earlham college - hands on craft tour

 May 10, 2005 - June 01, 2005

Day 03 May 12,  2005 Istanbul, Turkey / Night train to Ankara
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Anastasias At Chora Church

The Covered Bazaar

e are about to take the train. It is almost ten thirty when we will begin to move and i will fall quickly to sleep. Some will argue that i have been sleeping all day. today, was like a dream. we woke early, ate another phenomenal breakfast.. olives... tomatoes.. cheeses... eggs ...ekmek (bread)..cornflakes, yogurt, strawberries and cay(tea).

Chora is a really old mosque/church built in the 11th century. Inside are incredible mosaics of Mary and Jesus and biblical stories. It is interesting that uniform symbols of Christ were decided in a small town near Chora and Istanbul. Besides being a amazing expression of history and also of art. The mosaics are made of tiny tiles of many colors and with gold leaf surrounding everything. the church was turned into a mosque and the walls were white washed and  now the mosaics have been successfully recovered because of it. the most interesting concept to me was the equal value shown to Mary and Jesus. One part of the church depicts Mary, a matriarch, integral to the culture of the time, while the other part shows the life of Jesus.

Before going to Chora, we visited the covered market...basically a crowded tunnel with amazing exotic things and harassing men wanting to sell us things. I personally escaped to the book part where it was quiet. there was everything from jewelry.. scarves.. carpets.. rugs etc.. Everyone was very happy and ready to shop, shop, shop.

We took a ferry across the Bosporus to the Asian part of Istanbul. Our air was and scarves were blowing in the wind while goose bumps appeared on our legs. Jelly fish swam beside the boat through the wake the boat made when it was moving.

Finally we arrived at a beautiful garden. Mosaics lined the garden with bright cobalt and turquoise. Mehmet, the block printer we were visiting, the son of two famous Turkish artists, who brought symbolism from their blue voyages back to Turkey. Mehmet, when you see him , sat behind a large table with small glasses perched on his nose. He was an amazing artist, but equally amazing were his life stories. He and his wife told us countless times about how they met. She was from Canada and they were pen pals. His father encouraged him to go and visit her; they fell in love and moved to New Jersey were he was in school. When Mehmet finished they moved back to Istanbul, and he continued his parent's block printing business. Mehmet's wife recently wrote a book about multicultural experience.

Mehmet's designs and his father's designs are original. He never rests and always creating. He wants to pass his legacy on by teaching his eldest son the business. He shares his secrets freely with nothing to lose. Many people in the group have expressed this was one of the most amazing experiences in the trip.

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