kusadasi//i wasnt expecting such a show, such a brilliantly executed piece of theater to cap my day. day spent on a tour of ancient ephesus, with trips to the death house of the virgin mary, where tied kerchiefs, paper scraps, plastic bags and leaves symbolize wishes of the faithful, and the st john basilica, including the tomb of said saint. i got on my knees to breathe in the magic dust coming from the tomb, wild dust of the fire eyed gospelist, and there saw a turtle walk as quickly as ive ever seen a turtle walk, among the dry grass and stones.
and then the days end, with just a stop, a quick quick stop our adorable guide beste tells us, at the carpet school, where young turkish women strain their eyes wool on wool, wool on cotton, silk on silk, a great vat of hot water and cocoons stirred with a wooden brush and 40 strands of nothing spinning up to the wooden bobbin. the handsome turk, sharp dress shirt well fitting and neatly tucked into grey wool pants, tells us carpet stories, the persian knot, and then invites us into the back room. a notably empty room, with carpets on the wall and carpeted benches all around, but a great blank void of floor in the center. and the turkish hospitality, free glasses of apple tea, coffee, wine and raki. and the man clasping his hands in front of him, taking in a deep breath, and behind him four more men have gathered, arms behind their backs, attentive, composed, ready.
FWOOM! the first carpet hits the ground and all ready I know im in for it. he starts with the simple ones, wool on wool, geometric, here we look at the quality of the wool and the colors more than the design, and behind him his men are marching about the room, throwing down carpets, FWOOM! we are not so impressed by these simple rugs, and he knows this, and his men are moving quickly, throwing down throwing down, as we move on to wool on cotton, now more intricate. and he dazzles us with numbers, months and knots and square inches, he fascinates us, as two men stand behind him with the first of these wool on cottons, a large one, rolled up and held between them as the ringmaster builds us up, waiting, waiting, waiting, and then FWOOM! they let it fall to the ground and there is a collective gasp from the crowd. aaaahh! and then the men are off again, dancing around each other so smoothly, such polished choreography, throwing down carpets on top of the now forgotten wool on wools. and theyve mastered the room, they know where to stand so that the unrolling carpets come speeding towards you and stop exactly at your feet. FWOOM! what a dance, so swift they walk, so erect and proud. and the ringmaster walks smoothly amidst the chaos, his saffron voice pleasing us all, the raki has my lips anisenumb. and now he tells us of us a special line, a special make that one must obtain permission form the turkish government to make, the specific colors, the specific patterns, two men behind him waiting waiting with carpet rolled, and FWOOM! and its the biggest one yet and its breathtaking. aaahhh! and now the men are throwing the carpets to each other, rolled carpets flying through the air ("yes, these carpets all fly, if you say the magic word. do you know the word? visacard, ha ha"), strange vertical parabolas complimenting the unraveling spirals of wool at our feet. the floor three, four five carpets thick, and we havent even finished, for now, it is the silk, silk on silk. so small the work that only an hour a day can be spent on the weaving, the eyes, the eyes, and this carpet, here behind him, waiting to be born to us, this carpet took three years to make. but first, but first, we have small ones, and now another flight pattern as tiny carpets are frisbee flung on the ground, twirling turkish tokens, shimmering woolen pizza doughs, the twist on the floor and as they turn the light changes them, the colors now glassy brilliant, now deep voluptuous. FWOOM FWOOM! FWOOM! some bigger ones, and two men together pick the carpet up and flip it over in another dazzling dance move, turn it so we may see the colors change. two carpets for the price of one, yes, ha ha. and then, and then finally the final FWOOM! the giant silk is unleashed before us, and yes, my god yes it is really beautiful. these were created here, created dancing shining colors, flowers woven impossible, and he is smiling, he is so proud, so proud of his wares. he is: right. and someone asks, someone finally asks, and were really not surprised, no, now we know that it is worth it, $20,000.
how many bought carpets? how many left, shipping papers tightly in hand? 13 out of 40. i did not, but i shook the turks hand deeply and kept the feeling of the carpets on my fingers later that night, in the rendezvous lounge, playing cheap jazz standards with a too showy trumpet player whose notes werent double knotted, they were high and shallow, and he didnt understand that theater can sneak up on you, theater can be subtle and fairy swift, theater can be carpets and coffee unfiltered, the joy to create, the well dressed pride.