x0x ANATOLIA OVER THE RAINBOW
- x0x ANATOLIA OVER THE RAINBOW
By Akgun Akova
Every morning the sun pours a cascade of orange light over the
horizon. As the curtain of darkness is swept away, birds, trees,
people and landscapes reveal their colours in the warm light. In
Anatolia, land of light, all the joy of life bursts forth in colour.
On the shores of Beysehir Lake, kingfishers perch on the wooden fences
preening their gleaming blue wings. Far to the east, on one of the
hills overlooking Hakkari, rainbow coloured bee-eaters hungrily wait
for the bees to emerge from their hives. As the sun rises higher in
the sky, the women of Azdavay wrap sashes around their colourful
clothes and set out for the market. Girls in the villages of Tokat
prepare for a wedding, carefully inspecting their clothes of seven
colours for any seams or tears that need stitching. History knows
better than we how the people of Anatolia have woven the flowers that
carpet the meadows in spring into first their hearts and then their
Following rain a rainbow enhances the festive scene. At Antakya or
Olympos it is no surprise to see two rainbows side by side. While the
rain pours down on the thirsty soil of the Mediterranean shore, in
Nazilli camels adorned with colourful tassels and beads foam at the
mouth as they await their turn in the camel wrestling tournament.
Meanwhile, in Karapinar in Konya province, the carpet weavers are
already seated at their looms creating rainbows from the many-hued
strands of wool. In autumn the seven lakes at Yedigoller are bedecked
in seven colours as the leaves change from green to yellow, orange,
red, scarlet and crimson, mingling with the blue water in a reflected
pattern. Similar images can be seen throughout Turkey's forests from
the Kackar to the Kure mountains.
When winter buries the ground beneath white snow, the young girls of
Ardahan gather around the stove to sew rag dolls known as damal in
traditional costumes. In Kastamonu, Goreme and Safranbolu similar
dolls worked on winter nights are admired in the bright light of the
following morning. When the religious bayrams or feast days fall in
winter, children dressed in colourful new clothes leave their
footprints in the snow as they go from house to house visiting the
neighbours. If they fall in spring, the ceremonial visits being over,
they climb the nearest hill to fly their colourful kites. In Edirne
the old-fashioned carts are painted in bright colours with pictures of
partridges, poppies and mosques. On the island of Gokceada the
donkeys' saddles are covered by a patchwork cloth known as kurela, an
old Greek custom.
At annual festivals held on the high pastures in the mountains above
Trabzon, the cows' horns are adorned with coloured beads and tassels,
and in Soma the brightly painted ceilings of the mosques glow in
memory of the artists of past centuries. In summer, the carpet sellers
of Kekova hang their wares outside their shops early in the morning,
against the background of the turquoise Mediterranean. In Cappadocia,
before the moon has faded from the sky, a brightly coloured balloon
ascends, awakening the pigeons. In the old walled quarter of Amasra,
Zulfiye Hanim waters her colourful flowers, which grow in pots made of
old boots with colourful socks stretched over them, old shoes, leaking
kettles, and anything else that her imagination can put to good use!
While all this is going on, I sit down in a village coffeehouse, and
as I sip my tea take from my pocket a piece of paper.
On it is a poem by Ferit Edgu describing the colours of the human
heart mingled with those of the world:
Please take my photograph pleaded a small child in the marketplace.
Make it a really impressive one.
I took it.
Take my photograph too, said an old man,
With the mosque behind me.
I took one .
A tired packhorse did not asked me to take its photograph.
But I did.
Women were chatting together in the meadow.
When they saw me they began to laugh.
When they saw me take a photograph they called out,
Don't forget to send us a copy.
I sent it.
A fisherman coming into harbour called out,
No fish today, but at least take my photograph.
I took it.
A wrestler said, what is the point of photographing me in ordinary clothes?
Wait until I am on the wrestling field.
I took one photo but left the rest for others.
Auntie, he is taking your photograph, shouted a child.
The woman turned to me and said,
Son, what is the point of taking my photograph?
Take that great plane tree, she said, pointing.
I took it.
Both the old woman and the great plane tree.
Her eyes gazing into the far distance.
The fallen leaves of the tree.
Later I was photographing a woman in the market selling herbs and flowers that she had gathered from the mountains, meadows and woods.
When she noticed me she picked up a bunch of wild flowers and posed for me, saying,
Take it, my dear, but let it be in colour, because my world is very
* Akgun Akova is the author of several books of poetry and essays