Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Potter and His Lump of Clay

This region is renown for it's pottery.  There are intact pieces that date back to a time before Christ.  The soil here is an excellent ingredient necessary to create a mix that yields well to the hands of a potter.  There is also much quartz which is sometimes ground to a fine powder and mixed into the clay for strength and beauty.

This man in the picture is a relative of another man named Galip... His pottery center in Avanos Turkey is world renown for the craftsmanship and beauty of the pottery created there by Galip himself, his wife, and others who have studied under him.

This man took a lump of Cappadocian clay, started the wheel spinning with his feet, and within (honest to goodness, I watched) less than 5 minutes...  

 brought forth a fast piece of beauty from earth and water and  dye. 

He made it look so easy.

Next we were led into the painting workshop where three individuals were busy decorating various pieces that had been created.  Turkish patterns can be extremely intricate and I wish I had time to adequately describe the processes.  In this work, every symbol, every color, every dot of paint has meaning and significance.  There was a plate that they show for demonstrations that enables one to see how the piece changes throughout the process.  This particular pattern has to do with the generations of Galip's family and their history in the art.

You can see that they take a liquid clay and create raised patterns on ceramic pieces, then color in each very carefully.  These people work for 2 hours, then take a 30 minute break, then return for 2 more hours, break, and a final 2 hours.

The results are absolutely stunning, and depending on who the crafts person is, fairly expensive, but they are easily recognizable as quality pieces, and the Chinese knock offs found everywhere in tourist Istanbul come no where near the original thing.

Our tour guide said that Galip himself was coming and we could meet him.  He warned us that the man was a bit eccentric and looked like Einstein.  He told a funny story about this master potter... evidently years ago, a student of his was so enamored that she cut off a lock of her hair for the artist.  It became a tradition over the years and he started taping women's locks of hair onto the wall of one of his studios.  Eventually there were so many locks that Galip opened a museum of women's hair and it is now in the Guinness Book of World Records.  Every year a lottery is held, and five of the women are given a two week vacation to Cappadocia and a workship in the art of pottery by the master himself.  "He must like women..." I commented to my friend.  Well... we did get to meet him and I can tell you.... he does like women, he does look like Einstein, and he is eccentric!  But I sure did like him.  

He was a charming down to earth (no pun intended) kind of a guy.  World famous and not a single false air about him that I could detect.  He demonstrated the strength of his pottery by dropping a piece on the ground, then he had each of us stand on it.  (he also helped us step off in a very friendly way).  My friend bought a piece and she cut off some of her hair for him and the lottery.  I think she is going to win.  Before we left we were offered apple tea or wine... guess which I chose.  Galip also gave each of us a small earthenware cup on which he signed his name.  Like the carpet... sooner or later, I will have a piece of Chez Galip pottery.
Seyit knows some very interesting people.  I couldn't have imagined that the day could get more interesting.  But it did.

Love Valley.

Formed... (I was informed) by lava flows that settled over much softer sandstone.  The elements over time make for some interesting natural statuary ?  All kidding aside, it is a beautiful place and there were indeed lovers all around. 


The edge of Pigeon Valley.   I really like this place as I love birds.  The people in this area built pigeon housing everywhere in the rock for the express purpose of harvesting the droppings as it makes for excellent fertilizer for grapes and other fruits.  An amazingly industrious people.  I am guessing a bird or two found its way onto a bar-b-que spit on occasion as well.

I asked Loida to throw rocks at the birds so I could get an "in flight" shot of them.  It only sort of worked for me, but other photographers thanked her for it. I think they probably got the shot I was looking for.

This was an "evil eye" tree.  I'll explain more about the evil eye later.  I just really appreciated the way it looked in the sun.

Seyit dropped us off at the Goreme Open Air Museum after tending to us all day long.  I took many pictures here....

The deep emotions that came from seeing the churches and the frescoes and understanding the history of this area knocked my to my knees.  

It had been a wonderful day.  One of those days that will stand out in my memory forever.   So many things happened... so many thoughts and emotions... beauty, spirit, love, humanity, struggle, clay, potters, light, paint, art, earth, sky, man, woman, angels, life.

I think GOD sort of shaped me this day too.  He showed me what had been and what could be, and I had to be malleable within HIS capable hands.  Some things are to be and some things are not.  In the end... if the clay yields, the outcome will be magnificent... as it was always meant to be.

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