Ibrahimpasa III

Ibrahimpasa is what’s called a “closed village”. That means very traditional in its customs and beliefs, that the women are covered, and that the women and men lead essentially separate lives. Women do not walk around outside the village unescorted; a woman must be accompanied by a man – husband, father, brother – or two women – mother and sister, mother-in-law and sister, etc. The villagers think that the western women who come to the Culture House are absolutely bizarre, in that we walk around everywhere alone; they can’t comprehend that.

The first question anyone asks me, even before my name, is “Are you married?”, then “Do you have any children?”. Women are not allowed to walk across the village square; they must go around it via the side streets. In the village there are two shops selling foodstuffs and bits and pieces for daily living; there are no other shops. There are no coffee shops or restaurants; one tea house exists in the village square, but that’s reserved for men. If I wanted to have a cup of tea (maybe one of these days), Willemijn would phone the tea house and warn them that I was coming (possibly that would allow whoever felt offended by my presence time to clear out.)

Turkish villages, and possibly the entirety of Turkey, have a shame/honour culture. That means that men are “real men” and women must be protected by men. It also has a “no problem” culture. This means that, whatever the issue, nothing is a problem (in theory, anyway). Your car gets trashed, no problem – you can get it fixed. The bus has broken down, no problem – my brother has a taxi. Your painting gets destroyed, no problem – you can make another one.

The meaning of “yes” (evet in Turkish):

“I will definitely do it”

“I may do it (someday)”

“I hope to be able to do it”

“I’d really like to do it … but actually can’t”

“I don’t really want to do it”

“I have no intention of ever doing it, you fool”

The meaning of time (zaman in Turkish):

½ hour = 3 hours

½ day = one day

1 day = 3 days

One cup of tea =all afternoon

The meaning of a cup of tea (cay in Turkish):

I will give you as many cups of tea in my home as you can drink. After, I will bring out my handicrafts and you will buy whatever I have to sell – especially knitted socks and ponchos.

Yesterday, after some time photographing the derelict ruined stone houses just outside my door, I went with Willemijn to see Mehmet Ali’s treasures. He is a local trader in antiques and used goods, especially wood and metal objects d’art and furniture. He also makes sculptural painted wood pieces. He has several shops around town, all located in very old, semi-derelict stone houses; he very kindly showed me around two of them in which he had quite an amazing collection of stuff, especially some great old wooden trunks that would be fabulous to paint (except that they’d be impossible to take home). I was looking for some wooden fabric stamps to make rubbings with; Mehmet had a few, but not the elaborately decorated ones that I’m looking for (I will have to go back to Crazy Ali’s to get the ones he had). The upstairs area in one of these buildings is for sale – the owners want 50,000 Euro for it and the restoration costs would be enormous because the place is completely rotted. From the roof of Mehmet’s place there is a beautiful view across the village and also a nice view of the garbage dumped in the ruined cave house below.

As we were walking back to the Culture House, a house’s door popped open and out came a man with a large white horse! The horse whinnied, cantered, rolled on the ground like a dog scratching his back and generally seemed very pleased to be outside. Apparently all the horses are now being brought out because the weather is getting better.

So far, I have completed three watercolours of the village. My intention is to do one a day and to begin my acrylic paintings on wood today. I will also do some rubbings as soon as I can get ahold of some graphite sticks and soft paper or fabric.

See pictures here.

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