Romanika

“You can’t love, my namesake, you who live in cities and in villages; you who obey orders and you who command someone; you who fear someone and who threaten someone. You can’t love. Only we know how to love... Us: the gypsies who run free as the western wind and who know no god save for ourselves...” Sabahaddin Ali, ‘’The Mill’’

My first encounter with gypsies took place at my grandfather’s grapevines. At the Cappadocian town of Bor, a tribe of gypsies passing through the vine on their carts had asked to trade their baskets woven from fresh willow branches for grapes; a basket full of grapes for each willow basket. The baskets were very craftfully woven. My grandfather accepted. A heap of grapes were collected and measured with baskets. An empty basket to us, one filled with grapes to them! I vaguely recall the coy, enticing girls and dark women. Also the thin mustached man with blades and dogs that scared us!

Years later when I was studying painting at the academy, I had also started to write poetry and described this encounter in a long poem. (I lost the poem, but when I remember some of the lines, I jot them down somewhere.)

Gypsies call themselves “Romans”. This has nothing to do with the Rome we know; in an old Aryan dialect “roman” means “human”. Neither do gypsies have anything to do with Egypt related to words like Coptian or Egyptian. They are actually migrants originating from northern India. (The Europeans had thought that gypsies came from Egypt!) They try to adapt to the languages, religions and social structures of the countries they live in to survive. But the essence of their existence lies in their unique talent for music.

I took most of these photographs at the spring festivals around the Marmara Sea. These festivals are gradually losing their quaintness and disappearing.


These photos shot by 35mm And 6x7cm cameras on black&white negative film and scanned. Print size variable upon request (50x60cm dark room prints also available, printed and signed by photographer). Contact the photographer for price.