Tuesday, April 22, 2008


When you tell people you're visiting Turkey, anyone who has been there will invariably say, "You must see the whirling dervishes." At which point I tell a joke about Maria Von Trapp and the whole conversation gets sidetracked.

(So here's the thing, in the Sound of Music tune "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria" some nun claims that Maria could "Throw a whirling dervish out of whirl." So it seems like the dervishes would not want Maria anywhere around. They probably post her picture up at the performance hall just to insure she doesn't make it in, because that woman simply can't be allowed to disrupt the performance that way. Too obscure?)

I'm sorry, where was I? Oh yes, the point is that we did go see the whirling dervishes, and they really are a sight to behold. The performance starts with a short concert.

Followed by the entrance of the dervishes in a room with very poor lighting.Then, after some walking and bowing, they start spinning...Their outfits are designed to symbolize the death of ego. The hats represent tombstones.And the white cloaks represent shrouds.They spin with one hand up and the other facing down, meaning "From God we receive,and to man we give: we keep nothing to ourselves."They spin four different times for about 8 minutes. Each spin cycle (I'm not trying to be funny with that, I really couldn't think of a better term) is designed to take the dervish from the cares of earthly life into a realm of non-existence where the dervish is one with God.It is beautiful and hypnotic and it is really easy to get carried away taking pictures of the performance. But after an hour, it's over. The dervishes bow once more.And then they leave. It's such a meditative experience, the audience seemed unsure whether to applaud when they left. Eventually we collectively decided that some applause was in order just as they were walking out the door.

The performance was one of the highlights of the trip so far, and if you're in Istanbul, well, you really must see the whirling dervishes. Until then, may I offer you a short one minute excerpt of the performance. Enjoy.

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At 1:25 pm, Blogger Darrell said...

What's next? A hornet's nest? Pestering pests?
Will you catch a cloud and pin it down?


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