trad henna in turkey / pros & cons

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Posted by Kree @ Gilded Lilies on September 9, 2002 at 17:20:10:

In reply to: the phenomenon of the fast vanish of the trad. use of henna in turkey posted by Erfan on September 8, 2002 at 07:25:08:

You are absolutely correct about the dying out of henna in Turkey.
On the west coast in the tourist joints there were the usual black
henna scam artists working the gullible tourists. But, in the month
my friend and I traveled to Turkey last year I saw ONLY ONE family
group in a restaurant in Bursa with traditional henna - the granny
and the little granddaughter had henna on. I wanted to talk to them
but they didn't speak English, and the grandmother spent most of the
lunch time saying prayers while the rest of the family ate.
As far as henna goes, however, western Turkey/Ottoman Empire seemed
to favor primarily simple henna fingerdip and a circular or moon
shape pattern on the palms, which is what the granny in the
restaurant had on. As an artist that was not too interesting for me,
as an anthropologist of course I wanted to question everybody.

However I did have SEVERAL people affirm to me that in eastern Turkey
especially around Van and along the borders of Iran & Syria, that
more decorative henna was traditional and available. That would make
sense, being more Kurdish areas? Erfan - perhaps we need to make a
trip to eastern turkey sometime!

One little aside about the Turkish women & german - we had a
wonderful experience up in a small Laz village hammam way up in the
mountains near the border of Turkey/Georgia -- no one spoke english,
not a tourist place at all, but we were able to communicate really
nicely with a group of women in the hammam because one of the older
women had lived in Germany with her husband and spoke enough to chat
with us. They all swam around us firing questions about who we were,
where were our husbands, children, etc. etc. It was a gas!

On the positive side - the turkish people loved the henna we were
wearing and asked us questions about it all the time. And I met a
delightful group of artists in Istanbul involved with a co-op - I
showed one artist (look for the name Melih on the site) how to use my
henna tubes and he has taken off with it. So now you CAN get
authentic henna in Istanbul - I even showed them all the black henna
information so they promised not to do black henna! So if you go to
Istanbul, be sure to look up my friends Melih, Nurdogan & Ferit!
Melih can do your henna (not traditional though - he has sort of a
salvador dali style!!!) or they can also arrange really cool tours -
they took us to see the dervishes one night in a beautiful mosque.


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