13 May 2011 Friday, Day 02 Mardin

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We started the day at 10:30. After a short introduction on the tour, we left  the hotel.

Our first stop was the museum. The museum of Mardin is  in a very old Mardin house. We visited  the ethnographic gallery first. We saw some of the old copper pots, containers and Turkish bath utensils, jewelry and wonderful wooden furniture. The archeological display in the museum was like the summery of 9000 year old history of Mardin. Being on the trade road, Mardin had been exposed to the arts and cultures of Mesopotamia and Anatolia both. After the museum, we stopped at the bank and did all of our money business. We had lunch at the garden of a restaurant. The meal was a huge one. Every one was happy with the meal. In the afternoon Will gave his presentation on the Turkish copper. He  talked about the Selcuks and Ottomans and how their copper work had differed in these two civilizations. In the late afternoon we left the hotel once again and walked through the narrow streets of Mardin.  We found the tiny little shop of  one of the last survivors of the coppersmiths.

The plan was to learn how the Turkish Bath soap boxes are decorated with the locks and hinges. We first watched the master and then took his tools in our hand  and started making them our selves. We had to pound in the "belly button'" and the "dimples".
       The master,  Cihat Ozcan, told us that he has been doing this craft for 72 years. He learned it from his father. At the same shop he has been the 5th generation. He said that his children are also learning the trade but they also have other things in their mind. It sounded like he knew that he would be the last person in his family who would be doing this craft. His son was more interested in painting  Shahmaran.


The streets of Mardin are very colorful. There is hardly an thing that does not have glitter. The curtains, towels, dresses for babies, saddles for donkeys... Every thing is colorful and joyous looking. Are they beautiful ? That is a personal opinion.     We were told that for practical reasons, the copper utensils are  tinned. With covered copper cooking is safe and the  the utensils do not need polishing. Few old man still work on the copper plates . What they were making was just as interesting as where they were  working.  The  collection of work were trays, the Turkish bath bowls, cooking utensils, Turkish coffee cups and yogurt containers, pots, pans... We learned the Turkish names for some of them: Hamam Tasi, ibrik, lenger, bakrac... shop keepers were using Shahmaran like a  Catholic will use the icons of Mary in their homes or churches.

Shahmaran - The queen of the snakes

Once upon a time a man found himself in trouble. Shahmaran saved him. The man  promised her that he will never tell any one where Shahmaran lives. However,  he did not keep his promise and revealed the location of the queen of the snakes. Shahmaran was caught and killed . The man who betrayed  the confidence of Shahmaran was honored with an important title.

We heard the story of Shahmaran
Shahmaran stands as the symbol to the betrayal of the human beings





Eric is listening to the instructions
of the master
He learned that he should keep
the hammer straight


Rose finally arrived and joined the group

Five minutes after we were at the copper shop the tea man came with right number of glasses of tea.

Shahmaran - The queen of the snakes

Cihat and his son asked if we could have a group picture. The happy moment was immortalized
around the giant "ibrik". Some of the students will work on the box locks tomorrow.

We waited for the tin man to return from the mosque.
One of the boys working in the neighborhood came running and told us that the tin man was now at his shop. We walked down to his shop. The old man started the coal fire. The instant flame looked like fireworks. there was a bowl of gray ground metal. He rubbed the pot with this powder then started heating the bowl in the cola fire. When the copper pot was red hot, he started rubbing the pot with a thin stick of tin. In few seconds the red copper bowl started changing color and looked like a silver pot.  It was like magic. The old man turned off the fire, walked out of his shop with a proud smile on his face.

The windows of the jewelers were full of 22 karat hand made gold jewelry. We watched them like an artwork in a gallery. We did not even ask how much they might be.


Our last stop for the day was the "Association of the Disabled." We met the politicians who are running for the June12th elections. The president of the association ,Hasan Bey, was please to see us. tomorrow we will visit the same work shop to see the jewelers at work. .A young girl who was working on jewelry making as a hobby was so impressed with our visit, she gave a 1000 -piece  puzzle as a gift.



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