Today's Zaman, your gateway to Turkish daily news

26/05/2009 15:27

Horses, history and adventure: The Evliya Çelebi Way With the 400th anniversary of Ottoman traveler Evliya Çelebi's birth coming up in 2011, an international team is working to create a cultural route in Anatolia -the Evliya Çelebi Way (EÇW) -- to celebrate his life and work. The route, however, goes beyond being a historical long-ride and will also benefit those who live along it, as well as highlighting Evliya as a new symbol for Turkey. Celebrating Evliya “He was an extraordinary individual,” explained Dr. Caroline Finkel, Ottoman historian and author of “Osman's Dream: The Story of the Ottoman Empire.” “He needs to be commemorated in style,” she continued, adding, “He's unique among Ottoman travelers, for the range of his journeys and his lengthy account of them. Only excerpts of his 10-volume ‘Seyahatname' have been translated from Ottoman Turkish into English. We intend to translate the section we're following, which is the early stages of his journey to perform the pilgrimage to the Islamic holy places in the Hejaz in 1671.” The EÇW will be a marked route passing through countryside visited by only those people who choose to go off the beaten track. “These are ideal conditions for short or long treks, on horseback or on foot, through open countryside amidst the burgeoning population centers of western Turkey,” Finkel observed. The first part of the project is the Evliya Çelebi Ride (EÇR), a 1,000-kilometerlong journey by horse. In September, on the third day of Şeker Bayramı (Sugar Holiday), Finkel and cultural historian Professor Donna Landry (author of “Noble Brutes: How Eastern Horses Transformed English Culture”) will set out with their fellow riders from near İstanbul and head into northwest Anatolia. They will travel from Hersek to İznik, followed by Yenişehir, İnegöl, Tavşanlı, Kütahya, Afyon, Sandıklı, Banaz, Uşak, Gediz and Simav, where they will leave Evliya's route to return to celebrations in Kütahya -- Evliya's ancestral home. “Most significantly, this route shows his roundabout method of traveling and crisscrosses rarely visited countryside between these towns,” explained Finkel, adding,“We'll first write a book about the EÇR, similar to the trekking guides the ‘Lycian Way' and the ‘St. Paul's Trail' but with more historical background, that we hope will appear in 2011, and also a more academic one.” Evliya traveled on horseback for most of 40 years, and there are things that you can learn about the history of his time only from following in his tracks, things that you cannot grasp simply from sitting in the archives, explained Finkel. There are other reasons behind the ride. “Turkey is a land that asks to be traveled on horseback,” enthused historian Professor Gerald MacLean (“Mac,” author of “The Rise of Oriental Travel,” and “Looking East”) who is also a member of the project. Unlike Europe, Turkey boasts many areas that are still difficult to reach by car or bus. It's also still possible to cover great distances by horse.
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” she explained. “and it would be good for Turkey to have a symbol that is neither political nor exotic and orientalizing. I've also interviewed several riding instructors in İstanbul.' on horseback. “All countries need positive symbols.Turkish oral historian Dr. Neyzi has already started recording it. are all very well. horses [along with camels. your gateway to Turkish daily news 26/05/2009 15:27 Also directly involved in the venture are two Turkish horsemen -. Islam. who will supply the horses. Many farmers. men and women. donkeys and on foot] were the method of travel in Anatolia and beyond. who keep horses. Similar to the “Lycian Way” and “St.Today's Zaman. MacLean explained. Oral tradition is nowadays often undervalued. hamams. both young and old. Paul's Trail. There was a real culture of horse-keeping unseen by urbanites. Another aspect of the EÇW is to raise awareness about vanishing indigenous horse breeds and equestrian traditions. and encourage their preservation. etc. buffalo carts.. There would have been no Ottoman Empire if there had been no horses.they included fans of the ‘rahvan. I also saw how stud farms and riding schools have eroded over time. It's now a project which aims to contribute to rural communities along the route and to Turkey in general. I realized that horses still occupy an important place in the folk imagination of Turkey. Leyla Neyzi and English botanist Andrew Byfield. barely better off than villagers in the east.” she explained.” she explained. “Last summer I went to towns and villages along the route and interviewed people.%20your%20gateway%20to%20Turkish%20daily%20news.” Finkel emphasized.” Finkel lamented. There were horses. but Evliya Çelebi is an individual to rank among world travelers such as Marco Polo file:///Users/Caro/Desktop/Today's%20Zaman.” the EÇR book will help to contribute to the local economy through sustainable tourism and could also act as a catalyst for local development projects along the route.' or ambling-speed racing horses. the ‘tarla. and was impressed by the enthusiasm of the people I interviewed and by their love and knowledge of horses. “The countryside along the route is much neglected and the people are. Finkel underlined. Both the EÇW and the ride are good public relations for Turkey. “While on long-distance buses. However. “Horse culture is alive and well in Turkey and needs to be celebrated. trade horses and who work in horse-related professions such as farriers. the harem. “I'm interested in the way horses are used in everyday life. and they played a vital role in the life of the Turkish Republic too. not just in the Southeast. In the 1990s Landry was surprised to discover how important horses still are in rural Turkey. Atatürk. Mac and I got talking with local people. mules. ponies.Ercihan Dilari. but people along the route possess a wealth of information related to horses.” she explained. Much more than a long ride The EÇW started out as historical research combined with a long-distance ride. and donkeys in villages and on the by-ways everywhere in Turkey.” MacLean pointed out.webarchive Page 2 of 4 . we discovered. and also how they inhabit people's imagination as a metaphor and in connection with how they construct their identities. racehorses. went between the village and the allotment. both cultural and historical. Racing enthusiasts in Turkey weren't confined to Arabian and ‘İngiliz' thoroughbred racing -. and Mahir Başdoğan -. “For centuries.

