A Dying Breed

A few days ago a mysterious car parked at the bottom of our cabin ‘drive’ and a somewhat furtive individual got out. He asked us mysterious questions about ‘a man on the beach’ all the time glancing about and gazing towards the horizon and never quite meeting our eye before he went shuffling off along the track.

J and I glanced at each other, shrugged, and carried on with our hoeing and pruning. Shortly there came the sounds of a chain saw and then this shifty individual came scurrying back clutching smallish logs of tree trunk. He called us over to his car where he recovered a log from its hiding place under a rug and proceeded to apply a tape measure to it whilst rabbiting on at pace as he continued to peer around in his shifty, furtive manner.

Eventually he sussed that we were perplexed and ferreted out a shopping bag that had half a dozen zournas in it. From here on our interest mounted and once he slowed down his garbled delivery we realised that he actually made these instruments at his home in our local village.

We explained to him that we loved the raucous sound of these primitive, double reeded, instruments. They have a sound that you can actually feel in your gut and in the hands of a master they can carry you to mysterious, wild, unimagined places.

Zournas are spread across North Africa, Eurasia and as far as China, Korea and Japan. Wherever is found the common reed (as here at Salda) you will find the zourna or a variation of it. It is the double reed that produces the powerful, gut-rumbling sound that is so evocative.

fancy modern oboe reeds
traditional Turkish zourna reed

As folk instruments they have been around for a very long time – here’s one from the museum at Persepolis that’s dated from about five thousand years BCE.

Anyway, Ali (for that was his name) began to feel more relaxed with us and became less furtive. As he was leaving he said something that sort-of translated to ‘you are invisible’! What he wanted to say was that, as cutting trees is illegal even for making zournas, that we hadn’t seen him. We, being natural-born anarchists/rebels against petty ‘jobsworths‘ and their ilk, readily agreed.

What was really nice was that this morning Ali turned up to show us what he had made  from the wood he’d garnered the day we didn’t see him. He also delivered an impromptu demo as he explained the different keys, different parts and different woods – how nice was that!

So, here he is – our mysterious and furtive visitor:

A dying breed? Yes, because traditional craftsmen like Ali, who create whatever it is they make for their own pleasure or the pleasure of other locals and not for some pseudo-authentic tourism market or to decorate the wall of some moneyed townie looking for plastic connections to a lost past, are fast fading away.

Power to your elbow Ali – if we both live long enough then I’m bequeathing my, by then, ancient fruit trees to you so that you can breathe new life into them and they can continue to rumble many a gut!

Alan in Payamlı (Almondy).

Durul Bakan – Artiste Extraordinaire

Durul Bakan is indeed an extraordinary artist-sculptor. J and I first stumbled, quite literally, across his work some little while back on one of our regular trips to the Lisinia Project. Outside the barn a huge, graceful eagle was under construction from bits and bobs of Ardıç/Juniper trees. We were stunned at the power of the piece.

IMG_0011_copy

IMG_0014_copy

Of the sculptor there was no sign but by the time we made our next visit the magnificent finished piece was in place to greet us as we drove through the entrance to the project.

IMG_0626_copy

With each new visit, either by ourselves or with family or friends, astonishingly beautiful additions had been made to the menagerie. From a Eurasian Lynx to a magnificent Ibex (wild goat) to . .

IMG_0675_copy
Eurasian Lynx
IMG_0877_copy
Ibex

In the past couple of weeks we’ve had the pleasure of having, first, Numero Uno Daughter Anita and then dear friend Ahmet and his wife Muge for visits. The Lisinia Project is a must-do visit and so it was that on the last call-in I was delighted to find the artist Durul Bakan busy at work on a new piece. We have only ever interacted via social media so getting this chance to press the flesh and look each other in the eye was a real bonus.

The new piece was intriguing because it looked a bit like a giant horse with a mouth full of tiger’s teeth! Questions were soon being answered with the aid of technology.

mountain016_copy

IMG_0946_copy

Apparently, back in seventeen hundred and something or other, a lone Frenchman was wandering about in the general area. He claimed to have seen this monstrous creature with his own eyes and drew a picture.

IMG_0947_copy

The guy’s name was Paul Lucas and he wrote a lot of books in his time. Personally I think he’d been on the rakı because he described the creature as a giant ‘hyena’ and called it Datura stramonium, which was all a bit of wishful thinking because no-one had ever seen it before and no-one has seen it since. Until now that is because it is being resurrected under the hands of Durul Bey – I can tell you that J and I are really looking forward to our next visit.

mountain022_copy
explaining the improbable

Durul then insisted on dropping everything to give our party an escorted trip around the project. Recently the project has been expanding its facilities to provide exhibition space and visitor area where healthy food, drinks and the projects wonderful organic products can be purchased to support the whole caboodle. Waiting to take pride of place are many of Durul’s latest creations. The way the pieces of wood are chosen to follow and mimic the muscle structure of each creature is uncanny – a bit of imagination (or a glass or two with lunch) could have you believing that at any moment they’ll spring into motion.

mountain032_copy
J with deer and shark
mountain034_copy
complete with all his accoutrements – the detail is amazing

mountain041_copy

So, there you have just a small sample of this amazing artist and his amazing creations – a taster that I hope will encourage you to visit and support the Lisinia Project.  As for me, I’m dreaming of commissioning Durul to create something that would look great atop the cairn in our garden hide-away.

09.07.2016010_copy

Now that really would be something to write home about!

Alan up in the mountains.