Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Erzurum: Turkey and Kurban Bayram

Photos by Jack Waldron

Pictured above, I am on the ferry from Lesbos, Greece to Ayvalic, Turkey . . . , destination, Erzurum in north eastern Turkey, for the Kurban Bayram, winter skiing, ancient Ani and ancient Tushpa (Van), and beyond.
Pictured above, one of the many ancient medrese in Erzurum, this one in the central square of the city.
The mountain view from my new apartment near the train station is quite amazing, with a valley that spreads out over the plain for about 60 km.  Below, other sights around Erzurum.
Many aspects of Erzurum culture are very old world, and it was quite an eye opener for myself.
Pictured below, the view from the balcony of my first apartment.  At the intersection in the photo, it was not uncommon to see a Sahin or Dogan (these are Fiat/Turkish cars), doing donuts in broad daylight laying down 3, 4, or even 5 circles of rubber in the middle of traffic!  
Pictured below, David (English teacher from the U.S.) and I sit in a fireplace of a traditional turkish house that has been converted into a multi-traditional-house tea and restaurant community known as Erzurum House.
The original lane between the old houses has been covered, and the houses that open on it have been turned into tea rooms.  This is a must visit when you come to Erzurum.
This late Ottoman era domed wooden house roof is taken directly out of the ancient architectural playbook; the photo below is of the Roman era Gumukesen Tomb in Milas (ancient Mylasa), and notice how the marble roof is supported using the same technique.
Sights and scenes of Erzurum House, Turkey!!
Erzurum is a living museum of what the rest of Turkey used to be only decades ago.
As October arrived, the streets were slowed by the procession of cows and sheep which began to occupy every courtyard around the city.  Here in Erzurum, the streets still run red during Kurban Bayram.
Kurban Bayram had arrived, indicated by the sales of butcher blocks along the streets (pictured below).
The tradition of slaughtering meat for distribution to the villagers is a custom that harkens back to ancient Greek sacrifices at the temple altars and beyond, and here in Erzurum, the tradition continues under a different guise.
The teachers were invited to a small village near Erzurum to take part in the festival sacrifice and, the distribution of meat throughout the community.
We began the traditional festival day with a breakfast in the family's house.  Pictured below, a traditional dung pile next to the sacrificial site; the dried dung is used for heating during the winter.
The process begins by tying the cows legs and getting to the ground.
Many many thousands of cattle are sacrificed across Turkey during the Kurban Bayram, with the largest number of animal sacrifices occur in eastern Turkey.
It is legal to carry out a sacrifice in field such as the one pictured here, as long as it is a remote village.
The bigger cities however, have special slaughter houses set up for sanitary reasons, and though Erzurum is a big city, the slaughter of animals continue to take place outside houses and apartment blocks throughout the city.
Most families perform the butchering task by themselves (as seen here), while some hire a butcher to process the meat.
In the piture below, you can see another sacrifice taking place in the background, and there were many throughout this village.
Nothing from the cow is wasted . . . 
It's now time to BBQ some of the meat and feast for the celebration.  The remainder of the meat was put into plastic bags in evenly portioned amounts, and given to the poorer families in the village.
I'll be skiing on the mountains in the background of the picture below, beginning around mid-December, IF I survive the drivers of Erzurum!!

*All photos and content property of Jack Waldron (photos may not be used without written permission)

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