Now a Turkish filmmaker and a Belgian filmmaker have expressed interest. We hope to get some stuff in-kind if we're lucky. I think this is because of the modernizing tendency in Turkey. where winning equestrian competitions on imported European horses. and we're in discussions about a film. feed. your gateway to Turkish daily news 26/05/2009 15:27 and Ibn Battuta. horse transport.000: rental of horses.” explained Finkel. But what about in Turkey and abroad in general? The Turkish Tourism and Culture Ministry is very supportive of the EÇW. camping equipment.%20your%20gateway%20to%20Turkish%20daily%20news. Landry and MacLean first had the idea of the EÇW. If we're lucky enough to get EU funding. and response among like-minded people has been very enthusiastic. We thought we'd encourage interest by offering advertising or logo visibility. There's also international interest in the project. Further travels with Evliya This is only the beginning: we imagine further adventures on Evliya Çelebi's routes in the future in the Urfa region of southeast Turkey. or winning at the racecourse. support vehicle. The United Nations Educational. clothing. Certainly there will be a film of some sort. farrier.” said Finkel. etc. but no one is willing to help. companies and horse-related individuals. This year it was included in an application for a package of cultural routes in Turkey which could be eligible for EU funding. is what preoccupies people. Wider knowledge of his achievements and of the account he left us will add a completely fresh dimension to the outsider's associations with the modern country where he once traveled. They also say that exploring three different regions file:///Users/Caro/Desktop/Today's%20Zaman. and in the northeast. such as the Turkish Forestry and Environment Ministry. and is keen to come along. tack. vet. rather than concern about losing the rich culture of the past.” Finkel lamented. With six or seven horses. which we will hope to get screened both inside and outside the country. We'll hear the result in 2010. A wellknown US filmmaker was keen to film the EÇR. We really hope for Turkish funding because it's the history of Turkey that's in question.. but there have been no takers so far.Today's Zaman.” Making the EÇW a reality It's been 10 years since Finkel. say the riders. “Everyone we speak to thinks it's an exciting idea.” she explained.” She added: “Turkey will benefit from our books. The cost of the EÇW is uncertain as yet. around Kars. but we've clearly not yet found the people with both interest and money.. And the future of Turkey's countryside and villagers. it will be used for the EÇW because it will arrive too late for the EÇR this fall.” So how much do they need to complete both the EÇR and the EÇW? “The budget depends on how many horses we have. but has unfortunately been unable to raise funding. “So far we've funded the project out of our pockets. continuing:“We've approached some institutions such as banks.webarchive Page 3 of 4 . Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has given its approval. “It's hard to do the EÇR without the moral support of the Turkish Tourism and Culture Ministry. the estimated cost of the EÇR is around $30. and the EÇW depends on them and others.

05.sabanciuniv.kent.Today's Zaman.2009 Expat Zone THERESA DAY file:///Users/Caro/Desktop/Today' For more information visit: 26.%20your%20gateway%20to%20Turkish%20daily%20news. your gateway to Turkish daily news 26/05/2009 15:27 will allow people to see varied natural and historical landscapes. and also to seek out local horse-ways and the remains of nomadic culture.html or http://www.webarchive Page 4 of 4 .

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