Morning in Kirsehir

26th June 2010.

While I was in Ankara I had my hair cut. While I was in the Barbers shop there was a book on the table which was a comprehensive map of all of Turkey. It was a really good map and showed all historical things. I looked for somewhere to go to escape Ankara. I saw something called Malkaya Yaziti - a Hittite rock inscription (Hieroglyph or more accurately a petroglyph; my kind of thing). There were a load of other interesting things nearby like a castle and ancient bridge and a caravansaray. So I headed for Kirsehir.

Kirsehir is historically important as the centre of the Ahi Brotherhood: a Muslim sect that developed moral, intellectual, spiritual and artistic ideas in Anatolia in the 13th century, at the same time as the Sufi brotherhoods of Mevlana and Haci Bektas who you will hear more about later.

This is the mosque and Mausoleum of Ahi Evram-i Veli. Ahi Evram-i Veli (1172-1262 and from Azerbaijan) was the founder of the Ahi Brotherhood.

Ahi Evram-i Veli's Tomb. I removed my shoes and entered the building. It seemed empty. But then I heard a shuffle and a man with a grey beard and a small hat and glasses came out from behind the tomb. We greeted each other and I asked him about Ahi Evram-i Veli. He told me that he was a very important Patron Saint and showed me how to show respect by touching your forehead to the ground in front of the tomb then kissing the ground and doing this three times. Once for Mohammad the Prophet, once for Ali, the fourth Caliph, and once for Ahi Evram-i Veli the Saint.

Statue of Ahi Evram-i Veli.

In the middle of the town is the Cacabey Mosque and Mausoleum (C.1272-1273). Cacabey was a regionally important leader who lived in the same period as founders of the Sufi Brotherhoods Mevlana and Hacı Bektaş. He set up many charities and built this medresse and observatory; a school of astronomy and religion. It is also his Tomb and a functioning Mosque!

From across the street you can really see the dome of the observatory on top. The Sufis were mystics. They observed the stars and understood the patterns in the heavens. Their ritual dance is a whirling trance that represents the turning cosmos. In this respect they appear to have some superficial similarities with the Zoroastrian Magi who were also astronomers and may have used ritual dance.

The minaret.

Detail inside.
The stairs leading down to the Tomb of Caca Bey.

Inside, in the crypt beneath is the the tomb of Caca Bey.

The dome of the observatory and the minbar (pulpit) where the preacher stands. In the middle is a deep well. Rooms lead off in all directions. These were the classrooms and are still used for 'friday-school' activities.

At the front (East) of the Mosque is a large Ivan (the big arched hall; a classic old-skool Persian design (Sassanian I think?). Hopefully I'll see more of these! I believe the original is in Ctesiphon, now better known as Basra. and unfortunately somewhat battered by the effects of modern industrialised warfare.

Inside the Medresse.

Outside men drinking tea and smoking bongs (Nargile).

Then there's the tomb of Malik Gazi, a Selcuk warlord? Maybe. Dunno but its quite nice :o)

This man was selling fresh chick peas, leaves and stalks included for free. He let me try one - very nice! Nogut in Turkish.

These two had sheared the sheep in the morning and bought the wool into town to sell.

I was getting frustrated being in the town. I still hadn't got out into the countryside. So in the afternoon I decided to hrad for the hills. I bought myself some bread and cheese and cured meat for lunch and tried to find a bus out of town.

When I was in the Barbers Shop inAnkara I had seen in a map book on the table that there was a Hittite Castle just outside of Kirsehir town (25 km up the road) and tried to get a bus there. But I was too late. I just missed the bus and the next one wasnt till 18.30. So I tried to get a bus south to where there is a huge ancient bridge accross the Kizilirmak River and a caravansaray. Good evidence for the true Silk Road. But the bus was full. So I decided to walk toward the Castle and the Hittite petroglyphs.

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