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For 15 years, as the Cold War thawed, the photographer Ergun Çağatay criss-crossed the vast expanse of the Turkic-speaking world. Capturing people at work, at play and at prayer, he unravelled the threads of myth and culture that unite them across wildly varying lands. Caroline Eden tells Çağatay’s remarkable story
Like all great photographers, Ergun Çağatay had that rare skill of pressing the shutter at precisely the right moment. But for every image taken, years of work had gone before.
Subscribers can read the full article here. For more than a decade, the Izmir-born photographer criss-crossed the Turkic-speaking world. Setting out in the 1990s, after recovering from injuries sustained in a near-fatal bomb attack in Paris ten years earlier, Çağatay covered more than 100,000 miles travelling from Lithuania in the west to Yakutia in eastern Siberia. His aim in traversing this vast landmass was to capture the people and cultures that over centuries have risen from its steppes, snowy wastes and desert sands. Each photograph is as clear-eyed as it is humane, and each illustrates Çağatay’s extraordinary range and artistic power. By the end he had produced more than 40,000 images.
‘The Land of the Anka Bird: A journey through the Turkic heartlands’. Photographs by Ergun Çağatay, with text by Caroline Eden, published by Cornucopia Books, £25, from cornucopia.net/ankabird
Caroline Eden’s other books are ‘Samarkand’ (Kyle Books, 2016), ‘Black Sea’ (Quadrille, 2018) and ‘Red Sands’ (Quadrille, 2020). Twitter and Instagram: @edentravels
Fruit poached to perfection, the fragrant ‘hoşaf’, or compote, is a simple, soothing finale to any meal
Anatolia on foot 40 years ago, by Christopher Trillo, with photographs by the author and Stephen Scoffham
Chris Gardner traverses a plant-hunter’s paradise in search of the flora of the Silk Road
John Hare on how the two-humped wild camel was saved from extinction
A newly discovered 16th-century painting of Süleyman the Magnificent, due to be sold by Sotheby’s London this spring, is arguably the most ‘immediate’ portrait of him until the last years of his life. This is Süleyman in his pomp
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