Saturday, July 13, 2024

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Halime From Avanos

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There is no one who has participated in a trip to Cappadocia and not gone to pottery workshops. The Kızılırmak, which flows from the middle of Avanos, leaves its tuff red soil in Avanos for centuries. This red soil was instrumental in the birth of pottery.

*The photographs are courtesy of the Avanos Governorship.

The fact that that soil is kneaded like dough in skillful hands and turned into works of art is the most beautiful picture of how important talent and labor are. The art of pottery is one of the most valuable of the increasingly disappearing crafts. As such, this was one of the places I enjoyed the most during the trip. When the artist combined the mastery of his hands with the softness of the mud in the workshop that smelled of earth, the resulting work deserved a big applause.

The visual feast begins when the pottery master at the counter sticks clay on the wheel, which
he accelerates by hitting it with her feet. This feast takes you back to the very old days when it was said that don’t allow those who did not know pottery to marry your daughter.

I watched the master at the wheel with pure attention. First, he pressed the clay with his hands, then emptied the clay with agile movements from the center with his thumbs and gave it the form of a bowl. All this happened in seconds…

And then he turned to us and asked, does anyone among you want to try?

We looked at each other. The only person among us who answered without thinking was Halime. I don’t know if courage was at the forefront of this unthinking answer, or if the idea of “if you can do it, I can do it too” was at the forefront.

Whatever the reason may be, Halime, who never got out of trouble because of her quickness, and whose grandfather was from Avanos; jumped out of her place saying, “I can do it”.

“Halimee!”

So what? she said.

So what?!

You would think that the father of Halime, who came to the lands of her ancestors with us for the first time, was also a potter.

“Your name?” said the master.

“I’m Halime.”

“Here you are, Ms. Halime.” he said. He dressed her in the wide shawl. He sat down at the head of the counter, which was called the wheel, and is rotated with the foot.

He calmly explained what to do. “Look, you will do this, while turning the wheel with your feet, you will shape your plate on the other”. Ours is very confident.

“Yes, yes, I watched you,” she said. “I can do this, it’s okay.”

Then she turned to us. “Girls, do you want a bowl or a dinner plate?” she joked.

I was fired immediately. “Finish it before you scratch the bowl” I said.

“Look what I will do.”

We really looked at her.

What have we seen?

*The photographs are courtesy of the Avanos Governorship.

With a ball of clay in her hand, she began to push the wheel with her foot. The wheel is slowly accelerating.

She lost her mind in the triangle of hand, foot and mind; she continued with the hand, foot and tongue triangle. The piece of clay in her hand turns into strange shapes ever second. As the dose of laughter increases, its speed also increases.


Although the master next to her warned, she did not hear. The clay she claimed to make a bowl looked strange. Now her mouth, tongue, eyes, nose, all her limbs came to help the bowl. The object was getting weirder every second. Amidst the roar of laughter, when she realized that something was wrong, and panicked and took her hands off the counter, the strange object began to fling itself from side to side. We were now independent. She and we were both in our own worlds. While we were at the peak of our laughter, she was trying to cross the Sirat Bridge with a small piece of clay.

She gripped the middle of the clay and pressed with all her might. She was supposed to open the middle of the clay with her thumb, but is he trying to squeeze his neck and push it down from above with his fist? No matter what she did, she could not stop herself or the clay.

Meanwhile, meaningless words were coming out of Halime’s mouth, who loves slang.

“Hööhoo”

“Hös höst höst…”

Is she saying these words for who?

If she says to the master, it’s not the master’s fault.

If she told us, did we say try Halime?

Our side, like Halime, was in turmoil. Some were ecstatic by laughing. At one point, I saw the intervention of the master. The clay was calming down, slowly taking the form of a bowl…

Our Halime’s face is not visible from mud.

“Why didn’t it happen?” she asked.

“Why?”

Art becomes beautiful when it takes shape in the hands of the artist Halime. We witness that Avanos pottery is not a piece of clay. This art, which comes from ancestors, fathers, even genes; comes to life in the hands of veteran Avanos artists. That’s why yours didn’t happen Halime from Avanos…

*The photographs are courtesy of the Avanos Governorship.

Nafiye BOZKURT
Instagram: @nafiye_bozkurt_
Facebook: Nafiye Bozkurt

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