Pheww! Having visitors can be pretty hectic – especially if they are only here for a week! I don’t know about you, but I feel a desperate urge to fill their time with as much ‘stuff’ as possible otherwise I worry that they haven’t had ‘value for money’! Not that I actually charge family for the privilege of staying you understand. That said, they did omit the customary bottle of single malt (although J got two tins of Coleman’s Mustard powder as requested)!
Anyway, stuff that, as the art mistress said to the gardener! Let’s get back on track . .
I really enjoy wandering around with visitors, it brings a whole new perspective to places and things as we see everything anew through their eyes. So it was that we went back to Üzümlü after a gap of fifteen years. J and I had once considered the village as a place to settle but fortunately we discovered Okçular and having seen the development that followed at Üzümlü we have no regrets.
old Üzümlü from my blogging pal Natalie, see below for a link to her brilliant blog
Over the years we’ve whizzed past on the bypass and commented on the explosion of villas with never a thought about stopping. That was a mistake because old Üzümlü village is still there, little changed by the changes around.
J had the idea to visit and see if we and our ‘guests’ couldn’t find a few bits of what Üzümlü is justly famous for – dastar! Dastar is a finely woven cotton material that can be found over much of Asia – from Borneo in the east to Turkey’s Aegean coast in the west. The Sikh turban is called a dastar and the cloth was and is traditionally used as a head covering for men and women.
Cotton has been produced in many parts of the Ottoman Empire since the early seventeenth century. By the nineteenth century cotton weaving was widespread in Turkey, especially in the Aegean and Black Sea regions and, as with cuisine, local variations proliferated and soon became clear sign of regional, tribal and ethnic origins.
Denizli became a major centre for cotton and cotton products producing bez (plain weave), yemeni (plain weave gauze) and dastar that employed an over-twisted warp and weft cotton crepe embellished with inlaid patterns of heavier threads of cotton or silk often in contrasting colours.
With the rise of machines many of these local, traditional crafts declined and the skills and knowledge was lost. But not in beautiful, tumbledown Üzümlü and a very few other villages.
So, dastar was the reason for our visit with our family visitors and dastar was the lure that brought about one of those delightful human encounters. As we crossed the village centre, attracted by a sign saying ‘Yergöz Textile’, we were captured by a dazzling sunbeam of a smile that popped out of a tent structure. The dazzling smile was soon followed by its owner, a very bubbly lady by the name of Nur.
Queen Nur of Dastar
Nur happens to be a graduate horticultural engineer who saw the potential for learning the art of weaving dastar – especially when her mum kept plenty of sheep and did spinning and her dad was a tailor! Here was a combination for a true family business – she also has an astonishing work ethic!
Nur of the flashing hands
Dastar lends itself to far more than just head coverings; it makes great curtains, table cloths, dresses, blouses and shirts – all sorts. Nur and her family have tapped into a market that is created by visitors and expat residents.
and her ‘office’
Her workplace and shop is the ground floor of her family home and it is an Aladdin’s Cave of delightful goodies (not to mention pot plants!). The range, quantity and quality of items that are made here is astonishing – you’d think a small army was at work and not just three hard working people. Here was an opportunity for us to support local enterprise and we did with considerable enthusiasm!
full of stuff
So, has Archers bent the rules and indulged in a bit of promotion? Absolutely! Am I encouraging you to visit Üzümlü and spend a bit of time and money? Yes! Dastar makes the perfect gift, it’s beautiful, weighs nothing and packs into bags or packages easily and is terrific value for a hand-made bit of Turkey. Indulge yourself and make Nur’s day because she’ll certainly make yours!
beautiful, fine craftsmanship
Queen Nur displays her fine work and her smile
Nur Yergöz, Yergöz Textile, Yeşil Üzümlü Çarsı Merkezi (main square near the mosque)
tel: 0535 253 7239 (she speaks excellent English but outside of the tourism season may sometimes be at work in the fields – she’ll be happy to arrange to meet you)
Nur’s place on a sunny, summer day (http://turkeyvillauzumlu.co.uk)
. . similar subject from a different perspective from blogging friends you’ll enjoy reading:
Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü