
painter. When the water becomes calm once again, the pictures are
In springtime storks still return to nest on the protruding chimneys
of houses submerged beneath the waters of Porsuk Dam. As they sit on
their eggs and care for their nestlings, reflections of the villages
on the hilltops around are cast on the water, and it seems as if the
storks had nested on a colourful patterned carpet. Back in Istanbul a
second Dolmabahce Palace springs into being in the ornamental pool,
the waterlilies adorning its reflection like huge teardrops.
Reflections fascinate by the way they imitate, deform and metamorphose
the real world. They are everywhere to be seen: in the windows of a
skyscraper, the bell of a trombone being played in a procession, in
the gleaming bodywork of a parked car, or in a ditch by a field.
In them you see a transformed, alternative world.
Reflections make us aware of the power of illusion, and that not all
we see is real. Images can come and go between the real and the
unreal, carrying those who see them into the realm of philosophy. So,
perhaps I had better stop here, before being carried away too far