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x0x Authentic and original Comakdag
By MEHTAP YILDIZ
With its four-day weddings, famous silk textiles, and
stone houses, each a work of art, Comakdag is a
different world, just a stone's throw from Bodrum.
Y ou've made up your mind to take advantage of the
Aegean sun, sea and natural beauty and you've hit on
Bodrum. After a few days in the sun you sport a rich
bronze tan. You start looking around the neighborhood
for something different to do. Just like us...
During our holiday in Bodrum we learned that just 60 km
away in the direction of Milas there's a village that
for centuries has preserved such ancient traditions as
stone houses with intriguing chimneys, elaborate
woodwork interiors, and silk textiles. It's name?
Comakdag (aka Kizilagac), a mountain village that
continues to embrace its old traditions despite its
close proximity to hectic Bodrum. Why? Nobody knows.
But the natives call themselves "grandsons of the
Vikings". We've can't wait to go there.
STONE HOUSES, EACH A WORK OF ART
Taking the Milas road in the direction of Izmir, we
turn off at the sign for the ancient city of Labranda.
The road curves up the mountain, arriving at Comakdag
just after passing the olive orchards.
The village coffeehouse is our first stop. The coffee
is merely a pretext, of course. The conversation is
what counts. Now that we've heard the stories, it's
time for a village tour.
The stone houses are the most outstanding feature of
this 400-year-old village, the interior of each one
boasting woodwork more beautiful than the last. Every
one of the colorful carvings around doors and windows
and on cupboards bears the signature of the master who
created it. Built of the local stone, the walls keep
the houses cool in summer and warm in winter. Even the
chimneys are works of art of original design, each a
testimony to its master's skill.
There's one house we can't leave without seeing: the
house of Huseyin and Fatma Uskudar.
When we stepped inside and saw the woodwork, we were
literally dumb struck with awe for the master who
produced it. We couldn't take our eyes off the carvings
on the doors and ceiling. The top half of one of the
two adjacent doors, for example, shows a hunter
stalking his prey with his dog, the other a gazelle
being chased by a lion. The door is also decorated with
extraordinary patterns, while life-like pelicans, an
ostrich and a peacock with a brilliantly colored tail
face us on the doors of the two cupboards standing one
on top of the other in the sitting room.
In the shadows women are engaged in handiwork, spinning
silk. These are the women of Anatolia, and they call
this work `yanes'. They are either embroidering the
`bloomers' they wear under their traditional garments,
or making decorative panels. If it's bloomers, the
intricate work will take an entire year. We learn from
an elderly woman spinning in one corner that there was
once a silk weaving loom nearby.
But the number of looms has declined over the years.
The elderly woman takes us to the home of Nuray
Agacarasi, a silk weaver. Following a warm welcome, the
Agacarasi describes enthusiastically how the silkworm
eggs are stored in the refrigerator, how in time as the
weather warms up a silkworm, about the size of an ant,
emerges from the egg and metamorphoses into a
caterpillar which grows fat on mulberry leaves. After
it has reached a certain size, it makes a cocoon called
a `kuful'. These cocoons are collected by the villagers
and dried. "Some 40-60 cocoons are then tossed into hot
water," Agacarasi goes on. "Each cocoon yields a single
thread. We stretch the threads, wind them up, then spin
In the last stage the thread is wound on a bobbin,
ready for weaving." After observing certain phases of
the process just described, we make our departure,
taking with us the fragrant-smelling fresh basil we've
been given by the aged granny of the house.
THERE'S A WEDDING!
Suddenly it's evening. Where has the time gone? In the
distance we can hear the raucous strains of the
`davul-zurna', a sort of Turkish fife and drum.
"There's a wedding in the village," announces one of
the locals, "and you're invited."
We are seated next to the host. It's as if we've known
each other for forty years. Not forgetting we're
actually strangers, however, he explains every aspect
of the ceremony to us. "Our weddings last four days. On
the first day the person we call the flag-bearer plants
a flag in front of the groom's house to announce that
the wedding has begun. The men go to the `dibek tasi',
a large stone mortar where they pound the wheat that
will be used for the `keskek', a cooked dish of pounded
wheat and meat, that will be consumed at the wedding.
They also dance the `zeybek', a lively folk dance of
the Aegean region. Then the gifts are brought from the
grooms to the brides house to the accompaniment of the
fife and drum. Friends make gifts of gold coins and
jewelry--rings, bracelets, earrings and necklaces. The
jewelry received at a wedding can weigh anywhere from 2
to 4 kilos.
The festivities on the remaining three days of the
legendary village weddings can be summed up as follows.
On the second day there is a `kina gecesi' or `henna
party' for the bride and a stag party for the groom. On
the third day wedding candy is distributed. The bride
and groom sit together in the open at the bride's
house, and the bride's face is concealed by a red
cloth. On a tray over their heads, the groom's
brother's wife divides the candy into pieces, after
which it is distributed to the guests. Then the bride
is paraded around the village on horseback with her
jewelry, and entertainment is organized at the groom's
house in the evening. The fourth and last day is
`bridal veil day'. The bride rises early and goes to
kiss the hands of her new parents-in-law as well as
visiting the relatives, for whom she has brought gifts.
DON'T MISS THE VILLAGE TOUR
As we listen to the explanations, our eyes are fixed on
The men have donned their `zeybek' outfits, the women
are arrayed in brightly colored dresses.
On their heads they wear Ottoman gold coins, which, as
we find out, they wear even to work in the fields. Such
a fabulous feast for the eyes are these weddings that a
`wedding program' has now been organized for visitors
who come just to view this spectacle. In other words,
you can watch a four-hour animation of a four-day
wedding, put on by a special team. Not only that, you
can tour the village, breathe its air and imbibe the
positive energy of the Anatolian people. Don't miss
this superb tour to Comakdag which leaves Bodrum every
Sunday evening at six until the end of October.