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Disappointing it may be for dedicated Orientalists, but isn’t it time to put away the gilt needlepoint, the peacock feathers and the decorative odalisques weaving silk carpetes with hennaed toes? In a modern farmhouse in ancient Bithynia, not far from the Black Sea shore, the photographer Jean Marie del Moral discovers the puritanical side of Turkish taste
Outside the seraglio, away from the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie, the Turkish interior is a source of inspiration for modern designers: ergonomic, minimalist, refreshingly white-washed. The furniture is plain and functional, a little improvised, with nothing to discract from the surrounding tapestry of rustling foliage. The secret is simplicity – and a certain self-restraint when visiting market towns on market day.
Beyond the towering Black Sea Mountains lies a hidden landscape rich with forgotten medieval churches. For centuries they were ignored, their ancient glories allowed to crumble to dust. Before new roads reached the Coruh Valley, Brian Sewell had to enlist the help of shepherds on his quest to find these forerunners of Romanesque and Gothic architecture.
In the rain forests of Turkey’s Black Sea Mountains, where jackals howl and the River Firtina (the Storm) crashes towards the Black Sea, live the Hemşinli people, who were here when Jason came in search of the Golden Fleece. In more recent years they prospered as bakers and restaurateurs in Tsarist Russia, returning to their beautiful, haunting country houses hidden in the hills east of Trabzon. Patrica Daunt visits one family and shares their memories of a Chekovian rural life.
Also see Cornucopia 34, Land of a Thousand Mansions
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