Saturday, September 27, 2014

Cruising the Greek Islands: Turkish Carpets

I wondered whether it was a requirement of the Turkish government, sort of a quid pro quo for not requiring us to have visas to enter the country. We had been told that, as part of our excursion to Ephesus, we would be stopping by a place for a demonstration of the traditional art of creating handmade Turkish rugs. There was a bit more to it, but I'm getting ahead of my story.

The place we pulled into was quite a little complex, but on first appearance, it gave the appearance of a quiet country home with a large shady front yard. We got off the bus and were greeted by a friendly Turkish man who spoke very good English. He was our host and we were "dear guests" (again). He guided us to a long porch where two women were busily engaged in weaving rugs.

Our host explained to us how the women tie the knots, how many knots there are per square inch, etc. He also explained that rug-making has been a tradition of the Turkish people for centuries. Up until very recently, it was their custom that each young woman make a rug to bring to their new home upon their marriage. Our guide later told us that she had not been very good at it, had struggled with it, but finally completed hers. It's about 1 ft x 2 ft and hangs on the wall of her living room.

Each woman worked from a different pattern such as is used for cross-stitch. On cue, they demonstrated how they compact the woven threads and also trim them.

After this demonstration, it was time to see a demonstration of how silk threads were traditionally harvested from cocoons. I don't recall a lot of the specifics, but basically the cocoons are placed in boiling water to kill the pupating silk worms, then the fibers are extracted from a number of cocoons with a broom-like object (see below). The threads are then gathered and fed over a hook and onto a spinning wheel.

We were then invited inside the buildings for a light lunch and drinks which was served in the room pictured below. Once we had finished eating, the sales pitch began. Our host had one rug after another thrown out on the floor, demonstrating various techniques, patterns and composition (wool, wool/cotton and silk). It was all very interesting, but I kind of felt like I'd been a victim of bait and switch. When the demonstration was over, a half-dozen salesmen came into the room to try to talk people into buying a rug. I suppose that if you were in the market for a Turkish rug, this would be a good place to buy one.

After waiting around for everyone to get back to the bus, we headed back to Kusadasi. We had some time to kill, so Mark and I walked around. Hawker central. We made the mistake of going into the bazaar and we wondered whether we'd get out alive (I exaggerate) due to the aggressiveness of the shop owners and salesmen. I guess some people would thrive on the challenge of bargaining with such people. I'm not one of them.

Back to the ship, then we sailed to the near-by island of Samos where we had dinner on board, then strolled the streets of the port town. The next day, we'd sail to Mykonos!

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