Dervish Downtown

A strategic decision to miss the Cappadocia, host to the most surreal landscape in Turkey (and the so called ‘fairy chimney’ style housing – as I see it, uncomfortably phallic constructions in such a conversative area) and instead pass by Konya. This is probably equivalent to driving past the Grand Canyon and stopping into Alabama.

A deeply conservative town, where many people make pilgrimage to pay tribute to the resting place of Rumi, the 13th Century poet and Sufi mystic whose followers established the Mevlevi (Order of the Whirling Dervishes). In the same way that the Quakers quake, the Whirling Dervishes whirl as a physical manifestation of their devotion. It’s not easy to find a genuine group of whirlers to watch, mostly it is for tourist performance but behind the Mevlana museum, there is a tranquil Dervish cemetary. Touchingly, atop many of the grave stones, small Dervish hats, the shape of upside-down plant pots, have been carved. An honourable tradition of applying the tools of ones trade to your final resting place. Could this become the norm? Intricately carved little stone spanners crowning the top of the Mechanics’ tombs? ‘Taxi’ signs for drivers? Bananas for fruit and veg sellers?


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