People and Places: Eastern Turkey… and Nashville, Tennessee!

It is time to introduce you to some remarkable people I have met visiting unusual destinations (although one destination, Nashville in Tennessee, is not that unusual). Turkey dominates the post because citizens of the Turkish Republic have indulged my interest in photography more patiently than people in many other nation states (the impatience of non-Turkish people is perfectly understandable, of course). I am grateful to all the people shown here, three for providing excellent entertainment at a country and western event in Nashville, but everyone else for making visits to unusual destinations so memorable.

The Nashville performers aside, it looks to me as if almost everyone featured in the photos is Kurdish in origin (but the children consuming light refreshments, following a morning Qur’anic class, are, with one obvious exception, Turkish). Six of the photos derive from Agri (the man sitting behind his desk), Kayseri (the three men sitting outside as they smoke cigarettes), Malatya (the four metalworkers in the bazaar), Mus (the man standing in his shop, and the three men sitting in the pazar) and Tatvan (the man in front of the wood-fired oven), all of which are towns and cities large enough to locate easily on a map of Turkey, but the rest derive from Arapgir (the children consuming light refreshments), Cengilli and Venk Koyu. Arapgir is a small town about 90 kms from Malatya, but Cengilli and Venk Koyu are villages. One photo features the mukhtar, or headman, of Venk Koyu, which lies a few kilometres east of Malatya. The mukhtar is shown with his wife and youngest daughter. The photos of the five young women, and of the two older women wearing headscarves, also derive from Venk Koyu. The five girls and the small boy with the tomato, shot in the very last light of day with the flash on a pathetic little digital camera, live in Cengilli, a village at the end of a dirt and gravel road through the hills and mountains about 20 kms from the nearest town (Kagizman).

Venk Koyu is worth visiting for two reasons other than the friendliness of the local people. First, overlooking the road leading into the village is a ruined Armenian church with the tomb of a Muslim “saint” by its side. Second, a dirt and gravel road leads from behind the village into the surrounding mountains. By following the road you can undertake a wonderful walk through stunning upland scenery. Cengilli is worth visiting for the ruined Georgian church that towers over the surrounding buildings, most of which are simple one-storey stone structures partially buried in the ground to improve insulation during the bitterly cold winters that endure for up to five months. Arapgir is worth visiting for some interesting 18th century buildings, many substantial timber-framed houses, a lively pazar and, about 4 kms away, Eskisehir, a town significantly older than Arapgir itself. Although largely abandoned, Eskisehir is in a delightful rural setting and has a number of important ruined monuments.

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One thought on “People and Places: Eastern Turkey… and Nashville, Tennessee!

  1. Hello. I am looking for the exact location of the village of Venk, near Malatya. I have not been able to find it. From memory, it is south of the road to Elazig, after Malatya. Could you please help me. I thank you in advance (information supplied, by email, 21.3.14).

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